Huawei Mate 10 launches in Kenya as a Jumia exclusive, Mate 10 Pro on the way

Last month, Huawei unveiled its latest premium smartphone, the Huawei Mate 10, in Munich, Germany, the venue of the launch of its predecessor, the Mate 9. Over a month later, the device is now officially available in the country. For the next few weeks, the device’s availability will be restricted to online retailer Jumia Kenya where it will be part of its expansive Black Friday sale which is already on.

The Huawei Mate 10 builds on the capabilities and features of its predecessor, the Mate 9, while still advancing the boundaries of the technology it offers by embracing some of the features that have made their way to most 2017 smartphones, as well as some changes here and there in the design of the device.

For instance, the dual cameras that have been a constant feature on Huawei’s high-end devices since the unveiling of the P9 last year, are still available on the Mate 10. The Artificial Intelligence smarts introduced in last year’s Mate 9 also make it to this year’s model and are much more visible with their integration in the camera kicking in more often to adjust settings to match the objects being captured instead of just working behind the scenes to make sure the device ages gracefully as had been the case before thanks to the Kirin 970 which has a neural network processing unit (kind of like how the human brain functions biologically, sorry if you skipped Biology classes, but for computers).

“Supercharging”, Huawei’s own proprietary take on accelerated mobile charging, also lives on.

The fingerprint sensor, which was at the back of the Huawei Mate 9, has been moved to the front on the Mate 10 where it resides on a new addition: a physical home button. In an interesting twist, the fingerprint sensor stays on the back of the Mate 10 Pro (more on the Pro in a bit).

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For the first time, Huawei has ditched the 1080p panels that adorned past members of the (standard variant) Mate lineup for a more pixel-dense Quad HD panel. The bezels around the display are also narrower in keeping up with the near-bezel-less craze of 2017 in what Huawei is calling a “FullView” display.

The software, which is responsible for any magic that users can expect to see and interact with on the device, has been bumped up to Android Oreo which has Huawei’s trademark Emotion user interface, currently in version 8.0, layered on top.

Still on the software, the Mate 10 (and Mate 10 Pro as well) has a DisplayPort which allows it to be paired with external displays like monitors for a desktop-style experience using HDMI-to-USB Type-C cables, something like what Samsung is doing with DeX on the Galaxy S8, S8+ and Note 8 and what Microsoft attempted to do with Continuum on Windows 10. The difference here is that for the Mate 10, there is no need for an additional dock or dongle which is a plus for users as those things, which are not bundled with the device in the box, are expensive.

However, even with the upgrade to a denser (pixel-wise) display, the Huawei Mate 10 is still not “made for VR (Virtual Reality)” which is quite a bummer considering that other high-end devices in the Kshs 80,000 range, where the Mate 10 starts at, like the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+, offer support for the feature. The device also lacks wireless charging, a standout feature on its rivals and one that is now gaining prominence thanks to its inclusion in the iPhone X, Apple’s hit 2017 device.

Specifications of the device are as captured here.

Mate 10 Pro

The Huawei Mate 10 Pro, which was launched alongside the Mate 10 last month, is not immediately available for purchase in the country even though word from the company is that it will become available a bit later. That is consistent with past product launches in the country where the company has released the “standard” variant first before releasing the “Plus” or “Pro” variant later. That has been the case with the P series devices previously.

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Other than having its fingerprint sensor at the back while it’s located on the front on the home button of the standard Mate 10, the other main difference between the two devices is the display size, tech and aspect ratio. The Mate 10 Pro has a 6-inch 18:9 OLED display, a stark contrast to the 5.9-inch 16:9 LCD panel on the standard model. It is worth noting that the Pro has an IP 67 rating which means that it can survive a dunk in the sink thanks to its water and dust resistance while the standard Mate 10 can only withstand splashes thanks to its inferior IP 53 rating.

When it becomes available, the Mate 10 Pro will go for Kshs 90,000.

Unlike our friends down south in South Africa, Kenyans won’t be getting the pricier and more exclusive Huawei Mate 10 Porsche Design.

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The question many will be asking is whether the Mate 10’s feature-set is attractive enough to warrant giving out that much money for. Surprisingly, this time round Huawei Kenya is not pitching the Mate to “business users”, something it did when the Mate 8 launched locally 2 years ago and something that Samsung has continually done for the device that can be deemed the Mate series’ peer, the Galaxy Note, most recently being a last month when it launched the Note 8 locally.

Emmanuel Chenze

Let's just say I know my stuff. I have 7 years experience handling, tinkering with and then writing extensively about Android stuff. Sometimes it is exciting, sometimes it is not; things can get stale with nothing new to show but I live for each one of those moments. Have something Android-related that you believe I need to have a look at? Hit me up: echenze@androidkenya.com