(Pocket-lint) - Huawei has been pushing up the smartphone ranks in recent years. Its more recent devices have delivered premium build quality and great spec for a lower price than many competitors, making them a serious consideration.
With the bigger-scale Mate 9 launch behind us, all eyes are on Huawei's smaller-scale devices: the P10 and P10 Plus. Here's the lowdown on the Chinese superbrand's latest pocket-friendly smartphones following the company's official announcement at Mobile World Congress 2017.
Huawei P10 and P10 Plus: Design
- Eight colour variants (regional variation)
- 5.1-inch (P10) and 5.5-inch (P10 Plus)
- Front-positioned fingerprint scanner, not rear
- Leica Dual Camera 2.0, twin rear cameras
The smaller handset of the two is the P10. An evolution of last year's P9, the newer handset's 5.1-inch screen puts it into the pocketable category in a market full of increasingly larger phones. That screen is marginally smaller than the P9's 5.2-inch panel.
Perhaps the biggest sell of the P10 is its colour-on-metal finish options, of which there are eight in total, comprising: greenery (Pantone colour of the year 2017), dazzling blue, dazzling gold, graphite black, rose gold, white ceramic (not actual ceramic, it's polished metal), mystic silver and prestige gold). Not all will be available in all regions.
The "dazzling" finish options - which take eight and a half minutes to "diamond cut" per device, Huawei says - give a glossy finish to the metal without being a fingerprint nightmare. They're not the most striking of colours, though, despite their marketing name.
The P10 isn't a wild reimagining of the P-series, more a revision of the P9. There's more fluidity to the back camera plate which stretches across the width of the device, while the intersecting antenna lines aren't as prominent, leaving the unibody design to appear as more of a single piece than before.
An obvious new feature of the P10 is the fingerprint scanner's placement: it's on the front, in the typical home key position. It gives vibration feedback, too, much like the iPhone Home key. That's a big move away from Huawei's hallmark rear-positioned fingerprint scanner of previous devices; it also shifts up how the device operates as there aren't on-screen Android softkeys by default (back/home/apps can be activated within settings if you wish).
Huawei P10 Plus
The larger handset of the pair is the P10 Plus. It features a 5.5-inch screen, which largely puts it in contention with the Huawei Mate 9 Pro.
Its design otherwise follows the P10, with the same colour options and that front-facing fingerprint scanner. The camera, battery capacity and maximum connectivity speeds are also slightly improved compared to the standard model (see individual sections below for info).
Huawei P10 and P10 Plus: Display
- P10: 5.1-inch Full HD (1920 x 1080; 432ppi)
- P10 Plus: 5.5-inch WQHD (2560 x 1440; 534ppi)
- Both have flat screens, not curved
It was rumoured the P10 Plus would have a curved screen, but that's not the case. Neither does the P10: both handsets have flat IPS LCD panels.
The P10 offers a Full HD resolution (1,920 x 1,080) over its 5.1-inch panel, delivering 432 pixels per inch; the P10 Plus offers a WQHD resolution (2,560, 1,440) over its 5.5-inch panel, delivering a more resolute 534 pixels per inch.
Huawei P10 and P10 Plus: Camera
- P10: Leica Dual Camera 2.0 (28mm equiv. f/2.2 Summarit lenses)
- P10 Plus: Leica Dual Camera 2.0 Pro (28mm equiv. f/1.8 Summilux lenses)
- Both: 20MP B&W sensor and 12MP colour sensor
- Both: Built-in optical image stabilisation
- Both: Front-facing Leica camera for first time
- New "Portrait mode"
It's no surprise to see Huawei running with its Leica partnership once again in the P10. This couples two 28mm equivalent lenses side-by-side with no bump to the rear of the device, keeping a flush, neat design. One is monochrome (slightly higher resolution this year, at 20-megapixels, as per the Honor 8), the other colour (the same 12-megapixels, as per the previous generation), or both can be used in tandem for depth-mapping to create a pseudo wide aperture effect (that soft, melty background, known as bokeh - user-defined between software-based f/0.95 and f/16).
For the first time Leica partnership extends beyond the rear of the handset, with the P10 also offering a front-facing 8-megapixel Leica optic and sensor. It's a colour sensor, rather than monochrome.
In the latest Leica co-developed software there's now a Portrait mode. This doesn't depend on a longer focal length lens like the iPhone 7 Plus, however, it's more about what the software is doing: with the ability to track 190 points of a face, it will ensure exposure is best for the subject, then pseudo-bokeh the background for a more pro-like overall effect.
Huawei P10 Plus
The Plus model follows much the same path as the standard P10: it has dual 28mm equivalent optics with no bump to the rear and a Leica front-facing camera too.
The key difference is the "Pro" part in its Leica Dual Camera 2.0 arrangement: in the Plus there are f/1.8 aperture Leica Summilux lenses, which are brighter and ought to be sharper than the equivalent f/2.2 Leica Summarit lenses (as found in the standard P10).
Huawei P10 and P10 Plus: Hardware
- Kirin 960 chipset, octa-core (4x 2.4GHz, 4x 1.8GHz)
- Mali G71 MP8 GPU, Vulkan API
- P10: 4GB RAM, 64GB storage (plus microSD/dual SIM)
- P10 Plus: 6GB RAM, 128GB storage (plus microSD/dual SIM)
- P10: 3200mAh; P10 Plus: 3750mAh
- SuperCharge fast-charging
Spec-wise the P10 and P10 Plus reflect the Mate 9 and Mate 9 Pro respectively. Both offer the Kirin 960 octa-core chipset, with 4GB RAM in the P10 and 6GB RAM in the P10 Plus. Neither device features the rumoured Kirin 965.
The Plus also offers 128GB flash storage over the P10's standard 64GB. Both offer a microSD slot (unless you're using two SIM cards, in which case it will be rendered unavailable; dual SIM trays will be region specific but all will offer microSD).
Battery capacity is slightly larger in the P10 Plus, too, which is necessary given the bump in resolution and RAM. Both handsets offer Huwei's fast-charging SuperCharge technology for quick top-ups. As yet, we're not sure how long a handset will last per charge.
Huawei P10 and P10 Plus: Software
- EMUI 5.1 (software skin over Android Nougat 7.1)
- New Highlights photo-tagging and video-generating feature
- UX design follows phone's exterior colour by default
- Enhanced machine learning for optimum long-term experience
Both P10 and P10 Plus come with Huawei's latest EMUI 5.1 software (compared to current EMUI 5.0), which adds enhanced machine learning and a new Highlights photo-tagging and video-generating feature in the Gallery.
Highlights is the main new software feature, offering auto-tagging by date, place, person, event and so forth. Co-developed with GoPro (the action cam makers) this P10 and P10 Plus feature can also utilise such highlights to produce a video showreel, cut it to music of your choice, and allow for you to make personalised adjustments too.
Another new quirk includes the interface matching your device's colour choice straight out of the box (blue matches blue, green on green, etc - which can be updated within Themes as you please). Nice touch.
Huawei P10 Plus: Exclusive features
- 4x4 MIMO connectivity (P10 Plus only)
- IR Blaster (P10 Plus only)
In addition to the extra screen size, resolution, battery capacity and enhanced "Pro" camera setup, the P10 Plus also offers an IR blaster and 4x4 MIMO (up to 600Mbit download speeds) thanks to enhanced antenna space (both devices are 4G capable with 2x2 MIMO Wi-Fi capability).
Huawei P10 and P10 Plus: Price and release date
- P10: €649 (around £550), on sale March
- P10 Plus: €699 (around £600)
There's no official UK price or release date for either handset just yet, only European pricing. Release date is March for the P10, with the P10 Plus anticipated to follow later.