Huawei’s mate series have always been known to have unapologetically gigantic screens, paired with equally hefty batteries, signifying a phone that means business. It’s a formula that’s served Huawei fairly well over the years. Huawei has announced the Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro, two new phones that sit at the helm of the highest end of its lineup. The Mate 10 phones see the Chinese giant get on board with the skinny-bezel trend of 2017 while leveraging its ability in silicon design to supposedly improve AI-related performance.
Like last year, Huawei is launching two new Mate phones for 2017. There’s the 5.9-inch Mate 10, with a standard 16:9 aspect ratio — the same screen proportion as in years past. And there’s also the 6-inch Mate 10 Pro, which has a taller 18:9 display.
The Mate 10 Pro gets you a maximum 6GB of RAM, up from 4GB, and 128GB of storage up from 64GB. The Pro uses an OLED panel instead of the regular Mate 10’s LCD, but at a lower resolution — Full HD+ (2160×1080) versus Quad HD (2560×1440). That means the Mate 10 Pro actually gets an on-paper downgrade in resolution compared to last year’s Quad HD Mate 9 Pro. Nevertheless, both displays look great, and it’s hard to complain when Samsung’s 6.2- and 6.3-inch panels default to Full HD+ in software.
The Pro has IP67 water resistance, while the standard Mate 10 comes with the increasingly rare 3.5mm headphone jack — most likely cut from the Pro to save space. Finally, the regular Mate 10 puts its fingerprint scanner on the front, whereas the Pro has its sensor around the back. As such, the standard Mate has the option use gesture input for “back,” “home,” and recent apps, freeing up even more of that giant display for your apps and content.
That camera setup includes a 20-megapixel color sensor and a secondary 12-megapixel monochrome sensor designed to gather additional luminance information and detail, as with the P10 and other recent Huawei flagships.
Even though both the Mate 10 and the Pro are relatively large, the new models feel way more compact than previous years’ — at the same time, packing the enormous 4,000mAh battery capacity we’ve come to appreciate in previous Mates, along with Huawei’s proven “Super Charge” technology.
The AI chip
The big marketing shtick for the Mate 10 is AI. That’s because of the new Kirin 970 CPU, which has a built-in neural processing unit for faster machine learning. It’s tough to show exactly how much quicker that specialized silicon makes everyday tasks. In any case, Huawei says it’s up to 20 times faster than a CPU at things like image recognition and natural language translation.
All of this neural networking and artificial intelligence is wasted without third-party developer support though, and while Huawei isn’t getting too specific on individual dev partnerships, the Mate 10 will come with a Neural Processing Unit (NPU)-optimized version of Microsoft Translator. Huawei software president Dr. Wang Chenglu tells us the company is working with other leading developers to help them make the most of the chip’s AI chops. In addition to its own Kirin neural networking API, Huawei’s phones will support Android’s neural APIs, as well as the Tensorflow Lite and Caffe2 platforms.
The new NPU apparently helps with performance tuning in the new EMUI 8 (Huawei’s customer interface on Android), as well. The Mate 10 runs Android Oreo out of the box — not that you’d necessarily know it, though. From a purely cosmetic perspective, EMUI 8 looks almost identical to the previous version 5.1. And that’s mostly fine — EMUI doesn’t look horrible. But it also doesn’t look as sharp as vanilla Android, nor is it as easy on the eyes as futuristic Samsung Experience from the Galaxy S8.
The Mate line has always targeted business people who need a high-performance phone, and the Mate 10’s new desktop mode is a major new feature for the Mate’s core audience. Effectively, this is Huawei’s version of the Samsung DeX, only without an expensive proprietary dock to buy.
There is no word on local pricing, however Huawei has set European pricing at €699 ($824) for the Mate 10, €799 ($942) for the Mate 10 Pro, and a staggering yet unsurprising $1,395 ($1,645) for the Porsche Design Mate 10 Pro.