Huawei Mate 10 Pro review

GSMArena team, 03 November 2017.

Chipset - the new Kirin 970

The Kirin 970 chip premiered at IFA a couple of months ago, and the Mate 10 family is where it makes its actual sensor. 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 Pro review

The highlight of the new Kirin 970 isn't the faster CPU or 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 25% 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
  • Nokia 8
    1925
  • Huawei Mate 10 Pro
    1902
  • LG V30
    1901
  • Huawei Mate 10
    1882
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8 (SD 835)
    1862
  • Huawei Mate 9
    1859
  • Sony Xperia XZ1
    1840

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 untouchable, yet again.

GeekBench 4.1 (multi-core)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 8 Plus
    10037
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8
    6784
  • Huawei Mate 10 Pro
    6783
  • Huawei Mate 10
    6625
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8 (SD 835)
    6590
  • Nokia 8
    6568
  • Sony Xperia XZ1
    6541
  • Huawei Mate 9
    6407
  • LG V30
    6365

The Kirin 970 finally brings a mighty and cutting-edge GPU - Mali-G72MP12, a massive upgrade over the previous generation. Unlike the Mate 10, the 10 Pro has a lower-res 1080p screen (it's actually 1080 x 2160) so its GPU performance has to be better than any other Mate so far. And the benchmark tests reveal exactly - the Mate 10 Pro is beating all Android smartphones but the Xperia XZ1 when it comes to onscreen graphics.

GFX 3.1 Manhattan (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Sony Xperia XZ1
    40
  • Huawei Mate 10 Pro
    35
  • Huawei Mate 9
    23
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8
    23
  • Huawei Mate 10
    23
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8 (SD 835)
    20
  • LG V30
    19
  • Nokia 8
    18
  • Meizu Pro 7 Plus
    13
  • Huawei P10 Plus
    12
  • Huawei Mate 9 Pro
    12

GFX 3.1 Car scene (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Sony Xperia XZ1
    25
  • Huawei Mate 10 Pro
    21
  • Huawei Mate 9
    14
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8
    13
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8 (SD 835)
    13
  • Huawei Mate 10
    13
  • LG V30
    13
  • Nokia 8
    12
  • Huawei P10 Plus
    9
  • Huawei Mate 9 Pro
    8.2
  • Meizu Pro 7 Plus
    4.8

The offscreen tests can reveal the true power of the 12-core Mali-G72. It turned out a lot faster than the 8-core G71 found in Mate 9, and equal to the Adreno 540 (Snapdragon 835) and not that far from the 20-core G71 inside the most recent Galaxies.

GFX 3.1 Manhattan (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy Note8 (SD 835)
    43
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8
    42
  • LG V30
    41
  • Sony Xperia XZ1
    39
  • Nokia 8
    39
  • Huawei Mate 10
    38
  • Huawei Mate 10 Pro
    38
  • Huawei Mate 9 Pro
    22
  • Huawei Mate 9
    22
  • Meizu Pro 7 Plus
    22
  • Huawei P10 Plus
    19

GFX 3.1 Car scene (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Nokia 8
    32
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8
    25
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8 (SD 835)
    25
  • Sony Xperia XZ1
    24
  • LG V30
    24
  • Huawei Mate 10 Pro
    22
  • Huawei Mate 10
    21
  • Huawei Mate 9
    13
  • Huawei Mate 9 Pro
    12
  • Huawei P10 Plus
    12
  • Meizu Pro 7 Plus
    8.4

Basemark X

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy Note8
    40890
  • Huawei Mate 10
    40809
  • Huawei Mate 10 Pro
    40232
  • Sony Xperia XZ1
    38583
  • Nokia 8
    37593
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8 (SD 835)
    37211
  • LG V30
    36704
  • Huawei Mate 9
    36519
  • Huawei P10 Plus
    30602
  • Huawei Mate 9 Pro
    27600
  • Meizu Pro 7 Plus
    22472

Finally, the BaseMark ES 3.1 GPU test once again shows that the new Mali G72 is nicely powerful.

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 Note8 (SD 835)
    875
  • LG V30
    860
  • Nokia 8
    855
  • Sony Xperia XZ1
    853
  • Huawei Mate 9
    794
  • Huawei Mate 9 Pro
    616
  • Meizu Pro 7 Plus
    517

Moving on to the popular compound benchmarks such as AnTuTu and BaseMark OS, we see the Mate 10 Pro 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
  • Nokia 8
    175872
  • Huawei Mate 10
    175426
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8 (SD 835)
    175153
  • LG V30
    174330
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8
    172425
  • Sony Xperia XZ1
    144462
  • Huawei Mate 9 Pro
    128719
  • Meizu Pro 7 Plus
    128498
  • Huawei P10 Plus
    126252
  • Huawei Mate 9
    122826

Basemark OS 2.0

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 8 Plus
    3601
  • Nokia 8
    3503
  • Huawei Mate 10 Pro
    3425
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8 (SD 835)
    3424
  • Huawei Mate 10
    3415
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8
    3333
  • Sony Xperia XZ1
    2986
  • Huawei P10 Plus
    2940
  • Huawei Mate 9
    2830
  • LG V30
    2705
  • Huawei Mate 9 Pro
    2496
  • Meizu Pro 7 Plus
    2380

Huawei has finally made a flagship chipset with a competitive performance across the board. Previous Kirins were doing well with the CPUs, but lagged in the GPU department. Now, 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 also allowed the Mate 10 Pro to keep the motherboard temperature rather low under pressure, but unfortunately, that's not the case.

Under continuous load, the Mate 10 Pro, just like 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 and 10 Pro to become that hot. Naturally, the chip applies performance throttling to prevent overheating. You will very rarely 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 Pro offers flagship performance and smooth Android experience. It will handle everything well, but it may get unpleasantly hot in long gaming sessions.

Reader comments

  • Vishnu

May be because of some bugs.. I faced the similar issue for a few months.. But after an update it got fixed and since then allmost one year til now its been fantastic through out no lags fast charging long lasting battery. Same as when i brought this...

  • Fili Costa Rica

I can say that this is one of the most beatiful and high performance cellphone I have had, it never gets stuck, nice camera, great battery, in summary excellent for a good price

  • Pro

I compare display and camera betven 10 pro and 10 lite. I can tell you that 10 lite have beter display and camera. Huawei will newer be my coice again