Our Huawei P10 long-term review takes an in-depth look at Huawei’s 2017 flagship phone after several months of use. Does the P10 get better with age, or has it been ousted by Android rivals such as the OnePlus 5 and Sony’s Xperia XZ Premium?
Huawei’s flagship handsets have been consistently good for years now, particularly impressing with their excellent hardware, finished with attractive design work. That strong groundwork laid by the Huawei P8 and Huawei P9 meant we were hotly anticipating the launch of the fresh new P10 at MWC 2017.
However, although the Huawei P10 offers a solid set of specs and some typically enjoyable aesthetics, this phone struggled to stand out against the crowd. Sony had its 4K smartphone, the Xperia XZ Premium; LG was offering Dolby Vision in the LG G6; Samsung had its incredible bezel-free finish, for the Galaxy S8. Next to these phones, the Huawei P10 didn’t seem to really offer any unique, stand-out feature that made it a must-buy.
Two other issues were cost (at £600 the P10 was overpriced) and the super-sized P10 Plus model, which packed even stronger specs and increased dimensions. You can also pick it up in a more reasonable form, the Huawei P10 Lite, if the P10’s steep asking price is too much to swallow. Check out our P10 vs P10 Plus vs P10 Lite comparison to see how they all stack up.
Over four months since we first snatched up the Huawei P10, the phone has only dropped slightly in price; you can now pick it up for around £549 SIM-free. Of course in that time we’ve also seen a number of phone updates, which build on the already pretty solid software. So, have our hearts warmed to the P10 in that time, or have strong rivals such as the OnePlus 5 and Honor 9 rendered this handset obsolete?
Here’s our long-term Huawei P10 review.
Huawei P10 Long-Term Review: Design
Although the Huawei P10 doesn’t sport any stand-out design like the Galaxy S8, it’s still a smartphone that’s refreshing to return to after using more mighty handsets. With its relatively dinky 5.1-inch display, this is easily one of the most compact flagship phones around, alongside the Honor 9 and iPhone 7. Definitely a bonus if you need something that’s well-suited to one-handed use.
The curvy aluminium frame makes for a comfortable fit in the palm. I still like the matt metal finish, which has proved pleasingly resistant to damage over the months as well. The P10 is pretty much box-fresh, especially after a quick polish. Only a few super-light scratches (which require a bit of hunting) show that it’s been in use. And unlike the Honor 9, it’s not susceptible to greasy prints and smears.
Huawei also offers some really gorgeous finishes if you’re into that sort of thing, including a face-smacking bright green that’s very unique indeed. Meanwhile the ‘Dazzling’ finish offers a precision-cut textured backing that feels amazing.
However, one annoyance is the fact that the P10 isn’t water resistant. Pretty much all of its rivals in 2017, including the Galaxy S8, LG G6, Xperia XZ Premium and Apple’s iPhones can survive a dunking in fresh water. Don’t event think about taking the P10 in the bath however, as a slip will result in doom. If you have a small child, you’ll also want to pay close attention to any drinks, just in case.
Huawei P10 Long-Term Review: Screen and media
True movie buffs and media fans with plenty of cash in the bank will look to the LG G6 with its Dolby Vision support, or the 4K screen of the Sony Xperia XZ Premium (which also supports HDR playback). Those handsets offer serious future-proofing, now that Netflix and Amazon Prime Video are ready to offer Ultra HD streaming to mobile devices.
Hell, even the HTC U11, which lacks HDR support, offers the rather excellent USonic audio and BoomSound speakers to make up for it somewhat.
Considering the Huawei P10’s steep asking price, its lack of a killer media feature is rather difficult to swallow. Still, after several months, I find it hard to complain about the visuals on offer. That 5.1-inch screen only puts out a Full HD resolution, yet images are undeniably sharp and packed with detail. Colours are punchy and on top brightness, you’ll certainly not struggle to see when outdoors.
You also get a generous 64GB of storage space, which can be expanded via microSD if so desired. That’s something that one of the P10’s closest rivals, the OnePlus 5, can’t offer – although most other flagship phones do come with this expandability.
Huawei P10 Long-Term Review: Features and OS
Huawei has, as usual, added its own custom software on top of Android. This is known as Emotion UI (EMUI for short) and gives the P10 its own unique look and feel, while adding some cool gesture support, extra resource management and some other funky features.
The Huawei P10’s software hasn’t really changed much since it was launched, so there’s not a lot to mention in this section of the long-term review. I still get on well with the all-in-one home button, which can be used to perform back and recent apps commands as well. However, I still maintain that it’s simply a different way of doing things, with no real advantage over the traditional three-button setup. I actually prefer the Honor 9’s setup, which offers that traditional button layout alongside the option to use the home button for all three commands if wanted.
In fact, the Honor 9 offers the same great features of the P10, except for almost £200 cheaper. And that’s a problem that we’re going to come back to over the next two sections as well.
Huawei P10 Long-Term Review: Performance and battery life
Packed inside the Huawei P10 is the company’s Kirin 960 chipset, backed by 4GB of RAM. That’s the same setup as quite a few Huawei phones now, including the Mate 9 (the original Kirin 960 handset) and the fresh new Honor 9.
This has held up well over time, so you can expect the P10 to continue to be satisfyingly smooth, even when loaded with apps and after plenty of use. However, you can get the same or better performance from much cheaper rivals, if that’s your main concern.
For instance, the Honor 9 only costs £380 and yet performs just the same as the P10, in everyday use as well as benchmarking tests. Meanwhile the OnePlus 5 is £100 cheaper than the P10, despite the fact that its meaty Snapdragon 835 processor is more powerful and boasts support for faster download speeds and impressive mobile VR experiences.
Battery life on the Huawei P10 is also still a bit of a disappointment. While the Honor 9 offers a day and a half of life per charge without breaking a sweat, the P10 only just makes it through a day with similar usage. There’s no clear reason for this as consumption levels appear to be the same. Power drains more than I’d like at night also.
Still, at least you get some battery saver features on board for stretching the remaining life, while Huawei’s fast charge tech makes for quick and safe recharging. Meanwhile the P10 doesn’t seem to be getting worse over time, probably thanks to that fast charge tech.
Huawei P10 Long-Term Review: Camera tech
Dual lens cameras really seem to be in fashion in 2017. Huawei was of course one of the first manufacturers to offer this setup on its handsets, but the P10 finds itself competing against a slew of dual-lens smartphone snappers midway through the year.
We actually prefer the OnePlus 5’s double camera for the most part, as it offers stronger low light performance than the P10. Plus, the P10 Plus has an upgraded shooter which is more capable when the lights grow dim, which is a serious shame considering the price of the standard P10. Not to mention the fact that the Honor 9’s camera is pretty much the same snapper found on this phone.
I’m still very happy with the everyday shots produced by the P10, yet after all these months it’s clearly been surpassed by the likes of the Xperia XZ Premium and HTC U11.
Check out our in-depth Huawei P10 camera review for our full testing and analysis of the Leica 2 shooter.
Huawei P10 Long-Term Review: Verdict
At the time of its launch, the Huawei P10 struggled to stand out against rival flagship smartphones – except for that vibrant green model, of course. Almost five months later, the P10 is pretty much buried under superior alternatives. The price has only dropped a tiny amount, while no major software updates means no appealing new features.
Then there’s the Honor 9, which boasts almost identical specs and camera tech, for almost £200 less than the P10. If it wasn’t for the easily-cracked design, we’d say the P10 wasn’t superior in any way to its cheaper sibling. Which of course makes a recommendation pretty much impossible.
There’s plenty to love here and the P10 certainly isn’t a bad phone by any means. Sadly, it’s also beaten in every department by rivals, and should only be considered if spotted at a serious discount.
To see how the Huawei P10 compares with every other big Android phone out there, check out our Huawei P10 vs the world feature. You can grab the Huawei P10 on contract in the UK from O2, from £31 per month.