The Huawei P9 was a very solid smartphone. While some were sceptical of its Leica-branded dual-camera system at first, there’s no denying that the P9’s camera is capable of taking some great-looking shots. With this in mind, I was really curious to see how Huawei can take things up a notch with the new Huawei P10 series.
After spending some time with the P10 and P10 Plus, I’m more than convinced that these two devices are worthy successors to the P9 series. So much so, in fact, that we may be looking at some of the most interesting flagship smartphones of 2017 – so far, that is.
First, specifications. The P10 Plus – the higher-end offering of the two devices in the P10 family – features a sharp 5.5-inch 1440p IPS display, Huawei’s very capable HiSilicon Kirin 960 processor paired with 4GB or 6GB of RAM, two choices of internal storage (64GB and 128GB) that’s further expandable with a microSD card, as well as a sizeable 3,750mAh battery.
Things get a lot more interesting in the camera department. Although the P10 Plus is packing the same Leica dual-camera system of the Huawei Mate 9 – it’s made up of a 20MP monochrome sensor + a 12MP RGB sensor – the former has a larger f/1.8 aperture, which (in theory, at least) should provide better camera performance. The front-facing camera of the P10 and P10 Plus also carries the Leica branding now: it’s an 8MP f/1.9 shooter.
As for the smaller P10, some of its specifications differ from the P10 Plus. The P10 has a smaller 5.1-inch 1080p IPS display, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of expandable storage, and a 3,200mAh battery. Its dual-camera system also retains the f/2.2 aperture of the Mate 9’s rear camera, which is unfortunate: it would’ve been great if the P10 shares the same f/1.8 aperture of the P10 Plus, although it remains to be seen if the larger aperture will result in better camera performance.
Regardless, in my brief time with the P10 and P10 Plus, I tried out a new camera feature found on these two devices: Portrait Mode. Yes, this isn’t exactly a new feature, but I was rather impressed by how well the P10 and P10 Plus isolate the background and foreground to focus on my subject; this remains true for the front-facing camera as well. Of course, I can’t say for sure if it’s better than the iPhone 7’s implementation, but it does show some promise.
At the launch event for the P10 smartphones, Huawei mentioned a new “hyper diamond-cut finishing” that’s found only on the Dazzling Blue and Dazzling Gold variants of the two devices. While it does give the phones a…unique aesthetic, I cannot bring myself to like the odd texture of the finish. To me, it feels a lot like the texture of a lenticular picture, and that’s not a good thing.
Thankfully, other colours of the P10 have more conventional sandblasted finishing, although it’s worth noting that the Ceramic White model below has a glossy finish instead. The finish feels a lot like the Jet Black iPhone 7, now that I think about it.
As far as build quality goes, the P10 and P10 Plus feel and look solid. In comparison to their predecessors, the P10 devices have a more rounded design, which makes them more comfortable (and not as angular-looking) to hold. I also like the redesigned – albeit familiar – antenna lines, which are more pleasant to look at than a conventional strip of plastic.
Let’s not forget the new – but just as fast and accurate – under-glass fingerprint sensor of the P10 devices, which look sleeker than, say, the fingerprint sensor of the Huawei Mate 9 Pro. Much like the latter, the P10’s fingerprint sensor can be used in lieu of the traditional three-button Android navigation buttons. A single tap on the sensor acts as the back button, a long press brings up the home screen, and a swipe summons the Recent Apps page. Honestly, I much prefer the original three-button navigation, which – thankfully – can be activated on the P10 devices.
All things considered, the Huawei P10 and P10 Plus are very, very promising flagship smartphones. Not only do their rear and front-facing cameras show a lot of promise, they have bigger battery capacities, sharper display (on the P10 Plus) and faster processors than their predecessors.
But the big question still remains: how much will the P10 and P10 Plus go for in Malaysia? While we know Huawei aims to launch these two devices on our shores sometime next month, we don’t know exactly how much they’ll cost; this is one area Huawei has to get right to succeed in our market.
Nonetheless, the coming month will be a very interesting – and crucial – time for Huawei. If the Chinese company plays its cards right and price its new flagships well, the P10 and P10 Plus may be another success story; they certainly have the potential.