Tech review: Huawei's Mate 10 Pro is a phone-toting workaholic's dream with great battery life, a standout camera and a keen price
Huawei Mate 10 Pro, €750
It isn't as flashy looking as rivals from Apple or Samsung. But if you prize battery life highly, Huawei's Mate 10 Pro is one of the most compelling flagship phones of the year. In the three weeks I've been using it, only once did I get to below 5pc battery life. (That was on a day away that started at 8am and finished at 11pm, with the phone used throughout for email, social media, messaging and some video.)
Normally, battery life is just one of 10 things to consider with a new phone. But for some working executives, it is one of the top three things. There is little to cut you off from your backup systems like a phone that has run out of juice at 4pm.
Is there more to the Mate 10 Pro than that? Yes, although it has only one other standout feature - its camera.
Of all phone manufacturers on the market, Huawei is the biggest improver in the camera department. The quality of the photos from the Mate 10 Pro is fairly exceptional. Like the iPhone 8 Plus and Samsung's Note 8, it has dual lenses (designed by Leica, for extra kudos). Unlike those phones, there's no telephoto option: both the lenses are at wide-angle 27mm focal lengths. One of them, at 12-megapixels, is full colour. The other, at 20 megapixels is solely monochrome (or 'black and white' to you and me). This has some advantages and some drawbacks. The advantage is that this camera system does specialist portrait-style shots that arguably exceed what is available on rival systems (including the new iPhone X). This is because the Mate 10 Pro uses both camera lenses (which are at the same 27mm focal length) to create a more powerful effect than rival systems can. It also needs to be said that the Mate 10 Pro takes the best monochrome shots of any phone I've ever used. Even if that only appeals to a niche section of users, know that if you're looking for something closer to Cartier-Bresson black and white results from an existing smartphone, this is definitely your system.
And yet, there are also comparative disadvantages to this camera. The main drawback is that by choosing this for its portrait and monochrome superiority, you forego the second telephoto lens that systems such as the recent 'Plus' iPhone models and the Note 8 have. This can be a big deal if you're a few metres from someone and want to get a clear shot of them. In terms of design and ergonomics, the Mate 10 Pro is solid but not especially sexy. You won't be able to particularly tell this phone apart from a handful of others of the same size.
That said, one small change I really like is the placement and design of the fingerprint scanner, which sits on the back of the phone, deeply recessed, below the two camera lenses. This makes sense for all sorts of reasons. The main one is that I never mixed it up with one of the camera lenses, meaning those lenses remained smudge-free. (This is a major pain on some other phone systems which place the fingerprint scanner on the back, right beside the camera lens.) But because it's recessed, I was always able to quickly get at it, meaning my phone unlocked in lightning-fast time.
The Mate 10 Pro's six-inch screen is nice and bright and stretches most of the way between the bezels. Because of its extra size, it's excellent for watching videos or reading full length email.
As is increasingly the norm for flagship phones these days, the Mate 10 Pro is water resistant to a decent standard. It will survive just about any kind of rain it's exposed to, or being dropped in puddles (and toilets).
However, it doesn't have a headphone jack. Unlike Samsung, Huawei has followed Apple away from connected headphones. As a wireless headphone user, this doesn't bother me one bit. But it might annoy some.
It also eschews a stylus, something that its closest rival, the Note 8, makes a feature of.
Nevertheless, the Mate 10 Pro is a really good work phone. It simply won't let you down on battery life despite having a lovely big screen and oodles of power to rip through whatever you throw at it. It's not quite as sexy looking as top-of-the-line Apple or Samsung devices and, being honest, its software is a microbeat behind both those systems, too. But it's between €150 and €400 cheaper than top options from the big two phone manufacturers. In that context, it more than holds its own. For phone-dependent professionals it's great to have an option like this on the Irish market.