Sunday Tribune

P10 impresses… right out the box


THE new Huawei P10, launched locally this past week, has big shoes to fill. The P8 and P9 have been enormously successful, helping put the Chinese phone maker on the map as a brand to be reckoned with in South Africa.

Can the P10 keep the momentum going and, perhaps, help put Huawei within striking distance of the, until now, undisputed king of the South African smartphone castle, Samsung? Having spent the past couple of weeks putting the P10 through its paces, I think the answer is yes.

They say you don’t get a second chance to make a good first impression and the P10 does not squander that opportunit­y. One thing that’s really impressed me about the company in recent years is the quality of its packaging, and its latest offering does not disappoint on this score. This is Apple-level stuff, perhaps better, and unboxing the P10 feels like removing a rare treasure from an intricatel­y-crafted cradle.

Why am I going on about the packaging? It’s because the attention to detail – right down to the icons showing at a glance which accessory is nestled inside which artfully-placed compartmen­t – subtly instils confidence in the device before you even get to touch it.

Another thing I appreciate about Huawei’s top-end smartphone­s is that they come with a free cover. It’s not the fanciest one, but if you’ve ever dropped a phone and cracked the screen before you had chance to buy a cover, you’ll appreciate this thoughtful gesture.

If you do still manage to break the screen, Huawei announced that the P10 and it’s bigger sibling the P10 Plus come with an accidental damage warranty, which includes two free screen repairs during the two-year period of a standard smartphone contract. It includes door-to-door collection and a dedicated VIP call centre.

And so, to the phone itself. Those familiar with the P8 and P9 will note a definite ancestral resemblanc­e, but there’s also a strong resemblanc­e to recent incarnatio­ns of the iphone, which is no bad thing given how easy on the eye they are.

But pick up the P10 and you can tell right away this is no cheap knock-off. In fact, it feels better in the hand than the iphone 7. That’s maybe because at 7mm thick, it’s a fraction thinner than the Apple, despite boasting a markedly bigger screen – 5.1 inches as opposed to the iphone’s 4.7 inches.

It manages this trick by having really slim side bezels, although it can’t compete in this department with Samsung’s new S8, with its near non-existent bezels and it’s 5.8-inch screen. On the subject of the display, it’s crisp and bright, with a resolution of 1 080 x 1 920 pixels, better than the iphone 7’s 750 x 1 334 pixels but dwarfed by the S8’s 1 440 x 2 960 pixels.

Under the perfectly-machined aluminium and glass exterior purrs Huawei’s own powerful Kirin 960 2.4GHZ octa-core processor, coupled with 4GB of RAM and 64GB storage. A microsd card slot will allow you to expand the storage by up to 256GB. It runs version 7.0 of Android.

I found the P10 blistering­ly fast, with no stutters or lags, even when playing graphics-intensive games or multitaski­ng with multiple apps working hard in the background.

I was less impressed with the battery life. The 3 200mah battery is about average capacity for a smartphone of this size, but I often found myself barely scraping through a full day on a single charge. Admittedly, I work phones hard and ordinary users should get better mileage. Still, if battery life is a priority, I’d suggest taking a look at the P10 Plus with its beefier 3 750mah battery.

The saving grace for me is the quickcharg­ing technology, which is the fastest I’ve encountere­d in a smartphone, juicing the P10 from zero to 30% in a tad over 10 minutes. There is catch, though: You’ll need to use the plug and cable that comes with the phone. I’d also have liked to see wireless charging capability. After all, some competitor­s have had this for several years now.

Some meaningful water resistance would also have been welcome. A “nano coating” has been applied to the P10, which Huawei says will protect it from humidity and sweat, but that’s a far cry from the iphone 7 and Samsung S8, which are rated to survive for 30 minutes under a metre of water.

I asked Huawei’s smartphone product line marketing senior director, Justin Zhang, who flew out from Shanghai for the event, about this. He conceded that proper water resistance would have been desirable, but said they made the decision to sacrifice this to achieve a “beautiful, ultra-slim phone with a world-beating camera”.

And what a camera it is. To be more precise, it’s two cameras in the dual-lens configurat­ion introduced with the P9. It features one 12 megapixel colour sensor and one 20 megapixel black and white sensor, which Huawei says enables it to capture more light and perform better in dark environmen­ts. The Leicabrand­ed lenses, an improvemen­t over those in the P9, now help capture even clearer images.

Aside from these hardware features, there’s a host of software wizardry baked into the camera. One of my favourite features is portrait mode, which uses advanced facial recognitio­n and adjusts the lighting to capture some amazing pictures of people.

The front-facing camera is also Leica-branded and now boasts a new sensor that Huawei says lets in twice the brightness. Selfie fans will love the fact that it can tell whether you’re taking a selfie or a group photo, and will adjust the angle accordingl­y.

If you’re in the market for a beautifull­y-made smartphone with one of the best cameras available, check out the Huawei P10 at your local cellphone dealer. The recommende­d retail price is R12 999 for the P10 and R13 999 for the P10 Plus.

Follow Alan Cooper on Twitter @alanqcoope­r

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