Huawei, since it’s first foray into the smartphone market, has always been king of the budget phone. From the Y series to the P-Lite series, it’s always been very good at the budget sector. Their mix of fast processors, good screens, and low prices meant consumers loved them. The Huawei P10 is Huawei’s third try at a flagship smartphone, and so far, with the P9, P9 Plus, and P9 Lite they’ve done a pretty good job of them. The P10 differentiates itself from the P9 with it’s new iPhone 6-esque design, improved cameras, and faster speeds. Let’s see how it is in this review.
The Huawei P10 is… nostalgic. It reminds me a lot of the iPhone 6 and 6s, and also of the Google Pixel. Like it’s predecessor, the Huawei P9, it’s made of an all-aluminium enclosure. This time around, the chamfered edges are gone, and replaced with a smooth curve around the phone. It’s much nicer to the touch, but it means that the phone, when used caseless, is a lot more slippery. As with the Huawei P9, it has a dual camera set up, but it’s been improved by the designers of the camera, Leica. Thankfully, the fingerprint sensor has been moved from the back to the front, which makes it both easier to use, and more aesthetically pleasing.
Oddly, the fingerprint scanner does not double as a home button, so the relief on the screen is only there to guide where your finger goes. It’s a weird design because it looks so similar to a home button, I felt like pushing it all the time. This isn’t helped by the fact that the iPhone 7 employs the same solid state fingerprint scanner, but retains the home button aspect of the scanner. Overall, the design is classy, and it shows it’s a premium phone. Although the screen layout and body aren’t too original, it’s a safe bet. Sadly, this means we don’t get the massive bezelless displays like the ones we see on the Samsung Galaxy S8, but the screen is large enough nonetheless.
The Huawei P10 aims to differentiate itself through it’s massive selection of color choices. It comes in: Rose Gold, White, Dazzling Gold, Mystic Silver, Prestige Gold, Graphite Black, Dazzling Blue and Greenery, which is the most interesting color. Greenery is sure interesting, but it’s a bit cheap looking in my opinion.
The Huawei P10 has a relatively small 5.1-inch display. While that used to be a big number, it’s minuscule now, especially when compared to the huge screens on the latest phones, like the Samsung Galaxy S8. Even though it’s small, it’s both bright and vibrant, and color reproduction is stellar. Viewing angles are also good, being an IPS display. You can even change the temperature of the display, to make it easier on your eyes at night. At this size, it’s acceptable, but it’s disappointing to see that Huawei hasn’t taken the jump to 4k displays when many other companies are. This seems to be a trend with cheaper Chinese phones, and at their price brackets, it’s passable, but the P10 isn’t a cheap phone. It’s disappointing, to say the least, and I hope that Huawei rethinks the display for their next flagship.
The Huawei P10’s standout feature, much like the P9 it succeeds, is the dual Leica camera. This time around, it’s been improved, though the aperture is unusually small at F2.2. As with most Android phones, the Huawei P10 also has a speedy fingerprint reader at the front, though, like mentioned above, it doesn’t double as a home button. It’s weird that it’s like that, as it’s shaped exactly like you’d expect a home button to.
Even though the battery isn’t especially large at 3200mAh, it still has more capacity than a lot of phones. Because of the larger battery, a faster charging standard is also required, so that it doesn’t take all day to charge. Huawei calls this “SuperCharge”, and their claim is that the phone will charge from 0-50% in 30 minutes, and 0-100% 90. That’s impressively quick, and it’s handy for charging in places you don’t spend long at.
The Huawei P10 takes an unconventional route, as far as a system on chips go. Instead of the usual Snapdragon chips, Huawei has opted for the Kirin line of SoC. The Kirin line is Huawei’s own line of chips, much like Samsung’s Exynos line. However, unlike the Exynos line, which usually compares favourably to Snapdragon’s offerings, the HiSilicone Kirin 960 is rather underwhelming compared to the likes of the Snapdragon 821 and 835. More on that later. The Kirin 960 is paired with an ample 4GB of RAM, but it’s a little on the small side. Compare that 4G B with the OnePlus 5’s whopping 8GB, and you can see the problem there. While it’s not a small amount of RAM, it’s not a large amount either, so I hope Huawei allocates a lot of resources for optimisation.
Like all of the latest flagships, the Huawei P10 charges via USB Type-C. It’s quickly becoming the standard, and while it was also present on the Huawei P9, it’s good that it’s still here. USB Type-C, since it’s inception has been brilliant, since it’s reversible. Micro USB was terrible for its irreversibility, in a time when even the ancient iPhone 5 had a reversible port. As is the norm with Chinese phones, the Huawei P10 comes in both single and dual SIM versions. If you have the choice, I’d recommend getting the dual SIM version. This is because if you have the dual sim version, you can swap out SIM 2 for a micro sim card. Yay for expandability!
Standard issue in the smartphone world, the Huawei P10 comes with a plethora of connectivity options. This includes WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, GLONASS, and NFC.
The Huawei P10, even though it’s a flagship, dwindles on performance. It’s Kirin 960 chip is no match for the Snapdragon 835, or even the 821. It’s much slower than the Exynos 8895 found in the Samsung Galaxy S8, with a Geekbench 4 Multi-Core score of 5760 vs 6570 for the GS8. Although the benchmark scores are underwhelming, the Huawei still performs well in real world use. There are no noticeable lags or stutters, and the overall experience is smooth. Even with the ROM on top of Android, it seems to run slippery smooth, and 3d games also run flawlessly on the Huawei P10, thanks to it’s powerful GPU. However, I wouldn’t expect this phone to have the “flagship lifetime” that most flagship phones will have, and I suspect a year or two down the road, it’ll experience some slowdowns.
Outfitted with a dual camera by Leica, you’d expect the photos coming out of the Huawei P10 to be absolutely stunning, and, for the most part, they’re good. However, the aperture is relatively low, at F2.2. This means that you have to get very close to the subject in order to see any bokeh effect, which is something which most phone cameras lack. Since it is a dual lens, there is capability to add a bokeh effect, but it isn’t as good as I’d hoped it to be. This is all due to the low aperture, and this problem only compounds in low light, where images can appear grainy, or the opposite, over processed. That’s unfortunate, especially for such an expensive flagship phone.
Video quality is standard for a flagship phone. You can record in 4k at 30fps, and 1080p at 60fps, with optical image stabilisation. It’s nothing special, and it still hasn’t broken the 4k60fps barrier.
Like all Huawei Phones, the Huawei P10 runs a skinned version of Android 7.0. It’s called emotion OS, and while it isn’t the best OS, it’s popular in Asia. It follows many of the same design principles as Xiaomi’s MIUI. Like MIUI, it has no app drawer, so your apps are automatically scrambled across all of the screens. This can now be changed, by going into settings and activating the app drawer. It’s a good feature, but Emotion OS still isn’t my favourite ROM.
I’d much prefer stock Android OS, to bring it closer to the Google Pixel, which is a great phone. In the past, custom ROMs were almost compulsory, since stock Android had a huge lack of features. Now, things are much better, and there’s hardly a lack of features. If you want to change the Huawei P10 stock(ish), you can download Google Now Launcher, as well as a few other apps, to bring it closer.
Even with its large battery and low-resolution screen, the Huawei P10 disappoints in the battery life department. With most phones, a battery this size and a screen this small would mean a very long battery life, possibly up to two days. The Huawei P10 lasted me around a day, sometimes even less, which is a huge disappointment, especially when my dwindling iPhone 6s outlasted it. Since it’s not a well-known phone, there also aren’t many options when it comes to battery cases. If you’re a light to medium user, you should get around a day of battery life, but for me, it’s not enough.
The Huawei P10 comes in a few different configurations and options. You can get 32GB or 64GB of storage, and the single or dual SIM version. I’d recommend you go all out and get the 64GB dual sim version, because even if you don’t need two SIMs, you can use the second SIM slot as a micro SD holder. Despite this, I’d still recommend you get the 64GB version, as the external storage will be much slower than the UFS 2.0 built into the phone. The external micro SD should only really be used for music and videos, where performance isn’t so much of an issue.
The Huawei P10 is Huawei’s latest shot at making a flagship phone. Unfortunately, too much has carried over from the Huawei P9, and it’s mid-tier phones, and it’s mediocre battery life and performance let it down massively. If you’re looking for a good-looking phone with a decent camera and a huge selection of color options, this might be the one, but if you need performance or great battery life, look elsewhere.