Huawei P10 Plus full review
Huawei was one of the main attractions at MWC and its new flagship P10 phones for 2017 are solid options for a new handset. Once again, the phones feature dual-Leica cameras but there're only a handful of reasons to but the P10 Plus over the regular model and there's tough competition from the likes of LG, Samsung and Honor. Here's our full in-depth review. Read next: Best smartphones of 2017.
Price and where to buy
The Huawei P10 Plus release date is set for 31 March and you’ll be able to get it from all major UK phone networks. This is a big win for the Chinese company and its mission to conquer the smartphone market. Read our Huawei P10 review.
As usual contract prices vary but seem to be around £40 with a free handset at launch. We’re more interested in the SIM-free price in terms of placing it in the market and comparing to rivals. Well Carphone Warehouse has it for £679 which is not the most expensive around but is a lot for most to stump up.
Considering the Huawei P10 Plus is pretty pricey, it’s worth bearing in mind that the regular P10 is pretty similar and costs £569 and the impressive OnePlus 3T is just £399. There's also a spanner in the works as the Honor 8 Pro is largely the same phone and costs under £500.
Design and build
Despite a screen size jump of 0.4in, the P10 Plus is barely any bigger than the regular P10. It’s still 7mm thick, only a few millimetres wider and taller and just 20g heavier (165g). Overall, this is quite impressive for a 5.5in phone with a front-mounted fingerprint scanner. It’s a very similar size and weight to the P9 Plus.
Both the P10 and P10 Plus have essentially the same design are gorgeous, desirable smartphones. It’s hard to do something new when it comes to smartphone design and as such, the P10 Plus reminds us of various other handsets including the iPhone 7, HTC One A9 and the OnePlus 3T.
The phone has a similar build to the P9 but with a smoother and rounder shape. It feels nice in the hand, although slightly slippery. Almost entirely aluminium, the body is only interrupted by a small glass section at the top which houses the cameras as flash.
One of the key changes in design is having the fingerprint sensor on the front rather than the back. We’ll talk more about this later.
Despite almost every rivalling moving to waterproofing, the P10 Plus cannot be freely dunked in water without fear of damage. You’ll need to look elsewhere if this is a high priority for you because it's only IPX3 rated which is basic splashproof level. The regular P10 doesn't have this rating, mind.
Huawei spent a decent chunk of the P10 announcement at MWC talking about colour. There are eight different options for the P10 Plus:
• Graphite Black
• Dazzling Blue
• Dazzling Gold
• Rose Gold
• White Ceramic
• Mystic Silver
• Prestige Gold
A lot of people will be interested in the new blue and green options with the former our favourite, but it’s unclear which retailers and networks will have them. So far, it’s the black, gold and silver options that are available.
Hardware and Specs
Huawei might not have pushed the boat out when it comes to the hardware on offer here but the P10 Plus is still has a solid and attractive spec sheet.
As you would expect, the P10 Plus offers a larger screen compared to the regular model at 5.5in instead of 5.1in. That's pretty standard although suddenly seems a bit small with the announcement of the huge 6.2in Galaxy S8 – which isn't actually that big due to tiny bezels.
The P10 Plus doesn't have fancy rounded corners on the screen or curved edges at the sides. However, it does offer a higher resolution than the P10 – Quad HD rather than Full HD so the pixel density is a decent chunk greater at 540ppi.
It's worth noting, with new rivals like the LG G6 and Samsung Galaxy S8, that that P10 Plus doesn't offer things like rounded corners on the display or curved edges.
While the screen is perfectly adequate, we're not completely impressed by it. When you compare the LCD technology to phones with AMOLED you can notice how the white isn't up to scratch and viewing angles aren't as good.
It's also a shame that no oleophobic coating means the screen is magnet for marks and smudges.
There's no new processor here but the Kirin 960, as found in the Huawei Mate 9, is something of a beast. It's a 2.4- and 1.8GHz (four cores of each speed) octa-core processor backed up by a Mali-G71 GPU.
The phone is lightning fast and certainly an improvement on the already impressive P9 Plus. As you can see in the benchmark figures below, the P10 Plus got some of the best results we've ever seen – partly thanks to the huge amount of RAM (see below). Note that the screen resolution is the reason behind lower framerates.
Memory and storage
One of the things keeping the P10 Plus so speedy is the whopping 6GB RAM inside which is paired with 128GB of storage. There's also a Micro-SD card slot for adding even more – up to 256GB.
Not even phones like the G6 and S8 have 6GB of RAM so this is impressive and joins a very limited club with devices such as the OnePlus 3T and Honor 8 Pro.
There's another model of the P10 Plus with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage - the L09 - but as far as we know, it's not destined for the UK market.
The P10 Plus has some decent specs in this area including 11ac dual-band Wi-Fi, NFC, GPS and the reversible USB-C port. It doesn't make a huge different but it has Bluetooth 4.2 rather than the newer 5.0.
What we are surprised to see is an Infrared port which means the phone can be used as a remote control for various devices around your home like the TV. We're surprised as other manufacturers gradually dropped this from flagship devices.
This is not on the regular P10 so is a potential reason to opt for the Plus model.
Huawei has decided to move the fingerprint scanner from the back, to the front of the phone for the P10. This is the opposite of a lot of rivals due to the additional bezel below the screen. The P10 Plus' is very similar to the OnePlus 3T with a rounded and sunken shape.
You can use this to unlock the phone without the need to push the power button first, and it's incredibly fast if you put the right part of your print on the sensor. We found it worked at first attempt the vast majority of the time.
Another change is that the sensor can no longer be used with the same gestures such as pulling down the notification bar. This worked really well on previous phones.
Now, Huawei offers a One Button Control which means there a no on-screen navigation buttons and the fingerprint sensor is used for multiple things. A tap goes back, a long press takes you home and swiping in from either side opens recent apps.
This takes some getting used to but you can switch on-screen navigation buttons if you can't get on with the system.
At first glance, the P10 Plus has the same dual-camera setup as the smaller P10 but that's not quite the case. It does have the same 20- and 12Mp monochrome and colour sensors respectively with features like optical image stabilisation (OIS) and a dual-tone flash but the lenses are different.
While the P10 has Leica's Summarit lenses, the P10 Plus uses the higher grade Summilux. The main difference here is that the aperture is f/1.8 compared to f/2.2 but Huawei also promises other benefits such as better sharpness in the corners of shots.
Overall we're very impressed with the dual-camera setup here as the combination of the sensors means up to 2x lossless zoom, high-quality bokeh effects and awesome black-and-white images.
In general conditions the two phones shoot equally well with impressive results and although that wider aperture on the P10 Plus means the camera shoots at a lower ISO in darker conditions. However, this doesn't always mean better results because results in low-light are inconsistent.
Our conclusion here is that the camera is not an area which differentiates the P10 Plus from the regular version enough to buy it instead. We're not saying the cameras are bad, quite the opposite in fact.
At the front is the same 8Mp camera with an f/1.9 aperture. It's also Leica branded and takes decent selfies. It has the ability to automatically detect if you're taking a picture of one person or a group and will adjust to wide-angle if needed.
As usual with a Plus model, the P10 Plus has a larger battery than the normal model. At 3750mAh it's a reasonable amount more capacity than 3200mAh. That's also a reasonable chuck compared to other 5.5in phones likes the Pixel XL (3450mAh) and the LG G6 (3300mAh).
Sadly the battery capacity doesn’t mean something as exciting as a two day battery life, but it will get through a day of heavy usage which is something a lot of phones still can't manage.
It's a shame there's no wireless charging but the supplied fast charger will keep you topped up via the USB-C port. We were able to get 25 percent charge in 15 minutes and it takes around an hour and a half to get the P10 Plus from dead to 100 percent – the last 20 percent took longer hence why it's not the expected hour.
Standby time doesn't seem to be as good as rivals, likely due to Huawei's software, but you'll probably be charging overnight so this is a small issue. As with most modern smartphones, the P10 Plus has power- and ultra power saving modes you can utilise.
You can also schedule power off and on times in the Smart Assistance section of settings to help conserve power.
It's no surprise that the P10 Plus comes with the latest version of Android, 7.0 Nougat. This is what Huawei's interface, EMUI 5.1, is based on.
We used to find EMUI a big pain and a good reason not to buy a Huawei phone but things have changed. Where you were previously forced into Huawei's way of doing things, there's now far more user control.
This includes opting for on-screen navigation buttons instead of the One Button Control we talked about in the fingerprint scanner section and other elements such as whether or not you want an app draw.
Overall the interface is cleaner, simpler and a simply a much nicer experience.
It's not flawless though as there are some pre-installed apps we'd rather not see such as Trip Advisor, Todoist and Booking.com. You also get Facebook and Twitter which will both need updating when you first load them up. Fortunately, you can uninstall any of these if you don't want them.
Huawei P10 Plus: Specs
- Android 7.0 Nougat
- 5.5in (1440 x 2560, 540ppi) display
- HiSilicon Kirin 960 CPU
- Mali-G71 MP8 GPU
- 6GB RAM
- 128GB storage
- 20- and 12Mp dual-rear cameras
- 8Mp front camera
- 802.11ac Wi-Fi
- Bluetooth 4.2
- 4G LTE
- Nano-SIM (Dual-SIM in some regions)
- IR blaster
- Fingerprint sensor
- 3750mAh non removable battery