We review the Huawei P10 Plus!
A few weeks ago we reviewed Huawei’s smaller P10 flagship. While Huawei managed to build a solid phone that’s way more affordable than the offerings of their competitors, a derivative design and incremental camera improvements meant that the P10 was suited for people who haven’t jumped on the dual-camera bandwagon yet – which leaves many Huawei faithful in the dust as far as potential upgrade phone is concerned.
After using the P10 Plus for a little while, we can attest that this is the better of the two phones in terms of camera and performance. While it’s significantly more expensive than the smaller P10 (with an almost 10K difference in price) the higher RAM, bigger storage, significant bump in low-light performance and better screen more than make up for the price difference.
Huawei P10 Plus specs
- HiSilicon Kirin 960 octa-core processor
- 6GB of RAM
- 5.5-inch WQHD display, 2560 x 1440 resolution
- Leica co-developed cameras, 12-megapixel color sensor, 20-megapixel monochrome sensor, f/1.8 aperture, OIS
- 8-megapixel front camera
- 128GB expandable storage via microSD
- Dual SIM
- WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, NFC, fingerprint scanner, fast charge
- 3650mAh battery
- Android 7.0 Nougat (EMUI 5.1)
A P10, writ large
We’ve already talked about the design language of Huawei’s current crop of flagship phones, but for the sake of people who aren’t fans of backreading, know that the overall appearance of the P10 and P10 plus looks very much like Apple’s iPhone 6. That’s not as bad as it sounds, since Huawei didn’t just completely copy the design language of Jonny Ive as they’ve tried to iterate on the design to make it look like their designers actually work for a living. But the inspirations are there, and that may be good or bad, depending on how much you hate/like Apple.
Despite that the overall design of the P10 Plus looks good, if safe – the flat, almost monolithic back, curved sides and corners makes the phone easier to hold in the hand, though because of its bigger size people with smaller and daintier hands may have trouble using it one handed. We didn’t, but our hands are partly gorilla, so keep that in mind.
Just like the P10 the P10 Plus is also spiced up with Huawei’s color collaboration with Pantone, and will come in Dazzling Blue and Greenery sooner or later. Huawei Philippines said that Dazzling Blue will be available when the phone is launched to the retail market though Greenery won’t be available until later this Q2.
Huawei’s included a few design subtleties to make the phone stand out – a knurled and colored power button, the glass strip that holds the dual-camera lenses (and Leica’s all important branding) are subtle tweaks meant to make the phone stand out in the sea of “me too” iPhone clones.
Huawei saw fit to move the fingerprint scanner of the phone to the front, from the back. We’re not really a big fan of this change, since it now sits on the bottom of the display up front. Some will appreciate the move (we don’t) and it all boils down to preference if you like the new placement.
Just like the P10 you can use the fingerprint scanner (which isn’t a tactile button, just a glass sensor) to navigate through Android Nougat and EMUI 5.1. When you do enable the fingerprint scanner for navigation, you will have to get used to the gestures required to go back, go home and go back one level. It takes a bit of getting used to – if you don’t like how it feels, you can always go back to using the on-screen navigation buttons.
One thing with the P10 Plus though, it doesn’t have an IP rating, which means it’s in your best interest to keep this particular phone well away from H2O while you’re using it.
With the P10 Plus, Huawei has finally offered a mainstream flagship that has a WQHD panel that gains parity against its competitors in the flagship market. While the 5.5-inch WQHD display doesn’t have the same, striking colors as Super AMOLED panels in their Korean competitors, the contrast, black levels and color reproduction on the P10 Plus is top notch.
But just like the P10, the P10 Plus lacks an oleophobic coating on the display. We’re not entirely sure why Huawei opted not to put anti-smudge coating on such an expensive phone – if you do decide to get one, make sure to never remove the screen protector on the screen.
Kirin 960 is still a great processor for the high-end market
Just like the P10, the P10 Plus is decked out with Huawei’s home-grown, HiSilicon Kirin 960 octa-core processor, paired with a Mali-G71 MP8 GPU. The P10 Plus also benefits from more RAM than the P10 – 6GB – as well as more storage – 128GB – with an option to add more via microSD card.
That makes the P10 one of the few phones in its price range to have 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage out of the bat.
And while you don’t quite see a HiSilicon Kirin 960 processor on other flagship phones today (it’s reserved for Huawei’s own phones) it stacks up relatively well to the offerings of their competitors. It’s not quite Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 or Exynos 8895 levels, but it’s pretty close. The phone felt quick and zippy during its time with us, and we never experienced and kind of performance issues with the phone at all.
Just like the P10 (and the Mate 9), Huawei’s also baked in AI into the P10 Plus’ system. Huawei says that the phone will be able to learn your usage habits in time, and will be able to intelligently predict which app you’ll use so it can allot resources in advance to ensure smooth use. We didn’t have the phone long enough to fully test that, but during its time with us the P10 Plus was quick and speedy. Is that the result of the intelligent AI in the phone or just the beefy specs? We’ll never know for sure.
Moving onto the other stuff – WiFi and LTE connections with the P10 Plus are good and solid, and we never really found any problems with the wireless radios on the phone during use. Speaker quality is okay, though it tends to distort at higher volumes, something that’s not entirely surprising considering their size.
A surprisingly better camera than its smaller sibling
While we were impressed with the P10’s camera performance, the phone’s lenses weren’t quite able to conquer low-light situations because of the less than stellar f/2.2 aperture opening.
That’s changed with the P10 Plus – the dual Leica cameras now get an f/1.8 aperture over the f/2.2 opening in the P10 Plus, and in terms of picture quality in low light, the difference in night and day.
The camera sensors are still the same – the Leica co-engineered dual-camera lenses are comprised of a 12-megapixel color sensor and a 20-megapixel monochrome sensor. The phone combines images taken from both to form one superior image, at least, that’s what Huawei’s marketing pitch promises.
Low light shots taken with the P10 Plus are impressive, and the camera is able to pick out detail even in very low light. The flower egg photo was taken in Eastwood Mall with poor lighting. The picture of the bear was taken in the same area, with just street lights.
While the P10 managed to take good photos, you’ll really have to work for it using manual mode. The P10 Plus, on the other hand, managed to take impressive photos purely on automatic mode. Some photos came out too cool for our taste though, but it’s completely fixable via editing.
Less than stellar battery life
With our experience with Kirin 960, we were expecting the P10 Plus to breeze through our battery benchmark test without any problems. With a 3750mAh battery, the P10 Plus has more than enough juice to ace the test, right?
Well, no. The P10 Plus managed to attain a battery rating of just 7 hours and 6 minutes on a single charge.
That doesn’t mean that the P10 Plus doesn’t last – we recorded around a day’s worth of battery life with moderate use on a single charge, though we were expecting better performance from the bigger battery on the device.
The P10 Plus also gets the benefit of Huawei’s SuperCharge tech for fast charging, though it’s the same deal as the P10 – you’ll need to use their proprietary USB Type-C cable and charger for it to work.
Verdict: the upgrade you’ve been waiting for
Should you upgrade to the P10 Plus if you already have the P9 or the P9 Plus? Yes, if you can. The jump in performance in terms of image quality is worth the higher price, though be warned that the P10 Plus is Huawei’s most expensive flagship yet, coming in at Php 36,990. That’s quite a price jump over the P9 Plus, though you are getting far better specs than other phones in the same (general) price range.
Huawei’s biggest and newest flagship managed to impress us during its short stint in the Unbox testing labs. The P10 Plus’ excellent camera performance make it worthy of having Leica’s name branded on its lenses, though its higher price tag compared to last year’s offering may be a turn off to many.