Huawei P10 Plus Review: Does Huawei’s most expensive phone offer value?
- Excellent camera
- Solid performance
- Clever fingerprint sensor
- Improved display over the P10
Could be better
- No colour choice
- No water resistance
- Lots of competition at this price point
Huawei jumps the $1,000 price barrier with the P10 Plus with mixed results.
The Huawei P10 Plus is, as the name suggests, the larger version of the all-around excellent Huawei P10, which we've already reviewed, finding it a near-perfect match of features and price point. You can read our review of the P10 here.
The P10 Plus takes what is effectively the standard recipe for the larger sibling phone in a family, upping the battery, camera specifications and screen quality, but also upping the price by a fairly significant amount. That's always a tricky balancing act to manage.
The P series phones from Huawei are meant to be its style play, and that's certainly the impression that I took away from Huawei's flashy launch of the P10, P10 Plus and Huawei Watch 2 at Mobile World Congress with a phone design in multiple colours explained in serious detail.
The P10 Plus measures in at 153.5x74.2x6.98mm with a carrying weight of 165 grams. There was a time that a phone of that size would have been dubbed a "phablet", but with increasingly larger phones becoming the norm, the P10 Plus doesn't feel overly huge in the hand. That being said, it's a phone with a 5.5 inch display that has essentially the same impact on the hand as Samsung's Galaxy S8, a phone with a 5.8 inch display. The P10 Plus display does stretch out to the edges, but the presence of the physical home button and the top camera and speaker give it some heft vertically.
Like the P10, the P10 Plus features a home button that mimics the kind of functionality first seen in the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. It's not technically a button, but instead a plate sitting atop a small motor that gives force feedback when pressed, which also doubles as a fingerprint reader. Also like the P10, there are some nice design touches, such as a small red ring around the ridged power button that makes it easy to differentiate.
Huawei P10 Plus: Camera
The P10 Plus features the most advanced camera Huawei's thrown into a camera to date. When you consider that it really kickstarted its camera ambitions with last year's Huawei P9, further refining through the Huawei Mate 9 and P10 itself, that's a big call. The Huawei P10 Plus features a 20MP monochrome/12MP Dual f/1.8 Summilux Leica lens at the rear. That's a step up from the f/2.2 Summarit lens found on the P10 which should deliver generally better low light performance for most shots.
The other trick in the P10 Plus' arsenal is that, like its predecessors, it utilises a dual camera lens array at the rear, matching up a 12MP RGB sensor with a 20MP monochrome sensor. For regular shots it automatically mixes the results of both lenses in for clarity, but you can also opt to shoot simply in monochrome if you like that noir effect.
Huawei's kept it simple for its camera software, which uses simple swipe gestures to access camera modes, or flip to the front-facing 8MP F1.9 camera. Like the P10, you've also got access to a "beauty" mode with sliders that can quickly remove blemishes and brighten faces, or turn you into some kind of glossy alien insect if you push it too far. There is at least enough granularity to the sliders that you can fine-tune your personal beautifying efforts. The P10 Plus also features Huawei's "adaptive selfies" feature, where the camera lens automatically detects additional faces behind you and switches to a wider shot to get more of your friends into your selfies.
In terms of camera quality, my experience with the P10 Plus was mostly positive, with the one caveat being identical to that of the P10 itself. It's a great camera for portrait photography, but a little weaker for landscape-type shots in the main. Low light performance is a tad better than the P10 in the same lighting conditions, but it's still not up to the benchmarks set by phones such as the Google Pixel XL or Samsung Galaxy S8.
Here's some sample shots taken with the P10 Plus:
Huawei P10 Plus: Why you’d want one
Premium performance: Along with the bump in camera specifications, Huawei also throws in an additional 2GB of RAM over the P10, along with the same Kirin 960 processor. That gives the P10 Plus just that little more headroom to run with, and given we were already very happy with the P10's general app performance, we expected big things from the P10 Plus. It didn't disappoint, with great ad-hoc performance and solid results in comparative benchmarks. Here's how the P10 Plus stacks up against the premium competition in Geekbench 4's CPU test:
Handset Geekbench 4 CPU Single Core (higher is better) Geekbench 4 CPU Multi Core (higher is better) Samsung Galaxy S8+ 2020 6690 Samsung Galaxy S8 1989 6628 Huawei P10 Plus 1863 6544 Huawei Mate 9 1925 6068 Apple iPhone 7 Plus 3374 5649 Huawei P10 1922 5633 Apple iPhone 7 3452 5599 Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge 1359 5333 Samsung Galaxy S7 1378 4718 Oppo R9s Plus 1466 4415 LG G6 1810 4228 Apple iPhone SE 2449 4171 Google Pixel XL 1629 4051
The extra RAM also gave the P10 Plus a bit more breathing room for graphics performance, where it easily outperformed its smaller sibling. Here's how the P10 Plus compares using 3DMark's Ice Storm Unlimited test:
Handset 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited Result Apple iPhone 7 Plus 37956 Apple iPhone 7 37717 HTC U Ultra 29968 LG G5 29597 Apple iPhone SE 29276 Samsung Galaxy S7 28903 Huawei P10 Plus 28491 Google Pixel XL 28458 Huawei Mate 9 28457 Samsung Galaxy S8 28409 Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge 28402 LG G6 28344 Apple iPhone 6s 28171 Samsung Galaxy S8+ 28120 HTC 10 27392 Sony Xperia XZ 26279 Sony Xperia X Performance 26125 Motorola Moto Z 25629 Huawei P10 25168
Like the P10, Huawei promises that internal software optimisations should keep the P10 Plus humming along happily for significant periods of time, where many Android handsets see performance collapse. I haven't had the P10 Plus for long enough to assess how accurate that claim is, although my experiences with the P10 over a couple of months of testing do suggest it's a claim with at least some veracity.
- Clever fingerprint sensor: I absolutely expect any premium phone to have a fast and accurate fingerprint sensor, and the P10 Plus doesn't disappoint in that respect. It's in the additional features that Huawei have thrown into the P10 Plus that it really stands out. Like the P10, the P10 Plus incorporates gestures and long presses into the front button's feature set. A short tap is back, long press is home and swipes from the left bring up the recent app drawer. Doing this means that screen space is saved where normal Android apps would display those buttons, although not every app plays nicely in this way. There's a very small learning curve to the actions, but once I had them down pat, I quickly found other Android handsets annoying precisely because they didn't have this feature. That's a sign of a smart bit of design. The one oddity here is that it's not enabled by default, so new users might just think the P10 Plus has an oddly placed fingerprint sensor.
- Improved display: The P10 is a fine phone, but it's only packing a 1080p display, which is fast becoming par for the course even for mid-range and budget phones. The P10 Plus' 1440x2560 5.5inch display gives you more space for video viewing and sharper resolution to view it in, which also means a better way to view your photos once you've taken them.
Good battery life: Large phones have the advantage of having more space to pack batteries in. I was already very happy with P10's 3,200mAh battery, so the prospect of the same processor with 3,750mAh of power to play with had appeal. Here's how the Huawei P10 Plus compared for battery life using Geekbench 3's battery test:
Handset Geekbench 3 Battery Test Duration Geekbench 3 Battery Score Galaxy S8+ 14:55:30 8955 Samsung Galaxy S8 11:47:50 7078 Apple iPhone 7 Plus 11:11:20 6713 Huawei P10 Plus 10:39:50 6218 Huawei P10 9:31:30 5523 Google Pixel XL 9:14:20 5543 LG G6 9:09:30 5495 Huawei Mate 9 9:00:30 5330 Apple iPhone 7 7:50:10 4701 HTC U Ultra 7:25:40 4456 Apple iPhone SE 4:27:10 2671
The jump in battery power over the P10 isn't quite as marked as I might have expected, even though the P10 Plus is clearly an upper-tier battery performer. That's almost certainly down to the higher power draw of that larger and higher resolution screen. Either way, the P10 Plus is certainly capable of all-day battery life. Huawei provides its own supercharger in the box that can handle very rapid recharges even if you do push the P10 Plus hard.
- Dual SIM capable: The Huawei P10 Plus is only being sold outright in Australia at launch, which means that the usual nerfing of Dual SIM capability that you typically get through carriers isn't an issue. Whether you want to pop in a work and play SIM separately, or a roaming one for when you travel, you'll be able to. Bear in mind that the secondary SIM slot also acts as microSD expansion, however, so it's still one or other if you need more storage space.
Huawei P10: Why you might not want one
- No inbuilt water resistance: Huawei's the one big premium player not to dive into the water resistance pool with its smartphones, citing the cost of implementation as a roadblock to providing more affordable premium devices. That's an argument that the P10 could carry, but for the more premium-priced P10 Plus it's a significant omission. Anecdotally it may be able to handle some rain without issue, as I discovered accidentally, but where other premium handsets have IP ratings, the P10 is left wanting.
- You can have any colour you like (as long as it's black): The P10 Plus is produced in the same wide array of colour tones as the P10, which gives it a lot of potential appeal. I tested with the Blue variant, and it's a real eye catcher. Unfortunately, you can't actually catch that colour in Australia, where it will be sold in one single graphite black variant outright only.
Who is it best suited for? What are my other options?
The Huawei P10 Plus is a great premium phone, especially if you want a powerful handset that can take very good portrait photos, or if you just want to mess around with the possibilities of monochrome photography.
However, while the P10 itself was an extremely easy recommendation thanks to its $899 asking price, the P10 Plus is a slightly harder sell, simply because by pricing it at $1099 outright, Huawei has thrown it in the ring with a bevy of premium competitors.
The Galaxy S8 is $100 more for a phone with better battery life and inbuilt water resistance. The LG G6 sits at a similar price point for a dual lens phone with water resistance. HTC's upcoming HTC U11 will offer a Snapdragon 835 and water resistance, and while I'm yet to fully test that phone, it'll do so at a price point $100 cheaper than the P10 Plus.
If you wanted to keep things within the Huawei family there's also competition. The P10 is the direct choice, but you could also consider the Huawei Mate 9, which is cheaper outright and also available on contract, an option not open to you with the P10 Plus.
Where can I get it?
The Huawei P10 Plus is available in Graphite Black outright in Australia for $1099 from 25 May 2017. At launch, it is not being offered on contract by any telco providers, so if you want one, you'll need to match it up with a contract or prepaid mobile SIM-only plan.
Huawei P10 Plus Specifications
|Front Camera||8MP F1.9|
|Rear Camera||20MP monochrome/12MP Dual f/1.8|
|Processor||Kirin 960 octa-core|