Phones have exponentially evolved to machines that aren’t just limited to connecting people via voice and text messages. The meaning of ‘connecting using a phone’ has dramatically changed a lot since the early days of the smartphone revolution.

There were high watermark points during this revolution: social media, augmented reality and live streaming. At the beginning of 2017, rumors about the first AI chip surfaced. By the end of 3rd quarter of this year, Huawei announced their first AI chip, which defined a new high watermark in the smartphone industry.

The focus on artificial intelligence has a significant part in the days to come. More and more companies are implementing AI on their products. Samsung has its own AI implementation, but its processor isn’t exactly built to cope up with the computing power needed to “process” object identification and learning. For now, with Huawei Mate 10, the company started off with a great start by initially implementing AI on the phone’s camera, and I’m pretty stoked with what it can do.

But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. There are a few things to cover before we tackle AI on Huawei Mate 10. First, let’s talk about how the phone looks and feels.

Huawei Mate 10 Review 51 - Huawei Mate 10 Review

The one I got is the Mocha Brown variant and its elegance radiate from every corner. Huawei Mate 10’s design is both a deviation from the current trend and a subtle throwback to its predecessor, the Huawei Mate 9. It sports a FullView 5.9-inch screen with 16:9 ratio; its overall looks remind me of the Huawei Mate 10 but with a bigger screen. At the time when most brands are dabbling on smartphones with 18:9 ratio screens, Huawei is still enjoying its time dipping in the 16:9 space.

 

Huawei Mate 10 Review 46 - Huawei Mate 10 Review

The phone also sports an ergonomically curved glass, and apart from being a sight to behold, it’s also a pleasure to hold. As expected, it’s slippery so take extra care when tossing this around. Shattering its glass panels will result in monumental replacement cost.

Due to its big oversized screen, screen navigation took quite a tool. If you’ve got small hands, you’ll have a little difficulty navigating the phone’s UI with just one hand. The multifunctional fingerprint sensor at the bottom of the screen takes a bit of effort to reach if the midsection of the smartphone rests on your palm.

Huawei Mate 10 Review 21 - Huawei Mate 10 Review

Related to design, another issue I have with this smartphone is its IP35 rating, which makes it protected from tools and wires greater than 2.5mm, and low pressure water jets from any direction. It isn’t water resistant, but at least a few water drops and shower won’t result to adverse issues.

Screen

Screen quality is top-notch, as expected. Contrast and luminosity are well balanced. Thanks to its screen’s HDR 10 technology. Saturation isn’t blown up too high, which preserves true color of content.

Huawei Mate 10 Review 8 - Huawei Mate 10 Review
Samsung Galaxy Note 8 (left); Huawei Mate 10 (right)

Media content consumption on this smartphone produces delightful experience, which makes the Huawei Mate 10 a perfect companion for consumers who love watching high definition videos on their smartphones.

Huawei Mate 10 Review 48 - Huawei Mate 10 Review

Performance

At this point, let’s zero into its performance.

Huawei Mate 10 Specifications

  • 2.4GHz Hi-Silicon Kirin 970 Octa-Core Processor
  • 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage expandable via microSD card (up to 256GB)
  • 5.9-inch 16:9 2K HDR Display
  • Dual 12MP (RGB) + 20MP (Mono) Rear Cameras, f/1.6, Leica Summilux-H, OIS, PDAF, 2x Lossless Zoom, Laser AF
  • 8MP Front Camera
  • Fingerprint Sensor
  • NFC
  • IP53 Certification for Splash Resistance
  • USB Type-C Interface
  • 4,000mAh battery with SuperCharge Technology
  • EMUI 8.0 on top of Android 8.0 Oreo
  • Colors: Mocha Brown, Black

Similar to what we did for our previous reviews, you deserve quantifiable data, and this is the reason why I’m presenting benchmark results. For the non-geeks, the Huawei Mate 10 is one of the most powerful smartphones we’ve used in ages. It outperformed the Galaxy Note 8 and Galaxy S8+ in our benchmarks. It is both highly suitable for gaming and productivity.

I was able to play the following games at highest/maximum settings in topnotch performance:

  • Shadow Fight 3
  • Arena of Valor
  • Rules of Survival

For the geeks, you need the following data presented below for further reference. Enjoy.

HUAWEI MATE 10 BENCHMARK RESULTS

  • Antutu Benchmark: 177,385
    • 3D: 65,622
    • UX: 61,043
    • CPU: 37,950
    • RAM: 12,770
  • Quadrant: 39,529 
  • Geekbench 4
    • Singe-Core Result: 1895
    • Multi-Core Score: 6608
  • GFXBench GL Benchmark
    I want to emphasize that while most of our readers are familiar with Antutu and Quadrant, I want to put special emphasis on GFXBench GL Benchmark as it shows results that may very well quantify the capabilities of this smartphone. Quite obviously, based on its specifications, Huawei Mate 10 is a powerful device and perfect for many functions: productivity, content and media creation, and gaming. Huawei made sure that you’re going to have fun with this device to play your games and use your applications.
    • High-Level Tests: For this tier test, the benchmark app subjects it to on-screen and offscreen graphics tests. The renderer is presented with various surface width and weigh, and pushes it to its limit. Graphics presented often resemble game-like renders. FPS is presented per each grade of test. The higher the score, the better.
      • Score: 1,301 Frames (vs 1,256 frames of Samsung Galaxy S8+)
    • Low-Level Tests: This tier test, the app subjects the phone to on-screen and offscreen graphics tests. Tesselation and texturing are the focuses of the test, and the result is presented in terms of frames.
      • Score: 1,579 Frames (vs 1,457 frames of Samsung Galaxy S+)
  • BaseMark X Gaming Performance Score
    • 31,960
  • NenaMark 2
    • Score: 60.9
  • PCMark for Android Benchmark
    PCMark offers a detailed result of the phone’s overall capacity to cope up with the demands of the user. It provides the best and complete benchmark result among other apps, albeit lacking detailed results for graphics capability.
    • Work 2.0 Performance: 8,263 (vs 5,321 of Samsung Galaxy S8+)
  • 3DMark for Android: 2886

Huawei Mate 10 sweeps the competition with its high caliber performance. It is the smartphone to beat in various categories.

AI Performance

Kirin 970, which rocks inside the Mate 10, is the world’s first AI chip. It is the fruition of their research on AI more than 3 years ago. Yes, I’m really stoked with how capable it is. At its current form, it seemingly appeared that its implementation is on recognizing objects to trigger camera presets. It isn’t just limited to AI photography. Everything is more than meets its “eye”.

The AI processor mimics how our brain works via its NPU (neural processing unit). It helps the phone adapt to how it’s being used, and translate its computational results to how much power and energy it will use up for specific instances. This makes the Huawei Mate 10’s battery life so impressive; it literally took more than 24 hours to deplete its power. Its 4000mAh battery is a bonus, because the phone “knows” the energy output it needs to release at a given instance.

Camera Performance

Huawei Mate 10 Review 20 - Huawei Mate 10 Review

As a smartphone with cameras co-engineered by Leica, it isn’t a surprise for us to see impressive photo outputs. Yes, the AI photography features and the available effects and modes on the Huawei Mate 10 are great additions, but at the end of the day, its sensors (and the one taking the photo) make the great photos.

Huawei Mate 10 Sample Screenshot 9 576x1024 - Huawei Mate 10 Review

Huawei Mate 10 sports dual rear Sumillix-H lens: chromatic 12mp and monochromatic 20mp, with f/1.6. This type of dual lens produces a photo with an amazing balance of contrast, saturation and vibrancy. Overall, the photos I took using the smartphone do not disappoint. As expected, being one of the pioneers of portrait photography with soft bokeh, photos with this effect are impressive.

Software and User Interface

Huawei Mate 10 Sample Screenshot 8 576x1024 - Huawei Mate 10 Review

The smartphone’s custom UI, EMUI, offers a few enhancements on top of the benefits you get from Android Nougat. At this version of EMUI, Huawei made it easier for the end-user to make the most out of the phone’s features. The homescreen and apptray can be quite a little overwhelming though. The design is still quite dated and must be improved in the future.

If there’s one thing that makes EMUI laudable is Easy Projection. Without buying an additional dock, it is easy to transform the Huawei Mate 10 to a complete desktop computer alternative. Below is a raw demo for your reference. I used an Elgato HD60 to record this demo.

Verdict

The Huawei Mate 10 tops my best phone of 2017. At PhP32,990, its value outweighs the benefits you get from it. AI, camera, gaming are my top priorities; and if your priorities mash with mine, get this smartphone.

Editors Choice of the Year 1 - Huawei Mate 10 Review

Leave a comment

Author

Giancarlo Viterbo is a Filipino Technology Journalist, blogger and Editor of GadgetPilipinas.net, He is also a Geek, Dad and a Husband. He knows a lot about washing the dishes, doing some errands and following instructions from his boss on his day job. Follow him on twitter: @gianviterbo and @gadgetpilipinas.