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Huawei Mate 10 Pro Review: The smartphone of the future

Mate 10 Pro

Something that became clear to me when I was testing the Mate 10 Pro from Huawei, is how advanced this line of phones was compared to the rest in some aspects. It happened with the Mate 9, yes, but it is only now, with the Mate 10 Pro, that I am fully aware of it.

Come on a Generation.

I explain: the phones of the second half of the year from some manufacturers, such as Samsung, LG and others, are improvements to their models launched at the beginning of the year. That is to say: the Note 8 brings improvements over the S8 +, but in essence, it is the same initial structure: same processor, very similar cameras, as is also the screen, etc. Look at LG's V30 versus the G6 and you'll also notice a similar trend. The same does not happen with Huawei: the Mate offers an exponential jump in front of its P line. Such is the leap, that last year, the Mate 9's Kirin 960 processor competed as an equal and even surpassed, in several tests, the Snapdragon 835, which remains the standard high-end processor for several competitors, despite having been released 6 months earlier. That is why it is difficult to believe or process the fact that the P10 and Mate 10 Pro were released the same year; They share the decimal, but the technology within the Mate 10 is far superior. That is why, sometimes, the Mate 10 Pro seems to be a phone of the future, one that debuted in 2018 but, in some way, is already with us.

Cookie Operating System.

Perhaps it is also, in part, because The phone comes with Android 8.0 Oreo from the factory, something few phones do yet. Even post-Oreo released phones, like the Note 8, continue on Android 7.1.1 Nougat. Why is it important? Well, because Android Oreo brings several changes that improve the final experience with the phone, such as limits in the execution of secondary tasks, project treble to improve performance, and much more that we saw in detail in this article.

The phone that I have been testing was given to us before its launch and therefore had the pre-release software (a kind of Beta). Initially, I found several bugs, which have been decreasing considerably. I have received three updates (installed dirty, without resetting the phone from me) and the experience has dramatically improved in terms of battery.

Glorious battery

Something I've always loved about the Mate line is the inclusion of a 4,000 mAh battery. It is a phone designed for people who, like me, spend much of the day front on the phone. This, in combination with the AMOLED screen – more efficient than an LCD – which is Full HD +, allows the phone, with my heavy use, to last peacefully until the next day.

In fact, the phone was proclaimed, in my unscientific tests, as the new autonomous champion after the disappointment that the Moto Z2 Play was in this regard, without the sacrifices of having to use a Moto Z2. Quietly I got an average of 8 hours of Screen on Time (SoT) without having to worry about disabling the GPS, lowering the brightness, and that sort of thing.

And when you needed to charge it, thanks to the Super Charge technology that was implemented in the Mate 9 / P10, the phone charges extremely fast. In half an hour he had 56% of battery, and in 1:20 hours, he was 100%. The best thing about this technology is that instead of increasing the voltage – causing more heat – the charging amperage is increased. This keeps the phone cool in your hands even when rapid charging is in progress. And one thing I like is that we can use the phone without problems and fast charging continue. With other technologies like Quick Charge 2.0 or 3.0 – like the one Samsung uses – you need to stop using your phone for fast charging to take effect. The bad? Since it's Huawei's proprietary technology, not a universal standard, fast charging only works when we use the charger and cable that came in the box (yes, they are both special). Using another cable or another charger will give us a charge at regular speed.

The Mate 10 Pro's battery is excellent, by far the best I've tested on high-end phones. If what they value more is autonomous, they will not find a better phone than the Mate 10 Pro in its category.

Artificial Intelligence: a future promise, with little current results.

Huawei's marketing campaign has focused heavily on Artificial Intelligence, or AI. It is the hot word of the moment, after all, along with Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality. And yes, the Mate 10 Pro is one of the first phones to bring a Neural Processing Unit, or NPU (Neural Processing Unit) designed to speed up some specific tasks that require accessing a huge database.

In practice? Because the standards are not yet implemented in Android (they will come with Android 8.1), heThe use of the NPU is limited to specific tasks. Here again I refer to the term of the phone of the future: we have the necessary hardware to fully apply the phone to tasks that require neural networks or artificial intelligence, but in the present, today, The AI ​​application on the Mate 10 Pro is limited to certain basic functions, so it is not, in my opinion, a highlight of the phone.. At least, not in its current state.

What can the phone do with AI? At the moment, the use of AI is limited to some basic things like:

  • Optimization of the phone so that it stays fast over time (which the P10 and Mate 9 already did)
  • Translation of texts in images to multiple languages ​​with Microsoft Translate (with a special app that is included in the phone)
  • Object recognition in the camera to optimize values ​​and thus get better photos.

This last point is interesting, but it's not tangible. We know that Huawei is using AI to identify objects on the screen and applying different values ​​to improve photos. (by increasing the saturation and vibrancy if you identify flowers or plants, for example, or by improving sharpness if you find people, or by increasing the shutter speed if you detect pets so that they do not get blurred, or by increasing the exposure time to capture night scenes with little noise) but we cannot perceive what improvements or changes are taking place, because there is no before or after, or a way to enable or disable this feature. We simply have to trust that the Mate 10 Pro is doing its job. Here Huawei could learn a little from Apple, because it does a better job showing us how computational photography, supported by artificial intelligence, can be more useful. How? Well, with your Portrait Lightning or Portrait Lighting that, based on neural networks, you can modify the lighting of a photo. And if the Animoji of the iPhone X may seem silly, but it is a way tangible to demonstrate the complex technology that is FaceID. A better way to demonstrate what the technology was implemented for than simply saying oh, we are enhancing your photos with artificial intelligence; Trust us.

I think the Mate 10 Pro lacked a feature of this magnitude to Really show us what artificial intelligence is capable of.

As things stand in the Mate 10 Pro, AI is a future promise, which I will not consider when purchasing the equipment.

The best camera on a smartphone.

With or without AI, the Mate 10 Pro camera in photography impressed me. Building on the solid foundation that Huawei debuted with the P9, the camera remains a joint creation between Leica and Huawei. It was, in fact, the first dual camera to be released to the market in 2016 after their resurgence, beating LG for a few weeks. And so far, for photographic subjects, it is one of the best implementations of a two-camera system.

We have covered this in detail in this video:

But to sum it up: the Mate 10's dual camera and all of Huawei's high-end phones since the P9 include a 20-megapixel monochrome sensor in addition to the 12-megapixel color sensor. By not having to split the sensor to capture color, a monochrome sensor can capture much more detail from the scene. What Huawei does, then, is use the monochrome sensor to capture the scene, and use the color sensor to colorize the sensor image in black and white, resulting in a combination of both images. The result? An image where small details, such as lines, distant lights, or textures, are more detailed.

The 20 megapixel monochrome sensor also allows us something else: to have a 2X zoom. How does this work? Well, Huawei captures the image with the 20 megapixel sensor and then trims it to 12 megapixels – the size of the color sensor – effectively giving us a 2X zoomed or zoomed image. The result? In my tests, comparing it with the telephoto lens of the Note 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, the difference is minimal. Yes, it is possible to perceive a little more detail in the iPhone 8 Plus and Note 8, but this after doing an extreme zoom, looking for small details.

Where the Mate 10 Pro really stands out is in its portrait mode. Huawei was the first to offer the possibility to blur the background on phones, and in this, the third version, it has considerably improved its technique. Now even the backlights are distorted with real-like properties. Blurred lights tend to form circles, and this effect is mimicked by the Mate 10 Pro. Edge detection, while not yet perfect, is much better than that of the Note 8 and iPhone 8 Plus. Unlike these two, the Mate 10 Pro's portrait mode works forever. Both the Note 8 and the iPhone often ask for requirements to activate the portrait mode – being at a certain distance from the subject and in a bright area. The Mate 10 Pro's portrait mode works at all times, with no minimum distance requirements; and it does pretty well . This is because unlike the Note 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, the Mate 10 Pro does not have to deal with two different focal lengths, but with two sensors that offer the same perspective, facilitating this separation of the subject from the background.

See also

The Mate 10 Pro has my favorite camera. Huawei corrected the drawbacks its camera offered in the past, such as poor low-light performance, by giving us a pair of f / 1.6 lenses – the brightest on the market today, along with the LG V30. Post-processing is noticeable, prioritizing night speed to avoid blurred photos, without being too afraid of the noise that the images could generate. The Leica filters that we have in the camera continue to give it that tint, that film feeling that no other phone manufacturer has managed to achieve. The Mate 10 Pro is the only phone where I feel comfortable photographing and posting SOOC or Straight out of Camera photos; photos that do not require additional retouching in Snapseed, or a pasadita by VSCO.

Where Huawei still needs to fine-tune things a bit, is in the video section. Very soon we will have an article covering this in more detail, but to advance a few things: the video of the Mate 10 Pro is excellent if we use 4K at 30 frames per second, or Full HD at 30 frames per second. I don't know if it's a software or camera problem, but shooting Full HD video at 60 frames per second resulted in poorly stabilized and noisy video. Once I started recording in 4K at 30 frames per second, however, everything worked very well.

What we have with the Mate 10, then, is an excellent photographic experience; the best on Android in my opinion, with all the flexibility and quality offered not only by software and post-processing, but also by the quality of the f / 1.6 lenses and the combination of monochrome and color lenses, which manage to obtain more details than other phones

Nice redesign, but not the best.

Something that really caught my attention when they announced the Mate 10 Pro, is how the company left metal behind in favor of a glass-bodied phone. Huawei took about 3 years to refine its manufacturing process, giving us some of the best metal designs. And despite the Mate 10 Pro being its first phone with a glass back, the Mate 10 Pro has been a pleasant surprise. The design is excellent; It is one of those phones that we can immediately recognize, thanks to the fact that Huawei has chosen to put a slight variation of colors in the section where the camera is, giving it an elegant appearance. My test unit is mocha brown, a copper color that definitely stands out among so many identical phones. Something that I would have liked to see, however, is built-in wireless charging. Having the glass back could theoretically allow the Mate 10 to charge wirelessly. But Huawei chose not to include the technology because it is very slow. And in this sense, you are right. Charging a 4,000 mAh battery at the maximum 5 / 7.5 Watts offered by current wireless charging technologies will take a long time. Even more so when the Mate 10's SuperCharge charger technology, like the P10 and Mate 9, can charge the phone much faster (in half an hour, I got between 50% to 57% battery), even if we are using it.

On the front, we have an AMOLED Full HD + screen with the elongated format, 18: 9, which looks great. It does not exceed the Note 8 and S8 (Samsung is in another league on screen issues), but it does look very, very good. Something that I love is that the phone retains the stereo speakers of the Mate 9, which gives it a much better sound than competing phones; is on par with Apple and HTC in this regard. And taking the audio theme seriously, Huawei this time includes a DAC capable of reproducing High Res Audio, giving us an excellent listening experience. That yes, they will need the dongle that comes with the equipment, because Huawei has abandoned the headphone port for giving us a waterproof phone.

Despite all these changes, however, the S8 still strikes me as the best-designed phone so far. Yes, the curved screen is not very useful – and can be uncomfortable – but if we are focusing only on design issues, I prefer the S8.

However, the Mate 10 Pro has been an excellent redesign by Huawei

Verdict

At the end of the day, the Mate 10 Pro is the ideal phone for those who prioritize two things: an excellent camera, and battery.. At these two points, the Mate 10 Pro is crowned champion of its category, offering the best camera I've ever tested on Android, along with a battery that simply refuses to die the first day. This, combined with a more compact phone but with a better screen than last year's Mate 9, a more powerful processor, and the latest version of Android, Android Oreo 8.0 on the team, make it one of my favorite candidates to phone of the year.

The phone, however, has two cons that could be major negative points for some: the lack of a microSD slot to expand memory, and the headphone port. Personally, removing the microSD expansion slot, but with so many years of using iPhone, honestly, it's not such a big hassle. Above all, because the phone comes with 128 GBs of storage, double that of other phones like the S8 / Note 8 / U11, etc. This, combined with the fact that the Mate 10 Pro uses the most efficient HEVC codec for video, allows us to store much more 4K video than the competition, without losing quality.

And the audio jack? Well, I have been using Bluetooth headphones for yearsSo this is not harmful to me either. I'd rather keep a large, waterproof battery and say goodbye to the headphone jack than keep it.

For the type of use I put on smartphones, where the camera and battery are a priority, the Mate 10 Pro is the phone of the year. With AI or without AI, it is a solid phone that, I think, satisfies all the requirements that we look for in a smartphone.