Huawei P10 and P10 Plus hands-on: It’s all about photography again

  • Huawei P10 release date: March 2017
  • Huawei P10 price: 64GB P10 for 649 Euros / 699 Euros for P10 Plus

The covers have been taken off the Huawei P10 and, unsurprisingly, it’s all about the ‘Co-engineered by Leica’ label and dual-cameras once again. The P10 very much feels like the natural successor to the P9, Huawei’s first foray into its Leica partnership.

The immediate visual change to both models is the fingerprint sensor that was on the rear of the P9, now is front and centre. It’s pill-shaped just like the OnePlus 3T and is a capacitive touch button just the same.

But where things differ is that it’s not flanked by additional Android navigation controls to its side, as is the norm.

Related: MWC 2017 news and highlights

That’s because they’ve all been incorporated into the single under-glass fingerprint sensor. A tap acts as the standard Back button, whereas a hold acts as the Home button. A swipe to the left or right will bring up the apps Overview.

This is going to take some getting used to and I’ll need more time with the _phone_ to decide whether there’s really any added benefits over having the standard buttons. It’s not like you gain any space back from their omission after all.

Huawei P10

The other big difference is the sheer number of colour options. There are now eight colours in total, developed in partnership with Pantone. These include Pantone’s ‘colour of the year’ ‘Greenery’, which, you guessed it, is pretty darn green. It’s certainly going to stand out in a crowd.

Huawei

Otherwise, there are – deep breath – Dazzling Blue, Rose Gold, Prestige Gold, Ceramic White, Mystic Silver, Dazzling Gold and Graphite Black options.

I haven’t had a chance to see all of them, but the Dazzling Blue has the same sort of light-catching shimmer seen on the Honor 8 – Honor being one of Huawei’s sub-brands. It also has a slightly textured finish. I’m not yet sure if the Dazzling Black has the same visual effect.

The Huawei P10 has a hyper-diamond cut finish to help cut down on those unsightly greasy fingerprint marks that would otherwise plague your shiny piece of tech.

Huawei 8

And the P10 and P10 Plus feel as good in your hands as the P9 did, feeling as solidly constructed as you would expect for a flagship phone. The Huawei P10 has a 5.2-inch Full HD display, which looked sharp and vibrant. The P10 Plus super-sizes the display to 5.5-inch with a 2K resolution display.

As for those Leica engineered cameras, there’s two of them on the rear as before, with a 20-megapixel monochrome sensor paired with a 12-megapixel RGB sensor.

These sensors are paired with Leica Summarit F/2.2 lenses in the P10, which is a smaller aperture compared to the P10 Plus’ F1/.8 lenses. This will not only mean poorer low-light performance but also less of that bokeh effect for subject separation. It might pay to go bigger if photography is your priority.

Huawei 11

Bokeh is what it’s all about again, though, with a new Portrait mode in the camera app. Huawei says this is like having a portrait studio in your pocket, with adjustable enhancements to skin tone and adjustable dynamic lighting and the like. There’s also a Monochrome Portrait mode. Huawei reckons that 80% of the photos shared from the P9 were portraits, so the emphasis on these modes make sense.

Around front is an 8-megapixel camera for selfies. The same portrait image enhancements available to the rear sensor are present here, so hopefully this means even more flattering selfies.

Huawei P10

Under the hood, the P10 uses a Kirin 960 chipset, the same we saw in the Huawei Mate 9 recently. Considering we had no qualms with its performance in that phone, it’ll likely be as good a performer in the P10, especially considering some of the improvements under the hood to EMUI 5.1.

Huawei 10

For those unaware, EMUI is Huawei’s customisation to the standard Android operating system. The big changes with version 5.1 are the additions of Ultra Memory and Ultra Response. Ultra Memory applies machine learning to memory management, with a modified kernel so memory gets recycled faster.

The Ultra Reponse modifications apply to the touch controller, including predictive finger tracking. This anticipates where your finger will go next, reducing latency after you tap the screen.

Huawei has also collaborated with GoPro for ‘Highlights’, furthering its focus on photography and video. When the P10 is charging and idle, it will analyse your photos and video, and automatically group them together into albums and events.

You can then edit these into the built-in GoPro Quik app, which automatically creates impressive edits of your captured content. The main change is that the gallery helps pick content for you, rather than you doing it yourself in the readily available standalone Quik app.

First Impressions

The Huawei P10, at least based on initial impressions, feels like a solid if a little uninspiring update to the P9 blueprint. Yes there are some design changes – I personally always prefer a front fingerprint sensor rather than rear – but there’s not been as great an evolution between models as seen in rivals such as the LG G6 or heavily rumoured changes to the Samsung Galaxy S8.

Still, if the camera performance holds up, there should be a great deal to like about the Huawei P10, especially with the performance improvements from the Kirin 960 chipset. If you're all about photography, it might be worth considering the P10 Plus for the larger aperture lens, too. But there's no getting around those prices, though. It'll be interesting to see if the P10 can live up to the price tag.