Huawei has a new flagship phone, the Mate 10 Pro, and it's a gorgeous device that's far less bulky than its predecessor, the Mate 9 Pro.
The unlocked $800 phone began pre-sales in the US earlier this month, and it's available for retail sale beginning on February 18 through Best Buy, Amazon, Microsoft, and other online sites. It's also available in 24 other countries, including France, Germany, and the UK.
Be forewarned that it is not compatible with CDMA networks such as Verizon and Sprint—it only works with GSM carriers such as AT&T and T-Mobile. However, it does work with GSM SIM kits, such as from Cricket Wireless, Tracfone, and Net10.
Verizon and AT&T aren't carrying the phone because US government pressure axed a deal between the carriers and Huawei, after US intelligence officials made claims that the devices posed a national security risk, although no proof has been forthcoming, as previously reported by TechRepublic.
I spent a week using this device as my primary work phone in order to get used to it and see what I liked, and what I didn't. Here's what I found out.
SEE: Mobile device computing policy (Tech Pro Research download)
First, the appearance. It's sleek and stylish, and it's available in midnight blue and titanium gray right now, and mocha brown is on the way. I like that it comes with a clear silicone case to make it a bit less slippery. Of course, you can order additional cases, but I appreciate that you don't have to make such an investment unless you want to.
The OLED display is fantastic, with a large 6-inch, edge-to-edge screen on par with the Samsung Galaxy S8. The edges around the screen are minimal, with only a thin bezel visible.
Fast fingerprint sensor
The back of the phone is covered with Gorilla Glass, and it has a fingerprint sensor that sits just below a dual camera. My hand is relatively small, and I did have a bit of trouble grasping the phone and getting my finger in just the right place to fit into the sensor. In the beginning, I kept touching the dual camera instead, and smudged it. Once I got the hang of it, the fingerprint sensor was the fastest I've ever used.
Leica dual cameras
The dual cameras are co-branded with Leica, and they're outstanding and versatile. One of the cameras is a 20-megapixel monochrome camera, and the other is a 12-megapixel RGB camera with optical image stabilization. There's a portrait mode and a zoom for close-ups, like most other dual-camera smartphones in this price range.
Processor power, Android 8.0 Oreo, storage and translator
The Huawei Mate 10 Pro is powered by a Kirin 970 octa-core processor, and it uses a neural processing unit for artificial intelligence for the camera and a translation app. I love the translation app; It's the easiest translator I've attempted to use, and it works with dozens of languages for fast and seamless translations.
The phone runs Android 8.0 Oreo and Huawei's user interface.
It comes with 128 GB of storage. There's no microSD card slot yet, so you have to be able to live with the 128 GB.
The phone is intuitive. It suggests a split-screen mode if I get a call while I'm in the middle of watching a movie or playing a game. And if I'm in a low-light setting, the phone suggests that I turn on eye-comfort mode.
I also like how you can use your knuckle to draw a letter, such as "C" for camera, "W" for weather, or "M" for music, and it immediately takes you to that app.
A solid plus is that it's water resistant and is IP67 certified, which is on par with the iPhone 8, iPhone X and Google Pixel 2. If you want a phone that is IP68 certified, look at the Samsung Galaxy S8. What this basically means is that you can submerge an IP67 certified phone for up to 30 minutes in 1 meter of water, and you can submerge an IP68 phone for up to 30 minutes at a depth of 1.5 meters. So either certification means that the phone will survive a dunk in the toilet or sink.
But this water resistance comes at a price—there's no headphone jack. There's a dongle in the box that plugs into the USB Type-C charging port.
As for the battery life, Huawei has installed a massive battery with a 4,000 mAh capacity that lasts two full days between charges, even with frequent use. Imagine eliminating battery anxiety while you're traveling—it's a wonderful experience. In comparison, the Galaxy Note 8 has a battery with only 3,300 mAh capacity.
Pros and cons
Overall, the pros of the Huawei Mate 10 Pro are the AI translator app, the superb dual cameras, the stylish body, and long battery life.
The cons are that there's no headphone jack, it's not available for Verizon or Sprint customers, and at $800 it is pricier than comparable phones.
- Pre-order the $800 Huawei Mate 10 Pro in the US: $150 gift card offer included (ZDNet)
- Huawei launches unlocked Mate 10 Pro in US, backed by Wonder Woman (ZDNet)
- Huawei announces 5G trial in Vancouver (ZDNet)
- Huawei Mate 10 Pro review: A beautiful, big-screen bruiser (CNET)
- Special report: Cybersecurity in an IoT and mobile world (TechRepublic free PDF download)
- Huawei trades Mate 10 Pros for reviews that shouldn't exist (CNET)
- iPhone turns 10: Why it's still the smartphone to beat (TechRepublic)
- Cheat sheet: The iPhone X for professionals (TechRepublic)
- How waterproof are the new iPhones? Here's what all the ratings mean (CNET)
- Reducing the risks of BYOD in the enterprise (TechRepublic eBook)
Teena Maddox is a Senior Writer at TechRepublic, covering hardware devices, IoT, smart cities and wearables. She ties together the style and substance of tech. Teena has spent 20-plus years writing business and features for publications including People, W and Women's Wear Daily.