Huawei P10 hands-on: Basically an iPhone 7 clone, which is good and bad
BARCELONA, SPAIN—We’re making the rounds at Mobile World Congress checking out all the new flagship smartphones, and next up is Huawei’s latest: the P10 and P10 Plus. The rumors on the P10 Plus claiming it had a curved screen were totally wrong; the 5.1-inch P10 and 5.5-inch P10 Plus have identical, flat-screen designs.
The P10 looks and feels just like an iPhone 7, which is both a ding on the design and very high praise for the build quality. As usual, Huawei does a great job building an aluminum phone that just oozes quality. It feels super solid and the smooth, rounded edges make it a joy to hold.
It’s thin and surprisingly heavy, and it has a “2.5D” Gorilla Glass screen that rounds nicely into the sides. The buttons all feel solid and clicky, and I really like the power button, which has diamond knurling and an anodized red highlight. It might be unoriginal, but it’s hardware that looks and feels great.
Huawei is offering a whopping eight color options, which have three different finishes among them. The finishes greatly affect the feel of the phone, and when I say I like the design and it feels high quality, I’m referring to my time spent with the “Sandblast” finish.
Sandblast comes in green, pink, silver, black, and gold, and is basically the “bare metal” option. “High gloss” is available in white, but unfortunately this option wasn’t on display. The one finish I really didn’t like is the “Hyper Diamond Cut” finish—available in blue and gold—which is has a textured, ridged surface that feels exactly like a lenticular print “hologram” toy. Huawei says it’s metal, but it sure doesn’t feel like it. If my eyes were closed, I would swear it was a big, plastic sticker.
Often OEMs come up with really “creative” names for their device colors, and Huawei definitely takes the cake here with the green version: It’s called “Greenery” and was named the “Pantone Color of the Year 2017.”
As is the case with the Moto Z, I’m not a big fan of the P10′s awkward combination of on-screen buttons and a front fingerprint reader. I always want to use fingerprint reader as a home button, and it just doesn’t do anything when the phone is on.
Both devices use the new 2.4GHz Huawei HiSilicon Kirin 960 SoC, a eight-core big.LITTLE SoC with four “big” Cortex-A73 cores and four “little” Cortex-A53 cores. It’s hard to know exactly where these 2017 high-end SoCs stand in terms of performance at the moment, but the Kirin 960 should be at least be an upgrade over last year’s chips. The 16nm process probably won’t be able to stand up to the 10nm Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 and Exynos 9 8895, however.
Both devices are only shipping Android 7.0, a pretty pathetic situation given that every other phone at MWC is running Android 7.1.1. It is at least on the Feburary security patch. Qualcomm has a near SoC monopoly on Android phones, so we’re sure Qualcomm and Google work very hard to get the latest version of Android up and running on Qualcomm’s lineup. So if you’re an OEM using a Qualcomm chip, most of the porting work is going to be done for you. On Huawei’s in-house chip, all that work is totally up to Huawei, so updates will inevitably be slower.
The P10 gets a 5.1-inch, 1080p display, and a 3200mAh battery, while the P10 Plus has a 5.5-inch 1440p display and a 3750 mAh battery. The both have 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage with an optional 6GB/128GB tier for the P10 Plus.
EMUI, Huawei’s Android skin, looks like your usual “change for change’s sake” Android skin. It’s very iOS-like with no app drawer and rectangular icons. It doesn’t seem like it supports Google’s awesome “Smart Lock” functionality, which, among other things, can disable the lock screen at home or work. There are some nice parts though, like a theme engine and a customizable navigation bar.
Neither the P10 or the P10 Plus are coming to the US, which marks the latest chapter in Huawei’s struggles in the US. Despite being ranked third in worldwide market share by the IDC—after Samsung and Apple—Huawei just can’t seem to break into the US market. ComScore tracks smartphone market share for the US market, and it doesn’t even show Huawei in top five OEMs. A lack of US distribution for its two main flagships definitely isn’t going to help matters.