The Mobile World Congress saw the launch of the Huawei P10 and Huawei P10 Plus, both continuing the Huawei-Leica partnership of bringing top-notch rear cameras to the world of smartphones. But how does it stack up in practice?
A brand new Huawei P10 Plus comes with:
- Huawei P10 Plus (1 unit)
- Screen Protector (1 pc)
- Clear Protective Case (1 pc)
- USB Type-C Charging Cable (1 pc)
- Travel Charger (1 pc)
- Earphones (1 pair)
Design and Construction
From the get-go, we get a unique and easy-to-open box that made me feel like I was opening a box of jewelry or a new watch. In that sense, you feel that Huawei really wants to push the premium ‘feel’ of the P10 Plus. To enhance this, the smartphone also looks surprisingly thin, considering the power that it packs. In fact, measurement-wise, it’s about 0.3mm slimmer than the iPhone 7 and 0.9mm slimmer than the Huawei Mate 9. Overall, I’d say the reduced thickness works well for the P10 Plus because it really hits the image of ‘prestigious’ and ‘top-of-the-line’.
The all-metal unibody finish on the back looked clean and simple, while it retained the Leica camera look and setup on the top, much like the Huawei P9 and P9 Plus previously had. Speaking of placement, we will find the dual-camera setup again on the back, looking exactly the same as it did for the P9 variants.
Meanwhile, the top contains the headphone jack and the concealed antenna bar. For the bottom end, users will see the speaker grille, and the USB Type-C Port. Furthermore, the top left edge of the P10 Plus houses the SIM and microSD card. On the other hand, the right edge contains the volume buttons, and the lock button. Display-wise, the P10 Plus definitely looks bigger, and factually stands larger than the Huawei P10. At 5.5-inches, its QuadHD LCD screen absolutely defeats the P10’s 1080p 5.1-incher.
If I could describe the overall aesthetic of the P10 Plus, I’d say it’s ‘low key’, as it doesn’t do anything that outright catches attention. However, don’t think that I mean this in a bad way. Actually, the low key look of the P10 Plus adds to the appeal of the phone’s design. Not only that, but comparatively, it offers better stats and specs than its P10 brethren.
OS, UI, and Apps
EMUI 5.1, the operating system touted by the P10 Plus, feels like a marked improvement from the EMUI 5.0 which came with the Huawei Mate 9. Built on Android Nougat, the OS felt intuitive and easy to use, with special mention given to the app drawer that helps compartmentalize all the apps. This makes using the OS and home screen easier, instead of having to scroll through all the apps on the screen.
While the OS and UI do not stand as the selling point of this phone, I have to say that Huawei really went the extra mile to ensure that the holistic user experience feels great. Sometimes, other devices would opt to only focus on the selling point, at the cost of forgetting the other functions. I also appreciate a particular carry-over from the Mate 9, which is the lack of bloatware. I didn’t open the P10 Plus for the first time and see any unnecessary apps. You get the essentials, plus Google’s usuals
Overall, I give high marks to EMUI 5.1 for improving upon the already-good EMUI 5. This is due to its ease of use, lack of bloatware, the addition of the app drawer, and its simple aesthetics.
I’d like to preface this portion of the review by stating outright that Huawei should continuously work with Leica on their phone systems. Why? Because honestly, since the P9, Huawei has delivered some of the best cameras in the smartphone game. From the get-go, users will hold a phone with dual cameras that stand out with the Leica branding and the black bar marking them. Simple, but a clear marker that photography will be this phone’s strongest selling point.
With a 20MP and 12MP combo, the dual lenses combine monochrome and RGB sensors. On top of this, they team up with a creative Wide Aperture mode to ensure and enforce that the beauty of the images they’ll capture. The photography here is no joke, friends. Basically, this is pro-level shooting. Images look crips, detailed, clear, and pop with color. At first, my eyes had to adjust a bit because I rarely ever see photos that were that detailed and clear. This stood as a sign that I was looking at device that did something special.
Obviously, the Leica-engineered rear camera is indeed a special feature of the phone, particularly its strong bokeh effect. With a simple push of a button, I was able to generate a noticeable, near-perfect bokeh that looked beautiful. In fact, I’d say that you could make almost any subject look artistic and dramatic with this camera’s bokeh. The blur stands out that much, and although users may not get it right the first time, after just a few shots, you should be able to get it right (much like how the pros do it). In low light, I still achieved the bokeh effect, although it looked a bit grainier than the proper lighting bokeh. This is to be expected though, and it’s still impressive that the rear camera could take good pictures at night and in dimmed light.
The selfie camera doesn’t let itself fall behind either, producing clear selfies ready for social media. Obviously, it won’t stack up to front cameras built to produce ‘expert’ selfies. However, personally, I’m buying the P10 Plus for its Leica rear camera. All in all, I was satisfied. For those who have greater knowledge of photography, the SUMMILUX lens of the P10 Plus utterly outclasses the P10’s SUMMARIT lenses. Of course, I’m not knocking on the P10, which is a fine phone. Instead, I’m pointing out how much of a worthwhile purchase the P10 Plus seems to be.
Other great features include 3D Facial Detection, Hybrid Zoom, Embedded ISP, and Dynamic Illumination. To a layman, these names may sound unfamiliar. However, all this means is the P10 Plus offers a bevy of customization and enhancement features. In turn, these work to truly deliver a professional photographer experience without breaking the bank for a professional phone which might cost double or triple in price.
Performance and Benchmarks
The Huawei P10 Plus exceeds expectations in terms of hardware performance. Of course, we can thank the Huawei-made Kirin 960 CPU setup, lending four 2.4GHz cores and four other 1.8GHz cores of computing power to the system. In practice, this resulted in apps loading fast, and running smoothly. This actually impressed me, considering that the Kirin 960 isn’t even top-of-the-line, nor is it the newest. Even with ‘outdated’ tech, it’s able to keep up with competitor processors.
Besides, the Kirin chipset works in conjunction with a generous 6GB of RAM. In particular, the RAM is bigger than almost any competitor in the market today. When compared to its predecessor, the 6GB RAM of the P10 Plus dwarfs the regular P10’s 4GB. In my experience, this resulted in easy app switching, barely any lag despite having multiple applications open, and smooth gaming experiences. To be specific, Modern Warfare 5 plays like a charm on the P10 Plus, with the proper FPS and zero slowdown, even during intensive action sequences.
For those looking for the Huawei P10 Plus’ benchmark numbers, here they are:
- Antutu – 121620
- Geekbench 4 (Single core) – 1867
- Geekbench 4 (multi core) – 4944
The Huawei P10 Plus comes equipped with a generous 3,750mAh battery. Comparatively speaking, this seems like a large battery, but in practice, the results came out differently. With the data turned on and the backlight at half, the P10 Plus lasts about nine hours with regular use. For the video loop test, which puts the phone in airplane mode and full brightness, the Huawei P10 Plus lasted for ten hours. I will say, though, that the P10 Plus’ battery still outshines the P10’s measly 3,200 mAh battery.
Admittedly, the results weren’t the best, but I didn’t mind it as much. After all, this phone packed a lot of advanced technology in the cameras alone. While this is large in the market the phone still only lasts one day. Besides, it’s not like the battery life was terrible. For the regular user, the battery life should be enough for a day of taking photos and selfies.
Huawei’s latest flagship proves its mettle by virtue of the camera setup alone. However, the improved EMUI 5.1 OS, and the generous internal specs combo solidify my opinion on the device. Overall, Huawei made it look like the selling point is just the Leica-brand imaging. In reality, though, they did not forget to make all other aspects complementary to it. Thus, the approach to the Huawei P10 Plus is hollistic. Although there are a few hiccups here and there, ultimately, this is a must-buy if you’ve been following Huawei since the P9.
+ Great rear camera, as always
+ EMUI 5.1 improves on EMUI 5.0
+ Good specs
+ Generous 6GB of RAM
+ Simple yet elegant design
+ Fast-reacting fingerprint sensor
– Battery life is a bit underwhelming