I was pretty impressed with the Huawei Mate 9 when I reviewed it, what, just five months ago? Big screen, solid camera, good performance. And now it’s about to be replaced with the Huawei Mate 10 – which is reducing the price by a hundred dollars while being an upgrade in just about every way.

And it, along with the even larger Huawei Mate 10 Pro, is pushing smart phone tech into new areas, with Neural Processing.

Body

First, to basics. The Mate 10 screen is still 5.9 inches in size with a 16:9 aspect, but resolution has been bumped up from full HD to QHD, or 1440 by 2560 pixels. Rather than the more or less conventional glass front/metal back, it is now full 3D glass on both sides, with a “barely there bezel”. The type of glass used is not mentioned.

The Mate 10 Pro ups the screen size a little to a full six inches, but also moves to the currently fashionable 18:9 aspect and a 1080 by 2160 pixel resolution. Perhaps more importantly, it uses OLED screen technology, unlike the standard Mate 10 which sticks with LCD. Huawei says that this ups the NTSC colour gamut coverage from the Mate 10’s 96% to 112%. It also gives it a 70,000:1 contrast ratio. That last seems to be a more modest claim than what is typically made for OLED.

The Mate 10 Pro is IP67 rated (safe in water up to a metre deep for up to half an hour). The standard Huawei Mate 10 is not.*

Huawei Mate 10

The Mate 10 is 150.5mm tall, 77.8mm wide and 8.2mm thick. The Mate 10 Pro is taller at 154.2mm, but narrower at 74.5mm and thinner at 7.9mm. The Mate 10 weighs 186 grams, the Mate 10 Pro 178 grams. It looks like the fingerprint sensor has moved from the back to the front (where, in my opinion, it belongs).

Connectivity

Huawei has done quite a bit of work on connectivity. Most obviously, the headphone socket has gone. The only wired connection is the USB Type -C socket, but this appears to have been upgraded so that it now supports video, specifically DisplayPort 1.2. Which means you can plug your phone into any TV – a HDMI adaptor should work.

Bluetooth is version 4.2 with Low Energy support. Improved: the aptX, aptX HD and LDAC codecs. All are higher quality than the basic SBC codec used in phones but to take advantage of them requires support in the speaker or headphones. Many – but not all – support aptX. Some newer models support aptX HD and very few support LDAC, which is a new codec from Sony. You’ll probably want high end Sony Bluetooth headphones and speakers for this. NFC is supported.

WiFi goes up to 802.11ac.

The LTE connectivity is, says Huawei, the “world’s fastest”, “supporting super-fast LTE connectivity and download speeds”. Both versions of the phone support dual SIMs.

Processing

The processor is Huawei’s own Kirin 970, up from the 960 of the Mate 9. With this one it has gone to 10nm fabrication. There are four 2.4GHz cores and four 1.8GHz cores, along with a Mali-G72 graphics processor and support for LPDDR4X memory. The processor supports Cat 18 LTE, which seems to mean download speeds of up to 1Gbps.

This is backed by 4GB of RAM in the Mate 10, and 6GB in the Mate 10 Pro.

Huawei Mate 10 Pro

And then there’s the Neural Network Processing Unit. Neural networking is a hot thing in computing these days. Actually, they’ve been talking about it for years. Basically, it shifts the paradigm of computing somewhat from high throughput in a small number of processors to a larger number of massively interconnected processors. Sort of like the brain, except that the human brain has, ahem, a hundred billion neurons.