Huawei Mate 10 review

GSMArena team, 28 October 2017.

Chipset - the new Kirin 970

The Kirin 970 chip premiered at IFA a couple of months ago, but this is the first implementation we see. It is manufactured using a high-end 10nm process by Huawei's in-house HiSilicon division and promises faster performance, and great battery-efficiency.

Huawei Mate 10 review

The highlight of the new Kirin 970 isn't the 25% faster CPU or the 4x more powerful GPU, but the brand-new Neural-network processor unit (NPU), which provides hardware acceleration to machine learning tasks. These tasks include image recognition, voice recognition, and natural language processing. Huawei has already trained the chip by showing it millions of images, voice samples, and text, so now it's able to recognize new images, voice and data much faster.

Huawei likes to call the whole process artificial intelligence, but it's not the AI from the sci-fi movies we've all seen, so don't get too excited. And it's not even close to thinking, seeing or learning like a human, despite what the ads might tell you. But it does a lot more than what Apple does with their machine learning chip embedded in the latest A11 Bionic chip, and that's not a bad start.

The new Kirin 970 chipset offers an octa-core processor that should be up to 50% more power efficient than the Kirin 960. The CPU still packs the same 4x2.4 GHz Cortex-A73 & 4x1.8 GHz Cortex-A53 cores, but the two clusters can now work simultaneously to deliver faster multi-threaded performance.

The new GPU in charge of graphics is a 12-core Mali-G72MP12. It should provide 4x performance increase over the 8-core Mali-G71MP8 inside the Kirin 960, while its power efficiency is 8x better than the GPU inside old chip.

Benchmark performance

It's time we put the Kirin 970 through the most popular benchmarks. As usual, the octa-core processor is the first to get our attention. Geekbenching the CPU brought no surprises. A single A73 core is a beast, as powerful as the latest Kryo. It's far from Apple's Monsoon core, but it's at the top of the Android game.

GeekBench 4.1 (single-core)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 8 Plus
    4232
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8
    1987
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+
    1986
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix 2
    1924
  • Huawei Mate 10 Pro
    1902
  • LG V30
    1901
  • Huawei Mate 10
    1882
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8 (SD 835)
    1862
  • Huawei Mate 9
    1859

The eight cores of the Kirin 970 processor do a great job, matching the performance of all current leaders - Snapdragon 835 and Exynos 8895. The six-core A11 by Apple is out of this world, yet again.

GeekBench 4.1 (multi-core)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 8 Plus
    10037
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8
    6784
  • Huawei Mate 10 Pro
    6783
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+
    6754
  • Huawei Mate 10
    6625
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8 (SD 835)
    6590
  • Huawei Mate 9
    6407
  • LG V30
    6365
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix 2
    6234

The Kirin 970 finally brings a mighty and cutting-edge GPU - Mali-G72MP12, a massive upgrade over the previous generation. Unlike the Mate 9, the 10 has a high-resolution Quad HD screen so its GPU has to be powerful. And the offscreen benchmark tests reveal exactly that - the 12-core Mali-G72 is at least twice as good as the 8-core G71 found in Mate 9, and equal to the Adreno 540 (Snapdragon 835) and the 20-core G71 inside the most recent Galaxies.

Apple's 3-core proprietary GPU is the leader though by another impressive margin.

GFX 3.0 Manhattan (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 8 Plus
    85
  • Huawei Mate 10 Pro
    65
  • Huawei Mate 10
    65
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8 (SD 835)
    63
  • LG V30
    60
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix 2
    54
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8
    51
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+
    50
  • Huawei Mate 9
    30
  • Huawei Mate 9 Pro
    28

GFX 3.1 Car scene (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy Note8 (SD 835)
    25
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8
    25
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix 2
    25
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+
    25
  • LG V30
    24
  • Huawei Mate 10 Pro
    22
  • Huawei Mate 10
    21
  • Huawei Mate 9
    13
  • Huawei Mate 9 Pro
    12

The onscreen tests just cement our previous statement - the 12-core Mali G72 is an equal to all modern GPUs found in the Androids right now. The phones running in lower resolution such as the Mate 10 Pro, Mate 9, and Mi Mix 2 score better, of course, due to the less pixels to work with. Apple's GPU easily reaches the 60fps v-sync cap.

GFX 3.0 Manhattan (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 8 Plus
    59
  • Huawei Mate 10 Pro
    55
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix 2
    50
  • Huawei Mate 10
    43
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8
    42
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+
    40
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8 (SD 835)
    37
  • LG V30
    35
  • Huawei Mate 9
    28
  • Huawei Mate 9 Pro
    18

GFX 3.1 Car scene (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Xiaomi Mi Mix 2
    24
  • Huawei Mate 10 Pro
    21
  • Huawei Mate 9
    14
  • Huawei Mate 10
    13
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8 (SD 835)
    13
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8
    13
  • LG V30
    13
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+
    13
  • Huawei Mate 9 Pro
    8.2

Finally, the BaseMark X GPU test once again shows the prowess of the new Mali G72 as is the ES 3.1 benchmark.

Basemark X

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy S8+
    43862
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8
    40890
  • Huawei Mate 10
    40809
  • Huawei Mate 10 Pro
    40232
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix 2
    38349
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8 (SD 835)
    37211
  • LG V30
    36704
  • Huawei Mate 9
    36519
  • Huawei Mate 9 Pro
    27600

Basemark ES 3.1 / Metal

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 8 Plus
    1644
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8
    1268
  • Huawei Mate 10 Pro
    1183
  • Huawei Mate 10
    1142
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+
    1111
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8 (SD 835)
    875
  • LG V30
    860
  • Huawei Mate 9
    794
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix 2
    739
  • Huawei Mate 9 Pro
    616

Moving on to the popular compound benchmarks such as AnTuTu and BaseMark OS, we see the Mate 10 as one very balanced performer on par with the best of the smartphones right now.

AnTuTu 6

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 8 Plus
    188766
  • Huawei Mate 10 Pro
    178510
  • Huawei Mate 10
    175426
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8 (SD 835)
    175153
  • LG V30
    174330
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+
    174070
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8
    172425
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix 2
    160319
  • Huawei Mate 9 Pro
    128719
  • Huawei Mate 9
    122826

Basemark OS 2.0

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 8 Plus
    3601
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix 2
    3578
  • Huawei Mate 10 Pro
    3425
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8 (SD 835)
    3424
  • Huawei Mate 10
    3415
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8
    3333
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+
    3298
  • Huawei Mate 9
    2830
  • LG V30
    2705
  • Huawei Mate 9 Pro
    2496

Huawei has finally made a flagship chipset with a competitive performance across the board. All previous Kirins lacked in GPU, but the 970 model has one of the most recent GPUs with all the power you need.

The 10nm manufacturing process makes the Kirin 970 a power-efficient chip, though the large battery surely helped, too. It should have allowed the Mate 10 keep the motherboard temperature rather low under pressure, but unfortunately, that's not the case.

Under continuous load, the Mate 10 gets hot at one particular spot. Unpleasantly hot even. The switch from metal to glass surely hurt the thermal conductivity, but we just didn't expect the Mate 10 to become that hot. Naturally, the chip applies performance throttling to prevent overheating. You will never feel this in real life usage, even when playing power-hungry games, but the benchmark scores fell as much as 50% after the first run, especially the GPU ones.

So, yes, the Mate 10 offers flagship performance and smooth Android experience. It will handle everything well, but it may get unpleasantly hot in long gaming sessions. Performance throttling is fact here, though we guess you won't be able to tell unless it's a benchmark you are running.

Reader comments

  • Reese
  • 29 Dec 2022
  • fss

Just purchased this phone for only 900-00 Namibian Dollars :) what a great phone!!!

  • Fari
  • 16 Jun 2022
  • 6PD

Is it 4G sported

  • Alex
  • 22 Mar 2022
  • gns

I used this phone for 3 years from 2019 til today, when I had to let it go, only because of it's limited memory of 64 GB, which unfortunately doesn't suit my needs anymore. I loved the Leica cam. So many wonderful pics I took with it. In ca...