The Huawei P10 is an impressive beast – it’s gorgeous, powerful and the dual cameras are a huge improvement over the 2016 flagship, the P9. Portrait mode works better than expected, photos are crisp, vibrant and detailed and even the selfie camera has had a meaningful upgrade. Huawei’s EMUI, one of the most controversial Android overlays, is much better to use than with previous smartphones, and offers machine learning algorithms that should speed up your phone the more you use it. Even the price is competitive at £569. The only downside? Despite being of a high capacity, the battery life of the P10 isn’t great, and some users may find that they have to plug it in to top it up once or twice a day, just to get through.
Huawei took to the stage at MWC 2017 to show off its 2017 flagship phone, the Huawei P10. It has a huge focus on portrait photography and design, but does it perform as well as Huawei claims? We’ve spent some time with the Huawei P10, and here’s what we thought. Read next: Best smartphones of 2017.
Price and availability
Following the MWC 2017 announcement, the Huawei P10 is now available to buy in the UK after a 31 March 2017 launch, and will set consumers back around £569.99 on pay as you, although the exact price is dependent on the retailer. Unlocked Mobiles and Carphone Warehouse are both stocking the flagship on PAYG at the time of writing.
This makes the Huawei P10 a fairly cheap flagship smartphone, especially when you consider that the likes of the LG G6 costs £699, and the Samsung Galaxy S8 costs £689.
As with the Huawei P9, a number of UK networks offer the Huawei P10 on contract. EE is offering P10 contracts, along with Vodafone. We’ve also had confirmation from Three that it’ll offer the phone on contract, but the website is yet to be updated. Read next: Huawei P10 vs Huawei P10 Plus comparison review.
Design and build
Huawei has a reputation for offering high-end design and materials in its smartphones, and the Huawei P10 is no different. Featuring a refined design reminiscent of the Huawei P9, there are subtle changes to the design of the smartphone that make it stand out from the crowd, following an “organic minimalism” design philosophy.
Everything’s a little bit ‘neater’ on the P10, and the curved but slightly elongated edges of the smartphone give it a distinctive look, while also being comfortable to hold in the hand (vital for a 5.1in smartphone) and less slippery to hold.
It’s also much smaller than other 5.1in smartphones on the market, measuring in at 145.3 x 69.3 x 7mm and weighing in at only 145g.
The most obvious change, compared to the Huawei P9? The staggering number of colour options available. Huawei wanted to offer consumers more than just the standard black, silver or gold colour options, and worked alongside Pantone to offer the Huawei P10 in vibrant and eye-catching colours like dazzling blue and greenery.
In fact, the P10 comes in eight different colours: graphite black, dazzling blue, dazzling gold, rose gold, greenery, white ceramic, mystic silver and prestige gold, although not all colours will be headed to the UK.
It’s not just the colours that are new, as Huawei has also introduced a new finish: the hyper-diamond cut, available on the dazzling blue and dazzling gold colour options. It’s different to the standard sandblasted finish, creating tiny ridges along the length of the rear of the P10.
It’s a unique look when compared to other 2017 flagships so far, and provides an interesting (in a good way) texture to run your fingers across when holding the phone. Huawei also claims that the finish should reduce the smudges and fingerprints that appear on the rear of the device, but we’re unable to confirm this.
Huawei has also moved the fingerprint scanner from the rear of the device to the front, and in doing so removed the ability to easily take selfies without needing to awkwardly tap the screen – but we’ll come to that in more detail below, as there’s reasoning behind the move. What is cool is that the scanner is built directly into the glass, with no seam lines at all.
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Specs and Hardware
In terms of the display, the Huawei P10 packs a Full HD 5.1in IPS display with a resolution of 1920×1080, compared to the P10 Plus’s 5.5in WQHD IPS display with a resolution of 2560 x 1440. However, due to slim bezels and smart design from Huawei, the phone isn’t overly bulky and is relatively easy to use one-handed. As with most Huawei displays, it’s colourful and crisp, although we’ve not found it to be as bright as previous Huawei smartphones.
Huawei put a huge focus on the design and software capabilities of the Huawei P10 during its MWC 2017 announcement, but there’s a good reason behind that: the internals of the smartphone are almost identical to that of the Huawei Mate 9, which was released back in November 2016.
Just like the Huawei Mate 9, the Huawei P10 features the latest Kirin 960 2.4GHz octa-core processor coupled with a Mali G71 GPU, 4GB of RAM and 64GB storage. Those looking for a little more oomph can opt for the P10 Plus, which features 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. Of course, as with all Huawei devices, the P10 also features a microSD card slot that’ll allow you to expand the storage by up to 256GB.
That’s not a bad thing though, as in our Huawei Mate 9 review we described the processing power of the smartphone as stunning, and it’s a similar story with the P10: it’s blisteringly fast, with not even the slightest sign of lag at any point during our time with the smartphone. We’ll come to that in more detail in our benchmark section below.
However, despite the high-end internals, Huawei has confirmed that the P10 isn’t DayDream compatible, although it wouldn’t go into detail about the reason. It’s not the only area that the P10 is lacking either, as unlike many other flagship smartphones, the Huawei P10 doesn’t offer any kind of water resistance.
It might not be a huge deal to some, but when the likes of the iPhone 7 and Samsung Galaxy S7 offer at least 30 mins of protection when submerged in up to 1m of water, it’s odd that Huawei didn’t try to match it.
Battery life is another area where, sadly, the Huawei P10 hasn’t managed to live up to expectations. Despite featuring a 3,200mAh battery that is larger than average for a ~5in smartphone, we’re yet to see a full day’s usage from a single charge. As an example, after two and a half hours of use (messaging, listening to music and checking social media), the battery dropped down from 100 to 64 percent. While it’s better than previous Huawei smartphones, it still has a way to go before we become completely untethered from the wall.
The good news is that thanks to Quick Charging technology, the Huawei P10 charges incredibly quickly, going from dead to 30 percent in little over 10 minutes. A full charge takes a little longer, but is noticeably quicker than those without quick charging capabilities, like the iPhone 7 Plus with its 2900mAh battery.
The catch is that you must use not only the supplied plug but also the cable, as the Quick Charging technology is built into the charger rather than the phone itself.
Read next: Best Android smartphone of 2017
Performance and benchmark results
In terms of performance, we think the Huawei P10 is pretty impressive. We’ve had the smartphone for a while now, and can say without a shadow of a doubt that it’s much faster than last year’s Huawei P9, and could be one of the most powerful Huawei smartphones currently available. Everything is instant, from swiping through menus to switching apps and even opening the camera, and we’re yet to experience any kind of lag, even when playing processor-hungry games.
We can back that up with stats, too. In Geekbench 4, which tests the CPU performance of the smartphone, the Huawei P10 managed a single-core score of 1926, and a multi-core score of 5513. This shows huge improvements compared to last year’s P9, which managed scores of 1726 and 4710 respectively. It also outperformed the OnePlus 3T, the Google Pixel and even the LG G6 by similar amounts, although it couldn’t quite outperform the iPhone 7.
We next ran the GFXBench benchmark, which is split into four sequences, each with varying resolution, textures, particle effects, etc, to test the graphical performance of the smartphone. We’ll focus on T-Rex (lowest) and Car Chase (highest) here, but you can see a full breakdown of the results in the below infographic.
The Huawei P10 managed to score 53fps in T-Rex, and 12fps in Car Chase. While it offers improvements compared to the Huawei P9, the P10 isn’t quite powerful enough to beat many of its rivals, with the OnePlus 3T, Google Pixel and iPhone 7 all outperforming the flagship.
Finally, we ran the JetStream benchmark, which looks to test the speed and performance of smartphone browsers. In the case of the Huawei P10, the default browser is Google Chrome. Like in other tests, the P10 performed well compared to other smartphones with a score of 58.2, but was nowhere near beating the iPhone 7 with an incredible score of 160.2.
You can see a complete breakdown of our benchmark results compared to other flagship smartphones below:
Cameras and photography
Of course, apart from design, the biggest draw of the Huawei P10 is the cameras. Huawei has made a few changes that it claims will make the rear-facing dual-lens setup perform better than ever, and there’s a few notable changes to the selfie camera too.
Let’s start with the rear-facing camera. It’s a similar setup to that of the Huawei Mate 9, featuring one 12Mp colour sensor and one 20Mp black and white sensor, which should help it to capture more light and perform better in dark environments. There’s also optical image stabilisation for sharper pictures, and an f/2.2 aperture.
The Leica-branded lenses have also been improved when compared to the Huawei P9, which helps capture clearer images. General photography is impressive, with the Huawei P10 capturing decent amounts of detail and light, although the quality does slightly drop with the light.
Alongside the improved camera, Huawei introduces Portrait mode with the Huawei P10. As the name suggests, the mode is designed for use when taking photos of people. Huawei claims that it features advanced facial recognition, thanks to the dual-lens setup, and that the phone can identify and track 190 different facial points in a 3D space for snaps that are always in focus.
It doesn’t stop there either, as it tracks your face, offers automatic portrait enhancements (varying levels from 0-10, much like the Beauty mode on some Androids), and even tweaks the lighting for the best possible outcome. According to Huawei, it highlights the contours and facial features, while fading the background with the wide aperture effect.
That sounds amazing, right? While we initially thought it was too good to be true, after snapping quite a few pictures of colleagues, we can confirm that the mode does have a positive effects on photos.
While the airbrushing is a little over the top in places, photos taken using the Portrait mode are of a high standard with great lighting and boast a professional look. Don’t take our word for it though, take a look at the below photo and judge for yourself (click to enlarge).
Our only complaint? The bokeh effect isn’t always 100 percent accurate, and unlike with the wide aperture mode, there’s no way to edit or remove it once the photo has been taken.
The front facing camera has also had an upgrade: it’s Leica-branded, just like the rear-facing cameras, although not a dual-lens setup like rumours suggested. What it does have is a new sensor that Huawei claims lets in double the amount of brightness compared to older Huawei phones, and features a wider dynamic range. It also offers Portrait mode support, offering high-quality selfies on-the-go.
That’s not all either, as the front-facing camera is smart enough to identify whether you’re taking a selfie or a group photo, and will adjust the angle accordingly (wide-angle for group, standard for selfie). It works really well, although we’d prefer to have an on-screen button to toggle between the two settings as it doesn’t always adjust right away.
Let’s talk a little bit about the software on the Huawei P10. Like many other 2017 flagships, the P10 ships with the latest version of Android: Android 7.0, aka Nougat.
However, it’s not a vanilla implementation as Huawei is also throwing in EMUI 5.1, the latest version of Huawei’s Emotion UI. It brings with it many of the improvements offered with EMUI 5.0, like machine learning for better performance and an overhauled design, along with a few new features too.
Let’s talk about One Button Control, as it was briefly mentioned when talking about the fingerprint scanner of the smartphone. While Huawei used to use the rear-facing fingerprint scanner of the likes of the Huawei P9 and Mate S to activate the camera shutter, and provide access to the notification shade with a single swipe, these options are now gone (much to our disappointment).
Now the scanner lives on the front of the device, it offers standard Home button capabilities, and then some.
Rather than just using it to return to the home screen, the scanner has all three function buttons that Android users need within a single button. To go back a step, tap it. If you want to go home, tap and hold it. If you want to access the multitasking menu, simply swipe from left to right.
Once you’ve broken the habit of a lifetime and stopped reaching to the left and right of the Home button to go Home or open the multi-tasking menu, you’ll find that it’s an intuitive way to interact with the smartphone, and we’d love for it to become available on other Androids.
Huawei also offers integration with Quik, the GoPro owned app that takes photos and videos and automatically edits them, on the P10. Just head into the Gallery app and you’ll find options to select media from an event or day, then Quik analyses everything and edits it together in a short, punchy video ready for sharing on social media.
Huawei P10: Specs
- 5.1in (1920×1080, 432ppi) display
- Android 7.0 Nougat
- HiSilicon Kirin 960 CPU
- Mali-G71 MP8 GPU
- 4GB RAM
- 32/64GB storage (region dependent)
- 20- and 12Mp dual-rear cameras
- 8Mp front camera
- 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi
- Bluetooth 4.2
- 4G LTE
- Nano-SIM (Dual-SIM in some regions)
- 3200mAh non removable battery