Huawei P10 Plus Review – The Bigger, More Mature Brother

The Huawei P-series line-up needs no introduction – it’s one of Huawei’s best-selling smartphone line-up with few different versions available from mid-range to flagship pricing. We’ve taken a look at the one that started it all from the latest line-up – the P10. While we are impressed with the phone, we wished that it should wow more at that price point (click here to read our review of the Huawei P10). This time round, we’re taking a look at the top-of-the-line P10 Plus. Priced at RM3099, does it carry more value than the regular Huawei P10? Let’s find out.

Unboxing

The regular P10 had a very different and unique packaging that we really like. The larger P10 Plus had the same unique packaging at a larger size. The top cover is actually split-opening with magnets to hold both sides together when closed, and it’s surprisingly fun to play with. The packaging is basically the same compared to the P10, only larger. The phone is located on the top in its designated tray once the cover is opened, and below that is where the rest of the accessories are, including a USB-C charging and data transfer cable, a USB wall adapter with quick-charging functionality and a pair of earphones.

Design

Like the Huawei P10, the design of the Huawei P10 Plus adopts Huawei’s latest design language. In fact, there’s not much different between the two. The size and form factor of the P10 Plus noticeably larger than the P10 to cater for the larger screen, but not by much till it would be uncomfortable to hold in your hands. The size is pretty much perfect, seeing that most smartphones opted for 5.5-inch displays and Huawei did a good job at not making it too bulky to fit in your hand. The thickness remains at 7-millimeters which is the same as the regular P10, and with a weight of 165-grams, it’s only a mere 20-grams heavier than its little brother, and its rather reasonable too.

There are very little-to-none to complain about the choice of materials for the P10 Plus either. Since it features the same design as the P10, the materials are the same. It still feels as solid and as premium as the P10. The smooth front glass is now bigger to cater for the larger screen, and there are 2.5D looking curves on all 4 corners which gives it a premium look (even though it all goes to waste thanks to the cheap-feeling pre-applied screen protector). The quality of the metal on the back is the same, consisting of full metal. While it looks pretty clean, like the P10, the Graphite Black model does easily pick up finger greases. But hey, that’s a small matter to deal with.

The 5.5-inch display mostly dominates the front, and the bezels on both sides are adequately minimal. Along with the curved sides, it gives the front a modern and compact look. On the top is where the notification LED lives, along with a front-facing 8-megapixel camera, an earpiece and some sensors. While this phone utilises on-screen Android navigation controls, there is still a fingerprint reader at the bottom which can be used as Android navigation controls via different gestures. The fingerprint reader is well sized, quick and accurate for most of the time. It can not only be used to unlock the device, it can be used to unlock apps and private files. The fingerprint reader does work well for most of the time, but like the Huawei P10, it can be a frustration at times with greasy fingers.

The removable SIM tray is located on the top left, and you can use the included removal tool to remove the tray from the body. The setup is the same as other devices out there, where the primary slot takes a nanoSIM card, while the secondary slot either takes a nonoSIM card for dual-SIM functionality or microSD card for storage expansion up to 256GB. While that’s the case for most smartphones these days, it’s still a bit of an inconvenience should you require both. The volume and power buttons are located on the right, with the power button standing out as usual with textured surface and red details on its chamfered edges, so you do know which button you’re pressing even without looking at it.

There is an IR remote controller located on the top which is only present on the P10 Plus. It’s controlled by an app that came with the phone. The database however is limited and sometimes it was unable to control certain devices, which is why we recommend to go for third-party applications. The rest of the ports live at the bottom, including a 3.5-mm earphone jack, a USB-C port, a microphone and a downward-firing speaker, which is one of the channels for the stereo speaker setup.

Huawei P10 Plus Exterior Photos

There’s no significant change on the back of the P10 Plus when compared to the P10. The top part where the camera lenses are located is still glass compared to the rest of the back cover. The 20-megapixel monochrome sensor and the 12-megapixel RGB sensor is located on the left, along with the dual-tone LED flash in the middle and Leica branding on the right. The antenna lines run across the top and the bottom of the back panel, which gives it an overall clean look. The Huawei branding remains in the middle.

While there are 7 unique colours to choose from, our market only receives 2 of the more mainstream colours at launch – Graphite Black and Dazzling Gold, with Dazzling Blue and Greenery colours available as limited units as of the date of this writing.

Huawei P10 Plus Exterior Photos

Specs and Performance

For RM3099, the specifications that the P10 Plus is packing looks rather promising. For starters, it’s powered by an in-house developed top-of-the-line HiSilicone Kirin 960 processors. Identical to the one found in the regular P10 and Mate 9, this processor goes head-to-head with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 821. While it is an octa-core unit, the primary 4 cores are clocked at 2.4GHz, while the rest can only go up to 1.8GHz. We’ve seen fantastic performance from this processor on the Mate 9 and the regular P10, and since the P10 Plus packs 6GB of RAM which is more than the Mate 9’s 4GB RAM, we expect it the P10 Plus to perform even better.

We’ve given the thumbs up to the Mate 9 and P10 in the performance department, and the P10 Plus deserves the same thumbs up too. The P10 Plus is easily one of the better performing Android device out there even though it has to deal with a heavy user interface that Huawei has thrown in. For most tasks, the experience is smooth as silk. There are very rarely you’ll bump into any hiccups or lags. Even on heavy load, the processor takes it all in quite well. There are times it’ll show some signs of struggle, especially when heat gets built up. When the processor is under stress for a long time, the chip runs hot and there are noticeable thermal-throttling, but it constantly monitors the temperature to reduce as much throttle as possible. This is how a flagship should perform. There’s nothing much else to ask for from the processor department.

A bump in the RAM department also helps better with multitasking, as more apps are now allowed to run in the background while being managed by Huawei’s rather proud Ultra Memory software optimization. It basically learns the way you use your phone, measuring which apps you use the most and which apps should not be prioritised, and then managing the apps by giving more performance to the prioritised apps. It will also notify you on apps that are consuming too much battery in the background and will provide the option to let you shut it down completely. It is probably one of the best Android management system out there.

Our Geekbench 4 benchmark shows almost similar results to the regular P10 as well, with single-core score sitting at around 1849, and multi-core topping at 6149. Both multi-core scores are actually higher than the one found on the Mate 9.

As a flagship device, a wide array of connectivity options is included. Options available are dual-band 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi with tethering functionality, Bluetooth 4.2, NFC and an IR blaster, and the latter is unique on the P10 Plus. While a USB Type C port is the sole option for charging and data transfer with OTG function, it uses the older USB 2.0 standard. The P10 Plus does come with 128GB of internal storage, with microSD card storage expansion available up to a whooping 256GB.

Speaker

Unlike the rest of its siblings in the P10 series, the top-of-the-line P10 Plus does receive some small upgrades on its speaker department. Even though it possesses stereo speaker setup, it’s a rather interesting design. Like the iPhone 7 Plus, one channel is located in the earpiece, while still having a downward firing speaker acting as another channel. In portrait mode, the speaker in the earpiece will amplify what’s being output by the main loudspeaker, which makes it sound like two mono speakers. In landscape orientation however, things started make sense. Depending on which orientation you’re in, whichever speakers located on the left will act as the left channel, and the ones on the right will act as the other, giving it a stereo sound effect. The main loudspeaker is rather impressive, with adequate level of loudness, bass and treble. Like the Mate 9, the earpiece does suffer from lower volume and less loudness, therefore there are some compromises on the stereo sound quality. There is an option to turn the stereo effect off in the settings, which leaves both speakers at a mono setup.

There are no software optimisation or any equalizer to back the speakers up, even though there is a DTS option for externally connected devices, which bumps up the loudness by a little.

Display

The primary difference between the regular P10 and the P10 Plus is the difference in display sizes. While the P10 only features a 5.1-inch display, those who’re used to a larger display will appreciate the 5.5-inch display on the P10 Plus. Good thing is that Huawei felt the need to bump up the resolution as well for a sharper display. With a resolution of 1440 X 2560, pixel density has risen from 432 pixels-per-inch to 540 pixels-per-inch, which is considerably quite a jump. Text and images looked noticeably sharper on this display even at normal distance. It’s pretty much the same as the one found in the Mate 9 Pro.

We do expect the display panel used in the P10 Plus are the same as the ones found in the P10 since both are IPS-NEO panels, but on the P10 Plus the colour temperature is tuned towards the cooler side, but does not affect the colour reproduction too much. Overall colour reproduction is still naturally vivid and accurate, and the deep black nature of the IPS-NEO panel aids in making the colours pop more, even though it does not work as well as an AMOLED or OLED panel. It has decent brightness and contrast level. Under the sun, it was able to quickly bump the brightness to the max, and the light sensor works pretty well at adjusting the brightness level of the display.

The P10 Plus also comes with software enhancements to adjust the colour temperature of the display. Instead of just a cool or warm setting, it provides more adjustments with a colour wheel so you can fine tune the colour temperature to the exact setting that you desire. The same eye comfort feature from Huawei is also present here. By applying a yellow filter to the screen, it filters out the blue light and makes your eye more comfortable while looking at the screen.

Camera performance

Huawei has been very proud at the camera performance of its devices, especially those that wear a Leica branding. The P9 and the Mate 9 is rather successful examples of this setup, and Huawei and Leica decided to take it even further. The P10 features Leica Dual Camera v2.0 setup, and the P10 Plus takes it even further. The recipes are the same – a combination of 20-megapixel monochrome sensor and a 12-megapixel RGB sensor. While the Mate 9 and P10 had to deal with f/2.2 SUMMARIT lens, the P10 Plus is the first in the line-up to feature the new, faster and improved f/1.8 aperture SUMMILUX lens. With this new lens, Huawei promised better quality images and faster image-shooting.

Like other Huawei devices with dual-lens setup, both sensors do work together even for normal photography. The 20-megapixel monochrome sensor is designated to capture all the fine details, and the 12-megapixel RGB sensors capture and filling all the colours in. You could also use them individually, by taking colour images with only the 12-megapixel sensor or monochrome images with the 20-megapixel sensor. By stitching both technologies together, it was able to produce images with better quality. Combining that to the wider aperture of the P10 Plus’s camera, it was able to capture more light without having to bump up the exposure or ISO. Under conditions where sufficient lighting can be achieved, this technology does not improve the quality of image by a lot, but with lower ISO, sufficient amount of exposure and higher shutter speed, it does slightly improve the quality of the image by reducing camera shakes which results in poor and blurry photos.

In normal settings, images produced are already pretty good, with vibrant, but natural colours, and you can take it even further with the colour settings, where you can switch between normal, vivid or smooth settings. Vivid does makes the colours pop even more, but it’s a little too much more most users. Smooth colours takes the vividness down a notch. The 20-megapixel monochrome images have the best quality when it comes to details, since it’s been designed to do that. The 12-megapixel coloured images did a pretty good job as well, even though it does lack slightly compared to the monochrome images. However, images taken with both cameras does need a bit of work in the details department, as it bumps the images from 12-megapixel sensor to produce 20-megapixel images. For most of the time, we would recommend just stick to the 12-megapixel sensor as it is probably one of the best in the business. Dynamic range is not a problem at all, especially when the 20-megapixel sensor is involved. You can basically leave the HDR mode alone as it does kick in at the right time when necessary.

The improved lens with wider aperture makes more sense under low-lighting conditions. There are noticeable improvements in the quality of the image taken with the P10 Plus when compared to the P10. In similar conditions, the exposure values of both the P10 and P10 Plus are the same, but the P10 Plus was able to capture images at a lower ISO level which reduces the noise. The higher shutter speed also noticeably reduces blur in images. The wider dynamic range of the 20-megapixel monochrome sensor makes the images pop even more with better exposed shadows.

The dual-lens setup also provides portrait mode with software-simulated variable aperture. Both sensors are put to work together to gather the depth information and process it to give the image a simulated bokeh effect for the background of an image, like what a high-end DSLR could do. The simulated variable aperture allows you to make adjustments from f/0.95 to f/16, depending on how much artificial blur you would like to apply. There are times it couldn’t get sufficient details of the object which results in poor shaping of the blur, but for most of the time, it works well. There is also a portrait mode which combines wide aperture mode and software beautification for better portrait photos. It will also automatically adjust the zoom and rotation of the image and all changes are live and can be easily seen live on the screen.

Huawei P10 Plus Sample Photos

Like the regular P10, the P10 Plus will record 4K videos, while also recording 1080p videos at 30 or 60 frames-per-second, all the way down to 176 X 144 pixels. Like the P10 and Mate 9, videos are smooth, have rich details and high saturated colours, even though it’s recorded in H.265 format which is useful for smaller file sizes, but not many programs/players have supported it yet. There is little to no difference between the quality of the P10 Plus and P10, even though the P10 Plus does benefit from the wider aperture lens, and does make little difference in darker conditions. 1080p videos are good as well, and even recording at 60 frames-per-second, there’s no detail loss. No matter what video size you’re recording on, there’s the aid of Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) and digital image stabilisation to keep the video as stabilised as possible and fight shaky hands, and the results are pretty impressive. Even in video mode, you do not lose out on simulated wide aperture mode and beauty mode, even though portrait mode which combines both is nowhere to be found. The audio recorded is in stereo, and they are loud and clear.

The P10 Plus shares the same front-facing 8-megapixel sensor with the P10, complete with f/1.9 aperture and Leica’s involvement in developing this sensor. In normal mode, the camera captures great quality selfies, with plenty of details, wide angle view, good dynamic range and natural colours. It also does a pretty great job at low-light too. Digging into the settings and you’ll find lots of other available modes to play with. There is an available portrait mode, which enables the software beautification and add some “artistic effect” which is basically bokeh in the background. The single lens means that the artistic effect does not work as well as the rear, and often the bokeh effect looks pretty fake with too much blurring going on, and while the software beautification does a good job at lower settings, turning it up will completely destroy the image. So we recommend to leave those settings alone. You also do get panorama mode for the front-facing camera for the times where you need to fit other people in the selfie.

Since Huawei has a consistent user interface across all its devices, the P10 Plus shares the same camera app with most other newer Huawei products. The interface itself looks pretty normal and straightforward at first, but as you explore the settings and available modes, it became unnecessarily complicated. There are shortcut toggles on the left and shutter, video mode and preview buttons on the right. There is a PRO mode which allows you to alter the settings manually for shutter speed, focus mode, ISO, exposure and white balance, and they can be accessed by swiping the little PRO icon to the left that is parallel to the shutter button. In AUTO mode, they will display real-time information for the settings. Swiping right on any empty area reveals the large amount of available modes, and all the rest of the settings can be found when swiping left. Credit where credit’s due, it does shoot in RAW format, and you it can capture photos either via a smile or audio. There is just so much going on in the camera app and even though some may come handy at times, we believe that most users are sticking with auto mode for most of the time.

Software

Right out of the box, the P10 Plus runs Android 7.0 Nought, which is a good start. On top of it is Huawei’s latest own custom user interface called the EMUI, and on our device it runs the latest version 5.1. The overall performance of the user interface is pretty good, even though there is little to no indication of vanilla Android. We get it, every manufacturer wants their device to stand out among the rest, but overall performance is still important, and even though it may not match the performance of stock Android, it’s very close, and the look and feel of the interface will be very familiar to other recent Huawei device users, and not too hard to get used to for those who are on other devices.

Huawei P10 Plus User Interface

Battery life

Unlike the 3200mAh in the P10, the P10 Plus carries a battery with larger capacity at 3750mAh. Even though it has a larger screen and more pixels to push, it does not terribly affect the battery life. The results we got are better than the P10, even though not by much. A full charge will now last us close to 24 hours, even though Huawei claimed around 2 days on a single charge. To be fair, our usual usage test might be slightly heavier than the average usage. Towards the end of the day, the battery level usually lands between 25% and 35%.

The P10 Plus also supports Huawei’s own SuperCharge technology, which allows the device to charge from 0-50% in 30 minutes. It is similar to the P10, but keep in mind that you are dealing with a larger battery. The SuperCharger will only work with the right match of charger and USB cable where it is capable of outputting up to 5V/4.5A or 4.5V/5A, and without them, it will only output a modest 5V/2A. Even during supercharging, the device does not get too hot due to the low voltage, and to make sure it is safe, it is back by a 5-gate protection.

Conclusion

Comparing between the P10 and P10 Plus, the P10 Plus is not only more mature, with a price of RM3099, it makes more sense too, considering the specs it is packing. There really is not much to hate on the P10 Plus, and could possibly be an alternative to the Mate 9 or even the Mate 9 Pro as the P10 Plus is priced in between those two. You have to give credit where credit’s due, Huawei and their P-series has come a long way, offering something that fits in the three most important smartphone market, and there are noticeable worthy improvements for the latest generation.

Recap:
5.5-inch IPS-NEO display, 1440 X 2560 resolution, 540 pixels-per-inch
HiSilicone Kirin 960, 4x 2.4GHz + 4x 1.8GHz Octa-core processor
6GB RAM, 128GB internal storage, microSD card support up to 256GB
12-megapixel RGB sensor + 20-megapixel monochrome sensor, up to 4K video recording
8-megapixel front-facing camera
3750mAh battery

Pros Cons
Premium and solid build quality Battery life could be better
Performance from rear cameras are superb Artificial software beautification for front-facing camera ruins the image more
Overall performance of Android is up there Rear body picks up too much finger grease
Brilliant algorithm for memory handling A slightly messy operating system
Features quick charging Fingerprint sensor performance could be much better