Reviews: Phones

Huawei's strengths show in P10 series

Both the rear and front cameras of the Huawei P10 phones sport Leica lenses.
Both the rear and front cameras of the Huawei P10 phones sport Leica lenses. PHOTO: HUAWEI

The smartphone race for this year is on, with Chinese phone-maker Huawei leading the pack by being the first manufacturer to launch its flagship phones, the P10 and P10 Plus, in Singapore.

The regular P10, with a 5.1-inch screen, looks diminutive compared with the larger phones which are the norm now. But it is a blessing for those looking for something that can be effortlessly used with one hand.

The bigger P10 Plus, with its 5.5-inch display, looks and feels closer to a modern flagship. The choice of getting one over the other will depend largely on ergonomics, although I would give the nod to the P10 Plus' higher-resolution screen and slightly better camera.

The quad-HD screen on the Plus easily blows the full-HD screen of the regular P10 out of the water, offering more vibrant colours and sharper resolution. This has an impact on everything from viewing videos to photo quality, and a bigger, sharper screen makes the experience so much more enjoyable.

  • TECH SPECS: Huawei P10/10 Plus


  • PRICE:

    $798/$998

    PROCESSOR: Kirin 960 (Quad-core 2.4GHz, quad-core 1.8GHz)/same

    DISPLAY: 5.1-inch, Full HD, 1,920 x 1,080 pixels, 432 PPI pixel density/5.5-inch, Wide Quad-HD, 2,560 x 1,440 pixels, 540 PPI pixel density

    OPERATING SYSTEM: EMUI 5.1 (Android 7.0)/same

    CAMERA: 20MP monochrome and 12MP RGB, f/2.2 (dual lens, rear); 8MP, f/1.9 (front)/same, except f/1.8 (rear)

    MEMORY: 64GB (microSD expandable up to 256GB); 4GB RAM/128GB (microSD expandable up to 256GB); 6GB RAM

    BATTERY: Non-removable 3,250 mAh/3,750 mAh


    RATING (both)

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 5/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 5/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 5/5

    OVERALL: 5/5

Unlike the current glass-and-aluminium trend phone-makers are going crazy over, where the back of the phone is a smooth glass panel over a metal body, Huawei opted for an anodised metal back, giving the phones a matte feel and a more secure grip.

Under the hood, the P10 comes with the latest Android 7.0 operating system, but is heavily skinned with Huawei's own EMUI skin. I'm not a big fan of EMUI's garish icons and the abundance of stock apps it comes with.

There is little to fault the P10's design philosophy, as it sticks to conventional build in a relatively slim form factor that's comfortable to use. However, I really disagree with Huawei's decision to move the fingerprint sensor to the front, instead of leaving it at the back like on the P9. Now, valuable screen space on the P10 is taken up to accommodate the sensor.

Huawei tried to mitigate the inconvenience by integrating gesture controls within the sensor, such as swiping up to go back, left or right to open recent apps and holding to go to the home screen.

But hitting the navigational keys is so much faster than swiping for me. Perhaps others might take to it more easily than I did, which works out to their benefit as this means the Android soft navigational keys won't appear on the screen, giving them more screen real estate.

Sensor quibble aside, the P10 holds its own amongthis year's flagship launches, as Huawei continues to play to its strengths.

The pride of Huawei's P-series of phones is the collaboration with German lens-maker Leica for the phones' camera lenses, and the P10 line continues to impress.

For the first time, both the rear and front cameras sport Leica lenses. Furthermore, the rear camera on the P10 Plus is Huawei's most aggressive one to date, going down to a f/1.8 aperture that lets in more light, improving the already decent low-light performance of Huawei's smartphone cameras.

In terms of straight-up picture quality, the P10 is on a par with current flagships, and is more than passable. It is in the amount and quality of its photography features that the P10 excels in.

Features like the monochrome black-and-white mode, wide aperture mode and even document scanning really highlight the strengths of the P10's dual-camera set-up, and will provide enough fun for shutterbugs to explore.

One less-known secret of Huawei phones is their impressive battery life. While the battery life here is decent - about a day and a bit of moderate use - it is its quick-charging feature that shines. Both the P10 and P10 Plus charged from being utterly flat to 80 per cent within half an hour, which adds more mileage to phone use as the battery can be topped up in short bursts to last throughout the day.

• Verdict: The P10 and P10 Plus continue Huawei's focus on Leica lenses and photography. Despite the lack of any huge changes or additional features, they are good upgrades from last year's P9.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 12, 2017, with the headline 'Huawei's strengths show in P10 series'. Print Edition | Subscribe