Huawei Mate 10 review: A fantastic big-screen phone that's not excruciatingly expensive

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The Good Huawei’s Mate 10 gives you performance and cameras comparable to Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8 and Google’s Pixel XL 2, but for several hundred bucks less. It also has a headphone jack.

The Bad The phone’s battery doesn’t last as long as the Mate 10 Pro despite being the same size. Huawei’s Android software could be smoother and the phone isn’t getting an official release in the US or UK.

The Bottom Line The Huawei Mate 10 may be hard for you to get your hands on, but it’s worth the effort if you want a big-screen phone and don’t quite have the budget for a Galaxy Note, iPhone Plus or Pixel 2.

8.4 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 8
  • Performance 9
  • Camera 8
  • Battery 7

It's hard out here for Huawei. The Chinese company is responsible for many great phones, but it's rarely given its due credit. Whether or not the Mate 10 changes this can't be predicted, but Huawei has done its part: The Mate 10 is a standout phone, one that's several hundred dollars cheaper than competition from Samsung, Google and Apple -- and even shaves down the price of Huawei's own superpowered Mate 10 Pro .

The phone is powered by Huawei's estate-made Kirin 970 processor, which offers grunt in line from what you'd get from Qualcomm's premium Snapdragon 835 chip. Its beautiful 5.9-inch screen pops thanks to a 2,560x1,440-pixel resolution and the phone's slim bezels. Finally, those dual cameras shoot great pictures (see more below).

It's got its flaws, namely Huawei's imperfect EMUI software that rides on top of Android 8.0 Oreo. Plus, the camera, while impressive, falls a little shy of the Pixel 2 and new iPhone 8 range. But that's much easier to forgive when you factor in price. The Mate 10 retails for AU$899 in Australia, which converts to roughly $685 in the US and £520.

That's a chunk cheaper than Apple's iPhone 8 Plus ($799, £799, AU$1,229), Google's Pixel 2 XL ($850, £799, AU$1,399) and Samsung's Galaxy Note 8 ($950, £869 AU$1,499). If the phone were to come to the US or UK, it'd probably be even less expensive, since those are conversions from the Australian price, and Australians almost always pay more.

But therein lies a real issue: Right now, the Mate 10 is not officially available in the US or UK. Its bigger brother, the Mate 10 Pro, is getting a UK release, and there are rumours of it coming to AT&T in the US early next year, but there are no such plans for the Mate 10.

But still, if you're after a premium phone but find what's out there a little too expensive, the Mate 10 is worth it.

More its own phone than clone

Now playing: Watch this: Huawei's Mate 10 deserves your attention

Phones out of Chinese companies often look too much like other, more famous phones, most commonly iPhones. The Huawei Mate 10 doesn't have this problem. Its design is distinct, thanks mainly to it being kind of fat -- it's a wide phone, but that's a good thing. It helps the phone feel different, and its extra surface area makes it less flimsy than other phones.

However, like many big-screen phones, the Mate 10 may be a challenge if your hands are on the smaller size. Huawei gives you some help here, with a few different navigation options. There's a navigation dock, like the iPhone's Assistive Touch, which is a circle on your screen that acts as a toggle for you to go back or return to the home page. Then there's the option to remove the virtual home, back and overview buttons from the screen, and instead integrate them into the physical home button. I personally didn't use these options, but they're nice to have.

A premium design would mean nothing if the materials weren't equally luxe. Huawei has gone the Apple route here, with the Mate 10 coming with a glossy glass finish. Unlike Apple's new iPhones, though, there's no wireless charging.

Ian Knighton/CNET

The salient physical difference the Mate 10 has to the Mate 10 Pro is the fingerprint scanner. The Mate 10 Pro has slighter bezels since the scanner is on the back, while Huawei crammed a tiny home button that doubles as a touch scanner below the Mate 10's screen.

The Mate 10 has one thing the Mate 10 Pro doesn't: a headphone jack. This is becoming standard with premium phones, with both Apple and Google ditching the good ol' 35mm jack. Enjoy it while you can.

Double barrel camera shooter

Dual-lens cameras have found their way onto phones by Apple and Samsung, but Huawei beat both of them to the punch: Its first dual-camera phone was the P9, released months before the iPhone 7 last year. (LG technically beat them all to dual camera with a second telephoto lens.)