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Huawei P10 review: Buy now or hold out for the P20?

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Should you buy a Huawei P10 in 2018? Well, yes and no. On one hand, the big complaint we had last when we reviewed it in March 2017 was that it was expensive, and that’s now a moot point for two reasons: firstly because £550 for a flagship phone is actually quite reasonable in 2018, but mainly because it has seen substantial price cuts and can now be had for around £350 if you shop around. In fact, no need to shop around: here it is for that price at Argos and the Carphone Warehouse. 

So why would you not bite at that appealing price? Well, mainly because something better is just around the corner. The Huawei P20 is widely rumoured, and you can read up on the latest gossip at our sister site Expert Reviews right now. Even if you’re not particuarly interested in having the latest and greatest, it’s probably worth holding off to see what a new Huawei flagship does to the price of the old one.

My original review continues below.

Hey, look! There’s an elephant in the room. Dumbo – what’s your beef?

I see. Apparently the elephant’s specific grievance is the extra £100 that’s being charged for the Huawei P10 against what the Huawei P9 cost a year ago. While Huawei doesn’t say so specifically, it wouldn’t be too big a leap of logic to assume that this is down to the weak pound following the UK’s vote to leave the European Union. The company certainly wouldn’t be the first tech company to use Brexit as an excuse to raise prices.

Whether or not the price rise is justified, the impact on this review is the same: the Huawei P10 is a damned fine phone, but the price rise brings it firmly in line with the iPhone 7 and Google Pixel, making it hard to back with a full-throated endorsement. Although, of course, that may change if this year’s other flagships follow suit with a 22% price bump of their own.

Nonetheless, the Huawei P10 is a phone you’d be very happy to have in your pocket, sitting neatly alongside your newly emptied wallet. Here’s why.

Huawei P10 review: Design

The design feels very iPhone 7: minimalist and with plenty of curvy goodness. It deviates in two key areas: first, in a rebuke to its predecessor, shiny metal is out and less glossy soft metal is in. To the touch, it feels more like plastic, although whether that makes it more prone to scratches remains to be seen. Second, it has a headphone jack, which is something most people will still celebrate.

Something that will likely split opinion is Huawei’s decision to move the fingerprint reader. It’s no longer on the rear of the handset, but relocated to the home button, in a reverse of Samsung’s decision to move the Galaxy S8’s from the front to the back.

USB Type-C charging and a microSD tray round up the features and, although our review model is an understated black, you can also take your pick from seven other colours: Ceramic White, Dazzling Gold, Rose Gold, Prestige Gold, Greenery, Dazzling Blue and Mystic Silver. 

Huawei P10 review: Screen

Whichever colour you go for, you’ll be staring at a high-quality screen as soon as you boot it up. To be specific, the Huawei P10 has a 5.1in, 1,080 x 1,920 IPS display, bordered by some pretty thin bezels on either side. That may sound a little disappointing when the Samsung Galaxy S8 pushes out a 1,440 x 2,560 resolution, but text and images look perfectly sharp and crisp. You’ll probably only notice the difference if you get up close and personal with the screen in virtual reality; otherwise, you’ll be perfectly happy.

Closer inspection via our X-Rite colour calibrator shows the screen covers 99.9% of the sRGB colour gamut, with a contrast ratio of 1,219:1. It can hit 497cd/m2 in terms of brightness, meaning you’ll be fine using the device outside, even in the promised summer sunshine that’s just around the corner.

For the price, you may have been hoping that Huawei would have made the jump to AMOLED – sadly, this isn’t the case. Huawei has, in fact, been saving the biggest improvements over the P9 for the innards.

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