My main problem with the Huawei P10 is that the Huawei P9 was my favourite phone of 2016. It was so good in fact, it was going to take a lot to beat. While the P10 is an update, it lacks somewhat in the “wow” factor.
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The biggest change is the design. The fingerprint sensor has been brought to the front and the phone, including the screen, is smaller. The sides are rounded and the metal back has a “diamond” finish, which is smooth and doesn’t pick up fingerprints. There’s also a blue version, at a time when nearly all high-end phones only come in silver, black and gold.
The front navigation buttons — home, back, and previous apps — are integrated into the single home button/fingerprint sensor. Tap to go back, swipe to bring up apps running in the background, and long press for home. You can change this to use on-screen buttons, but that cuts into screen real estate. This system took some getting used to; even after practice I found myself going “back” instead of “home”.
The P10 is the best phone in the market for photography — it takes spectacular pictures. It has dual rear cameras with Leica Summarit lenses. Like the P9, it has a monochrome camera for capturing contrast and detail, and an RGB camera for collecting colour information. The larger model P10 Plus has similar cameras, but the aperture ranges are greater. The front-facing camera has been updated and is now also equipped with a Leica lens. There are 3 colour modes (natural, vibrant, and smooth), full manual controls and aperture effects that give those nice, pro-looking, blurred background shots.
A new function is portrait mode. Despite using digital trickery to smooth faces and widen eyes — something that usually results in me looking like an alien — this mode takes surprisingly good photos. It’s perfect for selfies, and automatically frames the photo by making the shot wider if more faces are detected.
Battery life was the biggest issue with the P10. I am a heavy user, but my phones usually last the day.
With the P10, I was getting battery warnings by 9:30pm and the phone would be dead by 10:30.
Some functions on new phones can chew through the battery, but this was especially bad on the P10. I checked with Huawei and it said a software update is coming that should improve battery performance. (Update: since publishing this article, Huawei has rolled out the update and battery performance on the P10 is vastly improved.)
Beyond battery issues and my annoyance with the home button, there’s nothing wrong with the P10. While its cameras are amazing, it just lacks something to grab your attention. The closest thing might be the “dazzling blue” metal option.
First Looks are trials of new and interesting products from the perspective of our product experts. Our lab-based tests offer truly objective product comparisons. The Huawei P10 was loaned to the writer by Huawei.
By Hadyn Green