The Huawei P10 is a mid tier phone with a feature list far beyond its size. It’s got a great camera, great battery life, has USB type-C charging port, still has a 3.5mm headphone jack and runs Android 7.0 Nugat out of the box.
It is certainly getting harder to differentiate in hardware design. The big slate of glass is a hard challenge to design around. While the side bezels are thinned down, the P10 doesn’t offer the edge-to-edge design and minimal top and bottom bezels of the Galaxy S8.
If you’re not fussed about that, and are just after a phone that’s comfortable in offering a subtle, deliberately purposeful presentation of the slim lined body, in favour of letting the screen and cameras shine, then the P10 may be your next phone.
Its a slick, understated design that feels great in the hand, and is easily retrieved from you pocket to check the latest notification. The comfort is largely attributed to the light weight of the device and welcome round edges, although I did find the back is reasonable slippery, so be careful, or get a case for it.
At this price point, you won’t get a 4k screen, but that has battery life benefits. What I can tell you is for a 1920 x 1080 resolution screen, at 5.1″ it’s a 432 PPI density which looks amazing in full outdoor light, or at night.
If you’re upgrading to the P10, you’ll be very happy with the display, its as good as any other 1080p screen we’ve seen on a mobile device, but coming from the massive 5.9″ display, it does feel small by comparison. One day-to-day benefit the P10 has over larger phones is that it fits in more places like smaller pockets or something simple like the cup holder in your car.
When it comes to fully understanding the capabilities of this phone, we first need to look at the display, but there’s a substantial list, so get ready.
The camera, or cameras rather are absolute stand out selling point for this phone. Like the Mate 9, the P10 features a Dual-Camera that lets you change the focal point of the photo afterwards. After you’ve used this, its hard to use a phone camera that doesn’t offer it. Photos taken using this mode just look more professional than ones in full focus, but if you ever needed to wind down the blur effect in post, you can do that too.
For this phone, Huawei worked with the world-famous Leica to ensure the 12MP RGB Plus 20MP monochrome sensor that captures detailed facial features. The 2.0 Pro Edition carries SUMMILUX-H Leica lenses, with a larger F/1.8 aperture to capture more light in low-light situations.
Thanks to some software magic, the camera also offers an intelligent facial detection system, with a pretty staggering 190+ identification nodes to make sure faces are in focus at all times.
When it comes to video, the P10 can take 4K videos, but doesn’t do offer much in the way of stablisation, so best to get a tripod, steadicam or find a way to place it on a stable surface. The quality of the video that comes out of it is actually really impressive, although I did find the noise level when shooting in the dark to be prohibitive at times.
Something I really appreciate is that Huawei offer the ability to do on-device compression of the video. This means you can down-res a video for publishing on social media to save mobile data on the upload (still counted).
There’s plenty of camera modes to keep things interesting, just swipe in from the left to select from HDR mode, panorama, night shot, light painiting, time-lapse, slow-mo, document scan and for the selfie’s there’s a beauty filter than smooths out skin tones, almost like you’re wearing makup. Its easy to adjust the severity of this and far to easy to overdo it, so go easy. Swipe in from the right and you’ll access the camera settings for quality, geotagging etc.
Huawei say the imaging algorithm is based on the extensive research of various different face shapes and skin colors. By understanding the relative position of each facial feature and the uniqueness of skin type, the portrait enhancements can be applied in a customized and more natural way.
Its probably more of a novelty than actual productivity mechanism, but the P10 supports knuckle knock functions. These are something I struggled to remember off the top of my head and I often used the screenshot feature by pulling down the notification draw instead.
SCREEN SHOT – Saw something funny and wanted to share with friends? Knock on the screen twice with one knuckle to capture the whole screen (Screenshot).
PARTIAL SCREEN SHOT – Only want to capture a part of the screen? Capture part of the screen in a circle or any shape you prefer by drawing a circle or any other shape with one knuckle.
SCREEN-RECORDING – Want to teach your parents or friends about a certain function? You need the screen-recording feature on P10. Knock on the screen with two knuckles to start or pause screen-recording.
SCROLLING SCREEN SHOT – Want to capture entire chats or a long article? Draw a S with one knuckle for scroll-down screenshots.
SPLIT SCREEN – Want to watch a video and chat at the same time? Screen-split allows you to multitask. Draw a line in the middle of the screen with one knuckle to activate screen-split.
The Huawei P10 uses the Kirin 960 (64-bit) chipset, with an 8-core (4 x 2.4 GHz A73 Plus 4 x 1.8GHz A53) processor along with 4GB RAM. With this hardware, the phone flies, its quick in general operations and also offers a very acceptable launching time for games like Pokemon Go. It’s about 4-5 seconds slower to launch compared to the bigger Mate 9, but still acceptable. The key is that jumping between applications is something we all do dozens of times per day, was always fast and responsive and that’s a key part of accomplishing a great user experience.
As a P series device, it leverages a machine learning algorithm to learn how you use your phone and Huawei Ultra Memory uses this data to anticipate app usage and intelligently manage RAM – so the apps and services used most often load faster. If you’re a device micro-manager, you can control if apps get killed off when you lock the screen or not. There’s also the option to get prompted about apps that use more than their fair share of resources and selectively end them.
Charging and Battery life
With a USB-C charging and data port, the P10 features the SuperCharge technology from the Huawei Mate 9, which is not only amongst the world’s fastest rapid charging systems, it also includes 5-gate protection to manage charging, monitor temperatures and reduce risks.
I’m a relatively high user often on my phone many times per day and frequently uploading video to Facebook and YouTube over 4G. If I’m out and about, I’ll use my phone to tether to my laptop and any chance I get, I’m listening to podcasts. Despite my high usage, the P10 got me through the day, every day I used it. I quite enjoyed looking at the battery life at 9-10pm at night and having 20%+ left. This doesn’t ‘just’ get you through the day, it does it with ease and that’s always appreciated. For such a light phone and a 3200 mAh battery, its an impressive battery life on the P10.
Price and Availability
The Huawei’s P10 was recently released on May 25th and is available from Vodafone, Optus and Virgin Mobile. The recommended retail to buy it outright is A$899. Additionally, the Huawei P10 Plus is available from selected retailers for A$1,099. Price wise, these are relatively affordable by today’s standards, when phone like the Galaxy S8 retail for up to $1,300. This is on the premium end of the mid-tier, but a very solid entrant in the market and one well worth your attention.
The Huawei P10 is available in Graphite Black, Prestige Gold, Dazzling Blue, designed to give you some variety, but all are great looking phones that do subtle well. When putting together a product, each manufacturer goes through a series of decisions of compromises and this is a great example of where that scale is well balanced. Sure there’s no 4K display, but then there’s loads of battery life. It’s not the best camera on the market, but its better than most people, need or want and provides the features necessary for a great experience, ripe for sharing to your social network(s).
When you’re considering which phone to invest in next, you should expand your horizons from Apple and Samsung and consider growth brands like Huawei, they’re growing in market share for a reason and that reason is, others are realising there’s great value for money on offer here.