Huawei P10 Hands On

09 March 2017

Huawei P10 hands on

What Is it?

The P10 is Huawei's flagship smartphone for 2017, and as the name suggests, it succeeds last year's P9. For the most part, the P10 is a case of refinement rather than revolution, building on the P9's core functionality and design.

Once again, the dual rear-facing cameras co-engineered with Lecia are a headlining feature, as is a selfie camera that's now also Leica branded. The dual rear camera configuration is made up of a 12MP colour sensor and a 20MP monochrome sensor, both with an aperture of f/2.2. Since the second camera only shoots in black and white, Huawei says it can take far more light information than a conventional camera, which in turn improves low-light performance and contrast.

The dual cameras can also be used to simulate bokeh, and as with the iPhone 7 Plus, soften backgrounds when shooting portraiture.

Notably, the P10 will be available in eight colours internationally. Blue and green models designed with Pantone are clear standouts, so fingers crossed they make it to Australia.

One other new feature for the year is water-resistance, although the P10 isn't quite as water-resistant as other phones on the market. There's an internal nano-coating to provide extra protection against water damage, but not to the same degree as the IP67 or IP68 rated iPhone 7 or Samsung Galaxy S7. But hey, some water-resistance is better than no water-resistance. It might survive an accidental dunk or spill, but it's not something I'd be too keen to test out deliberately.

Notably, the P10 Plus - the P10's larger sibling - has a rating IPX3, which means that it's splash-proof but can't be immersed.

Other key specifications for the P10 include a 5.1-inch 1080p display, a Kirin 960 processor, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of expandable storage, a customised version of Android based on Nougat, and a 3,200mAh battery .

What did we think?

First things first, the blue P10 is absolutely gorgeous. I'll be devastated if it doesn't make it to Australia, as I'm more than a little in love with the finish: it's very much the new hotness. The blue model makes use of Huawei's new "hyper diamond cut-finishing", which leaves the back feeling matte, while looking glossy and reflective. Despite this, the finish doesn't really show fingerprints.

There'll be one or two other hyper diamond cut options, one high gloss white ceramic option, and other colours will use more conventional sandblasted matte finishes. Once again, I'd love to see Huawei bring whatever colours and finishes it can to Australia, cause quite frankly, black smartphones are boring.

Despite rocking a 5.1-inch screen, the P10 is roughly the same size as a 4.7-inch iPhone 7 thanks to a smaller amount of bezel. It's not quite as impressive as the LG G6 in terms of bezel reduction, but the P10 still feels slick and efficiently designed. The P10's taken a few other cues from the iPhone, including the move to a front facing fingerprint and less prominent antenna lines. 

Huawei's customised take on Android - EMUI - still doesn't quite compare to a more vanilla solution. While the latest version is based on Nougat and has made leaps and bounds over past iterations, there's still a few odd quirks to deal with. There's plenty of preloaded apps you can’t uninstall, notifications about apps using battery in the background are still more frequent than they should be, and there still doesn't look like there's a way to turn them off.

Fortunately, even if you're not a fan of Huawei's aesthetic, it's simple enough to at least make the P10 feel a little more Android-y, with apps like the Pixel Launcher (which, admittedly, you'll need to get through an APK mirror), Google's stock keyboard, and Messages.

As with the P9, the P10's camera steals the show. While I haven't played with it extensively yet, you're able to take stunning photos; in some cases, people didn't believe I had actually take them on a smartphone.

Thanks to the monochrome sensor, the P10 can do a pretty decent job in lowlight - especially if you're shooting in black and white - but I found I needed to use manual settings for best effect. When shooting automatic, keeping ISO low seems to be prioritised, and as such, the camera drops shutterspeed by default. If you're dealing with scenes with movement, you'll end up with motion blur. I found turning up ISO and increasing shutterspeed a much better solution, and it didn't add much grain either.

As aforementioned, the P10's camera also has neat features like the ability to simulate bokeh, and the new portrait mode. I still need to play with these more, but so far, I've been impressed.

The P10's front-facing camera is also Leica-branded, and packs a wider aperture lens of f/1.9 with some smarts: the camera will automatically zoom out to if it detects multiple people in your selfie.

All in all, the P10 is quite a promising device. Signs are showing that Huawei is continuously getting better and better at making genuinely desirable smartphones and the P10 looks set to prove that Huawei shouldn't just be considered a "cheaper alternative". I've still got a couple of questions around battery life, water-resistance, and pricing (especially when compared to the LG G6 and Samsung Galaxy S8, which are set to make strides in terms of edge-to-edge displays), but I'm looking forward to the P10's local launch. Especially if we get it in blue.

Camera Samples

When can I buy it?

The P10 will be available from May 25.

How much will it cost me?

The 5.1-inch P10 will retail for $899, and the 5.5-inch P10 Plus for $1,099.

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