In today’s smartphone camera war, companies show off their partnerships with a well-known camera maker, allowing them to have a competitive edge against competitors. Just like how Nokia did it with ZEISS, it has managed to pulled that success off by leaving a great impression until today, and Huawei has apparently done it with the co-engineering partnership with Leica, making dual cameras a trend that even Apple has to jump on to the bandwagon, despite offering a different solution. My colleague Reuben has previously reviewed the Huawei P10, which he thinks it isn’t cool enough, and I kind of agree to that, because it really doesn’t make too much difference from its predecessor apart having an upgraded pair of glasses and beefed up specs, the P10 Plus isn’t cool either, but it is a much better device than the P10.

Most of us have been accustomed to judge a Plus model of a smartphone to be larger in size rather specs. In the case of the P10 Plus, It doesn’t feel much bigger than the P10 despite sporting a slightly larger display at 5.5-inches, Huawei has also doubled the display’s resolution to QHD, which if you have sharp eyes, you will definitely notice the difference not only just in image sharpness, colors are also more vibrant on this display. The P10 Plus also has more RAM and storage at 6GB and 128GB respectively, paired with the fast Kirin 960 processor that we have been familiar with, this is a pretty fast device that we are dealing with and it’s the most powerful flagship that we have ever seen from the company.

Like the previous P9 Plus, the P10 Plus comes with dual loudspeaker setup that is located at the earpiece and bottom of the handset, they are loud and clear that you can conveniently blast your room with tunes if you don’t have a Bluetooth speaker. In addition, the soundstage changes once you turn the phone landscape, giving you a pretty immersive stereo sound that Huawei calls it Stereo+. Not to forget to mention, the P10 Plus does pretty well when playing audio via headphones (thankfully we still have a 3.5mm jack!), though a software equalizer isn’t present for tuning audio.

I am too impressed with the Huawei P10 Plus’ fingerprint scanner! #huawei #p10plus #makeitpossible

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Although I was slightly disappointed that Huawei has decided to move the P10 Plus’ fingerprint scanner to the front, the hardware was just so impressive that I decided not to complain, it simply recognizes my thumb instantly, as if I am merely quick tapping on it like a home button, I do however miss things like using it for swiping down the notifications shade and taking selfies, but at least I’m not getting annoying unlock error messages like I usually do on the iPhone 7 Plus.

Like all Huawei devices, the P10 Plus’ software isn’t too different, which in this case I find it to be just as snappy as the more affordable Honor 8 Pro I’ve just finished reviewing. Huawei’s software has definitely taken advantage of the extra RAM, though it is still quite a memory hogger with 2.5GB of RAM left after some time, there were very few scenarios where apps and games will need to be restarted when left running in background. The P10 Plus’ software runs on Android 7.0 at this time of writing, and like most manufacturers it doesn’t seem like Huawei has plans for issuing an Android 7.1.1 update, but hopefully the phone will make a jump directly to Android O when it is official.

The only reason that you will really want to own a P10 Plus is the camera, which is a minor but huge upgrade from the P10, it still comprises of a 20-megapixel monochrome and 12-megapixel RGB sensor setup, however the larger f/1.8 aperture gives you the advantage of being able to shoot better pictures in low light as opposed to the P10’s f/2.2 aperture. In my tests, the camera performs rather snappily in most situations, the annoying shutter lag that was once present on the old P9 was no longer present, especially in low light situations, you could effortlessly take a beautiful shot, image quality is also pretty impressive as well with great dynamic range, noise levels are also well managed this time.

Huawei has been pretty much showing off its Portrait mode during the launch of the P10 Plus, a mode that literally focuses on a human face and creating a depth of field on the background, giving users a perception that the picture was taken with a DSLR portrait lens. In this case, the P10 Plus depends heavily on software algorithms to decide the angles of the human head it needs to focus on, as opposed to the iPhone 7 Plus using a telephoto lens to do the trick, however in my tests the P10 Plus seem to produce better results than the former, especially when it comes to the corners and  recognizing the hair strands.

As for the front facing camera, the P10 Plus is equipped with the same 8-megapixel Leica camera found on the P10, it is by far one of the best camera I’ve ever come across as it automatically switches into a wide angle mode when it detects more faces squeezing into the frame, it also doesn’t over beautify my selfies like certain ‘selfie smartphones’ do, you also have the option to turn on portrait mode, which will yield similar bokeh effects as the main camera.

Battery life has always been one of the selling points of Huawei smartphones, however this is where the P10 Plus falls short, though sporting a much larger battery than the P10 at 3750mAh, the higher resolution display takes up more power than usual, and you will find yourself charging the phone before the day ends if you are a heavy user. Huawei does try to resolve this by offering its proprietary SuperCharge quick charging solution here, but you are going to have to carry around the brick along or purchase the company’s own SuperCharge power bank, no quick charge support on your typical Quick Charge 3.0 power bank. My colleague also once noted that the P10 does heat up quite a bit after using a while, the P10 Plus thankfully has well controlled thermals with no performance throttle during my review period.

Verdict

The Huawei P10 Plus is definitely a worthy upgrade over the old P9 Plus, it’s upgraded Leica dual camera system is the only reason that you will want to invest on if you are serious about smartphone photography, it also outperforms certain flagship smartphone cameras with great dynamic range and detail. Otherwise, smartphone performance is similar to the Honor 8 Pro, which costs RM1,000 less than the P10 Plus, or you could also consider the Mate 9 if you are particular about battery life.

The Good

  • Well designed aesthetic
  • Better main camera than the P10
  • Dual speakers and great headphone audio
  • Insanely fast fingerprint scanner
  • Huge storage and RAM

The Not so Good

  • Priced more expensive than similar spec siblings
  • Average battery life
  • EMUI is still a RAM hogger