Huawei has already proven itself capable of building premium, good-looking handsets, and the P10 is further evidence of that. Its slim 6.98mm (0.27-inch) profile and gently curving edges aren't just pleasant to look at, they're a pleasure to hold as well.
Many of my friends have pointed out the P10's resemblance to the iPhone. And indeed, that's true of the basic white/gold version I tested. If you aren't feeling the Apple-esque look, you can opt for one of the many customization options that Huawei offers. Pick a different color -- there are seven hues to choose from, including Pantone-approved "Dazzling Blue" and "Greenery." Or try a different finish. You can get a smooth, sandblasted back, a glossy coat or a gritty texture that's reminiscent of ridged, holographic lenticular cards. That last option is popular with a couple of my coworkers, and it does help the P10 stand out. The colors and textures available vary between countries, though, so you might not be able to get the exact combination you want.
The P10's 5.1-inch full HD display is sharp and colorful, and while it won't wow you with richly saturated images or deep blacks like Samsung's flagships do, it's good enough for my Instagram and Netflix binges. The same can be said for the P10 Plus' 5.5-inch WQHD panel, which offers more space for gaming and reading. I just wish both phones were a tad brighter so I could read more easily in strong sunlight.
While we're on the subject, the P10 and P10 Plus come with screen protectors out of the box. It didn't bother me but might annoy people who want direct access to the display. The trouble for these folks is that it appears the protector was applied in lieu of an oleophobic coating on the screen, which other phones have in order to avoid fingerprint grease and water damage.
When we asked about the reported lack of this coating, Huawei said, "The P10 is the world's first smartphone with capacitive under-glass fingerprint sensor for seamless navigation." In layman's terms, that all but confirms that Huawei did away with the coating to prevent interference with its under-glass fingerprint sensor. The company also said, "For screen protection, we have used premium materials such as Gorilla Glass 5 and include a screen protector as part of the integrated product." Basically, if you want to remove the screen protector (which, by the way, is incredibly difficult), do so knowing you risk damaging the display.
Below the screen sits a pill-shaped home key that houses the fingerprint sensor. Think of this as an etched-out touchpad. It doesn't depress or click; it simply senses your touch. There aren't separate Back and Recent Apps buttons on its sides; you'll have to tap once on the sensor to go back, hold down to go home and swipe sideways to multitask. This takes a bit of getting used to, but it's worth learning now, since Huawei is not the only company implementing this method (the Moto G5 uses a similar format).
If that's too much trouble, you can still opt for a set of onscreen navigation keys, which is the default setting for the larger P10 Plus. This feels more intuitive, but it makes the physical sensor redundant and confusing, since I still keep hitting it instinctively to go to the home screen.
Just as it has with the recently released Mate 9, Huawei has integrated artificial intelligence into the P10's system. Thanks to the company's custom octa-core Kirin 960 processor, the smartphone can learn your habits over time and divert resources like RAM and power to preparing the apps it predicts you will next open. During my month of testing, I most commonly used the P10 for taking pictures, looking at them in the gallery, and sharing them either on Instagram or to Google Drive. Switching between these apps is zippy, which could be a sign that Huawei's algorithm is working well here (or, you know, that the processor and RAM are more than adequate for how I used the phone). Like I noted when I reviewed the Mate 9, though, this isn't something you'll notice until it doesn't work. And it's not as if the phone stuttered when I pulled up apps I didn't use as frequently; in general, the P10 is responsive and multitasks well.