Price (RRP): $899
Huawei’s Mate 10 phone has a big screen and some advanced features that make it quite the bargain at $899. And it’s available from tomorrow – 15 November 2017 – from Vodafone and other places.
By big screen, I mean 5.9 inches, with a 1440 by 2560 pixel resolution. It has full glass construction – front and back. That makes it a slippery beast. Put it on a couch arm with a slight tilt to its surface, and it will gradually start to slide down hill. You get a slim plastic back-and-sides case with the phone which is a bit more grabby.
In terms of features, it has everything except for one. The single omission is that the phone has no waterproof rating, so you’ll have to be careful around water.
It runs Huawei’s own Kirin 970 octa-core processor, with 4GB of working RAM. There’s a Neural Network Processing Unit which, says Huawei, provides optimised performance for artificial intelligence tasks. Built in storage is 64GB and it’s expandable via microSD card.
The Basemark OS II benchmark gave a score of 3304, or one of the fastest we’ve checked. It’s up about ten percent from the Mate 9, and only slightly behind the Sony Xperia XZ Premium phone (which runs the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor). That scored 3540.
The Basemark OS X gaming benchmark only worked once, and thereafter kept hanging part way through, though, so I wasn’t confident enough of its result to post it. An incompatibility? If was the only app that had any troubles on this phone.
And the phone runs Android 8.0 Oreo, you it’s right up to date in the operating system department.
LTE connectivity appears to support up to 1Gbps downloads. WiFi goes up to 802.11ac. The charge and communications port is USB Type-C and, as we’ll see below, this isn’t just a convenience upgrade, but provides a full featured expansion, including allowing the connection of external displays.
Bluetooth version 4.2 with low energy support is provided. Good news is that the phone supports the aptX, aptX HD and LDAC codecs so, depending on the type of Bluetooth speakers or headphone you’re using, you should get higher quality sound than with the standard SBC codec. LDAC is generally only available on high end Sony headphones and speakers, but lots of earbuds and headphones support aptX.
The battery is rated at 4000mAh. It fast charges to 20% in ten minutes and 58% in an hour. The phone’s operating time was ample for full day use with my moderately high usage.
This is the second generation of Huawei phone with a Leica co-designed dual camera. As with the previous generation, it combines a 12 megapixel colour unit with a 20 megapixel monochrome model. Both units have a maximum aperture of f1.6. They use Leica SUMMILUX-H lenses.
Essentially the two cameras can take a slightly different look at the scene, so their outputs can be combined to generate a composite image better than either one alone could manage. For example, while the default resolution is 12 megapixels, you can set it to lower values, but also to 20 megapixels. Which suggests that it uses the higher resolution monochrome camera, and “colours in” its image using colour data from the other camera.
But does it? It seems clear that the bottom camera is the colour one and the top camera is the monochrome one. I could work that out by covering the lenses and seeing which modes worked. So I sticky-taped a bit of paper over the lens of the upper camera and took more or less the same picture in both resolutions. One came out as 20 megapixels, the other as 12, and both were in colour. Had my suggested method been followed, something should have gone wrong. So I’m now guessing that the 20 megapixel colour mode simply scales things up from 12 megapixels (or it’s so very clever it only does that if the monochrome camera lens is covered).