The Huawei Mate 10 Pro adds a wide-screen borderless display and water resistance to a package that everyone raved about last year. Not bad, is it? However, it has lost the 3.5mm jack and loads of screen resolution in the process. The memory card slot doesn't count because the Mate 9 Pro didn't have one either.
Good or bad, it's a tradeoff and no one here likes them, do we? We're all for adding stuff, not taking it away. Seriously now, the Mate 10 Pro is a gorgeous-looking flagship and does what everyone else is doing this season - no worse either than any of the competing flagships. Wide-screen borderless AMOLED screen, check. Dual-glass water-tight body, check. Dual camera, check. No audio jack, check. OK, that last one is a bitter joke and it's on Huawei for trying too hard to follow a not very user-friendly trend.
Where Huawei chose to not follow trends for a change, we got the first machine-learning-driven hardware acceleration on Android. Now, that may be something for others to follow. The more do, the bigger difference it will make for all of us - and sooner.
So, there we are, the Mate 10 Pro has trimmed the screen bezels but some screen resolution, an audio jack and a memory card slot went under the axe as well. To some, that may as well be the exact opposite of professional? Others will be ready to forgive and forget as soon as they take the handset out of the box. Yes, the Huawei Mate 10 Pro is that good-looking.
What's even better, the Huawei Mate 10 Pro does nothing to spoil the great impression the beautiful design makes. It's got a great screen, top-notch performance, advanced camera experience with lots of creative potential, excellent battery life. Whether it's the NPU or the lower-res AMOLED has really let the Kirin 970 off the leash, the Mate 10 Pro aced all of our tests.
Take the Galaxy S8+ for starters. Similar design. Similar, perhaps marginally better, display. Equally powerful. The S8+ hasn't got a dual-camera but the single-sensor is one of the best around. Overall though, the Mate 10 Pro has the edge in the camera department and the battery, the Galaxy has the Infinity screen (more real estate, even less bezel), memory expansion and an audio jack.
The all fresh Note8 has a unique feature, the S-Pen, and a great dual-camera, up there with the best of them. It's not the artsy type - it's favoring telephoto over monochrome, but still. That cool design and superior AMOLED screen are deal-sealers but the price is sky high.
And yet, smartphone prices have just gone up by more than just a notch, and we're not talking solid gold and diamond-encrusted sets. The iPhone X is the closest we've come to an all-screen phone, if you're willing to let the notorious notch slide. The X is pushing Face ID as an industry standard, while quietly notching down another first, dual optical stabilization for the rear camera. The phone is said to be in high demand in spite of the stinging price tag.
There is also the cheaper iPhone 8 Plus - as in cheaper than the X, it's still costlier than the Mate 10 Pro. It has a regular 5.5" screen with no less notorious bezels. The good old Touch ID is still in charge and we doubt it the telephoto OIS will be badly missed. If it must be Apple, those are the ways to go.
Back to Android, the LG V30 trumps the Mate 10 Pro with a higher-res display, higher-level water-proofing and overall protection, an equally unique camera setup with a secondary wide-angle lens and high-res audio recording. The V30 is expensive (they all are) and isn't widely available (no better than the Mate 10 Pro, but probably no worse either).
The new Pixel 2 XL has a higher-res AMOLED screen and can do some of the Mate Pro's imaging magic with a single camera sensor on the back. Google will be bringing the new Android versions here first, which is clearly a perk.
Finally, the last-generation Huawei Mate 9, Mate 9 Pro and this season's P10 Plus are cheaper but by no means inferior, let alone obsolete. Unless the bright lenses and the curved glass design are must-haves, you may as well save up to €300 getting one of these.
We've been here with the regular Mate 10. It's a lot of money and the upgrades could've probably justified the premium were they not split two ways between the pair.
The Mate 10 Pro itself is hardly an upgrade to die for over the preceding model. We guess we can easily understand any Mate 9 Pro owner who decides to stick to what they have for another year. Everyone else though looking for a contemporary flagship will not be disappointed. Not only does the Mate 10 Pro look the part, it can do the job no worse than most of its high-profile competitors.
We had a Mate 9 pair last year too. The Pro version was the one to get for being the premium package and the performance package all at once. And mind you, it was a wider price gap back then. This year the Pro again makes more sense, but it's not an upgrade across the board and depending on your priorities it might not even be the better device. Huawei may have a point after all not letting those two compete in most markets. Saving us all plenty of head scratching.