At last – we get to the camera. Here, Huawei partnered with Leica to create something special: a dual-camera setup that is a bit different. Instead of one zoom lens and one wide-angle lens – the setup we find on most modern smartphones – Huawei opted for a 12MP primary camera that shoots in colour and supports OIS, along with a 20MP monochrome camera that only shoots in black-and-white. Both lenses offer a wide f/1.6 aperture, too.
Interestingly, users can still shoot in colour at 20MP, as the cameras intelligently ‘combine’ the RGB elements from the 12MP sensor with the monochrome’s 20MP sensor to output a final image in colour. In a sense, the camera takes a monochrome shot at 20MP and ‘colours it in’ using data from the 12MP RGB sensor. It’s very clever if you ask me.
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In any case, if we completely disregard the technology behind the camera system, it is still very impressive as image quality is simply fantastic. Shots at both 12MP and 20MP are packed with detail, colours are vibrant and general exposures are accurate. The wide f/1.6 aperture lenses also ensure that low-light performance is similarly good, with little lost detail and minimal noise.
On-top of the excellent auto mode photos, there is a very capable ‘pro’ mode which gives you control over shutter speed (for up to 30 second exposures) ISO, exposure value, auto-focus mode and white balance. It is great if you want to create a very deliberate shot or effect, but I mostly stuck with auto mode and that gave excellent results as you can see above.
The monochrome sensor is also quite breathtaking. I’m not usually one to shoot in black-and-white (or convert a colour photo to B&W) but the monochrome camera is capable of taking some very detailed, and also very atmospheric and moody shots that just look brilliant. I wouldn’t use it all the time, but the contrast levels are really lovely and it completely outstrips taking a colour photo and converting it to black-and-white.
Other things to mention include the beautiful ‘wide aperture’ and portrait modes. These allow you to get that ‘bokeh’ which everyone loves, and it does it really well too – the blur is quite soft and not over-done but I think it looks really good (see the above shots of fruit and eggs). Given the artificial bokeh is software-based, too, you can even change the point of focus and adjust the amount of bokeh after the shot has been taken.
Lastly, it is worth mentioning how the AI helps when taking photos. Essentially, the phone can recognise 13 different environments or subjects (depending on what you’re photographing) and lets you know its detected them with a small icon in the corner of the screen. For instance, if you hold the camera over a flower, a flower icon pops up. The AI then automatically adjusts exposure and saturation (among other parameters) for that environment or subject. It’s a simple way to get better photos without really doing anything differently.
All-in-all, I really rate the Mate 10 Pro’s dual-camera setup. Image quality – even when using auto mode – is fantastic and for a £699 phone, I find the photos really hard to fault. If I had to nit-pick, I’d say that images taken in bright environments can be slightly over-saturated, but that is a quick fix using the built-in image editor. It’s a really excellent camera setup, with plenty of features, but most of all, it just delivers high-quality photos.
Carrying on from the excellent cameras, immediately I can say that the phone’s battery life is class-leading. Huawei has equipped the Mate 10 Pro with a huge 4000 mAH battery, and given the slightly lesser 2160×1080 screen resolution, coupled with the increased efficiency of AMOLED panels, it really lasts.
Speaking anecdotally, after a normal day of use – which includes regular emailing, WhatsApping and checking various social media accounts – I would be getting into bed at 10-11pm and more often than not I’d still have over 50% battery remaining. In fact, on multiple occasions I simply didn’t bother charging the phone overnight and got a full two days use from a single charge.
Of course, heavier users than myself may not get the full two days, but I would be absolutely amazed if a single person could drain this battery in one day. Even if you find yourself in a spot of bother with the battery running low, the Mate 10 Pro supports Huawei’s Super Charge technology, where a 30-minute charge yields 58% battery capacity, which is another great feature to have. We tested it and it works as they say too, so its not just marketing nonsense.