Huawei took to the stage at MWC 2017 in Barcelona to announce not only the sporty Huawei Watch 2, but also its colourful 2017 flagship, the Huawei P10. Boasting a colourful look and improved internals, how does the Huawei P10 compare to the 2016 flagship, the Huawei P9? Here we compare the design, features, cameras and software of the Huawei P9 and P10 to help you decide which is the best option for you. Read next: Best smartphones of 2017
Huawei P9 vs Huawei P10 comparison review: UK price and availability
So, let’s talk pricing and availability of both smartphones. The Huawei P9 is readily available to buy in the UK after being launched back in April 2016, and although it costed £449 at launch, the Huawei P9 can now be picked up for £390 outside of contract from the likes of Amazon.
How does that compare to the Huawei P10? Announced at MWC 2017, Huawei is yet to unveil UK pricing for the Huawei P10, leading us to believe it’ll cost a similar amount to the P9 at launch, although we’ll upgrade this section once we know more.
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Huawei P9 vs Huawei P10 comparison review: Design and build
Looking at the Huawei P9 and P10, it’s easy to see that the two are from the same family of smartphones. Featuring a similar minimalistic design, both the Huawei P9 and P10 look sleek and feature a high-end build quality as is standard with Huawei-manufactured smartphones, although there are notable differences between the two. Let’s start with the basics, dimensions and weight: the Huawei P9 measured in at 145 x 70.9 x 7mm and 144g compared to the P10’s 145.3 x 69.3 x 7mm and 145g, meaning the P10 is ever so slightly heavier, but shorter than the P9.
Now that’s not necessarily obvious enough when glancing at the two smartphones, what is more noticeable is the slight change in display: the P9 features a 5.2in display while the P10 drops 0.1in, measuring in at 5.1in. While the P10 features a slightly smaller display than its predecessor, it doesn’t seem to have made up for this in any way: they’re almost identical in terms of both dimensions and weight, so where has the extra 0.1in gone?
One could argue that it’s due to the decision to bring the fingerprint scanner to the front of the P10 below the display, while it sits comfortably on the rear of the P9. While when situated on the rear of the P9 the fingerprint scanner could also be used to access the notification shade, activate the camera shutter or swipe between photos, the functionality has been removed with the P10.
Instead, the P10 fingerprint scanner works as the Home, back and multi-task Android buttons in one by using a series of different gestures. While it works well, we still prefer the rear placement of the fingerprint scanner as it made accessing the notification shade and taking snaps a much easier process.
That’s not all that’s new. The Huawei P9 was available in a variety of colours and finishes, including Ceramic White, Haze Gold, Rose Hold, Titanium Grey, Mystic Silver and Prestige Gold, followed later in 2016 by Red and Blue variants, although the P10 offers something a little more ‘out there’. Apart from the late additions to the P9 range, it was fairly muted – something that Huawei wanted to change with the P10.
The P10 comes in Graphite Black, Dazzling Blue, Dazzling Gold, Rose Gold, Greenery, White Ceramic, Mystic Silver and Prestige Gold, although like with the P9, not all variants will be available in the UK. Huawei worked alongside Pantone to produce the vibrant and eye-catching dazzling blue and greenery colour options, with the colourful shimmer noticeable even in low light. That’s not all either, as Huawei also introduced a hyper-diamond cut available on the blue and gold variants of the P10. The company claims that it not only reduces the number of visible fingerprints on the metal unibody, but should also provide a bit of extra grip too.
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Huawei P9 vs Huawei P10 comparison review: Features and spec
So, how do Huawei’s 2016 and 2017 flagships compare in terms of display technology? Of course, the Huawei P9 has a slightly larger display measuring in at 5.2in compared to the 5.1in P10, but what about the technology inside? Both feature IPS displays and the same Full HD (1920 x 1080) resolution, although the P10 has a slightly higher pixel density at 432ppi compared to 423ppi.
The P10 also features superior protection as it boasts Gorilla Glass 5 protection, compared to the third-generation Gorilla Glass featured on the Huawei P9. Gorilla Glass 5 should be more effective in protecting your display from scratches and cracks, but it isn’t shatter- or scratchproof – we’re also yet to test this for ourselves.
Inside, the Huawei P9 packs an octa-core Kirin 955 CPU and Mali-T880 GPU with either 3 or 4GB of RAM depending on the variant you opted for. It performed well in our benchmarks, although it couldn’t quite compete with the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S7 or iPhone 7. The Huawei P10 features Huawei’s latest technology, including an upgraded octa-core Kirin 960 CPU and Mali-G71 GPU with 4GB of RAM as standard. While we haven’t benchmarked the P10 just yet, the late-2016 Huawei Mate 9 features the same internals and the performance really impressed us during benchmarking, offering significant gains compared to the P9.
The Huawei P10 also offers 64GB of storage as standard, while the P9 offers a choice of 32- or 64GB of storage, although arguably it doesn’t matter too much as both feature a microSD card slot that’ll increase storage by up to 256GB if required.
Of course, the main draw of both the Huawei P9 and P10 is the rear-facing dual-camera setup. First featured on the Huawei P9 in 2016, the Leica co-engineered cameras offer something a little different to other dual-lens setups. Why? The setup is comprised of one colour sensor and one monochrome sensor, with the monochrome sensor collecting more light and detail than its coloured variant, then splicing them together for a high-quality colour image. In terms of the Huawei P9, this was a combination of a 12Mp colour sensor and a 12Mp monochrome sensor, coupled with phase detection, laser autofocus and a dual-LED flash.
That offering has been upgraded for the P10: it features the same 12Mp colour sensor, but an upgraded 20Mp monochrome sensor to collect more light than its predecessor. Despite the larger monochrome sensor, the aperture stays the same as the P9 at f/2.2 – those looking for better should opt for the P10 Plus, which features improved lenses capable of capturing more light, and should perform better in low-light conditions. Along with the improved sensors, the Huawei P10 finally boasts optical image stabilisation and 4K video playback, two huge omissions from the Huawei P9.
That’s not all for the P10 either, as there’s a bunch of software additions too. The Huawei P10 is the second Huawei smartphone to feature the company’s lossless zoom technology, a Huawei-developed algorithm that provides a 2x digital zoom without any noticeable loss of quality. It’s impressive, as we noted in our Huawei Mate 9 review, but isn’t perfect. There’s also a new Portrait mode that analyses your face and tweaks the lighting and other elements to provide high quality ‘portrait shots’, or ‘selfies’ to you and us.
The front-facing camera has also had an upgrade when compared to the 2016 flagship. It has been upgraded from a standard 8Mp camera on the Huawei P9 to a Leica co-engineered 8Mp camera on the P10, although we’ll have to reserve our comments about quality until we’ve put the P10 through more tests.
Huawei P9 vs Huawei P10 comparison review: Software
Let’s talk software. The Huawei P9 features Android 6.0 Marshmallow with Huawei’s own EMUI 4.1 overlay, which has gone under fire many times in the past for not only being too complex but also for featuring quite a bit of bloatware. While there isn’t a huge amount of bloatware on the Huawei P9, there is an abundance of Huawei-branded apps and game demos when you first power on the device, many of which aren’t needed for general day-to-day tasks.
The Huawei P10, on the other hand, features Android 7.0 Nougat alongside EMUI 5.1, a total revamp of Huawei’s Emotion UI that offers a much-improved user experience when compared to EMUI 4.1. The update offered a simplified UI with access to a large percentage of phone functions within only two or three taps, and a much cleaner look.
It’s not all aesthetic though, as EMUI 5 introduced machine learning to Huawei’s smartphones and EMUI 5.1 is a natural progression of this. Huawei claims that the smartphone can learn from your habits to better allocate processing power to different apps at different times of day, providing a snappier experience. In fact, Huawei claims that the new machine learning capabilities will provide a faster smartphone after a year of use than when fresh out of the box.
This is coupled with the most recent addition to its roster of machine learning algorithms, with the Huawei P10 able to predict where on the display you’ll tap before you’ve tapped, allowing it to pre-load whatever you were going to tap on and thus, providing a more responsive smartphone experience. Of course, it’s hard to test these kinds of claims independently and as EMUI 5 hasn’t been out for a year, we can’t test its effectiveness compared to a non-EMUI 5 enabled smartphone just yet.