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Chinese high-end Android phones are gaining and gradually increasing their foothold in western markets.
OnePlus and Huawei are two big names in this regard.
Huawei’s P10 and P10 Plus are the company’s latest flagships in 2017 and I have been using the younger brother (P10) for last two months now. Just before I am going to say a farewell to it, it is that time to write my final verdict about the phone.
If you are in the market to look for a new Android flagship or if you are just curious to know more about the Huawei’s 2017 offering, stick around. In the following paragraphs, you will know about the strengths, weaknesses and average-performing-areas of the P10. You will also know my final verdict in the conclusion towards the end.
It will all help you to make a more informed decision about this phone. If you have any question or comments to make, I would love to discuss them in comments at the end. Feel free and share your views with the rest of us.
Let’s crack on.
P10’s Strong Points – Very Few
To be fair, I struggled to find headings where I can easily say that the Huawei’s 2017 flagship really excelled in such and such areas. I had to think hard to come up with something which I can call as the real strength of the device.
You have now got a hint that Huawei P10 is more on a mediocre side of things for a flagship phone. I am not entirely sure about its bigger brother (P10 Plus) but it is likely that it will be on the same lines.
There is only one thing I can really call as the strength of the Huawei P10 smartphone.
Standout Features – Innovative Home Button and Camera App Features
The Combined Home Button and Imprint Scanner
The pill-shaped home button in the front is the fastest fingerprint scanner that I have experienced to date (July 2017).
My previous best was the one in OnePlus 3 from 2016 but Huawei’s P10 imprint scanner is amazing for speed and accuracy. You put your finger (or thumb) on it and before you can think anything else, it opens the phone and gets you in – lightening fast.
Secondly, Huawei has given an option to the user here to use this button as the only button for navigation of everything.
This means that no capacitive or hard buttons like recent apps and back button etc. This also means no in-screen controls either.
The one-button approach in Huawei P10 and P10 plus lets you:
- Go back one step – single impression on the home button
- Go back to home screen – continuous impression on the home button
- See recent apps – slide left or right on the home button
It took me a couple of days to get used to this logic but since then, I am loving it now.
Minimalism is showing its strengths and I am all up for it. Anything that makes things simpler and more intuitive are warmly welcomed in my world.
Well done Huawei.
The Default Camera App Features
The second standout feature for me is the default camera app in terms of features and functions it offers to the shooter.
Remember, we are only talking about the out-of-box camera app here, not the actual quality of the pictures and videos the camera can take. I will cover that separately and later on. (hint: that is not the strength of P10)
There are plenty of modes and settings that you can play with. Not only that the auto mode is simple and quick to use, the pro mode and many other settings are readily available if you want to be more creative with your shooting and smartphone photography skills.
I particularly liked the portrait enhancement mode where the dual camera brings out the object (person) more clearly (like SLR) and blurs the background and makes it soft.
I also liked the watermark feature that you can apply to your photos.
In essence, a plenty of options to play around with if you are into your phone photography.
P10’s Average Performers – Many
P10 is full of average-performers – and that is not a great news for a flagship in 2017 in my opinion.
This time it is the sheer picture quality (in stills and not video) that we are going to talk about.
P10 comes with two cameras, a black and white 20 MP sensor and a colour sensor with 12 MP resolution. This camera duo in P10 is marketed as “co-branded with Leica” which is a respectable name in the world of optics.
Check out the GSMArena page for full specs of the Huawei P10 including camera hardware.
For those who read me regularly know that I am not a pro when it comes to smartphone photography. I normally rely on auto mode and although I appreciate that using the manual mode can produce better results, my snaps are usually taken in a hurry with default settings.
So I review the camera performance on same logic – simulating a common user on a day to day basis who mostly shoots with default settings.
Let us see how well the Huawei P10 camera performed in different situations.
P10 Camera in Ample Lighting
In bright light conditions, P10 produced acceptable results but not stunning.
The results were mixed bag and did not produce consistently great shots as I have experienced in the past with some other flagships. Google Pixel, S7 Edge and LG G5 cameras as some recent examples of excellent camera phones).
The colours were true frequently but also less-than-acceptable occasionally This just gives an inconsistent feel to the owner in terms of having a robust camera phone in his pocket.
Have a look at the few snaps taking in generally bright light conditions.
P10 Camera in Low Lighting
This is where the P10 really struggled and did not impress at all.
I appreciate that it is a tricky area for a small smartphone camera sensor to manage but we have seen significant improvement in this sector by all major players of the industry recently. Unfortunately, Huawei did not do enough to satisfy an Android user in this category.
I frequently got poor results in evening and nights shots taken with the P10. Although the camera does have an OIS feature (optical image stabilisation) but I found it to be struggling in producing sharp results and reduce the image blur and shakiness on a day to day basis.
I chose to include the following 3 pictures to give you an idea.
P10 Camera in Macros and Closeups
Taking closeup shots and macros (not strictly macros as they need prime lenses) is close to my heart and I enjoy it. I review all my smartphones for this particular category and P10 was no different.
I wanted to see how it handles taking pictures from a close distance of say around 4 to 5 inches from the object.
I was satisfied with the overall closeup performance of the P10. The colours were accurately picked up and exposure was good. The only minor gripe I have is the lack of sharp focus on the intended area within the frame.
Have a look at the following set of sample shots taken with the P10 camera.
As a total package in picture quality, I am not overly impressed with the P10’s camera performance. Although both DxOMark and DPReview gave it decent reviews, in my world, it failed to create an impression in the smartphone photography department.
Let me start by saying that Huawei P10 looks like iPhone 6 and 7 series generally.
I am not a big fan of this strategy. Whether Huawei did it intentionally, or it happened by coincidence (miraculously), it has dented the Huawei’s individuality in the high-end Android design market.
Let us have a look at all different aspects one by one first and I will then summarise my verdict on design at the end.
P10 from the Front
P10 is very mainstream from the front, having a 5.1 inch full-HD screen (1080p) with thin bezels on either sides. The top and bottom bezels are mediocre and host the usual array of features such as camera, sensor and earpiece on the top and a combined home/imprint scanner button at the bottom.
One worthy mention is that the P10 comes with a thin plastic screen protector installed on the front screen out of the box. On one side it is good as you don’t need to buy and install one but at the same time, there is a worry that if you take it out, the glass screen underneath does not have the oleophobic coating and hence, can be quickly smudgy and messy.
On the positive note, I can confirm that the pre-installed plastic screen protector is of high quality and does not get scratched and marked easily. However, if you are not a huge fan of using screen protector on your screen, think again, the P10’s screen can be a fingerprint magnet and destroy your whole experience.
There is nothing much to add here further – all I can say is that it is well-proportioned and decent-looking from the front.
P10 from the Back
P10 has a metal back (mostly) with a glass strip on the top which houses the dual-camera arrangement and dual flash.
The metal is having a nice finish / texture to it and feels good in hand. The quality feels premium and after two months of using it without any protective case or shield, it did not attract a single mark or scratch. Although I am a careful user, I am still not hesitant to say that the material used in Huawei’s P10 construction is resilient to day and day wear and tear and marks etc.
P10’s Frame / Sides
Huawei P10 does not have a separate side frame. The same metal back rolls over to all four sides to make it a unibody construction design.
On the right hand side, the power button is textured (feels good) with the volume rocker above.
The top has a small hole for the microphone slot.
On the left hand side, we have an eject-able SIM card tray.
And finally at the bottom, we have a few things positioned here. A 3.5mm standard audio jack, a centrally located USB-C and the speaker grille on the right side of the frame. I am not a huge fan of the downward facing single speaker but this is what we get in the P10 and P10 Plus.
Overall, with a weight of about 145 grams and an overall thickness of around 7mm (6.98mm to be precise), the P10 feels slim, sleek and easy to handle on a day to day basis. The unibody metal design is good and all buttons and ports are well-made and feel sturdy.
“My complaint is the lack of a wow-factor.”
I feel that Huawei has not done enough to surprise the android fan here. In 2017, the competition in flagship design market is fierce. The P10 feels a small upgrade in P9’s design from the previous year. A bit more roundedness in the corners mainly.
It is a decent looking device, don’t get me wrong.
It is just not punchy enough and feels a bit bland in general.
If you are holding one in your hand, you may be asked by someone, when did you switch to iPhone?
I was asked this twice in these two months with the P10.
The internal speakers are nothing to write home about.
A standard downward facing speaker which is loud enough for most of the times but might be a touch low on oomph if you are outside or in a relatively noisy area. The sound quality was average too.
The volume and sound quality through the standard 3.5mm audio jack was acceptable. I could not pick up any fault with that however, as compared to some of the previous flagships (such as HTC M9 with better DAC – digital audio converter), it was just average.
On the visual side of things, the screen is a full HD with 1080p resolution on a 5.1 inch display size. This gives it a 432 ppi density which for my eyes is good enough. However, if you have used a 2K or a 4K screen before, you might find the P10’s screen to be a touch mediocre. P10 Plus might be a better option in that case as the screen is larger (5.5″), with 2K resolution and a better pixel density of 540 ppi.
Overall, if you are a media lover (audio or visual), the P10 is very 2016-ish. There is nothing new or exciting that you can enjoy on this device. Just acceptable.
Emotion UI 5.1 Needs Further Improvement
This is an interesting one.
Every big brand has coated its own skin on top of the stock Android OS to give it a flavour of its brand and theme.
Up until the the Emotion UI 4, I wasn’t too keen on the Huawei’s attempt on their version of the Android OS. It never felt like a polished version and fully complete article.
Since the release of the Emotion 5.X, I feel that it is a good step in the right direction. The options and settings are more streamlined, look better and feel easy to handle in common use. The missing app drawer which sparked a few complaints in previous models (P9 and Honor 8 etc.) is fully back now and you have a choice now to go for a drawer-less or with-drawer option.
There is still a hint of slight lag and occasional stutter though. This is where I feel that Huawei needs to do more work to make their OS top notch and glitch free.
I did not find the device to get significantly warm or uncomfortable due to normal use.
Price and Value
Huawei P10 was released in the UK in April 2017. At the time of its release, it was tagged at £549 or £569 depending on different retailers.
After 3 months, in July 2017, while it is still selling for around £550 in many shops, you can get it for around £400 to £450 if you look around. There are various sellers on Amazon UK who are offering competitive prices but watch out for warranty issues and models which are imported from other countries.
If you are in the US, check out your local Amazon store or other retailers for best prices. My quick Amazon search showed the black and silver models selling for $639.
The bottom line is that Huawei has pitched the P10 as its flagship model with a premium price tag. Agreed that it is not as pricey as the latest S8 or G6 etc., however, it is not cheap either. As an example, OnePlus 5 (OP5) has been released at a starting price of £450. If you consider P10, it is a full £100 more than the OP5 at release.
It sits in the middle somewhere.
Perhaps just acceptable again but will struggle against the stiff competition by OnePlus 5 in 2017.
P10’s Weak Points
Battery Life is Lacking
Battery life is important for Android users. Have a look at the following short survey that I carried out here at REASONTOUSE. This survey had 200 responses submitted and was closed in late 2016.
Battery life and camera performance came out at the top.
In my day to day use of the device, I struggled with the P10 to give me a full day even with the low to moderate use. I tried everything such as turning the high-accuracy GPS off, keeping the screen resolution down and not running any heavy apps in the background etc.
Still, I found the 3200 mAh battery to be draining faster than some of the other devices in the recent competition. This is one thing that bugged me a lot. At this level of competition and having a 5.1 inch FHD display (and not 2K), I was expecting the battery to perform better.
I agree that with a bit of tinkering, changing the settings and other measures you can perhaps get a few more hours of juice from the battery, but this is not the point. I have seen many other smartphones in 2017, which offer much better battery life on a normal day with default settings.
I am disappointed with the P10 on battery performance.
Overall Lack of Wow and Punch
P10 failed to create a wow in my mind.
Within a couple of days of owning and using this phone, it was just another phone for me.
I was expecting the P10 to be having a bit more individuality, flare and oomph in its design and features. There was no significant standout feature for me that I can rave about and easily say that Huawei has done it this year.
It is a mediocre flagship in my opinion, ticking many boxes but rarely excelling in any major areas. In 2017, all major Android players are looking for giving extra and making an impact on the heart and mind of the user.
Huawei P10 – Final Verdict
P10 is an improvement over the last year’s P9 and it is the company’s best smartphone to date as a total package. However, in comparison to the 2017 competition, it is no way near the top of the pile.
The camera is decent (but not great) however, the battery life could have been better, it leave more to desire. The design is beautiful but lacks individuality and flare.
“P10 will get my 6.5 out of 1o for overall user experience – feels neutral”
If you are a Huawei’s fan and don’t mind a moderate saving in comparison to other expensive flagships, then P10 is a strong option for you to consider.
Otherwise, if you are after a top-notch Android flagship in the market for design, camera and battery life there are plenty of other options to consider.
Have you tried or used the P10 or P10 Plus?
If you have any views about Huawei’s flagships, share with us and tell us what you liked or disliked in P10 series?