Huawei P10 review: The Mini-Mate

The Mini-Mate

GSMArena team, 10 March 2017.

Low light

The Huawei P10 does an admirable job of shooting in low-light environment, preserving detail and, to a certain extent, color. But that's only true if you shoot evenly lit close-ups as is the case with our Picture Compare Tests. If you are going for landscape photos, the dusk photos are fine, but the night images quite often lack sharpness due to either focusing issues or camera shake even though the P10 is equipped with plenty of tools to help it get them right.

12MP color dusk sample - Huawei P10 review 20MP color dusk sample - Huawei P10 review 20MP monochrome dusk sample - Huawei P10 review
12MP color dusk sample • 20MP color dusk sample • 20MP monochrome dusk sample

And now check the night shots.

12MP color night sample - Huawei P10 review 20MP color night sample - Huawei P10 review 20MP monochrome night sample - Huawei P10 review
12MP color night sample • 20MP color night sample • 20MP monochrome night sample

Mounting the phone on a tripod did help it get a better focus, though the detail is still severely compromised by the high amount of noise.

12MP tripod night sample - Huawei P10 review 20MP monochrome tripod sample - Huawei P10 review
12MP tripod night sample • 20MP monochrome tripod sample

Using the manual mode and a tripod makes wonders, though. If you lock the ISO to 100 and use the longer shutter speeds, you can get some stunning long exposure shots.

12MP tripod night, 4s - Huawei P10 review 20MP monochrome tripod night, 3.2s - Huawei P10 review 20MP monochrome tripod, 5s - Huawei P10 review
12MP tripod night, 4s • 20MP monochrome tripod night, 3.2s • 20MP monochrome tripod, 5s

In full-on Night mode, you can manually select a shutter speed up to 32s with ISO up to 3200. The viewfinder image will change as the exposure develops, so if you figure you've gathered enough light you can stop at any time.

Then there's the Light painting mode, which includes four sub-modes: Car light trails, Light graffiti, Silky Water and Star track. You'd need some form of fixing the phone to stable support for shooting in these modes, like a tripod or a beanbag, as these extremely long exposures can't be done handheld without camera shake.

Light Painting - Car Trails, 20s - Huawei P10 review Light Painting - Car Trails, 30s - Huawei P10 review
Light Painting - Car Trails, 20s • Light Painting - Car Trails, 30s

Panorama

The panoramic shots taken with the P10 are excellent. They're not the full vertical resolution, but at about 3,100px tall there's plenty of pixels. Detail is on par with still images; stitching shows no obvious issues, and exposure variation is handled smoothly. The dynamic range once again deserves praise.

Huawei P10 panorama - Huawei P10 review
Huawei P10 panorama

Variable aperture and Portrait modes

Thanks to the depth information the P10 can gather from its two cameras, it can try and reproduce the blurred background of a proper portrait lens. The feature is accessed from the Wide aperture mode toggle and lets you simulate apertures from f/0.95 to f/16.

As with all such implementations it works weirdly more often than it does well, so it's only now and then that you end up with some good portrait shots like those below. They wouldn't hold up to closer scrutiny, but they are still good enough.

F/0.95 sample - Huawei P10 review F/2.4 sample - Huawei P10 review F/6.3 sample - Huawei P10 review F/16 sample - Huawei P10 review
F/0.95 sample • F/2.4 sample • F/6.3 sample • F/16 sample

As we mentioned before, the new Portrait Mode is available on both the main and selfie snappers. It combines the Variable Aperture with Beautification and should offer Portrait shots with beautified faces and bokeh background effects. There is no live preview for the main camera, which is rather strange.

Anyway, you can adjust the level of beautification, while the bokeh strength stays the same across all shots. The blurred background is indeed nice, but the beauty effects may destroy some fine detail from your face. We'd rarely choose this mode instead of the Variable Aperture.

Portrait mode samples with Beatification level 5 out of 10 - Huawei P10 review Portrait mode samples with Beatification level 5 out of 10 - Huawei P10 review
Portrait mode samples with Beatification level 5 out of 10

Selfies

The selfie camera is where Huawei has tried to improve over what we have on the Mate 9 and has proudly placed the Leica branding on the front too. While the new 8MP f/1.9 front-facing camera sounds great, it still lacks autofocus like on the Mate 9. Its real strength should be the trendy Portrait shots with simulated bokeh effects. We'll just say that in this respect the bar has been raised quite high by the vivo V5 Plus with its dual front camera, so we were really looking forward to testing how this feature works here.

But first things first - let's talk raw quality. The daylight samples turned out great with plenty of detail, pleasing colors, and also quite good dynamic range.

Huawei P10 8MP selfie samples - Huawei P10 review Huawei P10 8MP selfie samples - Huawei P10 review Huawei P10 8MP selfie samples - Huawei P10 review Huawei P10 8MP selfie samples - Huawei P10 review
Huawei P10 8MP selfie samples

The Portrait Mode simulates bokeh, while it also applies beautification effects on your face. Unfortunately, those things might have sounded great on paper, but the software algorithm that applies the background effect isn't that smart, and the beautification sometimes eats parts of your face. Most of the samples we took were more miss than hit, so don't get your hopes as high as Huawei's marketing would like you to.

Huawei P10 front Portrait samples - Huawei P10 review Huawei P10 front Portrait samples - Huawei P10 review Huawei P10 front Portrait samples - Huawei P10 review Huawei P10 front Portrait samples - Huawei P10 review
Huawei P10 front Portrait samples

Video camera

Compared to the Huawei P9, the Huawei P10 now captures 4K videos, which is a great upgrade. Just like the Mate 9, however, the P10 encodes its 4K videos using the H.265 codec. The consequences are two-fold. On the positive side, the bitrate of 30Mbps is very low for 2160p footage, and hence files take up less space (compare that to the ~50Mbps MPEG-4 4K videos of most competitors). The downside is that YouTube still doesn't offer support for this standard, so we've uploaded the test samples on Vimeo instead.

We also observed some minor compression artifacts when we examined the P10 videos of our lab test charts. In the real-life footage, however, we didn't notice any issues. Apparently, the algorithm doesn't like stationary uniformly gray objects. So while we do suggest you check out the video compare tool below, be aware that it's not strictly representative of real world scenarios.

1080p videos use MPEG-4 compression, so they're YouTube-friendly.

The 1080p/30fps videos have a rather standard bitrate of around 17Mbps, while 1080p/60fps is exactly double that. Surprisingly, you'd get larger files per second of footage from the P10's 1080p/60ps mode, than from its 4K mode. But that's expected as the 1080p videos use H.264 video encoding.

Audio is recorded in stereo at 192kbps, which is great.

4K videos are sharp and detailed and exhibit good contrast and pleasing colors. The dynamic range is quite decent, too.

As it happens all too often, the 1080p footage is just okay, nothing spectacular. The good thing is that the smoother 60fps mode doesn't come at the expense of detail.

One limitation the P10 enforces on you is that video stabilization only works in 1080p resolution and not in 2160p. That's the digitally enhanced one; the optical stabilization is available at all times but the combination of the two in the 1080p videos produces the most fluid footage.

You can also download the untouched video samples: 2160p (10s, 39MB), 1080p at 60fps (11s, 46.5MB), 1080p at 30fps (10s, 22MB).

And here's the promised video compare tool, where we've pitted the P10 against the Mate 9 and Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus.

Video Compare Tool Video Compare Tool Video Compare Tool
Huawei P10 vs. Huawei Mate 9 vs. Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus in our video compare tool

Reader comments

  • Anonymous
  • 09 Jan 2023
  • B}L

I have android 9

  • Gino
  • 17 Mar 2022
  • ssd

I am using this phone from april 7 2017 until now. Only replaced battery once after 4 years of usage. Still everything same like before except camera. This was one of my best decisions.

  • Emmanuel
  • 14 Jun 2021
  • fu%

Help me with my phone plz