Huawei P10 (Dazzling Blue) Review

This is the third Huawei P10 smartphone I was able to get my hands on this year. First was the P10 in gold and second was the bigger P10 Plus in the same color. This time it's a bit of the same and different, the same P10 variant but different in color - Dazzling Blue in particular. Thanks to Tekpone store for giving me another chance to try this smartphone for a much longer time than I had with the other two. And because of that I learned and appreciated a lot about this latest Huawei flagship device.

Color Matters

If there is one thing I realized using the same smartphone in two different colors, it would be that the color matters, a lot. To be honest, the Prestige Gold variant of P10 I tried did not really impress me immediately simply because of that. But this one in Dazzling Blue, it's different. The overall outside design, features, and appearance really stand out even from a distance.

The Dazzling Blue is one of those color options that Huawei created in partnership with Pantone Color Institute. This Dazzling Blue together with the Greenery, Pantone's color of the year 2017, are two of the never-before-used color palettes created by the two companies for this series which are aimed to reflect a variety of consumer personalities. Huawei even introduced these variants with industry's first hyper-diamond cut finishes on the back panel, a kind of touch that I really never encountered before, which made the smartphones even more stunning and ultra-premium looking.

In addition to the two colors I mentioned above, this latest P series phones can also be had in Rose Gold, Mystic Silver, Graphite Black and Prestige Gold all with sandblast finish, and in Ceramic White with glossy finish. But in the Philippines we only have the gold, black, blue, and green colors so far. I am not sure if the rest will also be released here, I also heard that Rose Gold is China-only variant.

Design and Build

For a smartphone that only bears 5.1-inch display or 5.72 x 2.73 x 0.28 inches dimensions, the P10 feels so small to the hand and too small look at initially. That is even more noticeable if you have been using at least 5.5-incher smartphone prior to this. However, I found its size to be still acceptable as it provides me so much better grip on the phone and operate it with ease and convenience single-handedly. The chamfered edges around the sides, full metal build, and the already mentioned hyper-diamond cut on the back panel all contributed to the overall solid build and feel of the P10 smartphone. I wanna say this is the most premium and beautiful device Huawei has ever released and I am not sure how they are going to top that with next year's inevitable P11 series. Yes you may be right that Huawei took a lot of design inspirations from Apple's iPhones, but we cannot hide that fact that Huawei also added their own take on designing these phones, and that I think worked pretty well here.

As for the ports and keys, on the left side of the phone is the SIM tray which can hold either two cards at a time or one SIM and a microSD card on the second slot. On the other side of the handset are the volume rocker and the power/lock buttons. The power/lock key has textured surface with red accent, it looks and feels good to the thumb whenever I press it. And then down at the bottom are the 3.5mm jack, USB Type-C port for charging and file transfer, microphone, and a five hole speaker grille.

The only problem I encountered with this Dazzling Blue variant was that smudge and tiny dirt stay in between those rough surface on the back. And if you don't clean or at least remove the most obvious ones, the surface gets ugly to look at over time. 
Screen and Display

For this P10 variant, Huawei sticks with the same 1920 x 1080 resolution as found on the P9. The screen size was even made more compact at only 5.1", the P9 had 5.2-inch display. That translates to a total 432 pixels per inch density over its IPS-Neo LCD display panel and then the entire front face is layered and protected by the latest and toughest Corning Gorilla Glass 5. I had the phone for almost a week without any screen protector installed, I never saw any scratch on the screen not even the tiniest possible ones. But of course if you are not comfortable leaving it naked, you can apply screen protector on the screen.

The display quality is vivid and crisp, colors are more accurately reproduced on screen, thanks to its IPS-Neo LCD panel. And the transition from one app or page to another is very smooth as well. The screen's brightness can be adjusted as expected, it goes too dim when you bring the bar to the lowest setting and too bright when in full blast. Using this smartphone outdoor, even in direct sunlight is not going to be a problem, texts and images are all clearly visible. 

My only complain with the screen, and I am sure I am not the only one, is that the glass panel does not ship with oleophobic coating. That said, it takes a good amount of smudges and fingerprints. Huawei should have also included a microfiber cleaning cloth in the packaging like what they did with the Huawei Mediapad M3 tablet.
[post_ads] Camera

Like last year's introduction of the P9 series, the cameras are still the main stars on the P10 and P10 Plus which now have more enhanced Leica optics. In fact not only the rear cameras are certified and  co-engineered with Leica, but the front shooter as well.

On the surface, the P10 has 20MP monochrome and 12MP RGB cameras on the back. And still equipped with all the bells and whistles such as the f/2.2 aperture, phase detection autofocus, dual-tone LED flash etc. New additions to this department are the 2x Hybrid Zoom functionality and optical image stabilization for less shakey photos and videos, and it can now record 4K videos. The front panel still houses the same 8MP selfie camera, but instead of the old f/2.4 aperture it now has a larger f/1.9 with its own autofocus system.

As expected, the Huawei P10 is still capable of producing great photos especially in a well-lit environment. Photos with bokeh effect looks even better and more appealing to the eyes. I have posted a couple of photos on my social media accounts and I let a few of my officemates try the P10 and took their pictures. Some of them posted their photos on their respective accounts, and the most common comment we received from our friends was "they appear to be shot using a DSLR camera", especially when the bokeh effect is used. See some samples below.

Different from other dual rear camera-equipped smartphones around, the 20MP and 12MP on the P10's back work together in capturing a single image. Each of the lenses captures their own images and then combine them in a singe picture as the output. The 20MP monochrome sensor helps the other to capture more details and depth of the scene or subject.

Speaking of monochome, there is one camera mode that you can select straight from the settings that's called "monochrome". With this, the 20MP monochrome sensor alone is used to capture the image. The amount of details produced in the shot are quite stunning and rich in details, I actually have not seen any smartphone camera yet that is able to achieve the same quality of photos in black and white.

What's more awesome with this Huawei smartphone is that if you know what you're doing or at least familiar with how each of the available settings and feature works such as in Pro Mode, you can definitely produce even more stunning photos. I am not a photographer or someone who is already "pro" at using camera and capturing photos, but I can say that if you want a DSLR-grade device that fits in your pocket wherever you go and whatever you do, Huawei P10 or P10 Plus is the best  candidate you have right now. Plus these are the only smartphones with Leica lens around, that includes the P9 and P9 Plus of course.

While the P10 is capable of producing great photos in different modes, sometimes images tend to get a bit over saturated and due to its f/2.2 aperture the noise starts to be noticeable when low light scenes.

See some more photos below including the ones shot in low light or at night.

Shot with the 2x Hybrid Zoom function

The front camera, on the other hand, is quite different. It has a much larger f/1.9 aperture lens, making it capable of capturing more light and perform better in low light compared to its predecessor. It has its own smart applications like the Perfect Selfie, Portrait Mode etc. But one of those that I immediately noticed is the Adaptive Selfie. This feature works like a charm, it automatically adjusts the lens and the angle gets wider when the camera detects more than one face or person in the frame. And the bokeh effect is also available here, not just on the rear shooters. Meaning you can still achieve that selfie of yours with the background being blurred, however the bokeh implementation here is not as great as those of the rear cameras on the back. Still pretty cool though.
The front camera performs great with natural light around, you can still capture that perfect selfie photos at the beach or at the top of the mountain if you are hiking. But it starts to suffer a bit when used in light-challenging environment. The photos still look good though and the overall quality still depends on the amount of light available. If you take photos outdoor with street lights towering you, you can still get pretty descent photos with minimal noises. But if you do it in much dimmer places like bars or cinemas, then they do not look good. I am not a fan of taking selfie photos so it does not bother me a lot, but if you are then the Huawei P10 might not be the best option for you.

Software, Processor and Performance

Android 7.0 Nougat overlaid with Emotion UI 5.1 (EMUI) is what you get from this smartphone. Nope it's not the latest Android 7.1 Nougat that is already out now, majorly because of Huawei's custom UI on top of it and the OS was already created when the 7.1 version came out. Hopefully Huawei will rollout an update soon, or better yet an Android O update in the future before the next P series is out. But aside from that little software version shortcoming, everything looks good actually on the handset. Huawei has listened to its users and added some nice tweaks to the software, one of the big ones is the option to activate app drawer functionality. In the past, there was no app tray available and all of the apps were accessible from the homescreen by just swiping to the sides. Unfortunately many users did not like that idea especially those who have been Android devices for a while, they just prefer to have an app drawer. To activate the app tray, one can set it up in the settings section of the phone.

The same with other smartphones taken out of its packaging for the first time, the Huawei P10 still comes with some unwanted and even duplicate apps pre-installed, and thankfully those can now simply be uninstalled at will.

One of the big changes that Huawei made on the P10, vs the P9, is the relocation of the fingerprint scanner from the back to the front right below the screen. Some did not like it, and some are okay with it. This time around though, it does not work just to unlock the phone and add security to its content, it also doubles as a navigation key. Upon initial boot, the P10 and P10 Plus have the Back, Home, and Multitask keys right in the display. And personally, I don't like it as it takes some precious space on the display and I am just not comfortable with this set up unless the phone has a massive display. Thankfully, there is a way to deactivate the on-screen buttons and just use the fingerprint scanner instead. It's in the settings section where you can do the switch, once activated a single tap on the scanner will bring you back to the previous page, long tap goes to the home screen, and swipe left or right will show you the recent apps you just used. It takes a little bit of time getting use to this functionality, and I really like it so much better than the on-screen one.

As for the device's HiSilicon Kirin 960 processor that is paired with 4GB of RAM, it's one of the fastest, efficient and smartest that I have ever used. I mean, since I started using the P10 I never encountered any lags nor hiccups while using it whether it's for light or heavy tasks. Applications and even the ones I have used a few hours earlier still load really fast and continue where I left off.

I am not much into games when using a smartphone, but of course I did try playing one of my favorites, Asphalt 8: Airborne, on the P10 to see how it would perform.  As expected, everything went smoothly. There was even a time that I just suddenly exited from playing the game and continued with watching YouTube videos for a couple of hours and then when I decided to go back playing it again and launched it via recent apps (by swiping left/right on the physical key), it immediately popped up just like that as if it was never closed nor put in the background. To sum it up, I did not have a problem with the processor it just worked great, at least based on my short time with the phone.

Huawei P10 Antutu score
Final Thoughts

Huawei didn't become the world's third largest smartphone maker, only behind Samsung and Apple, if they were not innovative enough in their field. Looking at their recent offerings and partnerships, it's clear that Huawei really means business and brings more user-centric products in the future. In April 2017 Huawei reported to have sold over 12 million P9 smartphones since launch and more than 5 million Mate 9 devices in just four months. The numbers is expected to go even higher with the release of the Huawei P10 and P10 Plus.

I can definitely say that the Huawei P10 is one of the best smartphones you can find right now on the market. If you are looking for a super camera and photography-focused consumer device, P10 series should be on top of your list, that unless the cost is not an issue for you. For its starting price of Php28,990, is it really too expensive for a smartphone? I guess that will depend on your need and lifestyle. If you are looking for a great DSLR or Leica camera alternative gadget with almost the same power and capabilities as well as portability that easily slips in your pocket or pouch, then go for P10 or P10 Plus. But if you are not going to use the camera features on many of your daily activities and you have a bit of an issue with the pricing, then you might wanna try shopping somewhere else.

Huawei P10 specs:
  • 5.1-inch Full HD display
  • 1920 x 1080 resolution, 432ppi
  • 2.5D Curved Glass
  • Corning Gorilla Glass 5
  • 2.4GHz Octa-core Huawei Kirin 960 processor
  • Mali G7MP8 GPU
  • 4GB RAM
  • 64GB internal storage
  • Supports microSD card up to 256GB
  • 20MP (monochrome)  + 12MP (RGB) rear cameras with f/2.2 sensor, PDAF, 2x Hybrid Zoom, OIS, and Dual-Tone LED Flash (Leica Dual-Camera 2.0)
  • 8MP front camera with f/1.9 sensor, Autofocus, and Screen Flash
  • Android 7.0 Nougat with EMUI 5.1
  • WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, GLONASS, NFC
  • 4G LTE
  • Dual-SIM (hybrid)
  • Fingerprint Scanner
  • USB Type C
  • 6.98mm thick
  • 145g
  • Fast Charge
  • 3200mAh battery
  • Php28,990
Right now this Huawei P10 is priced at Php28,990. If you would like to get this one but do not have enough budget for it yet, you might want to get this via Home Credit financing where you can avail up to 9 months of installment plan at 0% interest rate. You can check this separate post of mine to learn more about this Home Credit and Huawei partnership.

Thanks to Tekpone store for letting us try one of these amazing units. :)



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DUGOMPINOY: Huawei P10 (Dazzling Blue) Review
Huawei P10 (Dazzling Blue) Review
I was able to have my hands on the Huawei P10 in Dazzling Blue. Here's my initial impressions of the Leica-certified device. Read here.
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