If you like the look of an iPhone but don’t, you know, actually want an iPhone, your best bet of late has been the strong-yet-flawed Google Pixel. But that may change with the release of the Huawei P10.
It might not act exactly like an Apple device, since the P10 is an Android Nougat-toting beast, but it certainly looks the part – and likewise feels like a top-of-the-line device. It doesn’t match its Android flagship counterparts on every top spec, but it’s close enough to be in the running to fill your pocket.
On the other hand, if you dig the iPhone, why not just get an iPhone 7? We’d give the nudge to the beefier iPhone 7 Plus, but the regular iPhone 7 is Apple’s best palm-friendly device to date, and justifies its eye-popping price with an excellent camera, loads of speed, and the unbeatable combo of iOS 10 and the content-packed App Store.
Still undecided on where to drop your £600+? Looks like it’s time to pit these two top-tier handsets against each other.
Design: Two of a kind
The iPhone 7 is Apple’s third handset to bear the same core design, following the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s – and while we admittedly hope to see something much fresher for the iPhone 8, this tried-and-true design still holds up.
All metal and glass with some nice curviness in the mix, the iPhone 7’s design won’t blow anyone’s mind at this point, but it looks premium and ultra-refined. And this edition’s tweaks, namely the less-obvious antenna lines and the new colors (the nicely understated matte black and more in-your-face, glossy Jet Black) are welcome enhancements.
Meanwhile, the Huawei P10 could fool nearly anyone at a glance: it looks just like an iPhone 7, albeit with a bit less bezel and some slight differences along the way. It’s uncanny in a slightly unsettling way, given the very obvious influence, but the end result is still a really nice-looking handset.
We would give this one to Apple pretty easily for originating the look, but Huawei has a couple of key advantages here. First, it has a headphone jack, so kudos for that. And second, the Pantone-partnered Greenery and Dazzling Blue colour options are true beauties, and really uncommon for high-end smartphones.
On the other hand, the Huawei P10 isn’t very water-resistant, while the iPhone 7 of course has an IP67 rating and can take a spell underwater without sinking its lifespan. Your priorities may vary in this arena, but given that last point, we’re still giving the slight edge to Apple.
Winner: Apple iPhone 7
Screen: It’s Huawei here
As is usually the case when comparing the iPhone 7 to nearly any appealing Android phone, the Huawei P10 takes the edge when it comes to the screen. That’s because of Apple’s insistence on keeping the 750p Retina resolution of its standard 4.7in iPhone model, which admittedly still looks good and pops with great colours and brightness.
But there’s a slight, yet noticeable upgrade with the Huawei P10’s display, which is a 1080p panel and thus a bit crisper as it packs in 431 pixels per inch compared to 326 ppi on the iPhone 7. It’s also a bit larger at 5.1in, while the phone itself is only 2mm wider due to thinner bezels.
Of course, the larger iPhone 7 Plus has its own 5.5in 1080p screen… but then the Huawei P10 Plus trumps it again with a 5.5in Quad HD (2K) screen. Thwarted again, Apple.
Winner: Huawei P10
Also Read › Huawei P10 review
Camera: P10’s packing tricks
Year after year, Apple’s iPhone ends up being one of the best smartphone cameras for everyday usage, even against seemingly higher-specced options – and that’s true again with the iPhone 7.
But the standard iPhone 7’s camera lacks the tricks of the dual-camera array on the iPhone 7 Plus… and that’s really what you’ll find on the Huawei P10, as well. It’s a different setup than Apple’s larger phone, which has a pair of 12-megapixel shooters – the P10 has a 12MP colour sensor augmented by a 20MP monochrome camera.
The dual setup allows for some handy advantages, including variable zoom between 1x and 2x with sharp results, as well as solid blurry backgrounds (like in Apple’s own Portrait mode on the Plus). And you’ll get great shots with either individual camera, as well, whether it’s crisp 20MP black-and-white photos or punchy 12MP colour images.
If we’re just going by the main back camera, then you’ll get great all-around results with either. But the P10 goes the extra mile with its bonus camera and all the little perks that come along with it, giving it a leg up in this particular battle.
Winner: Huawei P10
Performance: Plenty of power
Apple’s A10 Fusion processor (alongside 2GB RAM) became the fastest smartphone chip on the block when it debuted last September, but the Huawei P10’s custom Kirin 960 processor (flanked by 4GB RAM) puts up more of a fight than its other Android competitors as of now.
It’s not a slam dunk in either case now, but it’s close enough to call this category even when it comes to raw power. The iPhone 7’s A10 wins out in benchmark testing when it comes to single-core performance, while the Kirin 960 ekes out more juice for resource-taxing multi-core usage.
Of course, benchmarks don’t mean a heap when it comes to real-world usage. And in both cases, these are ultra-fast, top-of-the-line devices. The Huawei P10 is as fast as any Android we’ve used, with Android 7.0 Nougat behind the wheel, while the iPhone 7 likewise zips along with iOS 10 inside. Both phones can handle pretty much anything you can throw at it, and we feel comfortable giving them both the honours in this category.
Also Read › Apple iPhone 7 review
Battery and perks: Inferior iPhone
When it comes to sheer capacity, the Huawei P10 packs in a lot more battery juice than the iPhone 7 – it’s 3,200mAh on the P10 compared to 1,960mAh for the iPhone 7.
Of course, what really matters is functional uptime, and the P10 has a bigger, sharper screen to power. And really, we’ve found both devices to be solid all-day performers, but neither is likely to give you much significant usage into a second day unless you barely touch the thing. We might give a slight edge to the P10 here, but it’s not as dramatic as the specs suggest.
When it comes to storage, the Apple iPhone 7 starts at 32GB and bumps up to 128GB or 256GB for more cash – with no expandability on offer. Contrast that to the Huawei P10, which only offers a 64GB model but then allows up to 256GB additional storage via microSD cards.
The P10 may not be water resistant (as mentioned before), but that extra storage is sure to come in handy – and having the option is obviously a wonderful advantage. Apple doesn’t have that.
Winner: Huawei P10
Verdict: Huawei has it
Compared to some of the big Android flagships on the market right now, the Huawei P10 might seem a little underequipped in terms of screen resolution and battery size – and given the similar price to other top-tier Androids, those are concerns worth considering.
Yet when you put it up against Apple’s iPhone 7 from last autumn, it’s easy to see how Huawei’s offering has the upper hand, whether it’s the added screen crispness and size, extra camera perks, or expandable storage.
Both of these are pretty great devices at pretty massive prices, which is exactly why the little details matter. We fully expect Apple to try its hardest to wow us with the iPhone 8 later this year, but in the meantime, the Androids are taking charge. And the Huawei P10 is one of the most appealing options of 2017 so far.
Winner: Huawei P10