Huawei P10 & P10 Plus review: Hands-on and first impressions of the world’s first 4.5G smartphones

MWC wouldn’t be MWC without a few flagship phones, and this year’s show is no exception. Although Samsung is a notable absentee, Huawei has stepped into the breach with the announcement of its P10 and P10 Plus.

Huawei P10 & P10 Plus review: Hands-on and first impressions of the world's first 4.5G smartphones

And the paper specs are pretty impressive – the phones have dual-SIM capabilities, a fingerprint reader at the front, an octa-core processor and run on Android 7 Nougat out-the-box. They can be found SIM-free for around £550 and £590 respectively.

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Huawei P10 & P10 Plus review: Key specifications and release date

But what’s it like in hand? The first thing you’ll notice is the screen, and it a pretty good one on both models. The P10 has a 5.1in Full HD (1,080 x 1,920) screen, while the P10 Plus has a 5.5in 1,440 x 2,560 IPS display –  423ppi and 535ppi respectively, marking an increase over the P9 Plus’ 401ppi.


Their chipset, processor and GPU all received a good update over the P9, with the P10 and P10 Plus coming with a HiSilicon Kirin 960 chipset that combines with the octa-core (4×2.4 GHz Cortex-A73 & 4×1.8 GHz Cortex-A53) processors. All this means it’s quick – although we haven’t yet been able to benchmark it, subjectively it’s fast enough for lag to just not exist.

That’s helped by the 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage in the P10, while the P10 Plus has 6GB of RAM with a whopping 128GB of storage. If you’re willing to sacrifice your second SIM slot, both phones have expandable storage slots, allowing you to add an extra 256GB of space.


Huawei P10 and P10 Plus: Design

The P10 brings several design changes over the P9, starting with a vast array of colours on offer: Ceramic White, Graphite Black, Dazzling Gold, Rose Gold, Prestige Gold, Greenery, Dazzling Blue and Mystic Silver.

The most notable design change is the location of the fingerprint sensor. It’s now disappeared from the back and is located at the front. The reason behind this shift is to add extra functions to it, where a long-press or double tap allows you to go back and view your recent apps. It’s a welcome addition to the home button, and just like the OnePlus 2 it isn’t a physical button.

The P10 and P10 Plus have a USB-C charging port and a 3.5mm headphone jack. Unfortunately, the P10 doesn’t have a separate audio DAC, where you’ll have to rely on the Kirin 960’s system-on-chip (SoC) sound chip for music.

On the right-hand side of the phone, there a volume rocker and power button, and a single downward-firing speaker at the bottom. The SIM and microSD card tray is on the left-hand side of the phone.


Huawei P10 and P10 Plus: Camera and battery

Just as with the P9 and P9 Plus, the 2017 flagship comes with an impressive dual-lens Leica optics camera. Huawei has upped the ante, by going from a 12-megapixels dual-lens camera to a Leica SUMMILUX-H dual-lens, which is a dual-lens 20-megapixel mono + 12-megapixel RGB camera.

However, there is a difference between the P10 and P10’s camera, where the P10 has an F2.2 aperture, while the P10 Plus has an incredible F1.8, allowing more light into the lens, which should deliver better low-light images.

There’s also an improvement on the front-facing camera over the P9 and P9 Plus, as it comes with an 8-megapixel camera with an F1.9 aperture using Leica optics. That’s Leica optics for the front and back cameras!

The P10 has a slightly larger battery over the P9, with a non-removable 3,200 mAh battery, where Huawei has increased the capacity by 200 mAh. We’ll have to wait to see how it compares to the P9’s 11h 24m battery life. The P10 Plus has a larger 3,750 mAh battery.

4.5G or bust

So far, so flagship. All of this is great, but we would expect virtually any flagship Android phone released this year to match it. But the P10 and P10 Plus have another unique feature up their sleeves: support for 4.5G networks, otherwise known as LTE Advanced Pro. The design utilises a quad-antenna design to maximise download speeds. Huawei claims a 2x increase in network speeds over the dual-antenna P9 and P9 Plus, and the theoretical maximum is a whopping 1Gbit/second.

There is, of course, a small catch: At present, no networks in the UK have rolled out their 4.5G networks commercially, although both EE and Vodafone have done trials in limited areas. So why is Huawei releasing the P10 with 4.5G support? Our guess is that, as a company which has been highly prominent in promoting 4.5G on the network infrastructure side, there was no way that the company’s flagship 2017 couldn’t support it.

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Huawei P10 review: Early verdict

In the brief time I spent with the P10 and P10 Plus, I didn’t really find that much which completely blew me away, but on the other hand I didn’t find much to dislike either. It’s exactly what you’d expect from a flagship Android phone in 2017 – nothig more, and nothing less – which means the answer to the question of “should you buy this?” largely comes down to whether you’ve used Huawei phones before and liked them. If you have, then you’re going to like the P10.

But if you’re a Samsung, LG or HTC user – or even that rare someone looking to switch from an iPhone – it’s a much tougher call to make, and one which will have to wait until I’ve had chance to do proper battery, camera and speed tests.

You can mark your interest through Carphone Warehouse and expect it to be on sale in March 2017.

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