Huawei P10 Plus review: A big, beautiful phone with a steep price tag
The Huawei P10 Plus is a larger brother to the company’s high-end P10 smartphone. It comes with a bigger 5.5in Quad HD screen, an improved camera and a classy diamond-cut finish. Unsurprisingly, the price is bigger too – SIM-free, the P10 Plus will set you back a stiff £680.
It comes in a range of seven colours, with the obligatory pretentious names: you can take your pick of Ceramic White, Dazzling Blue, Dazzling Gold, Graphite Black, Greenery, Mystic Silver or good old Rose Gold. All models come with a huge 128GB of built-in storage – and if that’s somehow not enough, a microSD slot lets you expand capacity even further.
Huawei P10 Plus review: Design
The P10 Plus is clearly a premium device, competing on price with the likes of the LG G6 and the Samsung Galaxy S8. And, with its diamond-cut finish, it looks and feels like a high-class artefact. Other nice design touches include the metal ring that links the front chassis to the rear plate, and the small red ring around the power button.
The interface is distinctive, too. In place of onscreen controls, the front-facing fingerprint sensor doubles up as a universal navigation key. You can tap once to go back, tap and hold to go to the homescreen, or swipe left and right to switch between tasks. It takes a little getting used to, but I quickly came to appreciate its simplicity. It’s just a shame you can’t swipe down on the sensor to review notifications, as on the P9.
Around the edges of the phone you’ll find the microSD slot (which can alternatively take a second SIM), a headphone socket and a USB Type-C port for charging and data transfer. There’s also an infrared transmitter on the top, so you can use the phone to control a TV or audio system.
Huawei P10 Plus review: Display
The P10 Plus uses a 5.5in IPS panel with a huge 1,440 x 2,560 resolution. That translates to an extremely high pixel density of 540ppi, so this could be a great phone for VR gaming: things should look pin-sharp even mere inches from your eyes.
It’s bright, too. We measured a maximum brightness of 587.1cd/m², meaning the screen’s easy to read even in blazing sunlight. The minimum black level of 0.44cd/m² isn’t so great: it’s quite a bit brighter than the inky blacks you get from OLED screens. Still, the overall contrast ratio comes out at a respectable 1,327:1, and colour reproduction is good, too: we measured 98.5% coverage of the sRGB gamut.
The only disappointment is the lack of high-dynamic range support. As HDR video content is increasingly becoming available, we suspect it’s soon going to be an expected feature on upmarket handsets.
Huawei P10 Plus review: Performance
The P10 Plus is built on Huawei’s own HiSilicon Kirin 960 chipset. This features an eight-core processor in ARM’s heterogeneous “big.LITTLE” arrangement: you get four 2.4GHz Cortex-A73 cores for heavy processing, plus four energy-efficient 1.8GHz Cortex-A53 cores for lightweight jobs.
That’s a good amount of horsepower, and it’s backed up with a whopping 6GB of RAM. Huawei claims that its EMUI 5.1 software also uses various technical tricks – such as defragmenting and compressing RAM – to ensure tip-top performance.
We put the P10 Plus through its paces in the Geekbench 4 benchmark to assess just how it stacks up against its competitors. Single-core performance proved unremarkable, but multi-core performance was very strong. Overall, performance was similar to Huawei’s P10 and Honor 8 Pro handsets – which makes sense, since both use the same Kirin 960 chipset.
For gaming, the P10 Plus is a strong, if not exceptional performer. It’s certainly a step up from last year’s P9 Plus: in the offscreen GFXBench Manhattan test at 1080p, it achieved almost double its predecessor’s performance. Onscreen performance isn’t quite so smooth, but that’s probably down to that QHD display – there’s a hell of a lot of pixels to draw.
As well as larger screens, plus-sized phones tend to come with bigger batteries. In this case, the P10 Plus includes a 3,750mAh battery that’s 17% larger than the one in the regular P10. Unfortunately, that doesn’t translate to longer battery life: the P10 Plus lasted only 12hrs 21mins in our standard battery test, while the P10 soldiered on to 13hrs 12mins. You should get through a day of moderate use before it conks out, but it would have been nice to have a bit more of a buffer.
Huawei P10 Plus review: Camera
One of the headline features of the P10 Plus is the improved camera. As with Huawei’s previous phones, the rear camera is a dual-lens design, using a pair of Leica SUMMILUX-H lenses. The dual sensors found on the P9 rear camera have been upgraded: the colour one remains at 12 megapixels, but the monochrome one gets a boost to 20 megapixels.
We found these produced excellent images, with good clean detail and strong, natural-looking colour. They perform well in low light too, thanks to a maximum f/1.8 aperture – up from f/2.2 on the old P9, and on the regular P10.
It’s not quite the best smartphone camera we’ve seen, though: the Google Pixel and Pixel XL manage to deliver slightly sharper images in challenging conditions. The flash can also be a bit overwhelming, leading to flat images with harsh shadows, as below. It’s better used for filling in murky backgrounds at mid-range, rather than for low-light close-ups.
The front-facing camera has been updated too, with an 8-megapixel Leica sensor and an f/1.9 lens. It’s fine: selfies don’t look stunningly rich or detailed, but it’s an improvement over last year’s model.
Huawei P10 Plus review: Verdict
The Huawei P10 Plus is a solid phone, with a big screen, strong performance and a great camera. It’s expensive, though. For the £680 asking price, you could get an LG G6 or a Samsung Galaxy S8. Shutterbugs should alternatively consider the Google Pixel or Pixel XL, which offer even better image quality.
Even within Huawei’s own range, the P10 Plus looks expensive next to – for example – the 5.7in Honor 8 Pro. That phone isn’t far behind in terms of camera quality and storage, and it costs £205 less. Barring a significant price drop, therefore, we’d suggest you give the P10 Plus a miss. It’s a beautifully designed bit of technology, but not exceptional enough to justify the cost.
|Processor||Octa-core (4x2.4 GHz Cortex-A73 & 4x1.8 GHz Cortex-A53)|
|Screen resolution||1440 x 2560|
|Front camera||8 megapixels|
|Rear camera||20 megapixels|
|Memory card slot (supplied)||microSD (256GB)|
|Wireless data||3G, 4G|
|Dimensions||153.5 x 74.2 x 7 mm|
|Operating system||Android 7.0|