Huawei is a premiere phone brand.

Trouble is, even now, especially in New Zealand, not everybody knows it.

That could be about to change, because if the latest Huawei offering isn't the best phone of 2017, it's certainly in the top three.

One thing's for sure, the Mate 10 Pro is definitely the prettiest phone I've seen this year.


Usually I'll go for the tried and true (and admittedly, boring) black when it comes to handset colour. I feel like white has done its dash and I know it's sexist to say, but gold is just too girly for me. (By that I mean, as a mere male, I don't deserve nice things like gold)

Silver is functional, but industrial and while some phones have had other brightly coloured variants, if they're too garish, the whole operation starts looking a bit cheap. Don't ask my why, it's just the way it is.

I'll stretch to a very dark blue if I have to and in a perfect world, my phone would come in metallic blood red.

Meanwhile, the mocha of Huawei's Mate 10 Pro will do me just fine. It's a luxury colour. Soft, but sophisticated. More subtle than gold... almost an antique look to it. Mocha is classy - which is appropriate, because everything about the Mate 10 Pro is classy.

For the first time, Huawei has wrapped the whole device in glass, front and back, which gives it the premium feel we've come to expect from high end products by other manufacturers.

The rear dual-lens camera is set in a contrasting stripe (I think of it as a racing stripe) and I wonder if this is inspired by Huawei's recent partnership with the Porsche design team.

The impressive 6 inch display curves slightly at the edges, combining ergonomically with the arc of the back panel to ensure this phone is not at all slippery to hold. Rather, it's silky smooth and comfortable in the hand.

One handed operation is surprisingly doable for a handset with such a large screen. This is partly due to the edge-to-edge nature of that display, which allows the Mate 10 Pro to be significantly smaller overall than 2016's Mate 9 - even though last year's screen wasn't as big.

The other one-handed feature is the fingerprint sensor, ready and waiting for your forefinger in the centre of the back panel. You know... where your forefinger naturally sits. It's even slightly recessed to make it impossible not to find. It's lightning quick, unlocking and opening the phone to the last used screen instantly.

In fact, everything about the Mate 10 Pro is lightning quick. If you thought the Kirin 960 chip in the Mate 9 and P10 had things humming, the Mate 10's Kirin 970 is yet another leap forward. Huawei has spent millions on R & D to develop an Artificially Intelligent phone brain that is truly next level.

Much of this AI functionality has been directed to the cameras. On the back, one Leica lens is 20MP monochrome, while the other is a 12MP wide-aperture Leica to let in the most light possible. Not only does this mean a range of on-trend "bokeh-style" dual focus effects, but with the widest aperture lens on the market, low light shots are no longer hit and miss.

But back to the Mate 10 Pro's massive brain.

Since becoming one of the first phone makers to incorporate dual-lens technology into its handsets, Huawei has offered the potential to snap photos of the highest quality - if you knew what you were doing. Often I found I had to play around with the expert settings (which to be fair, have always been just a swipe away) to get my shot just right.

Now the Mate 10 Pro literally does my thinking for me. This new age of photographic A.I. means the phone already recognises millions of images and keeps learning on the job. So point the camera at your dinner, a little knife and fork symbol appears and the shot becomes instantly Instagrammable. Frame up a pretty tree and the flower symbol comes on, ensuring those blossoms look prettier still. Portraits are recognised straight away - group or solo. These cameras really are the final word in point and shoot.

Oh, and there's a neat trick; The 3D panorama shot which renders a VR style picture you can pan around by swiping or just by moving the phone. You can also use this effect shooting around your subject, resulting in a portrait you can see all sides of.

This is quite simply the most user-friendly and fully-featured camera configuration I've encountered to date.

With 128GB of on-board storage, you'll have plenty of room to store your nice new pics too.

Of course, all that processing power pays off with the rest of the Mate 10 Pro's operation. Whether it's the downloading and installation of apps, streaming, browsing or multi-tasking all those things, you just can't slow this beautiful beast down.

Especially given its massive battery, at 4000mAh, surely one of the biggest on the market. Fully charged, you'll easily pump through a full day, if not two depending on your binge-watching habits. Sometimes a high-capacity battery means an inconveniently long charging time. Not the case with the Mate 10 Pro - it comes with what Huawei calls a "Supercharger" and yes, it is very quick. Sadly, still no wireless charging from Huawei. Maybe next year.

Another unique feature offered by the Mate 10 series is Desktop Mode - simply plug into any screen with an HDMI port and you've converted your phone into an ultra-portable PC, no dock required.

Nobody's perfect, and while some features of the Mate 10 Pro come close, one or two fall shorter than I would have expected. The Mate 10 Pro carries an IP67 dust and water resistance rating, certainly better than nothing, but not fully submergible like some of its IP68 competitors.

The Mate 10 Pro is also part of the new phone breed to spurn its headphone socket, you'll have to use the earbuds with the USB-C connection included in the box or buy an adapter. I use bluetooth earbuds so this didn't bother me in the slightest.

Perhaps most significantly of all, (if you're a geek like me) the Mate 10 Pro is built on Android 8.0 (Oreo), the first such device widely available in New Zealand. This means a noticeably improved settings interface with many more customisation options. Combined with Huawei's latest EMUI operating system, I finally have almost all the features I demand from a large-screen device. Why don't all smart phones offer a home screen that will rotate to landscape? Or side-by-side email display?

Because there aren't any phones that can do all the things the Mate 10 Pro can do.

That's why it makes my top three phones of the year... and at $1299 it's actually several hundred dollars cheaper than the other two.