The return of dual rear Leicas

Huawei P10 and P10 Plus.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Huawei P10 and P10 Plus.

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The Huawei P10 looks very similar to the iPhone with its regular sandblasted matte finish. The sides and corners are rounded, with a subtle chamfered edge that’s girdled around the Corning Gorilla Glass 5 front panel. However, their rear camera configuration is perfectly flush beneath the glass strip at the top – something that the iPhone 7 Plus doesn’t really do with their dual rear lenses.

On the Huawei P10 is a 5.1-inch LCD display at Full HD (1,920 x 1,080 pixels) resolution, while the P10 Plus packs a 5.5-inch LCD display at QHD (2,560 x 1,440 pixels) resolution. It’s worth noting that the phones come with a factory-fitted plastic screen protector on top of the Gorilla Glass panel.

The solid fingerprint sensor doubles up as the phone’s navigation keys where a soft tap takes you back by one step, while a long hold would bring you to the Home screen. Swiping sideways will show you all your running apps. The controls are extremely intuitive despite the differences when compared to other familiar Android OS tapping combos.

Other minor features include water resistance with nano-coating on-board.

While it’s a nice touch, it doesn’t feel as reassuring as having a phone with proper IP-rated resistance, and we’ve come to expect from modern flagship devices.

The Huawei P10 and P10 Plus use HiSilicon’s Kirin 960 processors. To the average phone user, the Kirin 960 SoC claims to have “18% better CPU efficiency and 40% better graphics performance” compared to its predecessor. Our own benchmarks put it closer to the Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820.

Now, both the Huawei P10 and P10 Plus rear cameras consist of the following pair – a 12-megapixel RGB sensor and a 20-megapixel monochrome sensor. The only hardware difference between both models is the use of different lenses, with the P10 sporting a f/2.2 aperture lens while the P10 Plus has a brighter f/1.8 one. This result in only one noticeable difference – the P10 Plus can handle low-light situations a smidgen better than the P10, which probably is hard to tell unless you have both shooters side by side.

Otherwise, the cameras deliver good control over color. It has accurate white balance, and fairly accurate color rendering; it’s more vibrant when shooting in the new Artistic mode though.

Outdoor shooting is the P10 and P10 Plus’s strongest suit, while its biggest challenge is contrast handling. Artistic mode is a far better option (than Aperture mode) for digitally bokeh-ed shots, but the artificial halo that comes with its bokeh effect is still present, even if it is less pronounced. Artistic mode is present on the front camera too, doubling as the beautifying edit that’s gradually becoming a core feature for selfies. The Leica-like interface within the camera app also contributes to the positive shooting experience.

The P10 packs a 3,200mAh nonremovable battery, while the P10 Plus is at 3,750mAh. Battery life is a little disappointing each clocked 330 minutes and 433 minutes respectively in our battery test. In contrast, the OnePlus 3T with a 3,400mAh battery managed an uptime of 853 minutes.

Thankfully, it recharges just as fast 30 minutes of charging brought the Huawei P10 Plus from 0% to 42%.

As a whole, the P10 and P10 Plus are great devices with a clean look, comfortable handling, and practical features. However, they do not have class-leading performance or the best battery life. As mentioned, the Kirin 960 processor only measures up to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820, and outclassed by the Snapdragon 821 and the latest Snapdragon 835. The P10 retails at $798, which is almost the same price as the OnePlus 3T with only half its battery life.

Huawei makes up for it with a great camera setup and new shooting modes, but if you strictly compare both phones, the P10 Plus is the tougher sell between the two despite its favorable aesthetics.

Of course, you’re free to pay that $200 premium for an already-premium smartphone, but you aren’t really getting much more beyond screen size differences in the case of the P10 and P10 Plus.