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Huawei P10 hands-on review

Huawei P10 hands-on review: We’ve had a play with Huawei’s flagship phone of 2017, the Huawei P10, launched at MWC 2017. Here’s our full hands-on review of the Huawei P10, including our in-depth unboxing and first look.

Update: We have since fully reviewed the Huawei P10, so go check out our in-depth P10 review for our impressions.

Huawei P10: Specs at a glance

Screen size 5.1-inches
Screen resolution Full HD (1920×1080)
OS Android 7.0 w/ EMUI 5.1
Rear cameras 12/20-megapixels dual sensor
Front camera 8-megapixels
Processor 2.4GHz/1.8GHz octa-core Kirin 960
Memory 4GB RAM
Storage 64GB. Expandable via microSD up to 256GB
Battery 3200mAh w/ Huawei Supercharge fast charging

Huawei P10: Hands-on review

Like so many of the phones at this year’s show, the new P10 leaked thoroughly ahead of its unveiling, giving us a pretty clear idea of what to expect. In the metal, however, you get a real sense of the company’s continued efforts to push out phones with top-notch fit and finish.

The P10 is markedly more rounded and softer along the edges and corners of its metal unibody, with proportions akin to Apple’s iPhones rather than the squared forms of its predecessor, last year’s P9.

Huawei has opted for a lightly pillowed glass front and a near continuous metal back, which in some colourways features a new ‘hyper diamond cut’ finish. It’s meant to offer a glossier appearance than traditional sandblasted metal, whilst still being able to repel fingerprints better than glass. In truth, it simply looks like an attractive brushed finish with extra sheen, but if you want it, you’ll have to choose the right hue of P10 first.

Whilst not all colour variants will be available in all markets, the P10 (and P10 Plus) will technically launch in eight different colours: Dazzling Blue, Graphite Black, Dazzling Gold, Greenery, White Ceramic, Rose Gold, Mystic Silver and Prestige Gold.

Some long-time Huawei fans might be familiar with colours like ‘Mystic Silver’ but there are some new offerings worth noting too. The two options with ‘Dazzling’ in the name feature the aforementioned hyper diamond cut finish, whilst Greenery, which is, of course, an all-green P10, was developed in partnership with colour specialists Pantone. It’s also worth noting that despite the name, Ceramic White isn’t made from actual ceramic, Apple Watch Series 2 Edition style, but rather emulates the look.

You get an attractive 5.1-inch Full HD IPS panel, with a continuous glass form that now features an inlaid fingerprint sensor. The P10 is the first of Huawei’s flagships to move the sensor from the phone’s back to its front, where it now serves as a one-button solution to all fundamental Android navigation.

As well as unlocking the device in a split second, (par for the course when it comes to Huawei’s best blowers at this point) a single tap serves as the back button, whilst a long press turns it into the home button and a swipe down reveals the multitasking overview. Fans of Emotion UI might not appreciate losing the swipe-down-for-notifications gesture, but version 5.1, running atop Android 7.0 feels wholly similar to the experience already available on the likes of the Mate 9 and updated P9 or Honor 8.

Huawei has made some improvements and additions to the P10’s experience to ensure it stands out from the crowd, however. Themes are now colour-matched to the finish of P10 you decide to pick up, for a more cohesive out-of-box experience, while interaction should feel snappier as the company has implemented both a faster touch driver and predictive fingerprint tracking, so it will supposedly be able to anticipate where you’re planning on tapping to streamline navigation. Huawei dubs this initiative ‘Ultra response’.

Memory compression, branded under ‘Ultra memory’ has the phone allocate resources based on usage using machine learning, with the company claiming that in some instances this new tech can help cut app load times by up to 30 per cent.

If you’re a photo nut, the phone’s new native gallery now features a ‘Discover’ tab, which automatically groups your snaps by places, people and events when the phone is idle and the screen is off. Huawei assured us that this all happens locally on the P10, with no data being offloaded to remote servers, so your photos never leave your device without prior knowledge.

Another partnership Huawei has struck in the development of the P10 has been with GoPro, who have lent the underpinnings of their Quik editing app to help the P10 natively auto-generate customisable videos with filters and music called ‘Highlights’, not unlike the efforts created by the Google Photos app.

Onto the hardware, the phone doesn’t break the company’s existing smartphone mould all that much. There’s the same Kirin 960 octa-core processor, 4GB of RAM and a 12/20-megapixel Leica 2.0 dual rear camera arrangement capable of manual capture, RAW capture and 4K video recording, just as with last year’s Mate 9. It uses Leica’s Summarit H lens design, as on the P9, with OIS built into the phone’s 12-megapixel colour sensor and boasts Huawei Hybrid Zoom, which offers up to 2x (almost lossless) magnification.

Some new additions to the camera experience include an 8-megapixel front-facer that now also benefits from some Leica tweaking, whilst the phone puts out an improved bokeh effect (compared to the Mate 9) by shooting with an f/2.2 aperture when capturing in the updated portrait mode.

Selfie fans will appreciate the new adaptive selfie technology, which can detect if you’re trying to snap a single selfie solo, or a group photo, in which case it’ll widen the field of view accordingly.

We’ve actually had some time with the P10 since this article was originally published, so go check out our in-depth Huawei P10 camera review for more info and full samples.

As for battery life we suspect the 3200mAh cell will dole out a day and a half of use on a single charge, with Huawei’s Supercharge fast charging tech (which operates at 4.5V and 5A) promising to deliver a full charge in 90 minutes or a day’s usage in an impressive 20 minutes; no doubt looking to undercut OnePlus’s Dash Charge slogan of ‘a day’s power in half an hour’. There’s plenty of internal storage onboard too, with 64GB of space and microSD expandability supporting up to an additional 256GB card for those who need it.

So whilst the WQHD screen may be reserved for its launch sibling, the P10 Plus, and there’s still no Daydream VR support as of yet, the new Huawei P10 looks to be a promising 2017 flagship with powerful specs, a nice design and a worthwhile update to its camera technology.

Here’s hoping that it hits an appealing price point when it arrives in the UK later this year. Stay tuned for more Huawei P10 coverage soon.

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