The Samsung Galaxy S8 has been officially announced, and it has already been compared to just about every other flagship phone release of this year. But there’s still room for one more comparison. A comparison with an often-overlooked smartphone that could be much more important than many people realize: the Huawei P10.
Huawei P10 vs Galaxy S8
With its 9.5% of global smartphone market share, Huawei is quickly emerging as one of the most prominent smartphone manufacturers in existence. In its home country, China, the company is already the third biggest smartphone manufacturer, after Oppo and Vivo, and local reviewers consider Huawei to be on par with Samsung regarding quality, reliability, and the ability to innovate.
If the Huawei P10 turns out to be a success in the West, Huawei will be one huge step closer to catching up with Apple and Samsung regarding its reputation as a manufacturer of top flagship devices.
We wouldn’t be first to call the Galaxy S8 the most beautiful smartphone ever made. It’s incredibly thin, surprisingly lightweight, and delightfully curvy. The tall display seemingly wraps around the phone, leaving no room for bezels nor the fingerprint-sensing home button that has characterized Galaxy smartphones for so many years. The button now resides on the back, right next to the camera lens. Depending on your habits and preferences, you might find the missing front-facing home button confusing, or you might appreciate Samsung moving it to the same place that’s used by most other smartphone manufacturers.
The S8 is available in three colors—a dark black, bright silver, and a gray with slightly blue tint—and they all look stunning. Active and clumsy smartphone users will surely appreciate the smartphone’s IP68 water- and dust- resistance.
In contrast to the innovative design of the Galaxy S8, the Huawei P10 almost looks like a counterfeit version of the iPhone 6S. The two smartphones look so alike that we have already witnessed people mistaking the P10 for the 6S on several occasions. According to Huawei, the design of the Huawei P10 is the result of their effort to move closer to the company calls “organic minimalism.” This approach to design strives to get rid of all elements that don’t enhance the user experience in an organic way. In other words, if users have to go out their way to use a certain feature, such feature most likely isn’t implemented in alignment with the principles of organic minimalism.
Just like Samsung, Huawei has been hard at work trimming bezels, but they’ve still found room on the front side of the P10 for a fingerprint scanner. What you won’t find on the front are capacitive keys. Instead, all navigation is done through the fingerprint sensor. To use the fingerprint sensor for navigation, you first have to press it for a second and then perform a gesture. Swipe to the right to open the previous apps screen, or tap it quickly to go back one step. It works, but we wouldn’t exactly call it intuitive. Most people who pick up the smartphone with no previous knowledge of how to use it are unable to figure it out on their own. Those who persist usually need around two to three days to get used to the new navigation method.
What deserves a lot of praise is how comfortable it is to hold the smartphone in just one hand. Huawei has indented the power button to make it feel different to the volume rocker, and the company has using a brand-new technology, called Hyper Diamond Cut, to prevent fingerprint from sticking to the back side of the smartphone. All these little improvements make the Huawei P10 the best flagship Android smartphone for one-hand use.
Considering that even Apple has partnered with Samsung to secure a steady supply of high-quality touchscreens, it’s no wonder that the Galaxy S8 sports a beautiful screen. At 5.8”, this tall, curved screen has an odd aspect ratio of 18.5:9 with the resolution of 2960 x 1440 pixels. It’s one of only a few displays on the market with support for the Mobile HDR Premium technology, making it compatible with Amazon Prime and Netflix. Unlike last year, Samsung doesn’t offer a flat version of the display.
The P10 from Huawei feature a considerably smaller 5.1” display with the Full HD resolution. The smaller resolution is entirely justified in this case because the pixel density is still comfortably above 400 pixels per inch. Unfortunately, it also means that you won’t be able to enjoy Google Daydream with this smartphone. On the other hand, you will be able to use the smartphone with just one hand.
Both the Galaxy S8 and the Huawei P10 reproduce colors highly accurately, are readable even under direct sunlight, and use the Corning Gorilla Glass 5 protective technology. If we had to pick a winner, we would give it to Samsung because the company is using the Super AMOLED technology instead of IPS.
As always, Europe and Asia will get the new Galaxy smartphone with Samsung’s own Exynos chip, this time the Exynos 8895. According to Samsung, “The Exynos 8895, built on a cutting-edge 10nm FinFET process, features a 2nd generation custom CPU core and an advanced GPU for exceptional performance with low power consumption for extended battery life. For faster and reliable network performance, the processor embeds a 1Gbps LTE-Advanced modem that supports aggregation of up to five carriers.”
Americans will get a version with the Snapdragon 835 from Qualcomm. Just like the Exynos 8895, the Snapdragon 835 is built on the 10nm process, featuring up to 25% reduction in power consumption, support for Gigabit-Class download speeds, and plenty of power for lifelike VR and AR experiences.
Both chipsets are complemented with 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of internal storage space. With specifications like this, there’s no reason to doubt that the smartphone won’t perform flawlessly even 2 years from now.
Huawei uses the same chipset as we saw in the Mate 9, the HiSilicon Kirin 960. The chipset is fully optimized for 4K content, sports its own CDMA solution that frees Huawei from Qualcomm’s licensing fees, and includes support for 4 component carriers (4CC) for LTE. The chipset is paired with 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of ROM.
Being a generation behind Samsung, you can’t expect the Kirin 960 to deliver the same performance as the Snapdragon 835 or the Exynos 8895. Still, the chipset is powerful enough that you should never experience any performance issues when performing everyday tasks.
Samsung hasn’t given the rear-facing camera on the Galaxy S8 much of an upgrade, but that’s not really a problem. Even with a generation old sensor, it’s still easily one of the best smartphone cameras out there, beaten only by the excellent Google Pixel. However, the front-facing camera has seen some big improvements. It features a new 8 MP sensor with an f/1.7 aperture for outstanding low light performance.
Huawei takes a different approach compared to Samsung, making the camera one of the main selling points of the P10. The smartphone sports a dual-lens setup developed in partnership with Leica. One monochrome sensor with 20 MP resolution works in tandem with another a 12 MP color sensor and an f/2.2 aperture. Together, the two sensors take vivid pictures under all conditions and record 4K/30fps or 1080p/60fps video footage. The front-facing camera now comes with a new portrait mode that combines a fake bokeh effect and several beauty effects to make selfies more beautiful.
The Samsung Galaxy 8 offers several enticing extras alongside its beautiful, polished design and stellar performance. With Samsung DeX, you can connect your Galaxy S8 to a monitor, keyboard, and mouse for a desktop experience powered by your phone. DeX transforms the typical Android user interface into a desktop interface with a taskbar, desktop icons, and excellent support for multitasking. Similar smartphone to PC convergence efforts, like Microsoft’s Continuum, have failed to gain any significant traction so it will be interesting to see how consumers react to DeX.
Another highly anticipated feature is Bixby, Samsung’s Siri rival. Bixby is a conversational personal assistant available from anywhere with a push of a button. Bixby works with the camera app, allowing users to translate text, scan QR codes, intelligently look up products or landmarks online, and more.
Apart from DeX and Bixby, Samsung is also introducing a new app, Samsung Connect, to help users control smart home appliances from a single screen. Of course, only people who are invested in home automation will be able to use Samsung Connect to its full potential.
The one thing anyone can appreciate is a longer battery life. The new chipset should offer 10% more CPU power and 21% better management on the GPU. Even though the battery has only 3000mAh capacity, it could, in theory, allow the smartphone to last much longer than Galaxy S7.
At 3,200mAh, the Huawei P10 has a slightly larger battery than the S8 from Samsung. But considering that it also sports a much smaller screen with the Full HD resolution, we expect the smartphone to last at least a day on a single charge, if not two.
Unfortunately for Huawei, the P10 lacks the same “wow” features that Samsung customers have gotten used to over the years. The only thing unusual is the Emotion UI touch interface. Just like the smartphone itself, it mimics the look and feel of the iOS operating system, spreading apps over home screens.
Release Date and Price
The release date for the Galaxy S8 has now been officially confirmed by Samsung. The smartphone will be available to US customers from April 21 and to the rest of the world from April 28. It’s already possible to make pre-orders through carriers. The SIM-free Samsung Galaxy S8 costs $720, and customers with Verizon Unlimited can get the phone for just $15 per month for 24 months when they trade in an eligible device.
The P10 from Huawei is available on Amazon for about $690. The company wants to use the same tactic that has been serving it so well in China—building the telecom networks that transmit signals—so individual smartphone releases are not its priority.
Huawei P10’s limited US availability aside, the smartphone is a pleasant preview of what we could see from Huawei in the years to come. The company just needs to find their own design aesthetic and fully justify the steep price of its flagship smartphones by offering the same cutting-edge features as its competition does.