Just how useful are the Huawei Mate 10 Pro’s features, really?

We tried them out to see if they fit into daily life

Huawei’s latest stunner, the much-anticipated Mate 10 Pro, launches tomorrow in Singapore – the first country in the world to get both the Mocha Brown and Midnight Blue colours. And early reviews (including our own) have so far been great, thanks to its many advanced features like AI integration and super-speed charging.

But how many of these capabilities are actually useful for daily life? We tested out a few for practicality and functionality. 

AI-powered object recognition

The ability of the Mate 10 Pro’s Leica cameras to recognise up to 13 types of scenes – including people, dogs, cats, plants, food, text, snow and more – and automatically adjust their settings for optimum capture have been highly touted. Which is awesome, but in truth we didn’t see much of a difference in the image before and after the camera made the adjustments. That said, we were blown away by the fact that the camera was able to identify Graham, a bizarre human-like sculpture created for an Australian road safety campaign (pictured above), as human. And the phone’s intelligence will only get better with use.

Translator app

Huawei teamed up with Microsoft on a dedicated version of its Translator app, which harnesses the phone’s Kirin 970 chipset to give you ultra fast translations of voices. While the selection of languages is limited for now (no Bahasa Melayu or Tamil, for instance), the speed at which clearly enunciated phrases gets translated is truly impressive. We’re talking almost instant, which makes this the perfect tool for travel. There were, however, a few times when we spoke too fast and the phone got confused, resulting in some hilarious moments. For example, the above pic shows the translation we got in response to: “Lei hou ma? Sek bao meh?” (‘How are you, have you eaten?’ in Cantonese.)

Knuckle gestures

Like the more recent Huawei phones, the Mate 10 Pro has a few functions that you can call up with a couple of taps of your knuckles. We found the screenshot feature (two knocks) really handy for speedy screenshots. The split-screen mode (knuckle-tap once, then draw a line across the screen) has potential – we can see ourselves browsing overseas online stores at the top of the display and pulling up the calculator or XE.com below it for currency conversions, for example.

But we couldn’t find much use for the Stealth Recording mode, where you double-tap the screen to start recording both audio and everything that’s happening on your display screen. Then again, if you’re trying to gather evidence against a philandering partner, this might just be your favourite feature. 

Desktop mode

For people tired of having to lug their laptops around to do presentations, this is genius. Basically you can cast a full desktop to a screen and run, say, a video whilst keeping separate control of your phone (and your private Whatsapp messages coming in etc). Yep, kinda like Samsung’s DEX, except that all you need to connect to a TV is a tiny – and much cheaper – USB-C to HDMI cable. You’ll also look much cooler arriving in a boardroom for a presentation compared to your colleagues with their clunky laptop bags.

The little things

Some of the most likeable, practical stuff about this phone isn’t major, but it does make a daily difference and is worth mentioning if you’re still on the fence about the Mate 10 Pro.

  • Awesome battery life: Thanks to the phone’s giant 4000mAh battery, even heavy users can go for a couple of days without charging it. And when you do need to juice up, Huawei’s Supercharge tech gives you a full charge in less than an hour. If all phones were like this, portable charger makers might go out of business.
  • A pleasure to hold: If you’re a tactile person, know that the Mate 10 Pro is by far the most comfortable new phone we’ve held in a while. The slimmer profile is just right to wrap your fingers around, and you don’t miss any screen space because of the display’s 18:9 aspect ratio. The free silicon case – which Huawei has thoughtfully included as a bit of stopgap measure for users who start hyperventilating if they don’t have protection for their new phone once they take it out of the box – has a decent feel to it too, and doesn’t detract from the phone’s lovely lines.
  • Virtual mirror: Given that the phone has a strong business slant, this app in the Tools menu is a bit of a fun surprise. Like its name suggests, it opens up something that resembles a bright selfie mode with a changeable frame around it, a la a virtual handheld mirror. Checking out your appearance on the MRT is now much more subtle than pulling out your compact or peering into the windows at your reflection.