Huawei has been making consistently great phones for a number of years now, yet has struggled to establish itself as a household name in western markets – and its latest flagship, the Huawei P10, offers a glimpse as to why that’s the case.
But they are minor tweaks, and the P10 is a limited upgrade – and if you're already running a recent phone from the company you may not be inspired to upgrade.
Huawei P10 price and release date
Details of the Huawei P10's price and release are scarce at the moment, but we know for certain the phone will be launching in the UK and Australia. When exactly isn't clear yet.
You won't be able to buy this phone in the US, and it's not currently clear why the company isn't launching the P10 there. If you're in the US you may want to seek out an imported model as we expect it to work with AT&T and T-Mobile, but it probably won't work with Verizon and Sprint.
As for price, that’s not certain yet either. The Huawei P9 launched at £449.99 (about $470, AU$799), a touch below the major phone brands.
The Huawei Mate 9 phablet, which launched at the tail end of 2016, jumped up in price compared to the Mate 8 though, so it may be that Huawei decides to drastically up the price for the P10 too.
Huawei P10 design
The design tweaks to the Huawei P10 are probably the most interesting. Much of the design language is similar to the Huawei P9, but there are a few noticeable changes here that make it a much more comfortable phone to use.
The phone sits comfortably in the hand, with edges that are slightly less curved than on some of the current competition, making it an easy device to handle.
The power button is slightly indented, and feels different enough to the volume rocker that you won’t confuse the two when the phone’s in your pocket.
Perhaps the biggest cosmetic change is that Huawei has placed the fingerprint sensor on the front of the phone.
Huawei says this is to try and make a more minimalistic design – what it calls 'organic minimalism'. It sits just below the main screen, where on many phones you'd find the home key.
This is slightly different compared to other phones though. There’s no simple click here – you’ll have to hold it down for a small amount of time to go home, tap it to go back or swipe to open up the previous apps screen.
Our first impressions are that this is a slightly convoluted setup, although we can see it becoming easier to understand as you get used to the phone.
Along the bottom edge of the phone sits the single speaker driver, the USB-C port and the 3.5mm headphone jack. Huawei is keeping the manual headphone jack, unlike some of the competition, so you’ll be able to continue using wired headphones with this phone.
The back of the phone is a full-metal unibody once again, but this time there are a few different effects.
Huawei has add two 'dazzling' color choices to the range of the Huawei P10 that give a reflective metal effect and look absolutely gorgeous.
A limited version of these phones have a new finish called 'Hyper Diamond Cut. You won’t have any fingerprints on the back of the phone like that, but it will look beautiful from afar. It feels a little strange on your fingertips but looks different to any other phone on the market.
How good this design is does raise questions why Huawei has included six other color options though. One is the return of White Ceramic that is made of metal with a slightly ceramic effect on it.
Then there are normal metal versions for black, green, silver, gold and rose gold. If you’re upgrading to the Huawei P10, you’ll want either 'Dazzling Blue' or 'Dazzling Gold' as each looks different to anything else you can buy right now.
Huawei P10 display
Huawei has decided to opt for a Full HD display on the P10, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. If you want a higher resolution you’ll want to buy the Huawei P10 Plus, which features a QHD panel.
The screen is much the same as we saw on the Huawei P9, and on first impressions seems to be a bright and easy-to-read panel.
At 5.1-inches it’s the optimum size for a phone that’s easy to handle as well as offering as much space as possible for the apps and videos you’ll be playing around with on the phone.
Huawei P10 specs
Under the hood of the Huawei P10 are a few major upgrades. There’s a Kirin 960 chipset – the powerful processor which impressed us inside the Huawei Mate 9 – as well as 4GB of RAM to power it all.
Strangely Huawei has decided to limit its storage to one model – 64GB, but that makes it a lot easier to make your choice when buying the Huawei P10. There is also microSD support up to 256GB for anyone who needs some extra room inside.
Huawei has included its Emotion UI 5.1 overlay on top of Android 7 software for the P10.
The disappointment is the lack of a few key Nougat features. There’s no Google Assistant support at launch – Huawei is still not sure whether it will ever come to the P10 or P10 Plus – and the phone is not Daydream-compatible.
There are a few improvements within the software for the Huawei P10 that we’ll dive into properly in our full review, but for now there a few things to highlight.
One is the theme of Emotion UI can be tailored to the color of your phone. If you buy the brave Greenery phone, you’ll then see the software is the same version of that. that color can later be changed within the Themes app though.
The software now also has predictive fingerprint tracking where it will suggest to the phone where your fingers will probably go next. That means if a lot of people exit an app after using it, the phone will predict that and be able to make it work quicker. Or at least it will seem quicker after you’ve done it.
Then for the battery life, there’s a slight upgrade on the Huawei P9’s 3,000mAh cell with the P10 packing a 3,200mAh battery.
We didn’t find the battery life on the Huawei P9 all that impressive, so here’s to hoping the extra capacity in this cell with give it a big boost to the P10’s overall lifespan.
Huawei P10 camera
The Huawei P9 was the debut of the Lecia partnered camera lens system, and the P10 was made a return of the dual-lens setup we saw on that phone.
Here it’s much more similar to the Huawei Mate 9’s setup though with a 12MP color sensor working in tandem with a 20MP monochrome version.
The phone will take any photo with both sensors at the same time and then overlay the two images. The idea is the black and white sensor will give better detail and add extra contrast to your full color image.
The big improvement on the Mate 9 and Huawei P9 is an improved aperture on the camera setup. This time it’s f/1.8, which should mean you can get brighter photos at a given shutter speed.
On the front of the phone is an 8MP selfie camera, which seems to be the same setup as on the Huawei P9. It'll take all of the selfie shots you'll want to share with friends or post on social media.
The design improvements to the Huawei P10 are an interesting step and make the phone easy to hold and gorgeous to look at when laying down on the table.
Under the hood the spec in the Huawei P10 is also impressive while the camera upgrades are a big highlight and should offer some of the best smartphone photography on the market.
Whether this is a reason to upgrade from a Huawei P9 seems uncertain right now though and it’s a shame Huawei hasn’t seen fit to jump up to a QHD display for the main model of the P10.
But what the P10 does do is make a statement of intent for the company and we may see the Huawei P10 making a big impact in our best phone of the year rankings very soon.
MWC (Mobile World Congress) is the world's largest exhibition for the mobile industry, stuffed full of the newest phones, tablets, wearables and more. TechRadar is reporting live from Barcelona all week to bring you the very latest from the show floor. Check out all our MWC 2017 coverage here.