Huawei P10 & P10 Plus Smartphone Full reviews

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When the Huawei P9 first landed, many were initially skeptical about how Leica actually had a hand in the flagship device’s rear cameras. It was regarded as a marketing gimmick, and it took Huawei considerable effort to show that it’s a little more than just smashing together brand names (but only just a little more). While it’s not the perfect start to Huawei’s first smartphone with dual rear cameras, it prompted the Chinese telecommunications giant to put even more effort for their next flagship.

The two companies worked even closer than before and they pledged to “reinvent” the smartphone photography scene. While this year’s Huawei P10 and P10 Plus aren’t exactly revolutionary, Huawei and Leica did make the effort to improve.

On the P10 and P10 Plus, you can expect a new Artistic mode by Leica that joins its vast number of shooting features. It works on both the 12-megapixel RGB sensor and the special 20-megapixel monochrome sensor, and it attempted to bring about “Leica-styled portraitures“. Actually, it sounds fancier than it looks, but it still works – we’ve written more about this in a separate feature, complete with sample photos over here. Leica also contributed with better lenses for the cameras.

What then, are the Huawei P10 and P10 Plus like as a smartphone? Can the Kirin 960 flagship processor measure up to flagships of this season? How are the newer features like? Are they reasonably priced? That’s what we are here to find out.

Design & Handling

The P10 in hand.

Our Huawei P10 and P10 Plus came with the regular sandblasted matte finish. The sides and corners are rounded, with a subtle chamfered edge that’s girdled around the Corning Gorilla Glass 5 front panel. Overall, the Huawei P10 looks very similar to the iPhone. No, it’s not because we’ve run out of ways to describe a phone, but it is a simple and effective design that helps to make the smartphone look light and comfortable. Unfortunately, not the most original look since there are many who are inspired by the iPhone.

The tactile power button with a stylish red rim.

What’s distinctive is their rear camera configuration – it’s perfectly flush beneath the glass strip at the top – something that the iPhone 7 Plus can’t boast with its dual rear lenses. This aesthetic choice goes a long way for handling comfort because it allowed us to place the phones flat when they are facing up. Huawei placed their power/lock and volume buttons on the right and the SIM card tray on the opposite side of the device.

To add, the phone itself is quite thin – both P10 and P10 Plus are 6.98mm in depth, yet Huawei managed to include a 3.5mm audio jack next to the USB Type-C port at the bottom. Even the larger P10 Plus feels really comfortable in one hand – it’s 145.3 x 69.3mm body is slightly bigger than Samsung’s Galaxy S8, but smaller than the Galaxy S8+.

Rounded edges and a non-protruding camera housing gives the P10 and P10 Plus the extra oomph in design.

Huawei also shook things up by bringing a different finish for folks who prefer a better grip. They called it the Hyper Diamond-Cut finishing, where many millimeter-sized grooves with a micro-pyramid structure run across the back of the P10 and P10 Plus. Frankly, it feels like touching sand art that’s glued together, but it’s indeed a sizeable upgrade in grip and handling when you compare it to overly-polished devices.

Display & Audio

On the Huawei P10 is a 5.1-inch LCD display at Full HD (1,920 x 1,080 pixels resolution), while the P10 Plus packs a 5.5-inch LCD display at QHD (2,560 x 1,440 pixels resolution). It’s worth noting that the phones come with a factory-fitted plastic screen protector on top of the Gorilla Glass panel (a practice that some Chinese phone makers have). You can always replace it with a tempered glass alternative, or simply leave it on.

3.5mm audio ports, anyone?

3.5mm audio ports, anyone?

The maximum audio volume is a little soft, but they are nonetheless functional for general use. As mentioned above, it has a 3.5mm audio port to go with any other audio headsets you might have already invested.

UI & Features

Huawei ships the P10 and P10 Plus with Android 7.0 OS, and it lies beneath its EMUI 5.1 skin. It’s not exactly the sexiest UI out there, but at least it doesn’t feel as busy as some aftermarket interfaces.

Integrated Fingerprint Sensor

The fingerprint sensor is also slightly unique because it can double as the phone’s navigation keys. Under Settings > Navigation Keys, you can choose between the typical three-symbol Android OS layout or the Off-screen Navigation Button alternative which uses the entire fingerprint sensor for navigation. A soft tap takes you back by one step, while a long hold would bring you to the Home screen. Swiping sideways will show you all your running apps.

The controls are extremely intuitive despite the differences when compared to the familiar Android OS tapping combo. It took less than a minute for us to understand and integrate the Off-screen Navigation alternative into our daily use.

Water resistance

At the initial MWC 2017 announcement, Huawei said that the P10 and P10 Plus will be water resistant with nano-coating on-board. While it’s a nice touch, it doesn’t feel as reassuring as having a phone with IP-rated resistance, as the IP ratings are usually subjected to specific tests.

As it stands, 2017 flagship phones like the LG G6, the Samsung Galaxy S8, and S8+ are rated at IP68 – it means that the phone can be immersed underwater beyond a meter. The phone manufacturer gets to specify the exact duration, depth, and other factors, but it must be at least a meter underwater.

Additionally, we’ve come to expect rated water resistance on flagship devices. It serves as an indicator of quality too, since rated water resistance on mobile devices is usually found on specially designed phones, or on recent flagship-tier handsets.

Benchmark performance

The Huawei P10 and P10 Plus use HiSilicon’s Kirin 960 processors. They are fabricated with the 16nm manufacturing process. The CPU features ARM’s dynamic big.LITTLE computing architecture with four 2.4GHz Cortex-A73 cores and four 1.8GHz Cortex-A53 cores. The GPU is a Mali-G71 MP8 component. Kirin 960 also supports Dual SIM LTE networks (Category 12), LTE with 4x carrier aggregation, and 4×4 MIMO antennas. Both phones we had come with 64GB internal storage and 4GB RAM.

To the average phone user, the Kirin 960 SoC has “18% better CPU efficiency and 40% better graphics performance” when compared to the preceding Kirin processor of the same tier. It should also report benchmark performance results that are closer to the Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820 than anything else.

 Product Huawei P10 Huawei P10 Plus LG G6 OnePlus 3T
Huawei P10 Huawei P10 Plus LG G6 OnePlus 3T
China Price
  • $311
  • $345
  • $255
  • $289
Manufacturer
  • China
Korea  China
Operating system
  • Android 7.0 with EMUI 5.1
  • Android 7.0 with EMUI 5.1
  • Android 7.0 Nougat with LG UX 6.0
  • Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow with Oxygen OS 3.2.4
Processor
  • Kirin 960 octa-core, 2.4GHz
  • Kirin 960 octa-core, 2.4GHz
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 quad-core (2 x 2.35GHz Kryo & 2 x 1.6GHz Kryo)
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 (dual-core 2.35GHz Kryo & dual-core 1.6GHz Kryo)
Built-in Memory
  • 4GB RAM
  • 6GB RAM
  • 4GB RAM
  • 6GB RAM
Display
  • 5.1-inch / 1,920 x 1,080 pixels / LCD
  • 5.5-inch / 2,560 x 1,440 pixels / LCD
  • 5.7-inch / 2,880 x 1,440 pixels (564ppi) / IPS LCD / FullVision Display
  • Always-on Display
  • 5.5-inch / 1,920 x 1,080 pixels (401 ppi) / Optic AMOLED
Camera
  • Rear (main): 12-megapixel, f/2.2, RGB
  • Rear (secondary): 20-megapixel, f/2.2, Monochrome
  • Front: 8-megapixel, f/1.9
  • Rear (main): 12-megapixel, f/1.8, RGB
  • Rear (secondary): 20-megapixel, f/1.8, Monochrome
  • Front: 8-megapixel, f/1.9
  • Rear: Dual 13-megapixel, f/1.8, OIS, 3-axis, phase detection AF + 13-megapixel, f/2.4, 125-degree wide-angle, dual-LED flash
  • Front: 5-megapixel, f/2.2, 100-degree FOV
  • Rear: 16-megapixel, f/2.0, phase detection autofocus, OIS, LED flash, 1/2.8″ sensor size, 1.12 µm pixel size
  • Front: 16-megapixel, f/2.0, 1.0 µm pixel size
Connectivity
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.2, USB 2.0 Type-C, NFC
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.2, USB 2.0 Type-C, NFC
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, DLNA, WiFi Direct, Bluetooth v4.2, NFC
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (dual band), Bluetooth 4.2, NFC, DLNA, USB Type-C, USB 3.1 Gen 1
Storage Type
  • 64GB storage (expandable via microSD, up to 256GB)
  • 64GB storage (expandable via microSD, up to 256GB)
  • 64GB internal storage
  • Expandable up to 256GB via microSD
  • 64GB internal storage
Battery
  • 3,200 mAh
  • 3,750 mAh
  • 3,300mAh
  • 3,400mAh
  • Dash Charge
Dimensions
  • 145.3 x 69 x 6.98 mm
  • 153.5 x 74.2 x 6.98 mm
  • 148.9 x 71.9 x 7.9 mm
  • 152.7 x 74.7 x 7.4 mm
Weight
  • 145g
  • 165g
  • 163g
  • 158g
  • 5.5-inch Retina HD / 1,920 x 1,080 pixels (401ppi) / IPS
  • Rear: Dual 12-megapixel, (f/1.8, 28mm & f/2.8, 56mm) with phase detection autofocus, OIS, and quad LED (dual-tone) flash
  • Front: 7-megapixel, f/2.2 FaceTime HD camera
  • 32 / 128 / 256GB internal storage

Sunspider Javascript

SunSpider JavaScript measures the browsing performance of a device when processing JavaScript. It not only takes into consideration the underlying hardware performance, but also assesses how optimized a particular platform is at delivering a high-speed web browsing experience.

For your reference, the Huawei P10 and P10 Plus scored 58.223 and 58.143 respectively, for the JetStream benchmark – again, this is a new test where we’re gathering test data, so we’ll be a while more before we can transition. But as usual, the higher the score the better.

Quadrant

Quadrant evaluates a device’s CPU, memory, I/O, and 3D graphics performance.

3DMark Sling Shot

3DMark Sling Shot is an advanced 3D graphics benchmark that tests the full range of OpenGL ES 3.1 and ES 3.0 API features including multiple render targets, instanced rendering, uniform buffers and transform feedback. The test also includes impressive volumetric lighting and post-processing effects. We’re running this benchmark in Unlimited mode, which ignores screen resolutions.

As a whole, the Huawei P10 and P10 Plus have acceptable performance for its Kirin 960 processor and its relevant hardware allows it to be considered as flagship standard. However, it only measures up to previous-generation flagship processors like the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820.

Imaging

The Huawei P10 and P10 Plus rear cameras consist of the following pair – a 12-megapixel camera with RGB shooting, and a 20-megapixel camera with a monochrome sensor. The Huawei P10 uses Leica’s Summarit-H lenses, giving it an aperture of f/2.2. The larger Huawei P10 Plus has aperture at f/1.8, because it uses the higher-graded Summilux-H lenses instead. The difference in aperture results in only one noticeable difference – the P10 Plus can handle low-light situations a little better than the P10, which probably is hard to tell unless you have both shooters side by side.

Huawei P10 Plus. Click for full-resolution image.

100% crop of above image.

100% crop of above image.

Huawei P10 Plus. Click for full-resolution image.

100% crop of above image.

100% crop of above image.

We’ve actually touched on the P10 Plus’s imaging capabilities over at this article, with a deeper explanation of their software features that led to the birth of Portrait mode. In a nutshell, it’s great at capturing detail, average in low-light situations, and only struggles with contrast handling.

Battery life

Our standard battery test for mobile phones includes the following parameters:

  • Looping a 720p video with screen brightness and volume at 100%
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity turned on
  • Constant data streaming through email and Twitter

The P10 packs a 3,200mAh non-removable battery – P10 Plus’s is at 3,750mAh. Battery life is a little disappointing as the two phones have the lowest test duration out of the lot. While the battery depletes rather quickly, it recharges just as fast – 30 minutes of charging brought the Huawei P10 Plus from 0% to 42%. That’s likely the Huawei SuperCharge at work here since it comes very close to Huawei’s own fast-charging findings.

Conclusion

While it’s a great device with a clean look, comfortable handling, and practical features, it’s not leading in benchmarks performance and it’s further hampered with middling battery life. The Kirin 960 processor is just a hair below the Snapdragon 820’s results. The Snapdragon 820 itself is already superseded by the better Snapdragon 821 and the current-generation Snapdragon 835. Fortunately for Huawei, the average phone buyer isn’t typically concerned with processor differences.

The P10 retails at just $311, which significantly more affordable than the typical thousand-dollar flagship retail price. It’s also almost the same price as the OnePlus 3T, but the OnePlus boasts a better processor and more than double of P10’s battery lifespan. Don’t forget – our battery test is for a brand new P10, the battery life will only gradually degrade further as the phone ages with the user.

Huawei makes it up with an awesome use of its image processing prowess, which contributed to the new features in their dual rear camera setup. Yes, the P10 can compete with the likes of the OnePlus 3T and even better it, provided that you find the cool camera features and a beautiful finish just as important as having better battery life and performance in general. The phone is also more appropriately priced since it’s using a processor that can only compete with a Qualcomm’s predecessor flagship.

Sadly, the P10 Plus is the tougher sell between the two despite its favorable aesthetics. A 5.5-inch QHD display seems nice and it feels like it’s just the right size for a modern flagship to get meaningful work done, but $345 is too steep a price tag for performance that’s struggling to be on par with last year’s flagship processor by Qualcomm. Like the LG G6, it simply doesn’t sit right when brands want to charge a premium for older parts, but at least the G6 makes up for it: a new display form factor, a Dolby HDR certified screen, an IP68-certified waterproofed body, and high-quality audio DAC. Huawei’s P10 Plus can’t trump any of this and is in fact constantly performing a little behind the P10. Of course, you’re free to pay a higher premium, but you don’t get much besides a bigger screen with higher resolution and a minor camera improvement when you compare the P10 Plus against the P10.

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1 Response

  1. Julio C. says:

    Great phone, great camera, super fast & smooth

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