Huawei’s flagship P series has never made the headlines like it did this year. Following its release at the MWC, the P10 and P10 Plus received accolades for their design and performance. With expected sales of over 10 million units, these could be most popular Huawei devices till date.
We recently got our hands on the new Huawei P10 Plus. It’s more capable than its younger sibling and boasts a lot of firsts for the P Series. Without further ado, let’s begin.
Tired of hearing the phrase “it comes in a minimalist standard packaging”? We guess Huawei felt the same way when packaging its flagship P10 Plus. The phone comes in a cupboard-like box and the packaging is certainly worthy of a flagship phone.
Pakistani buyers get the following items in the box:
- Huawei P10 Plus
- Transparent Plastic Phone Case
- User manual and Quick Start Guide
- Warranty Info
- Huawei SuperCharger
- Type-C USB cable
- 12GB Free data
Design & Build Quality
Huawei P10 Plus is pretty similar in size to its predecessor, the P9 Plus. The newer model has smaller side bezels leading to a slightly reduced width. Handling the phone is easy even if you have small hands.
The feel you get when using the P10 Plus is simply great. It practically screams high quality flagship. The device feels solid in your hand while the metal back, curved edges and 2.5D front glass make for a seamless handling experience. It’s certainly in the best looking phones released this year.
Here’s how the Huawei P10 Plus looks design-wise:
- Metal unibody design with a glass camera plate at the back
- Three distinct finishes with 8 different color options.
- Finishes: Dazzling color with Diamond cut finish, sandblasted finish with matte colors, Greenery with a unique color and slightly different finish.
- Colors: Ceramic White, Dazzling Blue, Dazzling Gold, Prestige Gold, Graphite Black, Mystic Silver, Rose Gold, and Greenery
- No camera bump on the Gorilla Glass 5 covered camera plate.
- 2.5D curved glass at the front.
- IPX3 water-resistance rating. In simpler words, the P10 Plus is splash-proof for your peace of mind.
Now that we are done with the aesthetics of the phone, let’s get down to the hardware.
Above the screen, you get a few sensors, ear piece (which also works as the secondary speaker) plus an 8MP selfie camera and an LED notification light.
Underneath, there’s a single under-the-glass fingerprint scanner which also doubles as a multi-functional key.
You can hold the fingerprint button for Home, tap for back and swipe for Task Manager.
On screen buttons can also be activated in case you’re not into the all-in-one key.
The left side of the phone features the SIM slot plus the microSD card (up to 256 GB) tray.
On the right side of the phone you will find the volume rocker and the power button. The latter comes with a red color accent and a texture to separate it from the volume keys.
On the top, Huawei has placed the secondary mic and an IR emitter to control your household devices and appliances.
The bottom of the phone rocks the primary microphone and the USB Type-C port. The loudspeaker grille and the audio jack are there too.
The P9 Plus featured a Super AMOLED display. P10 Plus replaces it with an IPS NEO LCD display. Now that might not go well with some people, but Huawei makes up for it with a 2K screen, a first for any phone in the P series. The screen size remains the same 5.5-inches so overall pixel density increases to 540PPI.
Common for IPS NEO LCDs, the contrast is class leading and only beaten by OLED displays and their pure blacks. By default, the display comes calibrated for densely saturated colors. The saturation may not be to everyone’s liking so you may have to switch to the ‘Warm’ color preset in order to get more accurate colors. Of course, there’s manual color settings too in case you want to tinker with them yourself.
There are no other issues with the display whatsoever. The viewing angles are great and it works superbly under sunlight. High brightness and a good quality display result in decent color reproduction under direct sunlight and bright lighting.
Hardware & Performance
Powered by Huawei’s own HiSilicon octa-core Kirin 960 chip, the P10 Plus comes with the best that the phone maker has to offer. RAM options come in at 4GB and 6GB depending on the storage option you choose. These come in at 64GB, 128GB or 256GB. Memory is expandable via a micro SD card of up to 256GB.
P10 Plus is the first Huawei phone to come with a powerful GPU, the Mali-G71 MP8. As you would expect, the P10 Plus shows no signs of lag. It is fluent, runs all games at full speed and apps launch instantaneously. The extra gigs of RAM certainly prove their worth as you can open several apps and still get back to the oldest one and the app would still be as you left it. Heating is a non-issue as well.
The rest is pretty evident from the P10 Plus’s benchmark scores. Emotion UI (EMUI) is pretty mature and Huawei does a nice job of optimizing the device.
Granted that it doesn’t compare well against the Snapdragon 835 powered devices, both in processing and in GPU performance but there’s still plenty of power on offer so slowdowns or lags won’t be something you have to worry about.
Operating System & User Interface
Huawei’s flagship makes use of the company’s latest customizations based on Android 7.0 Nougat. Not only is the base OS up to date but the EMUI version is more useful than ever with version 5.1.
While the OS does come with design improvements, the basics still remain the same. You don’t get an app drawer, instead everything is on the homescreen. However, Huawei users now get the option to enable an app drawer as well. You can change the looks through Huawei’s new theme engine or by installing a third party app drawer.
For your ease, we’ll list the notable features below:
- Ultra Memory and Ultra Response to improve app launch times and minimizing touch delays
- 7% battery improvements thanks to SmartPower 5.0 power management platform
- Multi-user support and Private Spaces
- App twins feature to install multiple instances of WhatsApp, Telegram, Facebook etc.
- Permission per app and granular control over file associations and App links with each other.
- Knuckle detection and knuckle gestures for increased productivity (You can split the screen using a knuckle swipe from the middle of the screen)
In short, Huawei has gone through a lot of effort to make its UI as feature-rich as the market leaders while maintaining simplicity and offering loads of customization options. For some people, however, these customizations and features might be a bit overwhelming.
The Gorilla Glass covered fingerprint scanner on the P10 Plus is blazing fast. It’s of the ‘always-on’ variety and even though it is placed at the front, it isn’t actually a pressable button.
We have already mentioned that it doubles as a multi-function key (Hold for Home, tap for Back, Swipe for Task Switcher). The sensor is PayPal certified and can also be used to encrypt your content and access the Private Space.
Unlike the smaller P10, the P10 Plus features stereo speakers with a hybrid stereo+ feature. The main speaker is placed at the bottom while the ear piece doubles as the second speaker. The first thing anybody would notice is the very loud volume on offer while maintaining decent audio quality.
The stereo+ mode switches the bottom speaker to a tweeter when you use the phone in portrait mode. When you switch to portrait, you get the regular stereo mode. The bottom speaker is actually louder than the other one but it doesn’t hinder your video or music playback experience.
One noticeable kink was that the ear piece is too loud and not in a good sense. Even at less than max volume a person sitting on the other side of the room can hear who’s on the other side of a call. So make sure you turn the volume down when calling someone.
The phone comes with a 3.5mm headphone jack and the audio quality is very good but it’s not that loud.
Since last year, Huawei has teamed up with Leica for its Smartphone cameras. The P10 Plus makes use of the Dual Camera 2.0 setup but its superior to what you get with the P10 or the Mate 9. The basic formula is the same – there’s a monochrome 20MP sensor and a 12MP RGB one with OIS.
While the rest use an f/2.2 Leica SUMMARIT lens, the P10 Plus comes with a brighter f/1.8 Leica SUMMILUX lens. The results include more light, better corner sharpness and an improved bokeh effect.
The P10’s camera app is a bit cluttered. It comes with two panes on both sides of the viewfinder. The left one enables access to the different modes on offer while the right one can be used to change the settings.
There are about a dozen or so camera modes installed on the P10 Plus and you can download a few more from the Edit option in the Modes pane. Some notable modes include the Monochrome (Black & White) mode, Night Shot, Panorama, HDR, Time-lapse, and Pro Mode (which comes with complete control of both rear cameras).
The Rear Dual Camera 2.0
We had high hopes for the P10 Plus since it’s an upgrade over the Mate 9, which really shined in the camera department. Since Huawei’s flagship comes with a wider aperture, it allows the camera more flexibility in adjusting its ISO and shutter speed for better pictures with less noise.
Just as with the Mate 9, you simply cannot go wrong if you choose any Huawei flagship for its camera performance.
In daylight, images come out with vibrant and punchy colors with plenty of detail. Texture detail is well preserved.
The 20MP color images were simply great with a high dynamic range and detail. It’s as if Huawei used the 20MP image and colored it using the 12MP image as reference. However, the 20MP Black & White stills were even better with much more detail. Huawei’s camera app automatically enables the HDR mode when it sees fit and it was evident in the EXIF info in image details.
Oddly, the 12MP images were slightly ahead of the 20MP ones in detail and came out with less noise and more or less the same benefits as the 20MP photos. Your first choice should be to go for 12MP mode as it would save space on your phone and offer similar or better quality photos.
P10 Plus matches the best in the market in low light photography. The results are great with little noise and plenty of detail.
Low Light Samples
One thing worth mentioning is that is if you ever want a Monochrome image, use the 20MP sensor. Its dynamic range is unmatched and it even offers more detail and lesser noise than colored images.
As mentioned earlier, P10 Plus automatically enables some HDR algorithms even in normal mode so enabling the mode manually had almost no change in the results.
Since the P10 Plus comes with a saturated display, on screen images look a lot punchier than they actually are. However, if you are a fan of colors that really pop, the Vivid and Smooth modes from the left pane are a good place to start. Since it is readily available from the viewfinder, you can easily change it on the go too.
P10 Plus matches the best in the market in low light photography.
The 2X Hybrid Zoom feature was also put to the test and fortunately, it works as advertised. Unlike optical zoom, Huawei uses the two sensors to take multiple images and merges them for better zoomed in results. The output is much better than what you would get from cropped images. Users can really benefit when zooming in up to 2 or 3 times with little loss in detail. The output doesn’t compare to optical zoom but it’s still the next best thing you can get.
The Portrait mode is great but its output is mostly software-based though you won’t find anything wrong unless you zoom in on the results. The adjustable beautification effect, though, is very good and doesn’t seem artificial in the final images.
While we are at it, it should be mentioned that Huawei P10 Plus is the first P series with 4K video recording. However, it uses the HEVC codec, which isn’t great for recording and results in artifacts when viewing on a large screen. Another downside is that since YouTube doesn’t support HEVC videos, you can’t upload your content without converting it to another video format. While the quality is good, an option to switch to normal encoding format would have been great.
1080p videos are great though with plenty of detail, good colors and best if all its in x264 format so YouTube won’t mind your 1080p content.
8MP Front Camera
The P10 Plus also get a major upgrade in the selfie camera department with an 8MP f/1.9 sensor. You get ample detail and the colors are nice and vibrant. Huawei maintains a realistic look in its final output but does offer beautification modes for blemish removal and smoother facial color palette.
There’s one spec where the front camera lags behind the competition – Auto focus. Most recent phones come with auto focus cameras while the P10 Plus still uses a fixed focus camera.
The Huawei P10 Plus is powered by a large 3,750mAh battery and even with the 2K screen, the P10 Plus should have offered a superior battery performance than any of its predecessors. Unfortunately, that is not the case.
The battery performance wasn’t bad by any means but it still wasn’t class leading. The Kirin 960 used up enough battery juice on daily tasks that the size advantage was nullified. We got 8 hours and 41 minutes in our standard battery benchmark test.
In day to day usage, a screen on time of 6 to 7 hours is common with the P10 Plus. If you wish to extend that, the Power Saving and Ultra Power Saving Mode can stretch your battery performance by a day or two.
Huawei is inching closer to Samsung and Apple with every passing day, it has to maintain standards while innovating where it matters.
The P10 Plus tells us what the company wants for the users. Its pristine finish, mature OS and focus on camera performance certainly put it on par or above the competing flagships. There is, however, some room for improvement in the battery department and user interface. The direction that Huawei is headed towards could put it in the same position that Samsung faced a few years ago with its Touchwiz UI and poor performance. The Kirin 960 and the Mali G71MP8 aren’t benchmark toppers either.
As far as its price is concerned, the P10 Plus doesn’t come cheap as you would expect from almost all flagship phones out there. It’s still marginally lower than Apple or Samsung starting at Rs. 68,999 and going up to 76,799.
For the average user though, P10 is one of the options. If you plan to buy one of the best performing phones out there which won’t cause issues in any normal use-case situations, you should keep the P10 Plus in your list. Your deciding factors should be the looks and the software, since there’s nothing else separating the leading flagships and the P10 Plus.
- Great camera in both daylight and low light photography
- Fast fingerprint sensor
- Great screen with punchy colors
- Plenty of RAM makes up for the slightly weaker processor
- Lower price than most competing flagships
- Videos are just OK
- Front camera could have been better
- The default color settings may not be to everyone’s liking
- UI is a bit cluttered, extensive features and customizations might confuse some users
- Battery isn’t class leading
Huawei P10 Plus Specifications
- Chipset: Huawei Kirin 960
- OS: Android 7.0 Nougat with EMUI 5.1
- Supported Networks: 2G, 3G, 4G LTE
- 5.5” 2.5D with QHD (2560 x 1440) resolution
- RAM: 4GB/6GB
- Internal: 64GB/128 GB
- Card slot: yes
- Primary: Dual+12 MP RGB + 20 MP, dual-tone LED, f/1.8, OIS, laser autofocus
- Secondary: 8 MP, f/1.9
- Fingerprint scanner
- Connectivity: USB-C, NFC, Bluetooth 4.2 LE, Wi-Fi ac, GPS, stereo speakers
- Battery: 3750 mAh
- Price: Rs 68,999 (4GB/64GB), Rs 76,799 (6GB/128)