Huawei P10 vs Huawei P9: Never change a winning team15
The Huawei P9 was one of last year's pleasant surprises - with its sleek design, snappy performance, and close to no gimmicks, it was a device that just did whatever you pitch at it without any issues. And the silver lining of all was that sweet dual camera setup at the rear that was co-engineered with Leica, the legendary camera company that is well-known for its high-quality optics. An excellent phone that we liked very much.
How do you improve on that? Well, simple, by keeping the neat features that made the P9 a compelling smartphone, and then add some! That's exactly what the P10 is - a gradual evolution of the P9 that's worthy of our attention. And it will have it!
The P10 comes along with a splash of stylish, and thanks to that one, the phone's design is quite appealing. We wouldn't call it groundbreaking or anything remotely similar to that, but the P10 definitely looks good. And holding in hand feels great, too. Just like the Huawei P9, the new flagship pairs glass with metal in its build. All color versions except fro the blue one utilize a regular flat back, but the blue version of the phone (which we happened to have on us) flaunts a textured back that feels funny. We like to imagine that Huawei added this one for no other reason than to enhance grip, but sadly, we can't say that it has successfully done so. All versions of the P10 feel just as slippery as the P9. Employ a steady grip or the phone will end up flying towards the ground!
Thanks to its 5.1-inch display, the P10 is delightfully compact and way lighter than the P9. I can easily use the phone with one hand, though you should have in mind that my hands are bigger than the average. Yet, I hardly ever had to stretch my thumb in order to reach the notification shade or reach the opposite side of the display.
Unlike the P9, the new Huawei flagship has its fingerprint scanner embedded in a multi-functional home button at the front of the device. It is not clickable but provides neat taptic feedback, somewhat similar to the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus.
The P10 proudly boasts a 5.1-inch, 1080p Full HD display at the front, which works out a pixel density of 431ppi. That's perfectly sufficient for just about anyone out there, except for pixel-peeping aircraft pilots with 20/20 vision or sharper. As we have never entered an aircraft's cabin mid-flight, we have exactly zero qualms with the overall sharpness of P10's display. The display is an AMOLED one, which seems way more vibrant than it should be, but we admit - it does catch one's eye. The maximum brightness seems perfectly okay and the display is easily legible even in bright sunlight. We are curious what the maximum brightness of the display is, but we will have to wait for our tests to give a scientific verdict.
In the meantime, the P9 came with a 5.2-inch 1080p Full HD LCD display, which had its issues. It was way too vibrant and was noticeably cold, and so far it seems like the P10 could be a step in the right direction, but we will abstain ourselves from giving a verdict before we run the appropriate tests in our lab.
Interface and functionality
As is tradition, the Huawei P10 comes with the company's in-house EMUI 5.1 software. It's one of the most feature-rich custom Android skins around, chock-full of neat features that aim to make your life easier, without feeling overwhelming or overly-tasking on the user. Based on Android 7.0 Nougat, EMUI 5.1 inherits most of the bells and whistles of Google's newest software. Rest assured that you can run two apps side-by-side with the Huawei P10 thanks to the multi-tasking inherited from the Nougat origins of EMUI 5.1.
Additionally, Huawei has thrown in a bunch of other useful features on board. Blue light can get easily filtered out for better sleep, software navigation buttons can be enabled if you feel like losing some display real-estate, and multiple other aspects of the interface can be tweaked to the user's whim. Last, but definitely not least, we should mention that EMUI 5.1 comes with improved touch response with a faster touch control driver, predictive touch tracking, and parallel graphics rendering. All of these definitely improve the user experience.
For the most part, the interface on the P9 is mostly similar with what you'd get on the P10. Yes, a couple of minor features are naturally missing on the older device, but the core Huawei experience is there, and that's what matter the most.
Hardware and performance
Boy, is it snappy! The P10 arrives with Huawei's HiSilicon Kirin 960 chipset as well as 4GB of RAM, an improvement over the P9's Kirin 955 and 3GB RAM in the base version. This one has a slight theoretical disadvantage in comparison with other current-gen chipsets because it's built on a 16nm manufacturing process, but we have no qualms with the way it performs.
It takes around 10 seconds or less to realize that the P10 is a nimble and snappy performer that has some serious power below the hood. Apps open fast, navigating the interface is a breeze, and everything feels like it should on a contemporary flagship. The P9 is not a slouch either, but it's noticeably overshadowed by its successor, and that's clearly visible in synthetic benchmarks.
Let the numbers talk for themselves:
There is 64GB of storage in the base version of the device. YES! If you are a data hoarder, you'd definitely want to go for the 128GB version that Huawei offers. If you're an even bigger data hoarder, you can throw in a micrSD card slot inside the phone and call it a day.
Keeping the lights on will be a 3,200mAh battery. Combined with Huawei's usually energy-efficient chipsets and a regular 1080p display, this juicer will likely keep the lights on for at least a day or so of moderate usage. When the lights go off, Huawei's SuperCharge technology will quickly juice up the P10.
Finally, the icing on the cake! Just like the P9 before it, the P10 has a dual camera fine-tuned by the Leica. In case you were not familiar with the P9, it had a regular f/2.2 RGB shooter that takes normal pics and another f/2.2 monochrome one that only shoots in black and white, but captures more detail from a particular scene. When you take a picture, the P9 intelligently processes the two images in one, combining the colors of the one camera with the detail of the other one. The P10's cameras work the same way.
As far as technicalities go, the P10 comes with what Huawei calls Dual Camera 2.0. The second-gen of this neat setup now has a 20MP f/2.0 monochrome sensor and a 12MP RGB one, which hints at better detail reproduction. Aside from specs bump, it has gained a couple of neat software features as well - there's a new Portrait mode for even creamier bokeh, as well as a bunch of new algorithms that make sure your skin looks natural in different light scenarios. Oh, and the P10 now shoots 4K video, which is a welcome improvement over the P9. Up front, we got the same 8MP snapper present on the P9; the P10, however, has that coveted Portrait mode.
Here is a really quick camera comparison between the old and the new Huawei flagship.
Unlike certain other manufacturers, Huawei is aware that the only way up is by improving all the core aspects of a device and not downgrading them. For the most part, we'd say that the P10 feels and acts like a meaningful step-up from the P9. It's everything a 2017 smartphone should be - nimble, with promising battery life, design that stands out, and finally, a compelling camera experience.
Indeed, the team has not been changed, but Huawei is subbing all the regular players with fresh new stars.
This story is part of:Huawei at MWC 2017 (11 updates)
28 February Huawei P10 vs Huawei P9: Never change a winning team
28 February Huawei P10 Plus: taking a closer look at this stylish dual-camera flagship
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26 February Huawei Watch 2 hands-on: My wrists are way too small for that