The Huawei P10 is one of my favourite Android device out right now, but has Huawei done enough to stand out or compete with other flagship devices out there?
The P10 is ergonomic, it feels premium, packs all the specs you’d expect from a manufacturer like Huawei, in fact, it has one of the best smartphone cameras out today.
While most manufacturers know what they’re doing when it comes to putting together a smartphone with great specs, they are all still trying to stand out one way or the other innovatively. Take Samsung for example, they have the infinity edge display this year, and Sony has 960fps with the Xperia XZ premium.
Then there’s the Huawei P10! At first glance, the home button looks perfectly normal and I thought it’s something I can get used to and just a caveat, this is my personal opinion and after using it since first launched at MWC, I just can’t get used to the home button.
It’s counter-intuitive and for someone who plays with numerous phones at the same time, it often bugs me when switching from one phone to another. As well as acting as a fingerprint scanner to unlock the device, you can tap once to go back to the previous screen; for example, if you’re browsing the web, you can press once to go back to the previous page.
Swipe/slide on it to reveal background applications, and to go back to the home screen from any application, you press and hold the virtual home button. As smart as it may sound to be able to combine all that function in one button, it can be confusing.
It also got me asking, who has the best home button setup right now? Is it Samsungs Galaxy S8’s embedded home button, the iPhone’s virtual button or Sony’s side button? Which one works best for consumers or should it be based on usability vs handset size?
Ok back to the rest of the review!
Huawei P10 is a perfect fit for the hand and it has the same DNA as the beloved mate 9
The P10 is definitely designed with usability in mind, and that shows across the board (apart from the home button), everything is within the reach of your hands, especially when used one handed.
On the right side, there’s a power button and above it, the volume rocker; the power button has a red highlight and with a rough, diagonal cross hatching so you can easily feel for it when using it, especially in the dark. Besides the two buttons, you have a sim card and microSD card tray (all-in-one) to the left side.
Down the bottom, there’s a USB-C port and despite having that, I’m glad that Huawei stuck to using a separate 3.5mm headphone port. To the right of the USB-C port is a speaker grill which is not the loudest but will do the job just fine for most people.
Whether having just an FHD (1080p) display is adequate or enough to compete in this day and age is still a debate. What a flagship or premium device should have is also a different conversation, but Huawei has stuck with a 5.1-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) display, producing 432 PPI.
In my opinion, due to a relatively small display, anything higher would not be discerned by most people’s vision anyway so unless you just care about high-end specs, you probably wouldn’t care much about that. Elsewhere on the front, there’s an 8 MP shooter with AF and F1.9 aperture, so not as wide as that of the S8, but still performs well in low light.
Turn the P10 over and you’re greeted with a very minimalist design; there’s a dual camera setup, certified by Leica and your flash with laser autofocus – having used laser focus in the past, it’s definitely a good choice. One of the cameras is RGB and the other is Monochrome, something Huawei have become known for. Even their sister company, Honor have the same setup – more on camera performance later.
One more thing – the P10 dazzling model used in this review features a precision-cut textured back which prevents fingerprints sticking to it or becoming visible. It also looks nice, try running your nails across it and it sounds like you’re scratching like a DJ. It’s also worth mentioning that the P10 is not water resistant and although it will resist a minor water splash, it’s not to be submerged in water.
Overall, the P10 feels solid in hand, it’s ergonomic and as a bonus, there’s a case included in the box and a screen protector is pre-installed, so out of the box, your phone is packaged to stay fresh like new.
It’s super fast and EMUI is even snappier
Powered by Huawei’s own Kirin 960 CPU (Octa-core: 4 x Cortex A73 2.4 GHz + 4 x Cortex A53 1.8 GHz) and 4GB RAM, the P10 feels very snappy. Multitasking is smooth and in my opinion, it has the fastest fingerprint scanner I’ve ever used in comparison to the iPhone or even Samsung’s Galaxy S8.
While it’s got a fast processor and memory combination, what really enables the P10 to be super fast is the latest Emotion UI or EMUI. The P10 is the first device to sport the EMUI 5.1 OS, bringing a lot of the good stuff I love about Android Nougat plus more.
EMUI 5.1 builds on the success of its predecessor in that it’s not just a reskin or software based on looks, it’s all about improving the user experience. Using machine learning, Huawei Ultra memory and predictive touch tracking, EMUI 5.1 feels buttery smooth.
EMUI 5.1’s will intelligently learn user behaviour in order to know how you use your apps and over time it knows how to allocate resources, as a result, you’ll notice that apps load up very quickly and your device will feel like new even 12 or 24 months down the line. This has always been an issue with Android devices in that it feels fast when first switched on, but over time it deteriorates in performance.
In addition to machine learning, Huawei Ultra memory ensures that when loading and using your favourite apps, you have an adequate RAM resource available for a smooth launch. This one is tricky to see in action but with apps loading quickly, one can only assume that all the intelligent features are running very well.
Predictive tracking anticipates where you will be touching next on the screen and the whole point is to reduce latency – so when you tap anywhere on the screen you get a very instantaneous response. This was noticeable only when compared to older Huawei devices.
Huawei P10’s camera is great when there’s good lighting
The P10 is packed with a dual camera setup with one 20 MP monochrome camera plus a 12 MP RGB (colour) counterpart. For good lighting and sharp images, the P10’s camera is loaded with F2.2 aperture and just like the Mate 9 and the P9, it’s also co-engineered with Leica.
For shaky hands, it features OIS (Optical Image Stabilisation), dual-tone flash for extra and natural lighting, a bunch of focusing tech (PDAF + CAF + Laser + Depth Auto Focus), 2x Hybrid Zoom so you retain image quality when used in comparison to optical or digital zoom and 4K video recording capability.
The result? it doesn’t disappoint at all. It takes great pictures whether you leave everything to automatically take care of itself or you put it in pro mode to manually adjust things. Using HDR mode is not that essential anymore as it still captures colours very well.
One feature worth mentioning is the portrait mode which adds a bokeh effect and allows you to adjust lighting to the subject/ While this is a great feature or something handy, it uses software manipulation to make it work and as a result, you get some visual artefacts around the edges. A good example is when it tries to differentiate minute hair details from the background – you won’t notice this much unless you blow your images up.
Some image samples:
- The P10 is a good-sized smartphone that feels natural in hand.
- The camera is fantastic – try monochrome mode too.
- EMUI 5.1 is sleek and feels buttery smooth.
- 3.5mm Headphone jack.
- Expandable storage.
- Thanks to Huawei’s antenna tech, call quality is great, you get fast data speeds and a reliable signal.
- The fingerprint scanner is mega-fast.
- Multifunctional home button takes some getting used to.
- The camera is great but can be inconsistent in low light.
- Feels boring when compared to the bezel-free Galaxy S8 and LG G6.
- The fingerprint scanner is mega-fast.
- The display is only 1080p FHD and not on the same level as others with WQHD or HDR displays.
If I was to rank all the flagship devices out so far this year, the P10 would definitely sit in my top five devices to consider this year. It feels premium, powerful, EMUI 5.1 is smooth thanks to a bunch of intelligent features and its design is simple, yet functional.
For any user, it offers all the goodness you’d expect from a device of that calibre, but if you asked me before the S8 launch, I would have said the P10 had nothing to worry about, however, now that competitors are doing innovative things like zero bezels, you begin to wonder, what actually is it that makes the P10 unique?
Otherwise, if you need something that takes great pictures, with an all-day battery life, powerful processor, expandable storage, a software that won’t deteriorate over time, feels nice in hand, thin and slick, then the P10 should be considered.