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Review: Huawei’s Mate 10 Pro is woefully underrated in the US

Huawei may be one of the top phone manufacturers in the world (second or third, depending on the when you count), but the company has struggled to make a dent in the US market. The fact that AT&T and Verizon bailed on it this year – reportedly due to federal concerns over Chinese espionage – certainly didn’t help.

But after spending several months with the Mate 10 Pro, I hope Huawei can get on the good side of carriers and regulators. It’s a really good phone, even at its $800 price tag (there are some discounts, too). As far as I’m concerned, it’s right up there with the Pixel 2 and Note 8 as one of the best phones of 2017, and its camera is only second to Google’s offering.

Let’s start with the specs:

  • 6-inch AMOLED
  • 2160 x 1080 resolution
  • HDR10 Support
  • Kirin 970
  • Dual F1.6 Leica lenses, 1/2.9″ sensor
  • 12MP resolution
  • 4/64 GB or 6/128 GB RAM and storage configurations
  • Comes in gray, blue, brown, and pink
  • Android 8.0 Oreo
  • IP67 water resistant
  • IR Blaster(!)

It’s worth noting here the Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro have different designs, and that the ‘Pro’ distinction is rather weak. The Pro version is IP67 water resistant, has a 18:9 aspect ratio (making it slightly easier to hold), and places the fingerprint sensor on the back.

However, it also doesn’t feature a headphone jack or microSD expansion port, both of which are available on the standard Mate 10. And though only the pro model comes in the 6/128 GB configuration, for many users the headphone jack and storage expansion are far more crucial features.

Keep in mind this review focuses on the Pro model, because that’s the one Huawei is selling in the US. I often refer to it as the just the Mate 10, but I’m referring to the Pro. That being said, most of my thoughts should apply to both models except for where the details outlined are concerned.

Let’s start with the design: it’s a good looking phone, and the renders don’t do it justice. I hate the Huawei logo on the front, and I wish it used metal instead of glass considering the lack of wireless charging, but the included silicone case mitigates the durability concerns somewhat. The racing stripe around the lenses are a nice touch.

The display is solid. Though the resolution is lower than most of its direct competition, it’s hard to notice in regular use, and the colors are vibrant and accurate. It’s no Note 8 in this regard, but it’s better than the Pixel 2 for anything other than VR.

The display is flanked by stereo speakers, which I preferred to the ones on the Pixel 2. This despite the fact that one of them is bottom-firing; the combo is surprisingly loud and has decent heft and stereo separation.

Like Huawei devices before it, the Mate 10 has surprised me with how well it performs despite heavy customizations. Forget benchmarks: the Kirin 970 flies through everyday use and multitasking with a smoothness I very rarely see outside of stock Android.