THE leading smartphone manufacturer in China, Huawei has had another exceptional year this 2017. After going from strength to strength since the release of Mate 7 in 2014, the company has surpassed Apple as the world’s second-largest smartphone brand to place behind Samsung.
That milestone happened around the middle of this year, according to report filed by consulting firm Counterpoint Research in September. In a note, Counterpoint Research Director Peter Richardson said, “This is a significant milestone for Huawei, the largest Chinese smartphone brand with a growing global presence. It speaks volumes for this primarily network infrastructure vendor on how far it has grown in the consumer mobile handset space in the last three to four years. The global scale Huawei has been able to achieve can be attributed to its consistent investment in R&D [research and development] and manufacturing, coupled with aggressive marketing and sales channel expansion.”
Given that sales of Apple’s iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus have been rather muted (“iPhone 8 and 8 Plus accounted for only 16 percent of total sales, compared to a 24-percent share for the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus two years ago,” according to Josh Lowitz, partner and cofounder of Consumer Intelligence Research Partners), it is more than likely that Huawei will remain in the No. 2 position globally.
No doubt, the release of Huawei’s newest twin flagship, the Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro, will secure that spot through year’s end and, perhaps, the first quarter of 2018.
One might be tempted to say the Huawei Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro are identical twins, given that they share so many things in common, from the glass back whose sides gently curve into the metal frame, to the reflective band that runs across the upper back and the almost bezel-free display that fronts the device. They also share the same Leica-powered imaging chops, and run on the newest and best-ever version of Android (that would be Oreo).
There are differences, of course: the Mate 10 has a 5.9-inch LCD screen at 1,440 x 2,560 with a pixel density of 499 pixels per inch, while the Mate 10 Pro has a 6-inch OLED screen with a 1,080 x 2,160 resolution and a pixel density of 402 pixels per inch. Meanwhile, the Pro variant is water- and dustproof but its twin is not. Also, the fingerprint scanner of the Mate 10 is found at the front of the device, while the Pro’s is in the back (which is where we prefer it). There is a price difference, of course, but no doubt that would be marginal.
For this review, we focus solely on the Huawei Mate 10 Pro, which the company loaned to us to play around and tinker with.
Available in Midnight Blue, Titanium Gray and Mocha Brown, the Mate 10 Pro measures 154.2 x 74.5 x 7.9 millimeter, and weighs in at 178 grams, with the device fashioned from a seamless fusion of glass and metal that, again, underscores the excellent manufacturing qualities Huawei has come to be known for. The phone feels solid and sturdy in the hand—even in one hand, despite its size.
There’s nothing squishy here, there’s no give, and the Corning Gorilla Glass the company has wrapped it in held up incredibly well even after we absently slipped it into our front jeans pocket that held not a few coins. Still, anal-rententive that we are, that incident three days into our use had us rushing to maintain the prisitine condition of the Mate 10 Pro with an extra layer of protection. (See Decalboyz in Greenbelt 1, facebook.com/dbgreenbelt1. We opted for a transparent matte film layer.)
At 6 inches with a ~80.9-percent screen-to-body ratio, the OLED display of the Mate 10 Pro could be regarded as the phone’s showcase or centerpiece, and there’s good reason to be very impressed by it. Sure, it doesn’t have the gimmicky but altogether useless curved screen of a competing brand’s flagship, but there’s much to gush about the panel. For one, the display has been judiciously calibrated for colors that are truly vibrant without ever resulting in oversaturation, while the brightness levels meet the Mobile HDR 10 standard. The blacks are incredibly deep and the whites are pristine. And while the Mate 10’s numbers reveal a higher and tighter pixel density, hunting down an individual pixel is impossible with the Mate 10 Pro. It is one of the best screens to be found on a flagship.
Huawei’s continuing partnership with German imaging giant Leica continues to be the gift that keeps on giving. The dual rear-camera system pairs a 20-megapixel monochrome lens and a 12-MP RGB one, both with best-in-class f/1.6 aperture. There’s also optical image stabilization, dual LED flash, and phase-detection autofocus. All of these come together to make a sensational camera on a smartphone that can capture exceptional images even under low-light conditions without the user having to fiddle with any settings, and the bokeh effect it can apply is even more polished. By the way, even selfies can now have that beautiful shallow depth of field with the Mate 10 Pro’s 8-MP front-facing shooter.
The excellent imaging capabilities of the Huawei Mate 10 Pro—along with its many other strengths—are in no small part due to the all-new Kirin 970 octa-core processor that powers it, which “boosts speed, responsiveness and efficiency through its AI computing platform with a dedicated NPU [Neural-Network Processing Unit].”
Besides the brute speeds the processor provides, Huawei touts that NPU is “a technological leap forward, delivering AI computation capabilities that boost efficiency by 50 times and performance by 25 times.” The most obvious display of its AI chops can be seen, not surprisingly, when using the camera, which analyzes what image you want to capture—a bunch of flowers, a face, your dog and so on—and automatically applies the best camera settings. The NPU is continuously learning not only the images that you capture but also your usage patterns to apply the most efficient modes and optimize performance.
The massive brilliant display, the superb imaging capabilities, the powerful processor with AI technology, the screen-mirroring capability to supersize your viewing pleasure…all these require a lot of juice, and Huawei gives the Mate 10 Pro just that—with 6-GB RAM (for the 126-GB variant; 4-GB for the 64-GB variant) and a nonremovable Li-Po 4000 mAh battery, plus “smart battery management that learns from user behavior to intelligently allocate resources,” thereby minimizing power-waste and maximizing battery life.
Moreover, the phone also features SuperCharge technology that provides a whole day’s use on a single 20-minute charge. Equally notable, given the recent headline-grabbing news about the exploding batteries of the infamous Samsung Note 7, Huawei has given the Mate 10 Pro a 15-layer safety system that has been certified by TÜV Rheinland.
The Mate 10 Pro exemplifies what has parlayed Huawei as the world’s second-largest smartphone brand—and what makes it a perfect gift to anyone in the market for smartphone upgrade this holiday season.
To know more, visit consumer.huawei.com/ph/phones/mate10/ or a Huawei store near you.