Huawei’s new top-level smartphone causes crowd fever at its launch, reports PAT PILCHER.
Last year’s launch of the P9 smartphone saw Huawei gain a sizeable amount of market profile. Finding innovation that’s unique and compelling is becoming a tough proposition in the smartphone market, and speculation was rife around what Huawei was going to announce with the P10.
Huawei chose to launch the P10 at Mobile World Congress. The most telling illustration of the high level of interest were the huge crowds that turned up for the launch.
So, what about the P10? In a nutshell it’s more of an incremental than revolutionary product. That said, it packs enough tweaks to distinguish it from the P9 and foot it against both Apple and Samsung.
The P10’s design language resembles that used on the P9. Most of the P10’s design changes are subtle and aimed at making it comfortable to use.
First things first, the P10 is slim. For those with limited pocket or purse space, it’ll slide in, leaving room for other clutter.
A lot of phones sport organic curves, but the downside of this is that most feel like a particularly slippery bar of soap (looking at you, HTC). The P10 isn’t as curvy and, as a result, is more grippy. The prevailing wisdom from those lucky enough to go hands on is that the P10 is comfy, and less likely to be subject to accidental drop tests.
As with the P9, Huawei’s attention to detail is strong. Small things such as a recessed power button means that it feels different to the volume control. This can only be a good thing when trying to tweak volume levels while listening to music.
The most significant change is the move to place the fingerprint sensor on the front of the P10. Huawei says this declutters the P10’s rear. [Gor blimey – Ed]. The sensor looks like a button but isn’t mechanical. It does support gestures. Tapping it acts as the back key. Holding it is the same as the Home key, while swiping it opens up the previous apps screen. This might sound convoluted, but I suspect it’ll become second-nature for P10 owners.
There’s no Tupperware to see either. The P10 is hewn out of a chunk of metal, and its uni-body design is slick. Huawei launched the P10 with an expanded colour pallet. These extra colours get complemented with what Huawei call the ‘Hyper Diamond Cut’. Its only available on select models and provides extra grip while being fingerprint-proof. Colours range from the usual grey, gold white/silver, with the addition of a sexy metallic blue or green.
Design-wise, the P10 is definitely a Huawei device. Most of its design is subtle, but these tweaks add up to a comfy device with a premium feel.
Specs-wise, the P10’s screen is full HD. This isn’t a bad thing. Ultra-HD (4K) displays may sound great to those obsessed with specs, but it adds few visible improvements over HD. Then there’s the added issue of all those extra pixels placing demands on battery life. The bigger P10 Plus, which has more room for a larger battery, features a WQHD panel.
The display is a 5.1-inch which is a good size for a smartphone (unless you happen to have baseball catcher mitts for hands). This means the P10 is easy to handle while offering a decent amount of on-screen real-estate.
The biggest spec upgrade for the P10 is the Kirin 960 chipset – the same silicon powering the Mate 9. It sports more grunt than the Kiwi bacon factory. On the Mate 9, any games and other demanding apps I threw at it ran silky smooth. The Kirin 960 is also energy efficient, which bodes well for the P10. Rounding things out, the P10 comes with 4GB of RAM and 64GB storage. There’s also microSD support for up to 256GB. This is good news for those with large media collections.
Software-wise, Huawei uses the Emotion UI 5.1 overlay over Android 7. Many of the features that make Android Nougat a must-have may be absent. Huawei confirmed that there is no Google Assistant yet and the P10 isn’t Daydream-compatible.
A particularly nice touch is the clever theming of Emotion UI. This allows it to match the colour of your phone. It’s a small thing but it adds to the P10’s sense of style.
As with the Mate 9, the P10 uses machine learning to optimise applications. This should allow the P10 to avoid performance degradation over time. Huawei have also added predictive fingerprint tracking. This they say is so the P10 can guess where your dabs are likely to be next. How much of a real world difference these additions will translate to has yet to be seen.
Another modest upgrade comes in the form of battery life. Huawei have added a bigger 3,200mAh battery (compared to the P9’s 3,000mAh battery). This is impressive given how slim the P10 looks.
The P9 saw Huawei deliver a wake-up call to other phone makers. This was thanks to an innovative dual lens camera and a partnership with Leica. The P10 takes what has worked so well with the P9’s camera and delivers a similar but improved step up on the P10.
Like the Mate 9, the P10 sport a higher resolution 12MP colour sensor that works with a 20MP mono sensor. The mono image sensor captures greyscale images with more contrast. These get “coloured in” thanks to the higher resolution colour image sensor. The combination results in photos that you’d think came from a much higher-end shooter. Things get helped along with dual f/1.8 lenses, which allow better low light performance. Huawei have also added an 8MP selfie camera with Leica- designed optics. The front shooter can widen the photo to include more people.
The P10’s design tweaks make it both comfy to hold and endow it with gorgeous looks. This said, the lack of Google Assistant or Daydream is disappointing. Here’s hoping Huawei adds this via an update.
Minor grizzles aside, Huawei have stuck with the formula that worked so well with the P9. They’ve also added some useful refinements that’ll see the P10’s camera a key consideration for buyers. PAT PILCHER