Huawei is a Chinese company that has been methodically working to get its phones in store shelves here in the north American market for years now. Last year, the company announced it was working with US carriers to bring some of its phones to the States. But those plans have been falling apart as six of the top US intelligence agencies are warning that Americans do not use products or services from Huawei, citing security concerns. This has led Verizon, AT&T, and now Best Buy to stop selling Huawei products; leaving very few options for US consumers to actually purchase Huawei products.
Huawei has sent us their Huawei Mate 10 Pro flagship smartphone to share with you but I wanted to mention the security concerns first and foremost. A lot of the concerns are due to political reasons and they’re nothing particularly new. The US government has been shunning Huawei and ZTE equipment for years now and there’s actually no public evidence as of yet that Huawei smartphones will endanger the privacy or digital security of the ordinary US resident. With that said, let’s take a look at the Huawei Mate 10 Pro.
First of all, this is an $800 phone with premium specifications and a premium build. There’s a blue aluminum frame that stretches around all four sides of the phone and back and front glass panel. It’s really slippery and Huawei knows this, which is why it provided a case in the box. It looks sleek and stylish and there’s no flex when this phone is under stress. It also features an IP67 water and dust resistance rating.
There is a big 6-inch AMOLED display with a 2160x1080p resolution. That’s an 18:9 display, for those keeping track at home. It gets really bright. There’s not much color shift when viewing the phone at an angle and texts look sharp and detailed enough for my viewing pleasure. But it would have been nice to see a QHD resolution here and rounded corners, just for aesthetic purposes. The sharp corners are already starting to look a little bit dated.
Android Oreo is running on top of a heavy skin. I’m not a big fan of it aesthetically but it’s very two-dimensional and the icons and colors are muted and dull. The good news is that it’s Android. You can easily swap out the launcher and change the icons on just about every other area of this phone via third party software in the Play Store.
Functionally, the skin works well. There’s a bunch of settings that are not found in stock Android. That’s pretty great. I also noticed very little lag or performance related issues when using it. A Kirin 970 octa-core processor with 6GB of RAM is powering this device. You can get the 64GB model with 4GB of RAM though. I’ve got to say, there’s little to say about the performance besides that it just works. I can run two apps side by side and play graphic intensive games with no hiccups. You can even connect this device to a large display and use it as a traditional computer without a keyboard and mouse, thanks to EMUI 8.0 running on top of Android. You can also log into two accounts on social media apps at the same time.
The camera is extremely promising with the Leica dual-camera setup with an f/1.6 aperture. There’s a 20-megapixel monochrome sensor and 12-megapixel RGB sensor with OIS. Together, you can capture some quality low-light photos with shallow depth of field that’s on par with the competition. The Kirin processor is supposed to use AI more accurately to identify various scenes, objects, and correct color contrast, brightness, and all those things to help get a better looking shot. It’s hard to say how much that is in effect but I was able to capture some beautiful photos. And if you’re wondering, there are plenty of modes like portrait mode and a manual shooting mode too that works in video and photo modes.
This might be the point in the video where I mention some of the drawbacks but they are few and far in between. Under the hood is a 4,000mAh battery that will last you a day of heavy usage, likely two days if you’re a light to moderate user. We also have stereo speakers, although they aren’t quite on the same playing field as the Google Pixel 2. The call speaker doubles as a loudspeaker that appears to emit mids and highs while the bottom-facing speaker emits a deeper bass response. Still, greatly appreciated here.
If that all sounds good to you, you can pick this phone up for $800 at Best Buy (while that lasts). Amazon, B&H, and Newegg.com. Keep in mind that it only supports GSM carriers like T-Mobile and AT&T but it will work with 4G LTE with speeds up to 1gbps. There’s a lot to like about this phone and I want to recommend it to users but given the security concerns and limited carrier support, I can’t recommend it over some of the options we have here from Apple, Google, Samsung, and LG. I’m curious though to hear your thoughts on Huawei and specifically, the Huawei Mate 10 Pro in the comments down below. Does it bother you that the US government is warning against using Huawei products? Or do you think there’s nothing to worry about?