Huawei P10 review: Buy now or hold out for the P20?

£550
Price when reviewed

Huawei P10 review: Performance

Inside the Huawei P10 is where the upgrade action has really taken place. You’re looking at a HiSilicon Kirin 960 running at 2.4GHz, backed by 4GB of RAM and 64GB of onboard storage. If that’s not sufficient, you can pop in a 256GB microSD card to top it up. For comparison, last year’s P9 ran a Kirin 955 processor and came with either 3GB or 4GB of RAM, depending on the model.

That sounds a modest upgrade on paper, but in practice it made the world of difference in our benchmarks. Geekbench 4 registered a score of 1,940 in its single-core test and 6,299 in its multi-core version. That’s an improvement of 12.4% and 29% respectively. In practical terms, that leaves it roughly level-pegging with the Huawei Mate 9, and faster than the OnePlus 3T, Samsung Galaxy S7 and iPhone 7 on certain measures.

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It gets better, though. While Huawei phones have historically struggled with our graphics tests, the company seems to have finally ironed out the issues. While the P9 managed a mere 12fps on the GFXBench Manhattan 3 test at native resolution, the Huawei P10 reached a huge 50fps. Suffice it to say, this impressive performance continued into our real-world gaming tests. There’s no need to stick to Candy Crush on this handset, that’s for sure.

You might think that this performance increase would have a knock-on effect on battery life, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. The 3,200mAh battery did pretty solidly in our tests, improving on its predecessor by a clear 2hrs 12mins, giving it a grand total of 13hrs 12mins of looped 720p video before it was out of power. While this isn’t the best performancewe’ve seen, it’s pretty respectable, and means the P10 should comfortably last the day for most people.

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One minor annoyance, though, is that it isn’t running stock Android Nougat. Huawei’s EMUI launcher has improved in recent times, but it still has its irritations. Notifications, in particular, are poorly handled; there’s no grouping, which means it’s easy to to become overloaded than it is with the standard Android pull-down.

Huawei P10 review: Camera

The camera shines once again, for the most part. Photography specialist Leica returns to do the rear camera’s heavy-lifting, and Huawei sticks with the age-old mantra of: if it ain’t broke, you shouldn’t try to stuff in more megapixels.

It’s the same camera that was in the P9, producing excellent shots, rich in detail. Provided, that is, that natural light is in abundance. The picture below – taken at MWC in Barcelona – shows exactly how grand pictures can look in the right setting. Colours are vibrant and balance is pretty much spot on.

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In low light quality suffers, with the f/2.2 aperture holding the camera back, not letting enough light in. You can see from the picture below that blur creeps in and things become much more weakly defined. There’s also some obvious noise in the darker areas.

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The good news is that after doing such a good job last year, Leica has also been tasked with improving the front-facing camera, which now has a brighter f/1.9 aperture. This produces high-quality images, even though there isn’t too much difference from last year. In fact, it actually seems to do a bit better than the rear camera in poorly lit conditions.

Huawei P10 review – Verdict

The Huawei P10 is a big improvement on the P9 in almost every area – except the camera, which has remained the same; this is no bad thing when it was already pretty good in bright conditions.

The problem is that by adding an extra £100 to the price tag, it’s no longer a decent flagship competing with overpriced mid-range phones. It’s a decent flagship competing with the best around. The Google Pixel starts at £50 more, and you can buy a Samsung Galaxy S7 for less. The Huawei P10, good as it is, struggles against the best of the best with the camera, and its software isn’t as refined either.

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Still, if prices take a tumble, then don’t let these complaints put you off. The Huawei P10 is a wonderful smartphone that you’ll be very happy to own. And if the pound’s continued struggles see other manufacturers up their prices, then this may yet end up looking like the bargain of year.

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