Hands On With The Huawei P10: Behind The Keynote Bullshit Is One Nice Looking Phone

By James O Malley on at

The problem with a phone launch event is that there are only so many times that you can watch an executive say in front of an enormous projection screen that their new rectangle - the one that their company has spent a year working on - is the most innovative thing since sliced bread. So it is pretty easy to become jaded.

This is especially the case with Huawei launches. The company has seemingly infinite pots of cash, and as a result each launch event is overwrought and bombastic as Batman vs Superman.

And today, at the launch of the P10, it slipped even more into absurdity. Before the presentation started and song played repeatedly containing the lyrics “Dream Impossible”. By which it means dream of a phone that is slightly better than last year's model - rather than dreaming of, say, Chinese democracy or Piers Morgan showing some humility.

After a brief introduction from Andrew Garrihy - who is in charge of the company’s Western Europe output, we were then passed on to Richard Yu, the CEO of Huawei’s consumer business. Now, to be blunt, he’s not the best public speaker - in addition to a tricky accent, his delivery isn’t particularly polished. And I always find it interesting when this happens at events like this - because it implies a corporate culture where no one can question the decisions made at the top. Clearly, no one dared say “C’mon Richard, let someone else do it”.

And then, to make matters worse, he said that the new phone represents "the new cosmopolitan lifestyle", and there was a video of some trendy young people with text imposed over the top saying things like "Change your view" and "Change your story". We're not sure what that means either, but it'll give you something to think about next time you're playing Farmville on your P10, while on the toilet.

After this, in the presentation, Yu introduced Leatrice Eiseman, an executive director of the Pantone Colour Institute, whatever that is. For what felt like an eternity, she tried to explain why blue and green were the trendy smartphone colours this year - with reference to cod psychology. What this interminable introduction boiled down to was the shock news that the P10 would be available in both blue and green. It was at this point that I bailed on the press conference.

So I was all ready to hate the P10 on principle. It’s just a phone - why make a big fuss about it?

So it’s very annoying to report that, on the strength of my so far brief use of the phone… it’s actually really nice.

Design-wise, it’s certainly, ahem, inspired by the iPhone, but this is no bad thing - it’s ultra-thin, and definitely feels like a premium device. It’s light too. Like previous Huawei devices, when you type and press buttons, it will give a little rumble - which is incredibly pleasing if you’re easily pleased like I am. The fingerprint reader is typically fast and responsive - so much so that you rarely see the lock screen.

The 2K screen is incredibly vivid - it can pump out 500 nits - and HD video looks great running on it. And the sound appears pretty decent too. I installed a guilty pleasure of mine - Trials Frontier - and it not only runs flawlessly, but looks super sharp too.

One thing that Huawei are making a lot of noise about is the camera - which from my initial shots looks decent - it combines 20MP and 12MP lenses to make the best of your photos. In a sense, it’s almost too fully featured - playing with the camera I found myself lost in a warren of settings that I didn’t really understand. Perhaps if you’re serious about photography, this could turn out to be the camera for you?

So what’s the downside? This won’t come as a surprise to anyone who has used a Huawei - or read a Huawei review before - but on my initial interactions with this phone, it appears to be once again be weighed down by the “Emotion UI” skin that it drops all over Android. On setting up there were a few awkward interactions of the sort that, say, Apple, would never tolerate - such as dialogue boxes appearing the wrong size or taking over the whole screen unexpectedly, and so on. It also just simply looks ugly compared to the standard Google-approved Android UI. Why change what isn’t broken, guys?

But ultimately, it appears that the P10 is a rather promising device - and one that could be perfect for iPhone refuseniks who still secretly want an iPhone. We’ll have a full review soon.

Written over 4G thanks to Vodafone - who will be stocking the P10 and P10 Plus.