Huawei Mate 10 Pro vs Apple iPhone X: the weigh-in

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If you’re looking for a phone with a large screen but a reasonably comfortable footprint in the palm of your hand, then you’ve got options: Samsung’s Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus, for example, and the upcoming Google Pixel 2 XL, if you have the drive to buy from overseas.

And here are two more on the horizon: Apple’s ultra-luxurious iPhone X, and Huawei’s newly-revealed Mate 10 Pro. Both follow the recent trend of putting very little on the front of the phone aside from an extra-tall screen, and both are packed with plenty other top-of-the-line tech – or pretty close, at least.

But these phones vary in other key ways, from screen quality to probable price, and considering the latter this isn’t a decision you’ll want to make hastily. Need a little insight? Here’s how the Mate 10 Pro and iPhone X compare based on the specs and our hands-on time so far.

DESIGN: A NOTCH ABOVE?

The iPhone X debuts Apple’s eye-popping new phone aesthetic, and it’s a beauty: all screen on the front with minimal bezel around it and no Touch ID button, albeit with that notch at the top for the camera setup. It’s all gorgeous glass with a stainless steel frame, and it’s surely the most eye-catching new phone on the horizon.

Meanwhile, the Mate 10 Pro looks pretty slick, but it’s also super familiar: it looks a ton like the Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus, albeit with a bit less flair with how the screen and top and bottom bezel coexist. It’s a slick-looking phone, but it also looks pretty anonymous compared to other top-end phones like these. The iPhone X makes much more of an individual impression.

Likely Winner: Apple iPhone X

SCREEN: NOT FAR OFF

Both of these handsets have super-tall OLED displays, with a 5.8in screen on the iPhone X and a full 6in panel on the Mate 10 Pro. But there’s a difference in resolution: the Mate 10 Pro comes in behind the high-end Android pack at 1080p (2160×1080, or 18:9), while the iPhone X nudges the resolution up a bit to to 2436×1125 (2.17:1).

It shouldn’t be a huge difference in clarity, but the iPhone X might have the tiniest edge here – plus it has the True Tone tech, which automatically adjusts the colours based on the ambient light around you. It’s also a 3D Touch display, offering pressure sensitivity for quick shortcuts and added interactions in games and apps. On the other hand, that notch up top won’t be for everybody.

But both ought to be incredibly bright and vibrant, and dazzle us with games and media, including HDR content. We’ll still give the category to the iPhone X here, but we don’t suspect it’ll be a dramatic difference.

Likely Winner: Apple iPhone X

CAMERA: ADDED DEPTH

When it comes to the primary cameras on the back, these two phones seem close. Both have dual-camera arrays. The Huawei Mate 10 Pro has a 12-megapixel main sensor and 20MP monochromatic sensor, both at f/1.6 aperture, while the iPhone X has dual 12MP sensors onboard at f/1.8 and f/2.4 respectively.

The Mate’s wider aperture means more light should come flooding in, providing better photos overall but especially in low-light conditions. But that would likely be a slight edge. On the other hand, Huawei’s dual-camera array provided overly-processed shots on the P10 and P10 Plus, so we’re a bit concerned about that. Meanwhile, iPhone shots usually tend to look pretty natural and fantastic, so we expect much the same here.

Both offer dual-camera perks, of course, such as bokeh effects and optical-style zooming. Apple has the advantage of Portrait Lighting, which lets you artificially tweak the lighting conditions around a Portrait subject – and it looks pretty sharp.

Where the iPhone X comes out ahead is with the front camera, which is something we rarely think too hard about. Does it take solid selfies? Of course – both of these phones do. The Mate 10 Pro has an 8MP f/2.0 shooter on the front that ought to snag fine face shots.

But the iPhone X has its TrueDepth system, which pairs a 7MP f/2.2 camera with depth sensors that enable front-facing Portrait selfies, the Face ID security system, and even animated emoji (called Animoji, of course) that mimic your own facial movements. It’s a huge step forward for the usually-overlooked selfie cam, and will hopefully unlock even more cool perks in the future.

Likely Winner: Apple iPhone X

PERFORMANCE: POWER SURGE

Both of these handsets pack plenty of muscle. The Mate 10 Pro features Huawei’s new Kirin 970 chip, which promises to be faster than the previous 960 and features 6GB RAM alongside, plus a neural processing unit to help boost A.I. capabilities.

We suspect it’ll match anything currently on the Android market, including Samsung’s Exynos 8895 and the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, if not provide some kind of edge in benchmark testing.

On the other hand, Apple’s A11 Bionic chip is already slaying benchmark tests via the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, blowing past the Android competition, not to mention last year’s iPhones. And that’s even with 3GB in the iPhone X (and 8 Plus).

In terms of everyday usage, both of these phones seem plenty fast. But the Kirin 970 doesn’t sound like a huge advancement over the previous version, so we’re not sold on it actually matching the A11 Bionic in terms of raw, available power. For now, this one’s going to Apple, but we’ll see how it shakes out once we have both phones in hand.

Likely Winner: Apple iPhone X

BATTERY AND PERKS: MMM, BEEFY

Now here’s where the Mate 10 Pro might have a sizeable advantage: battery life. We don’t have any hard details to work with yet in terms of daily usage, but the 4,000mAh battery pack inside Huawei’s phone is absolutely massive, and significantly larger than the 2,716mAh cell inside the iPhone X.

On top of the sheer size difference, the Mate 10 Pro also powers a slightly lower-resolution screen. All told, it ought to provide hours more of uptime per charge, leaving you less likely in search of a charger in the early evening. However, the iPhone X provides the advantage of wireless charging, which is missing from the Mate here.

When it comes to storage, these phones are two of a kind in lacking any support for external expansion via microSD. The Mate 10 Pro comes with 128GB, while the iPhone X lets you choose between 64GB and 256GB options – albeit at a premium for the capacity bump.

The Mate 10 includes a desktop mode, which lets you pair a Bluetooth keyboard and use a USB-C-to-HDMI cable to link up to an external monitor, PC-style. It’s similar to Samsung’s DeX Station, albeit without the pricey add-on accessory. There’s nothing like that with the iPhone X, of course – Apple would just want you to buy a Mac, too.

Both also lack 3.5mm headphone ports. Welcome to the future.

Likely Winner: Huawei Mate 10 Pro

INITIAL VERDICT: X MARKS THE SPOT

The iPhone X won more categories here, but for the most part, it’s been through small perks and advantages: a cooler design, a bit more crispness on the screen, the TrueDepth camera, and talking emoji poop (yes, really). But that’s what you should expect from a R20,000+ (we’re guessing) phone. You’re paying for those perks, not to mention the cool of a totally new iPhone.

Meanwhile, the Mate 10 Pro lacks that aura of cool, and in some ways, it feels a little common compared to the current crop of Android flagships. It’s a little less flashy and a bit low-res on the large display given the price point. But it seems to pack in plenty of power, and that huge battery pack might end up being a selling point for a lot of people.

Though pricing is a mystery for now, we’re expecting the Mate 10 Pro to be a lot cheaper than the iPhone X. Even so, we’d probably point you towards other top Androids right now – like the Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus, for example.

Ultimately, if we’re talking about which will provide the most complete and enticing premium mobile experience, and which will be the most exciting of the bunch, we have to give the nod to the iPhone X right now. The Mate 10 Pro looks strong, but somewhat unspectacular by comparison.

Maybe all of those flashy perks won’t mean much in testing, once we see through their potentially superficial newness – so be sure to check back for our revised verdict once both of these phones drop in November. We’ll know for sure by then.

Likely Winner: Apple iPhone X

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