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Huawei P10 Plus Review - Photography Expert

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Previously, we mentioned that Huawei's P10 Plus has a very good chance to live up to the hype due to its impressive overall specs for the price of PHP 36,990.
Huawei P10 Plus Review - Photography Expert
Huawei P10 Plus review

Those specs includes: Huawei's improved build quality, sharp 5.5 Inch WQHD IPS-NEO screen, the powerful Kirin 960 octa core processor, whopping 6 GB RAM / 128 GB expandable ROM configuration, 3,750 mAh battery w/ Super Charge technology, Leica Dual-Camera 2.0 Pro Edition, Leica front facing camera, and the first 4.5G connectivity on a phone in the world.

But, more than four months have passed since it was first released in our country.

Fast forward August of 2017, is it still that good?

Can it still compete with the newer flagships out there?

Here's our full review!

For our review part 1: Huawei P10 Plus Unboxing And First Impressions


Display Quality

Amazing WQHD screen
Amazing WQHD screen

The Huawei P10 Plus is equipped with a 5.5 inch display with 2560 x 1440 WQHD resolution. While it is not yet on 18:9 or 2:1 near full screen ratio, this is Huawei's sharpest screen on a P-series smartphone yet.

It has whopping 534 pixels per inch. The black border side bezels are much slimmer than P9 series.

Moreover, the quality is amazing for a non-AMOLED screen. Huawei boasts that the IPS-NEO tech they used here is photographer grade.

In our actual experience, we find its colors rich and very accurate. It has less saturation and contrasts than AMOLED displays, but its blacks are surprisingly very deep.

Viewing angles and sunlight legibility are also great. There's 10 points of touch as well.

In addition, it also has color temperature adjustments, eye comfort mode against bluelight, and accurate light sensor for auto brightness.

Personally, it's simply one of the best in overall quality out there.

Audio Quality

Like the Mate 9, the P10 Plus has a speaker setup located below the phone.

To our ears, it performed better than most flagships we tested. It sounded fuller, tighter, and more detailed than both G6 and S8 for us. It even has the ability to produce micro-details, above-average separation (for a smartphone), and some fast and tight bass punch.

The speaker of Mate 9 is still louder and fuller though. But, the speaker on this phone is still loud and impressive for its small size.

Huawei has recently updated the DAC of their flagship devices. The P10 Plus is no exception. Aside from regular FLAC files, it now has the ability to play 24 bit lossless audio files.

Checking the quality of its audio performance, headphone output is very clean. It has that flat balanced sound which plays the rest of the spectrum from lows to mids to high very well. It proved that smartphones of today can be a decent alternative to bulky dedicated HiFi music players for driving low powered headphones and earphones.

Quality is a little above entry-fi to our ears. But, don't expect it to be as rich in tunes or can extend as deep like the G6 and S8.

It doesn't have the strongest driving power around as well. To make our VeMonk Plus shine, you'll need at least 70% of loudness.

But, overall, audio quality is slightly above  the average. Still pretty good.

Microphones are great for both calls and recordings. It even has a dedicated microphone for active noise cancellation. We even used its microphone for voice overs in some of our videos on YouTube.

Battery Life


Battery life under heavy usage
Battery life under heavy usage

At 3,750 mAh, the Huawei P10 Plus has one of the biggest battery capacity on modern 2017 flagships out there.

On par or better battery performance with other 2017 flagships!

In comparison: Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus has 3,500 mAh, LG G6 has 3,300 mAh, HTC U11 has 3,000 mAh, OnePlus 5 has 3,000 mAh, and Sony Xperia XZ Premium 3,230 mAh only. Only Huawei's own Mate 9 has bigger 4,000 mAh of battery.

However, in real life usage, battery performance is just on par with Galaxy S8 and LG G6 at around 9 hours and 30 mins. Screen on time is around 5 hours on casual to heavy usage.

But, I'm sure Huawei will seed updates to further optimize battery performance just like what they did on the P9 series before.
7 hours of screen on time after the update
7 hours of screen on time after the update
Thanks to Carlo Baring for the tip

Update: Huawei just seeded a 582 MB update to optimize battery performance further. One of the P10 Plus users I personally know recorded 7 hours of screen on time after updating.

Moreover, Huawei has equipped the P10 Plus with several battery saving options. It has power saving mode that limits background app activity, ultra power saving that turns everything else off and only selects the apps that will open, and ROG mode that lowers the screen resolution to save power.


On regular power saving mode, the phone can last for more than 12 hours on a single charge.

Charging time is speedy and safe. Huawei claims that their Super Charge technology has 5 layers of protection to ensure charging is fast yet always cool and safe. But, we noticed that its 5A charger isn't as fast as Mate 9.

Don't get us wrong, charging is still very fast! From 0 to 100 percent, you'll only need 1 hour and 15 mins to full charge this device. It isn't just as fast as Mate 9's charging speed.

Camera

Summilux lens
Updated to Summilux!

Huawei has collaborated with Leica Camera AG of Germany, the iconic premium camera brand again for the dual camera setup of P10 Plus. Dubbed as the LLeica Dual Camera 2.0 Pro Edition, it is one of the most talked about camera setup found on a smartphone today.

The cameras of Huawei P10 Plus was designed for mobile photography by legit photography experts!

Coming from Mate 9 and P10, the P10 Plus still has a 20 MP monochrome + 12 MP RGB sensors, but it now has a brighter, faster, and wider f/1.8 aperture Summilux lens from just f/2.0. It is also completed it w/ 4-in-1 Hybrid AF, OIS, 2x zoom, and dual tone LED flash.
Feature rich camera UI
Feature rich camera UI

In addition, this handset also has one of the most feature rich camera software on flagship smartphones today. These modes are specially crafted to help users enjoy photography better and easier on a smartphone.

The camera software is intuitive and easy to use. It includes modes like: hybrid zoom (2x lossless zoom), monochrome (real black and white), HDR, good food mode, standard filters, and Leica filters (standard, vivid, and smooth colors).

Note: Huawei could make use of auto-HDR in the future though.

It has some not that useful modes (that could be fun to try) like watermark, audio note, document scan.
Light graffiti modes
Light graffiti modes

It even has night shot (auto long exposure) and light graffiti mode for easy night photography. The light graffiti mode even can even let you capture tail light trails, light graffiti (painting), silky water shots (even without ND filter), and star tracker.

Tip: You can even use light painting mode to capture thunderstorms.

For DSLR-like bokeh effects, there are two modes: the wide aperture mode and the portrait mode.

The wide aperture mode with software aperture adjustments from f/0.95 to f/16. This mode will even allow you to refocus the subject even after taking the shot.

Coming from P9 and Mate 9 series, the wide aperture mode now has a more natural looking bokeh and deeper depth of field. The edges are cleaner now as well. There are even times when f/2.0 and below looks close to natural and are great in quality.

On the other hand, the portrait mode for more artistic bokeh shots with adjustable beauty levels.

Unlike Mate 9 and P9 series, both wide aperture and portrait modes works on monochrome mode now.
Rich pro mode
Rich pro mode

As usual, the pro camera mode with up ISO 50 to ISO 3200, 1/4000 to 30 secs shutter speed, and other controls. It even has complete set of guides, levels, and RAW format that would be very useful for pro photographers.

It's arguably the best phone for mobile photography!

In real life usage, quality of shooting is very very impressive for a smartphone. Shutter speed is arguably as fast or faster than most flagship smartphones today. Yes, even in lowlight or HDR mode or in even in 20 MP mode. But, it is the fastest at 12 MP mode.

The 4-in-1 Hybrid AF is one of the speediest and accurate around as well. It can focus close-up images easily too.

Like the Mate 9, the P10 Plus can shoot in either full color or real monochrome modes. The pair of cameras works together to shoot images with better depth, information / details, colors, and exposure.

As a result, the images captured by this device is very good for a smartphone. Images has close to life like colors with great contrasts and saturation. Details and textures are very good too. Results are even better than what we got with Mate 9.

In monochrome mode, the performance is even better. It's arguably the sharpest on any smartphone today with crazy good dynamic range and detail for a phone. It's amazing for dramatic shots.

Lowlight performance is on par if not better than the likes of LG G6 and Galaxy S8 series. Only HTC's U11 has slightly better point and shoot lowlight performance.

But, for long exposure and manual photography in lowlight on a smartphone, this device is unmatched.

Overall, its pair of cameras still won't match entry-level mirrorless cameras. But, for a smartphone, the camera performance is very good. It could be the very best out here as well.


Camera Samples

Daylight HDR
Daylight HDR
Daylight auto
Daylight auto
Burst shot
Burst shot
Close-up natural bokeh
Close-up natural bokeh
Indoor dim light
Indoor dim light
Indoor lowlight
Indoor lowlight featuring Jaja Ramirez and Angel Macaraig
Night close-up
Night close-up
Night auto
Night auto
Flash test
Flash test

Special Camera Samples

Silky water test
Silky water test
Food mode at Va Bene
Food mode at Va Bene
Food mode at Morganfield's
Food mode at Morganfield's
Portrait mode w/ 1.5x zoom
Portrait mode w/ 1.5x zoom
Wide aperture mode f/4.0
Wide aperture mode f/4.0
Wide aperture mode f/0.95
Wide aperture mode f/0.95
Auto night mode, 15 seconds shutter seconds shutter
Auto night mode, 15 seconds shutter
Light trails, 40 seconds
Light trails, 40 seconds
Light graffiti, 35 seconds
Light graffiti, 35 seconds
Pro mode
Pro mode
Monochome + wide aperture 1
Monochome + wide aperture 1
Monochome + wide aperture 2
Monochome + wide aperture 2
Monochome + wide aperture 3
Monochome + wide aperture 3
Monochome + portrait mode
Monochome + portrait mode

On paper, Huawei has also improved the selfie camera of P10 Plus. It still has an 8 MP f/1.9 AF sensor, but it is now co-engineered with Leica. In addition, it now has a nice type of portrait mode w/ beauty filters and auto wide angle mode for groufies.
Selfie camera modes
Selfie camera modes

Focus is speedy and shutter is fast enough. Auto wide angle mode when there are 3 or more people in the frame works. But, it isn't assured that it will work all the time. Huawei needs to work on its consistency.

Quality of selfies are great for a selfie camera. Images in well-lit conditions are rich in colors and sharp in details. Dynamic range like the Mate 9 is also acceptable for a selfie camera.

Portrait mode is interesting. It blurs your background and adds bokeh effect on your selfies or groufies. It even has several 10 levels of beautification that can be used to filter skin blemishes in a more natural way than conventional beauty modes.

But, there are few times where your selfies would be either overexposed or saturated on portrait mode.

Lowlight performance at f/1.9 is acceptable. Grains would be noticeable as expected. Selfie screen flash works, but it shoots slowly.

Overall, we find it better than most big resolution selfie cameras. It is on par with most flagship phones in selfie camera performance.

Selfie Camera Samples

Daylight portrait mode
Daylight portrait mode
Daylight shot
Daylight shot
Indoor auto
Indoor auto
Wide angle
Wide angle
Indoor portrait mode
Indoor portrait mode
Night selfie flash
Night selfie flash

For videos, we like the fact that its pair of cameras can also shoot in 4K at 30 fps and 1080p at 30 / 60 fps just like the Mate 9. It even has OIS for stabilization and pro video mode with manual focus, exposure, and white balance adjustments. 

The video mode includes: bokeh video, beauty video, and up to 2x zoom.

As expected, videos are sharp looking with good colors. It is best at 1080p 30 or 60 fps mode. It isn't that shaky even on handheld. It can compete decently, but, it isn't still as stabilized as LG G6 and S8.

For selfies, it can shoot up to 1080p in decent quality. But, you can only activate beauty mode on 720p.


Video Samples


Performance

Good Antutu score, beastly GeekBench score
Good Antutu score, beastly GeekBench score

At PHP 36,990, the P10 Plus boasts one of the most solid specs on paper. It has the proven Kirin 960 octa core processor and Mali G71 GPU. Huawei also paired it with whopping 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of expandable storage.

At Antutu benchmark, the score it got is lower than most 2017 flagships. But, at GeekBench, multitasking score is comparable even with Snapdragon 835 octa core processor. Actual performance for opening and switching from an app to another is blazing fast.

It's arguably the smoothest Android phone today!

It's arguably the smoothest Android flagship we tested this year. Yes, we even find it smoother than the PHP 45,490 Sony Xperia XZ Premium.


For gaming, Mali G71 graphics is very capable. It is powerful enough to run most of the heavy modern 3D games with ease. But, it wont be as smooth Adreno 540 for gaming. Thermal management is good though.
EMUI 5.1 skin is probably the best Android skin today
EMUI 5.1 skin is probably the best Android skin today

The P10 Plus still has the revamped Android 7.0 Nougat OS w/ EMUI skin. It's simply cleaner and faster than ever. Like Mate 9, you can the app drawer mode for that close to stock Android interface.
Phone manager and health app
Phone manager and health app

It also has Huawei's deep learning AI that studies user behavior to ensure speedy performance always. It's the company's promise of never slowing down even after 18 months. In our actual experience, the phone feels smoother as it age. Weird, but true in our case.
Fingerprint sensor gestures
Fingerprint sensor gestures

It's also loaded with features like Phone Manager for optimization, Health app fitness tracker, gestures, screen recorder, mirror share, and fingerprint reader features that can be used to unlock screen and access app locking. 

Speaking of the fingerprint scanner, the Huawei P10 Plus has one of the fastest if not the fastest reader today. It can unlock your device in less than a second or a blink of an eye in just a tap. It is very accurate as well.

However, fingerprint gestures won't work if the virtual navigation bar is switched on.

Telephony is outstanding. WiFi, LTE, Bluetooth signals are strong and stable. 4G+ works and speedy as well. 

In telephony, the experience is even better than usual. GSM signals are strong, WiFi connectivity is stable, and Bluetooth 4.2 has good distance and speed. LTE-A also works here.

It also has the good Huawei Share function for super fast Huawei to Huawei file transfer. This device is also decent for AR and VR use.

Pros - Excellent build, blazing speed, quick charging time, top notch cameras, much improved software, stable connectivity
Cons - Water resistance is not on par with competition, cannot use fingerprint scanner gestures with home screen buttons to together, selfie screen flash is slow

Verdict

The Huawei P10 Plus is my personal daily driver for a reason. This handset is simply one of the very best in the world as of this writing.

Craftsmanship is great, screen quality is good, performance is blazing fast, audio is clear and loud, connectivity is excellent, Android OS is clean, and cameras for photography is AMAZING for a smartphone.


It is not perfect, but overall, the Huawei P10 Plus is a very solid flagship offering.

Build / Design - 4.25
Display - 4.5
Audio - 4.5
Battery - 4.25
Camera - 4.75
Performance - 4.75
Average - 4.5 / 5
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