Huawei Mate 10 Experience Review

Huawei has been making strides to position themselves as one of the go-to smartphone brands. The company has been around long enough that we are already familiar with the brand. They have done well with mid to lower range phones but have yet to really stamp their mark on the higher end market.

We also know they can wring up a decently priced device with impressive build and performance like the Nova 2i which has been a local favorite. With the high-end mainstream market heavily dominated by US brand Apple and Korean giant Samsung and with companies like Vivo, Oppo and Xiaomi trying to climb up the same ladder, can Huawei find their niche in this highly competitive arena? Let’s find out.

Here is my Experience Review of the Huawei Mate 10.

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Look at that bad boy

 

The Huawei Mate 10 came in its elegant black box which is similar to the Mate 9 box with the addition of the classy black strip. No complaints here. This is one of the few device packaging that you actually keep.

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The Mate 10 comes with a free case!

Upon opening the box, you will find the usual suspects: phone, USB cable, charging brick, a set of earphones, sim ejector, documentation and a clear case. Yes, Huawei has been kind enough to include a soft case right out of the box. I hope other manufacturers take notice.

It doesn’t have to be an expensive case but if I am paying for an expensive phone, it won’t cost them much to help tide me over until I get a more rugged or stylish case right? I’m no fan of soft cases or cases in general but the one Huawei included is of high quality. So, thanks Huawei.

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The predecessor, Mate 9, impressed with design and build quality. Naturally, expectations are great for the next iteration and the Mate 10 did not disappoint.

First thing you’ll notice is that big 5.9 inch 16:9 Display which almost engulfs the entire front of the device due to smaller bezels and smaller overall footprint.

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The most noticeable difference is that the Huawei logo that used to be at the bottom of the face of the device is now a fingerprint sensor.

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Up top is the LED notification light, earpiece and an 8MP front camera. Other than that it’s all about that beautiful display. It’s bright, crisp and for an IPS panel has surprisingly punchy colors. It has a resolution of 1440 x 2560 which leads to 499 PPI.

Cranked up to max brightness, it’s not as bright as the Mate 9 but still just as visible under direct sunlight.

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On the top bezel you will find the headphone jack and IR blaster. I am really happy Huawei still includes these in their devices and truthfully, I use them a lot.

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Going to the right side you will see the volume rockers and power/lock button. The buttons are a bit softer than the Mate 9, but firm enough to avoid accidental presses.

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Below is the single speaker grille (the earpiece acts as a secondary speaker), USB C port and microphones. The left side is rather clean with just the hybrid tray that can hold two Sim cards or switch one to expandable micro SD card storage. Built in storage is 64 GB so that’s another plus on this device. The bezel is made of metal and feels as sturdy if not more than the Mate 9. It’s also more rounded but less “grippy”.

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Feels good in the hand ( shout to my boy Floss!)

The biggest design change can be found at the back where the company now chose to ride with the “all glass and metal” trend. Glass as a “premium” material is just marketing hype for me and I have to admit right out of the gate that I am not a fan of glass backed phones. These things can hardly survive a fall or come out better than the rough surface it slid on.

On a marketing standpoint, however, it’s understandable: Glass backs are gorgeous. The Mate 10 is an outstanding example. This design is one of the best in a phone. It’s an elegant piece of kit that kinda breaks your heart a bit whenever you put it inside a case. The bottom wears the Huawei branding and the top hosts the fantastic Dual Cameras which is a result of their partnership with Leica.

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Dual Cameras in partnership with Leica

Huawei even emphasized this by enclosing the camera set up with that nice color strip which I also feel can be a design distinction for the company moving forward. It has the same appeal to me as the racing stripes on a Mustang.

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I’ve grown really fond of Huawei’s Mocha Brown finish.

Speaking of cameras, this device is an absolute beast.


I know there might be some devices out there which may outdo this by a point or so but not everyone carries multiple flagships or has access to them as their daily drivers. Additionally, for a flagship, the Mate 10 is priced competitively for the segment.

This, by far, is the best camera I have used on its default setting. Huawei has been touting this as an intelligent machine due to the integration of its Artificial Intelligence (AI) processor and I have to say, it works.

The dual 12MP Color and 20 MP Monochrome camera set up recognizes what you are shooting be it a plant, an animal, food, people and others. It is also the first smartphone to sport f/1.6 aperture dual lenses. It shows you a little icon on the lower side near the shutter button and adjusts for the optimal shooting setting for that subject. In most cases, I just leave the camera on Auto Mode because I have come to see that I get better results out of it than tinkering with the Pro Mode. Although I need to mention Pro Mode offers an extensive amount of features without being overwhelming. You can also use the fingerprint sensor as a shutter button. The camera interface to me is simple and readily understandable which is good so as not to dissuade average consumers from using it.

Here are some sample shots:

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Early Morning
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Midday

 

 

 

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Late Afternoon

 

 

 

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Good enough for an ad right?
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A yummy chicken satay on its way to Instagram and my belly.

Another impressive thing is how it performs on low-light. Like most smartphone cameras it is not the perfect low light camera but it doesn’t have to be. Comparing it to the Mate 9 even shows how huge a jump Huawei made on their camera game in such a short time. The amount of good results on lowlight tells me this is a keeper.

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Night walk with Danger, our dog.
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Ormoc City Mayor and Award-winning actor Richard Gomez and yours truly having an age-old debate: Who is better looking? I lost by a thousand miles.
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The Panoramic stitching even with my shaky hands is very good. Paintings by Richard Gomez

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At the Pinto Art Museum


As an artist I have a pretty good understanding of the importance of contrast that’s why I enjoy using the Monochrome Mode as it creates very detailed and very interesting effects.

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The Bokeh effect it produces for me is also the best I have seen in a smartphone and the same could be said about its Portrait Mode abilities.The AI does wonders in understanding the edges of the subject as well as the depth so there really is a distinction between the background and the foreground.

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The AI recognized I was shooting an animal and properly adjusted the blur effect

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To be sure it wasn’t a lucky shot, I tried again and got a consistent result.

Video recording can be done up to 4k with the audio more refined this time around compared to its predecessor. The front 8MP camera shoots great 1080p videos and selfies that are as close to natural as you want. The beauty mode feature is something you can adjust to your liking and the colors are great at that. One of the AI features of the rear camera is that it also acts as a scanner and translator in partnership with Microsoft which is the most accurate I’ve used by far and can prove quite useful when travelling.

In terms of performance, there’s almost no room for complaints here. It performs like a true flagship for single and multitasking activities and I am a personal witness to Huawei’s mantra “Born Fast, Stays Fast”. My Mate 9 still cruises through tasks like 5th gear on a highway. I expect the Mate 10 to do the same if not better. No hiccups, no stutters. EMUI 8 is a lot cleaner than the previous version but is as useful. I just wish they would have better Gallery organization features. One of my favorite features is the double knock for screenshot. The only thing that comes close to being that handy is the S-Pen on the Note series.

I know this will sound weird but I am not a fan of pure Android. Like I said, I am an artist by profession and I like change and creativity. I like using different interfaces and interpretations of Android. I’m up for that ever-evolving learning experience. So far, the most I’ve enjoyed is EMUI and MIUI by Xiaomi. Even if you slap on a launcher of choice though, believe you me, this device will keep up with you all the way.


A very important thing I have to note is that the Mate 10 holds cellular and data signal well. This is very important because we still use these devices to stay connected and communicate right? It even has an option that gives you 6 seconds to cancel sending a text message to avoid those awkward, embarrassing “wrong send” messages. Calls are clean and echo-free same with hands-free mode and data speeds are decent even on usually spotty or crowded locations. I know that comes in handy for you folks who will take advantage of this device’s performance capabilities on your MOBAs and RPGs and other online games. I threw several games at it and switched tasks while on them and it was seamless as expected. It does not overheat as well and the charging brick it came with is the fastest, in my experience. Long gaming and YouTube sessions are more than welcome here. The speakers are not as loud as the Mate 9 but it is definitely more refined even on higher levels which makes media consumption all the more engaging. The ear buds it came with are nothing to write home about and a bit iPhone-ish but that’s ok. They sound quite decent but since this has a headphone jack, you have a world of options.

The 4000 Mah battery is a champ. This is a long, heavy day use type of device – and more. With a weight of around 186 grams it’s not gonna take its toll on your hands that easily as well. Like all glass-backed phones though it can be a bit slippery or smudgy at times but it’s never going to give you a cheap feel. Every time you hold this device is a delight and you really feel that it’s totally worth your hard-earned buck.

It’s safe to say that the strides Huawei is making are all on the right direction. They even got Wonder Woman Herself, Gal Gadot as Brand Ambassador to reiterate their focus on building a solid brand. It is wrong to say this is an iPhone-killer or a Note-killer or whatever marketing hype some folks come up with. For what it is, it’s a well-built, elegant, competitively priced, thoughtfully-designed intelligent machine that is a worthy alternative for any user who wants a solid overall experience and capture some breath-taking photos. This is Huawei coming into their own and reinforcing their dedication to bringing better devices for long-term use without a head-scratcher of a price.

Honestly, consider me on board.

Thanks and Mabuhay, Manila!

 

Photos by Kadin Tiu

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