Under pressure from the US government, AT&T won’t be selling Huawei’s Mate 10 Pro. But new results from Cellular Insights show that AT&T turned down a phone designed to be one of the carrier’s fastest LTE devices.
The Huawei Mate 10 Pro was supposed to be Huawei’s big breakthrough in the US. But its carrier debut was scuppered just a few days before its presumed AT&T carrier announcement due to pressure from government officials who see Huawei as a potential Chinese spying threat. (For the record, Huawei denies it’s a threat, and we don’t believe it is either.)
The Mate 10 Pro is now available unlocked for $799, and Cellular Insights’ testing shows that it may be the fastest phone ever on the AT&T network in strong signal conditions. Retailers’ spec sheets for this phone appear to be wrong, so we’re going to be very precise. The AT&T model of the phone supports LTE bands 1/2/3/4/5/7/8/12/14/18/20/28/29/30/39/46/66. It has 4x carrier aggregation including LAA, and 4×4 MIMO on bands 2, 4, 30 and 66. The phone will do all possible carrier-aggregation permutations that AT&T has available, Cellular Insights says.
All of this means the phone is capable of hitting gigabit LTE speeds, which AT&T calls “5G evolution,” with more flexibility than any other phone we’ve seen so far. This is the first time we’ve seen 4×4 MIMO on Band 30; it will increase speeds on this frequency band, which is used to relieve congestion in busy urban areas.
The international model of the Mate 10 Pro does not have many of AT&T’s band combinations or 4×4 MIMO on AT&T’s bands. All of these optimizations look like they were done especially for the US model.
Cellular Insights hasn’t taken the time yet to check the AT&T unit’s speeds in poor signal situations, where other phones could outpace it, especially on the US’s critical Band 4. But 4×4 MIMO helps there as well, and the presence of 4×4 MIMO on those four bands could help extend AT&T’s fastest speeds into buildings where AT&T phones often have to fall back on the slower bands 5 and 12.
The modem features we saw would also help the Mate 10 Pro achieve fast speeds on T-Mobile, which uses many of the same bands and combinations as AT&T. The phone lacks T-Mobile’s new Band 71 for rural coverage, though.
While the Mate 10 Pro advertises “category 18” LTE, which has maximum download speeds of 1.2Gbps, AT&T currently says it’s supporting theoretical speeds up to 1Gbps.
The upcoming Samsung Galaxy S9, based on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor and X20 modem, is also anticipated to support Category 18 and a very wide array of frequency combinations on all the US wireless carriers.
We haven’t completed our full review of the Mate 10 Pro, although our columnist Michael Miller has an in-depth hands on with the phone. He finds the hardware, especially the camera, to be excellent, but he was disappointed in Huawei’s software.
Rohde & Schwarz, the global leader in test and measurement equipment, provided Cellular Insights with the cutting-edge CMWFlexx solution consisting of two CMW500 Wideband Communication Tester boxes, CMWC Controller, and R&S TS7124 RF shielded box equipped with four Vivaldi antennas for up to 4×4 MIMO, ensuring high reproducibility of near-field OTA MIMO measurements. The study was done independently by Cellular Insights and shared with PCMag.