The Good
  • Vast improvement to EMUI overlay from older Huawei mobiles
  • Leica has designed the camera. What more can I say?
  • Storage capacity is huge coming in at 128GB
The Bad
  • No protective layer on the screen leaves oily marks
  • No water resistance which is a let down
4.1Overall Score

After checking out the P9 late last year, we’ve kept a close eye on the Chinese mobile manufacturer over 2017 so far. The Huawei P10 came first, which sent shockwaves through the industry, enabling them to come up against the big boys like Samsung and LG. Now that the Huawei P10 Plus is here, it’s their best smartphone yet. With its superb camera, excellent battery life and huge storage capacities, its feeling very comfortable going up against the likes of the Samsung S7 and iPhone 7 phones.

So taking a look at the box, you will find that it opens up like a door, rather than having the outer skin like on many other manufacturers packaging. The doors open up revealing the phone which sits in a small tray while covered in a plastic packaging. Underneath the tray you will find a set of instructions and a plastic case to protect the rear of the phone. In the base you’ve got your USB cable, a quick charging plug and a hands-free set of headphones with inline microphone.

Opening up the plastic packaging around the phone and removing the screen protector you’re greeted with a phone that’s taken most of its styling influences from another popular handset. You guessed it, the iPhone 7. Like most other flagship devices out there, Apple’s presence when manufacturers design their phones are always in mind. The Huawei P10 has a matte black finish on the back, and the camera area is kept very glossy. The Huawei logo is faded but present. On the front the screen takes up most of the surface area, only leaving room for a lightning quick finger print sensor. A brief swipe and you’re onto your home screen. There are no buttons on the front, instead Huawei opting for touch buttons for open apps and menu on the screen itself.

 

Design

The device is built around the 5.5″ screen making it quite a large handset, although there is hardly any bezel around the edge. I found the phone quite easy to hold. The back is a little slippery thanks to the matte finish, and reaching to the other side of the screen is nigh-on-impossible to do, so there’s no one handed texting here, but one handed use while browsing the net or Facebook is achievable. The power button and volume rocker being placed down the right hand side is a nice touch.

Although coming from a Samsung S7 to the Huawei P10 does have its differences. For me, it was a stretch to get my thumb to the fingerprint sensor with one hand, instead having to use my other hand to keep the phone stable while unlocking. A fingerprint sensor on the rear would easily avoid this. Secondly, there is no waterproofing which compared to the Samsung S7, and even the iPhone 7 is a major hindrance in the battle for the top spot. The phone itself is actually quite heavy, and although this isn’t so much a downfall in terms of how premium the phone feels, I think the weight is responsible for the tricky one handed handling.

Display

The Huawei P10 is not far behind the current flagship phones, as opting to use an LCD-IPS display does unfortunately come up short compared to the Amloed screens used in the likes of Samsung phones. Although there is a quad HD 2560×1440 resolution, colours are just not as vibrant as the Samsung S8 insteadgiving offa more cool tone. Not that that’s a bad thing, and it’s really more personal preference on how you enjoy your screens to look. There is a setting where you can adjust the warm tone of the screen if you don’t like the out the box display.

The screen is covered in Gorilla Glass 5 which means there is an element of scratch resistance. It can however still be damaged with enough force such as sharing the same pocket with a set of keys or a bag with other items inside. There’s also no screen protection- across the front of the glass, like on other flagship handsets meaning after a few minutes use, you can start to see oily finger marks. There is a screen protector from the box, but it’s no good. Fell off after a couple of days and scratches easily. It’ll be worth investing in one to keep your screen looking nice.

Under The Hood

It’s performance is where this phone wins. Inside you will find Huawei’s own chipset, the HiSilicon Kirin 960, an octa-core processor,with four running at 2.4 GHz Cortex-A73 and the remaining coming in at 1.8 GHz Cortex-A53. This sits on par pretty much with what Samsung has in their latest handset, the S8, so speed wise, there shouldn’t be too much different between them. What’s more, Huawei has opted to put in total 6GB RAM inside the P10 Plus, which is two more gigs of RAM than its smaller brother, the P10.

Running a GeekBench 4 CPU benchmark saw the Huawei P10 Plus score a whopping 1868 on a single core scrore and 6280 on a multi-core score which over the Samsung S7’s 5550 during our review is a great increase. We downloaded some pretty graphically demanding game titles including MicroMachines and Dirt Xtreme. Both titles ran, but they were not as smooth as the gaming experience you could find on an Apple iPhone 7. I believe this is because of the Mali-G71 MP8 GPU.  It’s not as strong as Apple’s A10 Fusion chips. Still wouldn’t complain though. They were definitely playable.

The Camera

There are two cameras present on the back of the Huawei P10 Plus, and both have their own use. One camera is a wide-angled lens with an aperture of f/1.8 while the other lens is used for telephoto shots. There’s a monochrome sensor inside coming in at 20 megapixels as well as an RGB sensor at 12 megapixels. The reason for this is so the user can capture far more detail within shots.

What more is that this camera has actually been developed by photography giants Leica, and they definitely know what they’re doing. I couldn’t really find much fault with the camera, as most shots on screen looked pretty sharp and colourful, albeit the cool tone of the Huawei P10 Plus’s screen. The aperture is massive compared to other phones usually coming in at f/2  and above which means lots of extra light with the P10 Plus.

One thing I did notice is during night photography is that you need to hold the phone really still if you’re using the Auto mode on the camera due to the shutter needing to be open for too long to capture the image. If you were using this on the manual Pro mode, you could raise the shutter speed along with the ISO sensitivity and achieve a better result, all while keeping the aperture as wide as possible.

Using the telephoto lens to zoom works well, but the phone does warn against zooming past 2x. This is due to picture quality being lost. At 2x zoom though, photos are still sharp.

The Other Bits

There is at standard 128GB worth of storage, and thanks to the inclusion of a microSD card slot, an additional 256GB can be added. This is insane, especially for the price of this handset as prices from other manufacturers are significantly higher. If you don’t need that much storage, the P10 standard has a 64GB storage capacity.

Huawei use their own graphical overlay for Android named EMUI. It’s not as good looking at some others like Samsung’s Touchwiz and doesn’t come close to the likes of stock Android on the Google Pixel. However, what we did see is an improvement over the P9 we saw last year. It’s a lot better looking, and seems to run smoother now that it’s been modernised a little.

There are a bunch of bloatware apps that come pre-installed which I wasn’t keen on, and as we saw a Vodafone version, we saw that again, Vodafone have also included numerous apps that I’m not sure are very welcome. Using the phone for the last couple of weeks coming from my Samsung S7, I didn’t feel too foreign to their own overlay. The EMUI skin offers some really great options that aren’t included on other brand’s handsets.

One thing I did notice about the Huawei P10 Plus is it drains battery like no other, especially when you have things like the GPS and WiFi constantly turned on. I did however manage to get about a day’s mild usage out of the handset, but this was a little disappointing. Charging however, thanks to its Super Charger is great, and will charge from dead to full in around an hour or two.

So Should I Buy One?

If you’re looking for a flagship mobile then this is definitely worth considering. Coming in at around £649 means that it is slightly cheaper than a new Samsung S8 or iPhone 7, with a specification that is nigh-on comparable.

The Leica designed camera is absolutely superb, and the phone is built really well. The quality of the metal used makes you feel as if you do have a premium handset in your hand. However, no water resistance, which is a let down if you’re like me who likes to listen to a bit of Spotify in the shower. Yes, I have dropped phones in the shower in the past, and yes, they have broken slightly.

The Huawei P10 is a phone worth checking out if you are in the market for a new handset.

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Stef Murphy

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