I had very high expectations for Huawei’s new flagship 5.1-inch P10 and 5.5-inch P10 Plus smartphones. By and large, I’m not disappointed: the phones’
Leica-designed camera system — with two lenses — make them among the best you can buy on the market.
My review model was the smaller P10 variant with 64GB of storage.
The prize feature here is the camera (common to both variants). It offers almost full manual controls of the camera, including dialling its aperture down (through a combination of hardware and software) to a powerful f0.95. This level of aperture control combines with the second camera lens to create a shallow depth of field that makes pretty stunning portrait shots.
The camera system comprises two sensors and lenses — a 12-megapixel sensor and a second 20-megapixel monochrome sensor. This means that black-and-white shots are a step above what you’ll get with almost any other camera. But the P10 also excels in low light, beating every other phone I’ve tried for shots in dimly lit conditions.
Does this mean that it’s the outright best camera phone? That’s harder to say, as the iPhone 7 Plus also has two lenses, one of which is at a 50mm (more zoomed-in) focal length. I find this versatility incredibly useful and use it all the time. So your ultimate choice will depend on what kind of photos you like to take.
As for the P10’s exterior design, it’s actually very reminiscent of an iPhone 7. Its main aesthetic difference probably lies in the colours that Huawei have added to the collection. My 64GB model, for example, is a metallic light blue, whereas one can also choose green. The usual colours of silver, black and gold are also available. The P10 has one other relatively unsung strength: coverage reception. This is easily the best phone at picking up weak mobile signals I’ve ever used. It comes courtesy of a quad-antenna system that compares to the dual antennae that most smartphones have. Huawei claims this boosts reception by 30pc. Based on my usage, I believe them. Rooms in my house that struggle with reception suffer no dropped calls or interrupted signals here, using the same mobile network as before.
The battery life is good, too: you should have little problem getting a full day out of it.
The only qualification I have over this phone is that the user interface still didn’t quite perform as fluidly or slickly as some rival systems. For example, on my model, touches weren’t always flawlessly registered. However, I’m conscious that the first batch of production models often get firmware updates that sort out issues such as this so that might well be the case here.
The P10 has definitely vaulted itself into being one of the top flagship phones you can get in the Irish market. Compare prices.
Price: from €649
Rating: 4 Stars
Sony Xperia XZ Premium
Huawei’s not the only new ‘ultimate’ camera phone in town. Sony’s new 5.5-inch Xperia XZ has added new technology that lets its 19-megapixel lens record slow-motion video at 960 frames per second. That’s a pretty amazing feat, especially since it keeps the quality at a very decent HD-lite level of 720p. There’s improved stabilisation and bigger pixels (for better performance in low light), too. Sony is back in the game with this handset. Compare prices.
(€1,079, body only)
Canon has a new enthusiast DSLR camera with what the company claims is the world’s fastest auto-focusing camera for any interchangeable lens APS-C model. Its beefed-up Digic 7 processor means that it can lock on to moving subjects and track them to a professional autofocusing level, the company says. The extra processing power also means a slightly higher six frames per second with no buffer limit for jpegs (and a 27-shot limit for Raw images). The 77D has a flip-out touchscreen but stops short of offering 4K (‘ultra HD’) video recording. Compare prices.