Tech Review: Huawei Mate 10: Great spec at the right price

Typically deployed as its flagship model, Huawei’s Mate series has improved again in 2018 with their newest devices, the Mate 10 and the Mate 10 Pro. We’ll be focusing on the Mate 10 for this review, and how it compares to earlier models like its cousins Mate 9 and P10.

It’s under the hood where the Mate 10 really shines. It’s packing an 8-core HiSilicon Kirin 970 processor with a Mali-G72 GPU, 4GB RAM, 64GB of onboard storage and the capacity for an extra 256GB  via microSD. It’s the first non-Google phone to come with the Oreo update out of the box (with some modification from Huawei’s own EMUI 8.0 operating system). Further, it has an NPU — that’s a neural network processing unit — which gives the phone’s AI capabalities a significant kick in the rear, and that’s a point I’ll return to later in this review.

The IPS LCD screen is protected by Gorilla Glass and measures 5.9 inches with a resolution of 1440×2560. It’s not as intense as some other models out there boasting OLED screens, but it also means that you’re never going to have to worry about burn-in .

It’s also got one of the most ridiculous batteries I’ve ever seen in a smartphone. Huawei have managed to squeeze a crazy 4,000mAh slab into this bad boy along with a fast charger. This means you can easily pull about 36 hours out of it with medium use. I left the phone alone for a few days while working on other stories and its charge barely copped a dent.

The EMUI OS is in typically solid form allowing for a million features and heavy customisation but there are still a few quirks here and there when trying to interface with any operations that are native to Oreo. Google Maps kept zooming if picture-in-picture was active, trying to delete anything in Gmail was an exercise in rolling the dice — they ran the gamut from mild irritation to concerning weirdness.

Beyond these issues, EMUI proves its worth with functions related to the NPU. Take a photo of a street sign, speak a phrase out loud or take a clip of a conversation spoken in another language and the phone can translate on the fly, going so far as to translate someone’s speech back to in real time. I want to be clear, it’s not completely perfected yet, but its quite something to see and hear it in action.

Huawei have become known for the excellent cameras they strap to their phones and the Mate 10 is no exception. It’s main camera on the rear is a dual-Leica lens arrangement, 12MP RGB and 12MP monochrome with f/1.6 lenses. I quite literally couldn’t find a condition in which this camera took a bad photo. Video is still a little less impressive than its stellar still photography output but it’s certainly no slouch either.

Taken as a whole, the Huawei Mate 10 is an impressive flagship phone with a price point of $899 AUD which, I think you’ll agree, is very reasonable for caliber of kit you get.

Score: 8.5 out of 10
Highlights: Great spec; Great price; Great cameras; Great battery
Lowlights: May be a little wide and a little heavy for some users
Manufacturer: Huawei
Price: $899 AUD
Available: Now

Reviewed on a loaned Huawei Mate 10 handset provided by the manufacturer.