Huawei P10 Plus Review: Does Huawei’s most expensive phone offer value?

Alex Kidman 24 May 2017 NEWS

Quick Verdict
The Huawei P10 Plus is a generally excellent handset, but it's priced at a point where you're awash with premium choices.

Strengths

  • 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.

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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.

P10Plus_6_738
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.

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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:

P10PlusPhotoSample1_738 P10PlusPhotoSample2_738 P10PlusPhotoSample3_738 P10PlusPhotoSample4_738 P10PlusPhotoSample5_738

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:
    HandsetGeekbench 4 CPU Single Core (higher is better)Geekbench 4 CPU Multi Core (higher is better)
    Samsung Galaxy S8+20206690
    Samsung Galaxy S819896628
    Huawei P10 Plus18636544
    Huawei Mate 919256068
    Apple iPhone 7 Plus33745649
    Huawei P1019225633
    Apple iPhone 734525599
    Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge13595333
    Samsung Galaxy S713784718
    Oppo R9s Plus14664415
    LG G618104228
    Apple iPhone SE24494171
    Google Pixel XL16294051

    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:

    Handset3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited Result
    Apple iPhone 7 Plus37956
    Apple iPhone 737717
    HTC U Ultra29968
    LG G529597
    Apple iPhone SE29276
    Samsung Galaxy S728903
    Huawei P10 Plus28491
    Google Pixel XL28458
    Huawei Mate 928457
    Samsung Galaxy S828409
    Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge28402
    LG G628344
    Apple iPhone 6s28171
    Samsung Galaxy S8+28120
    HTC 1027392
    Sony Xperia XZ26279
    Sony Xperia X Performance26125
    Motorola Moto Z25629
    Huawei P1025168

    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:
    HandsetGeekbench 3 Battery Test DurationGeekbench 3 Battery Score
    Galaxy S8+14:55:308955
    Samsung Galaxy S811:47:507078
    Apple iPhone 7 Plus11:11:206713
    Huawei P10 Plus10:39:506218
    Huawei P109:31:305523
    Google Pixel XL9:14:205543
    LG G69:09:305495
    Huawei Mate 99:00:305330
    Apple iPhone 77:50:104701
    HTC U Ultra7:25:404456
    Apple iPhone SE4:27:102671

    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.

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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.

P10Plus_4_738

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.

P10Plus_5_738

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

HuaweiP10
Display5.5in
Resolution1440x2560
PPI540
SoftwareAndroid 7.0
Storage128GB+microSD
RAM6GB
Battery3,750mAh
Front Camera8MP F1.9
Rear Camera20MP monochrome/12MP Dual f/1.8
ProcessorKirin 960 octa-core
Dimensions153.5x74.2x6.98mm
Weight165g

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