Hands on: Huawei P10 Plus banks on camera quality

April 2nd, 2017 | by Wilson Wong
Hands on: Huawei P10 Plus banks on camera quality

Huawei P10. PHOTO: Handout

Huawei was on everyone’s lips last year when it debuted its P9 with a dual lens system that was co-engineered with famed German camera maker Leica.

There’s no denying how much brand awareness that brought to the Chinese brand, especially for folks who want a good camera on the go.

Fast forward a year later and now we have the new P10 and P10 Plus replacing the P9. So, what has changed and does that necessarily mean you should upgrade?

Off the bat, the higher-spec’d P10 Plus that I have for review is really not that dissimilar with the iPhone 7 plus in terms of look, right down to the dual lens setup at the back of the phone.

Good news is, the Chinese manufacturer is able to provide far more interesting colour options for the P10 Plus. Think of its new Greenery and Dazzling Blue options like what the ‘special’ Red version of the old iPhone 7 is doing to help drum up demand.

Huawei P10. PHOTO: Handout

I am not one that will be swayed by the special colours. Or pretty curved screens that are then promptly covered by cases and screen protectors once they are out from the packaging box.

Fortunately, what’s inside the P10 Plus is still ticking the right boxes. It has the same Huawei-Kirin 960 processor as the recent Mate 9 but comes with 6GB RAM and 128GB storage, with the option to expand to 256GB via a microSD card slot.

The P10 Plus does improve on two areas that I found lacking on the Mate 9. There’s a Quad HD resolution (instead of Full HD) on the 5.5-inch screen to match other flagships, plus a much better f1.8 Leica Summilux lens for the dual lens camera. Note though that the basic P10 only has a 5.1-inch screen running at Full HD resolution.

The front finger print scanner useful only when you put it on the table. It is a mobile phone, so I hold it more often than placing it on the table. This is hard to use, especially for a big screen phone. Image taken with the Huawei Mate 9. PHOTO: Wilson Wong

What’s frustrating for me is the placement of the fingerprint scanner that is now in front of the phone. I find this a little counter-intuitive.

The setup is uncomfortable, more so for a phone that comes with a large screen. I’ve been careful not to lose my grip of the phone because I have to stretch my thumb all the way down to the bottom just to unlock the phone.

Taken in a very dimly lit bistro café that has that mustard yellow glow from the bulbs. The white balance is very accurate – the salt on the fish is white. The wide aperture effect is also very smooth with a fantastic graduation from sharp to bokeh background. PHOTO: Wilson Wong

I shot the Singapore city skyline early in the morning with an attached Circular Polariser Filter and the colour and sharpness still impress. PHOTO: Wilson Wong

The Singapore City Skyline with the P10 Plus. Just a bit more effort when setting it up on a tripod and using the timer to ensure it doesn’t shake. Reminds me of the DSLRs shots I did when I first started photography. PHOTO: Wilson Wong

A simple close up food photography shot of my QQ noodle. Suitably bokeh with not-so-fantastic indoor lighting at the food court nearby. PHOTO: Wilson Wong

Macro shot of a doll using her left eye as the focusing point. This time the camera is close enough to render the background into bokeh without the need to use the wide aperture effect. PHOTO: Wilson Wong

The monochrome mode still impresses. Shot during high noon, the sky will be totally washed out on lesser cameras. PHOTO: Wilson Wong

The phone’s main camera, as expected, gives me much joy. There are definitely improvements even though it has stuck to the same 20-megapixel monochrome sensor and 12-megapixel colour sensor setup.

The algorithm for the wide aperture effect has done a much better job in extracting the subject more accurately. The camera user interface has now included a portrait mode.

Plus, the front facing camera is also equipped with Leica-capable technologies that can change to a wide angle mode when doing a wefie. It can also provide same the wide aperture effect on the back facing camera, though the effects are still better for the front camera that you’re more likely to use for a wefie.

The front camera portraiture mode (wide area effect) is not as accurate as the back-facing camera as the two-sensor setup does help to better estimate the relative distance between foreground and background. Note the obvious border around me that remains sharp even though it is part of the background. PHOTO: Wilson Wong

On the whole, those who already have the Mate 9 will not see a huge difference in terms of user experience. Yes I love the clarity of the Quad HD but the Full HD on the Mate 9, which I am using now, is sharp enough.

The P10 Plus is a good phone but does it make it a worthy upgrade from the P9, P9 Plus, Mate 9 and Mate 9 Pro? If you can see the subtle differences when it comes to the images, then you might like stump up the cash to upgrade.

Going for S$998 in Singapore, the new P10 Plus will also attract those who are new to the Huawei brand. When it hits the stores here, it is a phone to check out, especially if you value high-quality photographs taken on your most-used mobile gadget.


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