[nextpage title=”Introduction” ]
Product Type: Smartphone | Manufacturer: Huawei | Price: From £679.99 | Where to buy: Vodafone | [et_social_share]
The P10 Plus is the best smartphone from Huawei to date, but it’s not a huge jump forward like its predecessor.
The Huawei P9 was a huge success for the Chinese manufacturer, being the first smartphone from the company to reach over 10 million sales worldwide. The partnership with famed glass maker Leica proved to be a worthwhile investment, even if those sample images generated a bit of controversy. Creating a successor was always going to be a difficult move for Huawei, as the handset needs to excel in some very crucial areas. Will it be able to take the camera even further and continue to impress, or is this just an incremental upgrade? Let’s find out…
OS Android 7.0 Nougat (EMUI 5.1)
Processor HiSilion Kirin 960
Screen 5.7 inch IPS-NEO LCD
Resolution 2560 x 1440 pixels (540 DPI)
Memory 4-6 GB RAM
Micro SD compatible? Yes, up to 256GB
Rear camera Dual 20MP + 12MP
Front camera 8MP
Video 4K 30FPS
Connectivity WIFI b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.2, NFC, Infrared
Cellular Speed CAT 12 LTE 600Mbit/s
Dimensions 154 x 74 x 7 mm
Battery 3,750 mAh
[nextpage title=”Design and Screen” ]
Design and Screen
The trend in this generation of flagships has seen a shift towards longer displays with much thinner bezels, though Huawei has decided to completely forgo this with the P10 Plus. It shares a lot in common with its predecessor and on first glance, could even be mistaken for the same handset aside from some slight differences. The lack of waterproofing is disappointing, especially when this is becoming a standard across all other flagship handsets. Shipping in a matte metal unibody finish, the edges have taken on a more curved appearance which is more akin to the iPhone 6. They now wrap completely around the sides of the handset with no machine-cut edges. It gives the P10 Plus an exceptionally nice feel in the hand which doesn’t cut into the palm.
On the front, you’ll find the large 5.5-inch panel and a fingerprint sensor, the latter of which has been moved from the rear. Bezels on the P10 Plus remain very thin, although there’s a reasonable amount of dead space above and below the screen. The fingerprint sensor is not a clickable button, although you can use it to navigate the user interface. Specific gestures can be used for back, home and recent apps, which is an interesting take on the traditional buttons. While it sounds cool on paper, we can’t help but feel that it would’ve been far easier to just include physical back and recent app keys on the device itself. On the plus side, the fingerprint sensor is extremely fast and unlocks almost instantly.
On the back of the device, you’ll find two camera sensors imprinted into that familiar black strip along the top, with Leica branding proudly displayed on the right. A Huawei logo is printed onto the metal rear, though it’s subtle enough that you won’t really notice it too much. On the sides you’ll find a dual-SIM tray, volume rocker and power button. The latter carries a textured finish and red trimming around the edges. We presume this is supposed to help with finding the power button in the dark or at first glance but as a design touch, it is equally impressive. As far as power buttons go, the Huawei P10 Plus has just about the strongest one we’ve seen.
Move to the top and things are kept minimal except for a lone infrared blaster which enables you to use the P10 Plus as a TV remote. Even though infrared is now a depreciated technology on smartphones, it’s still a handy feature to have included. On the bottom you’ll find a USB-C connector and headphone jack, plus a single mono speaker port. Huawei has taken a smart approach to built-in audio on the P10 Plus, housing a tweeter into the earpiece on the front of the device and using the main speaker for everything else. This separation allows for a much fuller sound overall which, despite being a little tinny at loud volumes, is a noticeable jump over single speaker designs.
The Huawei P10 Plus has a 5.5-inch 2560 x 1440 IPS LCD display, which crams in more pixels than the standard P10. The use of an LCD display as opposed to AMOLED means that black levels suffer slightly as a result, but the Huawei still does a top job. The colour palette seemed a touch warm compared to the competition which is a matter of personal preference, though overall reproduction was good. Colours came across as natural without feeling overly vibrant and sharpness was just about right. Overall brightness is equally impressive, with the handset perfectly viewable under direct light. The brightness adjustment curve is good with a smooth transition from minimal to maximum.
[nextpage title=”Camera” ]
Following on from its predecessor, the Huawei P10 Plus once again utilises a dual camera on the rear. The main sensor has been bumped up to 20 megapixels while the secondary monochrome one remains at 12 megapixels. The inclusion of optical image stabilisation and a wider f/1.8 aperture is a big plus and should definitely help out with low-light images. Leica optics is once again touted as a big feature of the P10 Plus, though the difference this actually makes is probably up for debate.
Image quality is a slight improvement over its predecessor, though not a massive jump. Sharpness has been bumped up quite a bit in an attempt to claw out more detail, which works well. There doesn’t seem to be an abundance of extra picture noise as a result. Blacks are now deeper and less tinted overall, while the overall dynamics have gotten better. Colour reproduction is bolder and more impressive than the P9, which now looks soft and washed out in comparison.
Low-light images were impressive, with the camera managing to pull plenty of light from an otherwise dark image. This didn’t seem to be at the expense of much noise either, which is a strong result. The P10 Plus comes with the same manual camera application as well saw on the P9, which has all the main features that pro users could want. Lossless images are saved in the DNG format. Switching to manual mode, if you start to increase the ISO past 400, you’ll see image noise quickly introduced. This is about the same as what we saw on the P9. Images are usable up to ISO 800 so long as you have a decent noise reduction filter in post.
The wide aperture mode returns in a more functional form, offering a simple slider to change depth-of-field. Since this is mostly a software feature it can also be readjusted in post through the gallery, so long as you have the aperture mode enabled. Unfortunately, the effect is still hit-and-miss. There’s a definite artificial quality about it, with the bokeh often bleeding into foreground objects and giving a halo appearance.
The 8 megapixel secondary camera has a wider f/1.9 aperture and seems to have been improved significantly. Leica apparently co-engineered the front facing snapper featured in the P10, which could explain why things have gotten better. Selfies have a lot more detail and it seems to really flatter the face. The lens has a nice sweet spot in the middle which doesn’t disproportionate features, though things can still warp when you get close to the edges.
[nextpage title=”Performance and Software” ]
Performance and Software
Boasting the same flagship Kirin 960 chipset which is found in the Honor 8 Pro, the Huawei 10 Plus is well equipped to handle difficult tasks. You’ll also be treated to between 4 and 6GB of RAM depending on the configuration you buy. We were given the more powerful 6GB model to test which ships with 128GB internal memory, so make of that what you will.
Browsing the UI was buttery smooth with no lag. App switching was also lightning fast with no delay between transitions. Gaming was equally smooth, with Candy Crush Saga and more demanding titles like Asphalt Xtreme running without a hitch on highest settings. Interestingly, Asphalt defaulted to an extra high DPI setting. This is something we have only seen on the LG G6.
CPU benchmarks for the device show a very powerful handset on paper which eclipses the OnePlus 3 and Samsung Galaxy S7. Scoring 1,864 for single-core and 6,412 for multi-core on GeekBench 4, it can’t quite match the newer Galaxy S8 but still puts up an admirable fight, only finishing a little behind. The AnTuTu test was a little less impressive with a score of 141,616, about the same as an Apple iPhone 6s Plus. It doesn’t manage to rank in the top 10 current devices for raw power, instead coming in at 19th.
GPU benchmarks are usually an area where the HiSilicon chip struggles and the results here are a good 30% slower than other flagships such as the Galaxy S8. It scored 3,218 on the 3DMark Sling Shot Extreme test and just 389.8 frames on the GFXBench test, the latter of which sits well below current leaders. Benchmarks should obviously be taken with a pinch of salt but this result is definitely reflective of the chipset.
The app tray is still missing and you’ll need to use folders or risk the home screen getting rather cluttered, however it’s possible to use a third-party launcher to get this back. Unlike older versions, a downward gesture on the screen will now bring up a search bar with your most frequently used apps underneath. It’s far more intuitive than the pinch-to-open seen on older variants and embraces one-handed operation. The quick-launch bar still exists at the bottom of the screen and can be accessed using an upward stroke on the lock screen.
The Huawei P10 Plus crams in a large 3,750 mAh battery, which is definitely in the upper tier when compared to the competition. We know from past results that the HiSilicon chips struggle a little bit with battery efficiency, so we were interested to see the result. It took 67 minutes for the Huawei P10 Plus to lose 20% charge during our intense testing session, equating to about 5 hours and 35 minutes overall on-screen time. This is a good result but given the size of the battery, you would arguably expect a lot better. The Snapdragon 821 powered LG G6 had a smaller capacity at 3,300 mAh yet managed to last over 10% longer, which is indicative of the chipset at play here.
In day-to-day testing, we found that the Huawei P10 Plus would fare a little better than the benchmarks suggest, hitting the two day mark with a bit of frugality. For moderate use, expect a day and-a-half. Where the HiSilicon chips seem to fail in power efficiency is when the processor is put under consistent load.
[nextpage title=”Conclusion” ]
The Huawei P10 Plus is the best handset that the company has released to date, though it doesn’t heavily innovate when compared to the P9. It feels more like a refinement overall, making an already great handset even better. That said, at almost £700 you can pick up devices such as the Galaxy S8 and LG G6. These are two devices which usher in the new era of truly bezel-less phones. This puts the P10 Plus in a tough place, despite being a very complete contender.
Do you agree with our review of the Huawei P10 Plus? Sound off in the comments below!