Huawei's P10 - for the chic Android user

So, and many people out there, the choice for your Android option is a Samsung (and some folks think that Samsung IS Android) or LG, or maybe even a Motorola ... what else is there?

Even for me, a guy who tries to try out as many different options out there, getting something like Huawei has been hard.  I tried out the Nexus 6P a while back which was made by Huawei.  But aside from that, they've not had much of a presence.  They have had some really lower end devices on some carriers like Huawei, but hasn't really made itself known.

Well, enter the latest P10 (there is also a P10 Plus) which looked oddly familiar when I took it out of the box.  First up, let's talk about this box... wings out like an upside down Delorean.  Cool.  Talk about a bit of a showpiece.

Okay, but we get the phone out and like I said, it looks super familiar.

The rounded edges, the band at certain heights ... it was a slightly larger iPhone 6S.  It looks pretty much like the device in every way, except it's bigger and way cheaper.  This runs for about $650 at Rogers.  That's nothing to sneeze at.  So let's look at this cheaper, bigger iPhone.

Okay, now let's talk specs.  There are some cheapie iPhone knockoffs out there, but this isn't one of them, it's got some mozza under that sleek body:

  • 5.1" @ 1920x1080
  • HiSilicon Kirin 960
  • 2.4GHz x4 + 1.8GHz x4
  • 4GB RAM
  • 64GB storage + microSD (max 256GB)
  • 12MP (f/2.4, OIS) + 20MP (Leica, 2x zoom) / 8MP (f/1.9)
  • 3200mAh
  • Android 7.0 (Oreo is planned)

So yeah, the 5.1" is smaller than most Android devices, but it is just that shade larger than my iPhone.  I'm not sure really how I feel about it.  It's small, but it's not dinky.

The processor is actually quite good, I'd put it somewhere between the Snapdragon 600 and 800 series.  It's not blazing fast, but just about.  4GB RAM gives you some good handling.

Then there's the 64GB of storage. Love having ample space there.  64GB is my new minimum; but even so, it's got the option for the storage card

Okay, enough about the specs and nerdy stuff; let's talk about how it feels.  For its size, it's very easy on the hand.

It's a good fit.  A little small for my liking... 5.2" would have been a little better for me; but that's just me.  But it's just eerily similar to the iPhone for the feel of it.  Buttons are on the opposite side, and the power is below the volume (whereas I've gotten used to it above, so a few times I ended up hitting the wrong button instead).

The fingerprint sensor is a wide oval, similar to the Z2 Play, and it's not a 'button' at all, just a place to put your finger.

And it works very well actually, so much so they've been able to put it in some gesture features.

Actually, there are several neat features that they've put into this little device.  So, let's talk about them.

First up, it's using EMUI ... skin, ROM ... whatever you want to call it these days.  In its default sta, e you notice that it's very much like an iPhone in the fact that there is no app tray.  Similar to LG's default launcher.  Just screens of icons and widgets.

You can go into the settings and bring in a launcher with a tray ... or even just bring in a 'simple mode' for that family member who probably shouldn't be given free reign over their device (how many times have you been asked for "hey, where did that icon go, it used to always be right here and now it's gone").

Don't like the look of the icons or colour scheme, there's a theme changer

Pretty neat.  You'll also notice on the default set up of the device that the screen to the right gives you the icons of apps they've pre-installed.  I think they missed the mark here and not showing you the myriad of neat little features that this has.  That would have been very handy to the average consumer.

So what are these neat additions?  Some are unique to just this phone (as far as I've seen... not sure if it's a Huawei thing or EMUI ROM thing).

First up, in the security section, there's a virus scanner, not that I think it's necessary, a 'harassment filter' where you can set numbers as blocked (from phoning or texting etc...), and a 'safe' which is similar to how its done with the BlackBerry Motion which has the 'locker' to store safe and private files.

Then, fiddling around I found an 'app twin' mode.  Where you can set it up to have multiple instances of the same app running but for different accounts, like facebook.  That's handy.  Twitter may let you switch between accounts, but it's easy to forget.  And Facebook, it's a whole process to log out, and log in if you have different personal accounts (great if you have kids you'd like to have an account for them too)

Then there's probably the neatest function I found was some real 'gesture controls'.  Now, the nice thing about these is that to differentiate it will have you use your knuckle.  How it knows the difference, I don't know.

But it's neat.

First up if you 'double knock' with the knuckle it'll take a screenshot (and btw they have a scrolling screenshot feature where you can take a snap of a long page if you need to page down ... i.e. a long text message rant).  If you 'double knock' with 2 knuckles it'll start a screen recording.  Very neat.

Then there's the split-screen option you bring up just by cutting the screen in half with your knuckle.

Even cooler you can take a screenshot of a lassoed section by using the knuckle for a pic of the area you wanted to save.

Then there's the option to draw 'letters' to have it activate an app of your choosing.

Other features, it has are: similar to the iPhone there's a floating activity button ... you can move it around (it'll snap to the edge of the screen) and tap it to bring up a wheel of navigation options.

Now, you may want this feature because, as I alluded to above, you can get rid of the navigation buttons on the screen and choose to use gestures on the sensor.

I had used these previously on the Moto Z2 Play device that had them, but they do it with a bit of a twist.

Just tapping the sensor acts like the back command, long pressing it (it'll vibrate) will act as a home command, then swiping Left to Right will bring up the multi-window switcher.  Slightly different than the Moto .. so it's taken some getting used to for me.  But it's a small price to pay because I prefer to have the real estate (having gotten used to 2:1 ratio'd screens has spoiled me).

The awkward one to get used to was the "Google" command (can I still call it Google Now...?).  Technically, you're supposed to swipe up from the bottom away from the sensor on to the screen and it'll come up.  I had some difficulty when bringing it up, but maybe that's just me.

In terms of other add-ons, there's a fitness app if you want to use it; personally, I suggest using something that's Brand-agnostic.  I've seen a few people go from a Samsung device to a non-Samsung and have to lose all their fitness data.  Pick something like Google Fit, or FitBit, etc...  that way it'll carry over for you on other devices.  I didn't play with it much to see if it would share its information with other services.

The last add-ons we can chat about here come in the form of the camera features.

First up, let's talk about the fact that it's using a Leica lens here.  That's no simple name.  For years I had my eyes on a Leica rangefinder.  MMmm....

So, on the back there are 2 shooters, one's a monochrome, the other RGB (similar to the Essential's camera set up).  One of them is able to use a 'hybrid' 2x zoom.  Not sure how actually, but it says so.

It can go up to 20MP, but apparently loses out on its ability to use the 'zoom' on wide aperture mode.

Okay, so let's talk about that mode first.  Hitting the button doesn't seem to switch lenses, but allows you to adjust your f/ value ... (synthetically?).  I didn't notice much difference when playing around with it, maybe I needed some more long-focus shots to really see.

If you swipe out from the left you get all your fancy modes.  And there's a button for you to go and download more.

Swipe out from the right and you bring up your settings for resolution, voice control etc... You can also swipe from the bottom to bring up the manual controls; adjust the shutter, ISO, metering etc...

Some fun features to play around with.  There's the feature to add a simulated 'bokeh' feature (that mode to make everything around the subject blurry like the Pixel 2 portrait mode).

You can even do watermark ... kinda fun.

The photos come out actually very good.  I think in my video I said 'okay', but after I played with it more, I was quite impressed.

you can see some of the artefacting from the simulated blurring

So, probably the best camera I've seen for that price, could hold up to almost as good as some of the flagships.  I find it a little dull colour and sharpness tho', otherwise very good.

Okay, but let's talk about this device overall.

Performance wise it's been snappy, no lag that I'd noticed; played a few games and responded smoothly actually.

Battery wise it seemed to last long. I didn't give it a proper go of drainage for me to quantitatively concur that it would last a good day.  To be honest, would there really be any difference noticed by most people if it lasted 15hrs or 18hrs - either is enough for a full day.  And what respectable phone user lets their phone get below like 50%... let alone 20%.

For the mid-range devices out there you really can't go wrong.  It's got lots of neat features that are cool to use ...

Based on the price you're getting quite a lot of features, a great camera ... good bang for the buck, right?

The bit that may, or may not, be a selling point is the surprising amount it looks like an iPhone.  That's really the white elephant about this device.  Your Android friends will think you betrayed Android, and iPhone friends will think you're one of them.

In the end, who cares what your friends think, it's a cheaper phone with near flagship-level features.  I don't think you'll be upset over it.