In addition to a bigger, higher-res screen and the ability to max out your RAM and storage, the jump from the Huawei P10 to P10 Plus gets you Huawei's most advanced Leica camera to date. The trusty f/2.2 Summarit-branded lens, used in the past a generation of Huawei flagships, makes way for a brighter f/1.8 Summilux aperture.
On paper that should allow for a modest improvement in photo quality across the board. A wider aperture lets you capture more quickly, resulting in less motion blur, or keep the shutter open for longer at lower ISO levels, reducing the appearance of noise.
It's time to put these two directly to the test. Obviously the P10 Plus is the better of the two, on account of its superior optics. But the question is whether it's worth the extra cash to upgrade.
And this comparison should also be interesting to anyone weighing up the P10 Plus against a Mate 9 or Mate 9 Pro, which use a camera system identical to the smaller P10.
Let's get stuck in!
Note: All images in this comparison were shot in full auto mode, at 12 megapixels.
First up, daylight shots. As you might expect given the similar sensor and post-processing, daylight shots from the P10 and P10 Plus are basically identical. The biggest difference you'll notice is the more pronounced bokeh in close-up macro shots. Elsewhere, it's pretty much a wash, as you'll see in our samples:
The extremely similar daylight performance is a good thing — it means buyers who prefer a smaller screen aren't missing out.
In low light, the differences start to show, though it's still incredibly subtle.
In this image, shot at dusk in fading light, the shot from the P10 is actually slightly sharper. Nevertheless, things are still more or less identical here. Both cameras shot at ISO 160, with the P10 Plus choosing a faster shutter speed (1/50 vs 1/33 sec.)
In lower light, it's still tough to separate these two. The P10 Plus has slightly sharper fine details in distance objects, but that's about it. Both cameras shot at ISO 800, the P10 at 1/8 sec., the P10 Plus at 1/17 sec.
In this challenging shot with both bright and dark areas, neither camera excels, but the P10 Plus captures a comparable shot slightly quicker. (P10: ISO 1250, 1/4 sec., P10 Plus: ISO 800, 1/7 sec.)
Once again, the difference here isn't so much the quality of the image, but the slight speed advantage that the P10 delivers. (P10: ISO 800, 1/17 sec., P10 Plus: ISO 640, 1/20 sec.)
To my eye the smaller P10 actually comes out ahead here — focus is slightly softer on the P10 Plus. Both images remain largely identical overall. (P10: ISO 800, 1/15 sec., P10 Plus: ISO 500, 1/20 sec.)
Another very close shot, but the P10 Plus resolves slightly more detail in the brickwork, and in the colors on the archway. (P10: ISO 800, 1/8 sec., P10 Plus: ISO 1000, 1/15 sec.)
Here, the smaller P10 takes a longer exposure; otherwise image quality is about the same. (P10: ISO 640, 1/20 sec., P10 Plus: ISO 6400, 1/30 sec.)
There's a little more noise in the P10 shot here, especially around the tree branches, while the Plus captures a slightly clearer image. (P10: ISO 800, 1/15 sec., P10 Plus: ISO 640, 1/20 sec.)
And our final sample follows the same pattern — you'd be hard pushed to separate these two images, even the EXIF data is basically identical. (P10: ISO 1250, 1/4 sec., P10 Plus: ISO 1250, 1/4 sec.)
What does this tell us?
Ultimately, there's really not a huge difference between the capabilities of these two cameras. Even in low light, which you'd expect to favor the P10 Plus, the larger and more expensive phone for the most part produces comparable photos. Instead of pushing for sharper fine detail in low light, or brighter night shots overall, Huawei is using that brighter lens to take photos more quickly, meaning they're going to be less susceptible to blurring due to motion — either from your hand, or in your subject.
So the P10 Plus has the edge, but it's an incredibly narrow lead. And so if you're torn between these two devices, we'd be inclined to put form factor and size ahead of any concerns over camera quality.
Alex was with Android Central for over a decade, producing written and video content for the site, and served as global Executive Editor from 2016 to 2022.
To be fair the lens on the 10 Plus has only 1/3 of a stop wider aperture than the P10 - that's not particularly significant in photographic terms and is easily within the margin of error for exposure. I was originally going for the 10 Plus but once I realised this I pre-ordered the 10. I've had bigger phones before - the OnePlus One, the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge in particular - and always found the larger form factor inconvenient and I sold them both on pretty quickly. For me the P10 looks like it will be the optimum size.
Given the sensor size, the wider aperture will make no great change noticeable by the user. Among those examples, there are a few shots, where frankly I find no difference at all (without a magnifying glass) or the 2.2 aperture seems to manage better...
Post photo treatment might be a better angle to take for significant improvement.
I had the P9 and upgraded to the Mate 9 and have encountered a significantly better camera experience (and all around mobile experience), most likely due to the addition of OIS that has helped me lose fewer shots due to movement. Based on this, I'd suggest greater investment in post photo treatment that would improve the quality of the JPG's . Also Huawei's marvellous in-house bokeh effect could be enhanced by allowing the user to touch up areas that are 'forgotten' by the bokeh option.
Huawei'***** a level of quality that's clearly comparable to the other biggies out there. Producing multiple phones per year with very similar specs and slight variants is confusing and frustrating for the customer.
Thank u AndroidCentral 4 making this comparison. This really helped me in making my decision. Keep up the good work!
Why is it that almost every photo taken with the 2.2 aperture lens is more sharp than the 1.8 aperture lens?
As a photographer I have often found that the wider the lens (ie. larger aperture) the more opportunities there are for distortion, lack of acuity etc. . f1.8 is not massively large, but for a small sensor it is pretty big. Although the f2.2 lens on the P10 is only 1/3 of a stop smaller it could be enough to make a very slight difference to sharpness. Then again, I might be talking complete nonsense, lol! Please correct me someone!
Something is funky with these photos. Is it possible that the photographer has the focus set to a specifik narrow part of the scene, and because of the focal lenght the 2.2 aperture photos is sharp from edge to edge, while the 1.8 aperture is sharp only where the focus is set?
Excellent and helpful comparison...Kudos to the author!!!!!
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