Huawei P10 hands-on review: camera-focussed Android phone for creative millennials

Multiple colours, Leica camera hardware and GoPro image editing app make this one for the Instagram set. Also announced: Huawei P10 Plus!

TODO alt text

Our Verdict

A textbook 2017 Android smartphone, bolstered by a potentially excellent camera

For

  • Attractive, if generic, look
  • Leica/GoPro-powered camera tech impresses
  • 8 colour options

Against

  • Lacks a certain wow factor, maybe
  • Pricier than previous Huaweis

Unveiled today at Mobile World Congress (MWC), the Huawei P10 is the successor to the Huawei P9. Obviously. 

Like that device, which helped propel the Chinese brand to the big Number 3 spot amongst phone manufacturers worldwide, the P10 is a highly competent smartphone, with the most up-to-date version of Android, topped off with a Leica-branded, dual-lens camera.

Also on board this time around: editing software from GoPro, colours by Pantone, and an intriguing new idea: memory that means your phone doesn't slow down as it ages. Unlike you.

We've had hands on the P10. There's also a larger P10 Plus, but samples of that were not available prior to MWC. 

Pricing is as follows, and is quite flagship-esque: 

HUAWEI P10 64GB + 4GB €649

HUAWEI P10 Plus 64GB + 4GB €699

HUAWEI P10 Plus 128GB + 6GB €799

Huawei P10: headline specs

Operating System Android 7, although Daydream VR not supported

Processor Kirin 960 Octa-core 

Screen 5.1-inch IPS, full HD, IPS LCD screen

RAM 4GB

Storage 64GB plus microSD up to 256GB

Rear camera Leica Duo 2.0  with 12-megapixel colour/20-meg monochrome sensors, f2.2 lens. Full HD/60fps and 4K/30fps video supported 

Front camera 8-megapixel/1080p with f1.9 Leica-branded lens

Battery 3200 mAh with Huawei Supercharge ('full-day usage after 20 minutes charge')

Full spec is down there, right at the bottom.

Huawei P10: design

We're horribly spoiled by phones, as consumers, these days. They are all pretty good and their design language is very familiar to us. Sure, you could put out a triangular phone, but at this point, nobody would buy it. 

So the Huawei P10 is a fairly attractive lozenge that looks broadly similar to other flagship phones, notably Samsung's S7. And why not?

With a button-cum-fingerprint sensor on the front and a 5.1-inch screen, the P10 is actually more generic looking – at least when viewed from the front – than its predecessor.

There are numerous options for the back of the phone, however, with eight metallic and coloured options in total, although it's doubtful most of those will reach the UK.


These include 'ceramic white', which isn't actually ceramic, and blue and green options chosen in conjunction with Pantone, because Pantone knows about colours. They have chosen 'Dazzling Blue', and 'Greenery'. Yep.

As is now thankfully very much the fashion, the P10 does NOT feel slippery, even though it looks very glossy. Arguably it goes too far the other way, feeling slightly 'tacky' to the touch, but maybe that's nitpicking.

It's an attractive, if unexceptional-looking, phone that feels very well made. 

Huawei P10: camera

The camera is unquestionably the key feature of the P10, so that's what I'll concentrate on first.

Who the hell knows how much input Leica actually brings to the Leica-branded Duo 2.0 on the P10? But it would hardly be in its interests, as one of the world's most prestigious imaging brands, to put its name to something that sucks, and so the dual-lens Duo 2.0 is the star attraction here. 

It's set up to take both colour and monochrome images – there's a sensor for each – and to apply 'bokeh' effects to your images, so the subject is in crisp focus, while the background is tastefully blurred.

I have the strangest feeling that in ten years we'll all look back on our snaps from this era and go, "Why did I put a filter or apply bokeh to EVERY damn photo, back in the 2010s? What was I thinking of?" But for now, the effect works really well on the P10.

The other 'focus' – ho ho – this time around is on portraits, rather than landscapes and still lifes. To that end there's advanced facial recognition, a specific portrait mode, and an improved eight-meg, 1080p, also-Leica-branded front selfie cam. 

This automatically changes focus when it detects you're doing a group selfie – or 'grelfie', as absolutely nobody calls it.

I've got to say, in the room we got to see the pre-release P10 in, portrait results and group shots of people were absolutely not earth-shattering. I mean, they were fine, but no better than other flagship phone cameras in mediocre light. 

That's in contrast – ho ho! – to macro shots/close-ups, which did look very nice indeed. 

If you've used the Huawei Mate 9, which features essentially the same camera, you'll know the score: it's in the top tier of smartphone cameras, but it's not going to give you perfect results every time, without some input from you. 

Arguably of more interest than the hardware is the inclusion of an adapted version of GoPro's Quick app, which fulfils two very useful roles.

Foremost, it very professionally cuts together video clips for you, from fully automatic choices, to assisting you. It makes adding music very simple, too.

Also very handily, it'll tag and sort the day's photos and videos for you, once you're on Wi-Fi. For inveterate Instagram addicts, this is all great news.

Huawei P10: other features

It's hard to draw too many positive conclusions from a brief hands on, but it is usually possible to tell if something's gone horribly wrong.

Well, the good news is that nothing seems to be horribly wrong with the P10. 

Android 7 Nougat is a very good phone OS that feels like a coming-of-age for Google devices. Once you're used to the absence of physical buttons other than  home, it's easy and enjoyable to use.

Also good news is that Huawei's 'skin' for Android – Emotion UI – is also, in its current state, much less of a barrier to your enjoyment, and less ugly than in times past. It'd still be better with raw Android, but there we go. 

Everything on the P10 feels pleasingly zippy, from the fingerprint sensor to opening apps. Huawei reckons that predictive machine learning helps apps to open '20 per cent faster', whatever that means. It's fast, anyway.

The thing is, ALL phones above about 200 quid are fast, out of the box. 

What's potentially very interesting is that Huawei is also claiming the RAM (there's 4GB of it) in the P10 will mean it continues to be just as fast for years to come, as updates are applied and the storage (64GB, expandable with up to 256GB microSD) fills up.

No details were given on how this works, clearly it's impossible to test in the short term, and Huawei made similar claims for the Mate 9. We will have to see how it pans out.

Something else that we'll have to see how it pans out: Alexa is coming to the P10 (and Mate 9). Amazon's AI assistant won't be in there for its European launch, however. 

Huawei P10 Plus

As with the P9, and most other flagships these days, there is a larger version of the P10. All I have for you here is headline spec, I'm afraid…

Screen 5.5-inch QHD 

RAM 6GB

Storage 128GB plus microSD up to 256GB

Camera Leica Duo 2.0 Pro with 12-megapixel colour/20-meg monochrome sensors, f1.8 lens. Full HD/60fps and 4K/30fps video supported 

Battery 3750 mAh with Huawei Supercharge

Huawei P10: early verdict

One thing very much in the favour of Huawei's P series of phones is they are usually that bit cheaper than Apple and Samsung's efforts. And Google's too, if the Pixel is any guide.

If that remains the case here (no pricing details had been announced at the time of writing), the Huawei P10 looks like another compelling proposition.

I wouldn't say there's anything about it that's going to make seasoned smartphone buffs burst into a round of spontaneous applause, or swoon, but it appears to be 100% solid in every key respect, with a camera that has a lot of potential. 

If you've used the Huawei Mate 9, you'll have a very good idea of what to expect. as it's almost the same phone, specs-wise. However, the smaller size and peppier appearance of the P10 make it more appealing. It's sure to be another big hit for Huawei.

Complete spec

Huawei P10 

Screen 5.1” full HD, 2.5D glass, Corning Gorilla Glass 5 

Height: 145.3 mm; Width: 69.3 mm;  Depth: 6.98 mm; Weight 145 g

Colours: Ceramic White, Dazzling Blue, Dazzling Gold, Prestige Gold, Graphite Black, Mystic Silver, Rose Gold, Greenery 

Finishes High Gloss, Hyper Diamond-Cut, Sandblast

CPU Kirin 960  (64-bit),  Octa-core (4 x 2.4 GHz A73+ 4 x 1.8 GHz A53) 

GPU Mali-G71 MP8 

Memory 4GB 

Storage 64GB 

Camera Front: 8MP, F/1.9 

Rear: Leica Dual-Camera 2.0  20MP monochrome & 12MP RGB, SUMMARIT-H F/2.2, OIS 

Battery 3,200 mAh (typical) with HUAWEI SuperCharge 

Huawei P10 Plus

Screen 5.5” WQHD, 2.5D glass, Corning Gorilla Glass 5 

Height: 153.5 mm; Width: 74.2 mm;  Depth: 6.98 mm ; Weight 165 g  

Colours Ceramic White, Dazzling Blue, Dazzling Gold, Graphite Black, Mystic Silver, Rose Gold, Greenery   

Finishes High Gloss, Hyper Diamond-Cut, Sandblast 

CPU Kirin 960  (64-bit),  Octa-core (4 x 2.4 GHz A73+ 4 x 1.8 GHz A53) 

GPU Mali-G71 MP8 

Memory 4GB or 6GB

Storage 64GB or 128GB

NFC supported 

Camera Front: 8MP, F/1.9 

Rear: Leica Dual-Camera 2.0 Pro Edition 20MP monochrome & 12MP RGB, SUMMILUX-H F/1.8, OIS 

Battery 3,750 mAh (typical) with HUAWEI SuperCharge

Check out the latest news from MWC 2017