Evolution or revolution? We’ve accepted tick-tock strategies from many top tier manufacturers. Apple’s is most obvious, iPhone 6, then the 6S launches a year later. Samsung’s shift from Galaxy S5 to S6 was significant. The move from S6 to S7 was focused on refinement. Yet, when other manufacturers adopt similar strategies, we’re apt to be increasingly critical of evolutionary improvements.
For Huawei this year, both technology and design feel somewhat iterative, but does the collection of smaller improvements in total raise this phone up above the sum of its parts? Let’s take a look at the Huawei P10.
Hardware and Design
If it feels like we’ve been discussing this hardware for a while now, it’s because we have. The P10 inherits a lot of what we liked from last year’s Mate 9. Screen resolution, chipset, RAM, storage options, and cameras are all shrunk down and crammed into a smaller form factor. For those of us with hobbit hands, it’s a much easier size to use one-handed while on the go. The P10 is just a touch taller, and slightly skinnier, than a Galaxy S7.
Where the Mate as a phablet is something of a big old diesel truck, Huawei’s focus for the P10 is on aesthetics and design, making it more of a small roadster. The P10 draws some obvious inspirations from other popular phones, rounding corners and softening edges from last year’s more angular P9. Bolder color options are appreciated though, as we’ll be spending our review time with the dazzling blue model. This hyper cut back panel shimmers in sunlight, but achieves the goal of remaining nearly impervious to fingerprint smudges. It’s a refreshing change of pace from glass back phones, and helps with just a bit of additional grip over traditional aluminum rear cases.
One of the larger departures from previous Huawei phones, the fingerprint sensor moves to the front bezel. It requires more of a reach to unlock than rear mounted sensors, but it also doubles as a one stop shop for navigation. A single tap is a back button, long press will take you home, but the gesture swipe to use multi-tasking is the hardest piece of muscle memory to reprogram. Going on week two with this phone, I still miss this gesture about half the time I try it.
At any time, you can just swap back to normal on screen controls, sacrificing a few pixels at the bottom of your display.
We’re treated to a properly usable 1080p display. The HD resolution looking sharp enough at this 5.1” screen diagonal. Color and contrast are well represented for an LCD, and the brightness is competitive for a phone in this tier. In our basic Lux testing, the P10 edges out the LG G6, while falling far behind the burst outdoor brightness mode found on the Galaxy S7.
Happily we get another improvement to Huawei’s custom software EMUI. Now on version 5.1, you get options to swap your homescreen from apps to an app drawer, and the general layout for notifications and settings [...]
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