This past week I’ve been lucky enough to try out the newly released Huawei Mate 10. Coming from an entirely Apple based workflow, both Mac OS and iOS, it has been a little bit of a learning curve – but a surprisingly enjoyable one at that.

Having had the Mate 10 in my hands for the better part of a week now, getting as much use as possible, I feel now is as good a time as any to review this camera… I mean phone. Just like the rest of my reviews, I’ll be reviewing the Mate 10 from the point of view of a photographer. Because let’s face it, the camera is the biggest selling point of most handheld devices anyway, right?

Price

The Huawei Mate 10 is competitively priced at $899AUD, while the “Pro” version sits a little higher at $1099AUD. Compared to some other recent releases in the smartphone world, I think it’s very affordable.

A few important specs:

  • New Leica Dual Camera f/1.6 Aperture (12mp colour and 20mp monochrome)
  • Real-Time Scene and Object Recognition
  • 4000 mAh battery + HUAWEI’s SuperCharge (approx. 20 minute charging for 100% battery)
  • Manual camera controls (ISO, shutter speed, white balance, metering mode, exposure comp and AF/MF)
  • 4GB RAM, 64GB storage (expandable up to 256gb)
  • 5.9 inches (1440 x 2560 pixels, 16:9 ratio)

Build Quality, Aesthetics and Handling

Right off the bat, I’m just going to go ahead and say this phone is built extremely well. Whilst shooting the product photography for this review, I knocked the phone (completely unprotected) off my table top. As it fell from about 1m high, the first point of contact was the leg of my light stand before finally landing face down onto the tiled floor. My heart raced as I quickly knelt down to pick it up. I was beyond relieved, and honestly quite surprised, that there was not a single mark, dent, scratch or blemish to be seen. Sure, it’s only been one week, but that’s gotta be a good sign!

Now that’s out of the way, lets talk about the overall look and ergonomics of the Mate 10. It’s made from a very tough dual glass body with  a brushed metal frame, and is very easy on the eyes. It’s sleek, simple, not overstated and the bezel is very minimal allowing you to be further immersed in the viewing experience. It’s also worth mentioning the fingerprint reader (incredible fast and accurate) is located on the front of the phone, making opening/unlocking your phone much more convenient, especially whilst your device is reseting backside down on a desk.

One slight downside to the Mate 10 is it’s lack of a water-proof design, whilst it is splash and dust proof – dropping it into a pool will more than likely kill the phone. The Mate 10 Pro however, is IP67 rated – water and dust resistant.

Battery Life and Charging

The battery life has honestly blown me away with the Huawei Mate 10. Coming from an iPhone 7 Plus, where I’m lucky to get close to a full day’s use before the need to recharge, it has been a pleasure getting through an entire day using the Mate 10 and still having enough battery to question whether it needs charging overnight.

Speaking of charging, the 4000mAh battery can be fully charged in approximately 1 hour thanks to Huawei’s SuperCharge technology. So, long story short, the Mate 10 battery lasts nearly twice as long as the iPhone 7 Plus, and takes less than half as long to fully charge!

The Camera/s (Leica)

The Mate 10 features a dual camera combo by the one and only German lens and camera manufacturer, Leica. The two cameras are made up of a 12mp colour sensor and a 20mp monochrome sensor, each accompanied by a 27mm lens with an impressive f/1.6 aperture.

Don’t be fooled by the 20mp “monochrome” sensor, it still outputs a colour file by somehow merging the colour information from the smaller colour sensor into the larger sensor. The only downside is that the image will be saved as jpeg, not a dng (raw file). A very small price to pay for a 20mp image captured by a phone.

The new AI engine in the Mate 10 allows the phone (or camera) to recognise up to 13 different scenes and objects; automatically adjusting things like exposure, colour, contrast etc to help get the highest quality photographs out of almost any scenario. Whilst this is definitely an awesome feature for the slightly less-inclined photo enthusiasts, I’m more than happy to use the built in manual controls whilst shooting RAW, that way I have all the control in the world once I get the images into Lightroom, Photoshop or even Snapseed.

I could rave on all day about the specs and features of the Mate 10, or any camera really, but what it comes down to in the end for me is purely the output. And for me, I’ve never really considered a phone as a competent replacement or even complimentary addition to a high end digital camera like the Sony or Olympus mirrorless cameras I shoot with… until now. I think we’re still quite a few years away from phones replacing professional cameras, but with competition like this coming from Huawei, it could happen sooner rather than later.

The images I’ve captured using the Mate 10 are much better than from any other smartphone I’ve shot with in the past. And compared to the iPhone, the fact that you can natively control the camera’s settings AND output the images in RAW should be a massive tick for any photographers or photo enthusiasts looking to upgrade their phone.

Images Captured with the Huawei Mate 10

Summary

Things I loved about the Mate 10:

  • The ability to natively shoot raw images with manual control of shutter speed and other camera controls.
  • The f/1.6 aperture, great for low light photography.
  • Autofocus speed is surprisingly fast.
  • Incredibly fast fingerprint scanner.
  • Battery life and charging speeds are exceptional.
  • Excellent build quality.

Things I didn’t love about the Mate 10:

  • Not fully water resistant, only splash resistant.

Final Thoughts

From someone who shoots with fairly high end full frame cameras on a daily basis; and has lived and breathed Apple product since their very first smartphone, I didn’t expect to love the Huawei Mate 10 as much as I did. The camera is of exceptional quality considering it’s squished into the back of a device designed to make phone calls (oh yea, I may have forgot to mention that in the review). The overall power and performance of this phone has left me nothing to be desired.

I honestly never thought I’d hear myself utter these words, but it might be time to put down the iPhone for a while and completely immerse myself in an Android and Huawei world.

As with all of my reviews, if you have any questions regarding the Huawei Mate 10, please leave them below and I’ll happily write back as soon as humanly possible 🙂