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Huawei's new P10 phones: Dual Leica cameras, 3D face detection and plenty of Pantone

The P10 and P10 Plus have new portrait modes and lots of colors, plus the promise of 3D face detection.

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Huawei's newest phones, the P10 and P10 Plus, are smaller-screened versions of the giant Mate 9, in a sense, with dual rear cameras. They were announced at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, but we got to try them out a few days earlier in New York. (The venue was somewhat ironic given you can't buy Huawei's newest phones in the US. But maybe, someday, the P10 and its fancy cameras will make its way over.)

They come in a variety of new Pantone color options -- eight, to be exact -- and three finishes: high gloss, sandblast and "hyper diamond-cut." I held a few models: the hyper diamond-cut blue has a shimmery micro-etched finish.

The P10 and P10 Plus look, for the most part, like iPhones. Or the Google Pixel. The slim designs mean no rear camera bump, and the metal backs and smooth edges mean a comfortable feel. Like those phones, the P10 also has a significant bezel above and below the display.

The most interesting twist to Huawei's new phones might be its promise of an enhanced portrait mode. Twin 20-megapixel Leica cameras on the rear and a new image processor enable 3D face detection with up to 190 points of recognition. Huawei's using this to make prettier portraits and depth-of-field bokeh-style camera effects.

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Andrew Hoyle/CNET

It was hard to tell how good it was during a few test snaps, and it didn't exactly blow me away. The dual Leica cameras in this model are running an enhanced 2.0 system, with improved image processing, according to Huawei. Also new to this phone is an updated version of Huawei's Emotion UI 5.1, which aims to fine-tune the phone by learning user preferences.

Good news here is that these smaller P10 phones seem to pack a lot of the power of the larger Mate 9, using the same Kirin 960 octacore processors. Imagine the P10 as a portable powerhouse alternative, with potentially decent battery life (3,200mAh in the 10 and 3,750mAh in the 10 Plus). Storage options will expand from 32 to 128GB, with 4GB of RAM on the P10 and up to 6GB on the Plus, depending on configuration.

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Andrew Hoyle/CNET

The P10 and P10 Plus also move the rear fingerprint sensor to the front, turning it into a swipeable all-in-one home button/navigator. Moving my thumb left and right pulled up recent apps, but the extra thumbwork might be too much twiddling for some.

Prices and release dates weren't announced at the time of our briefing.

  • 145.3 by 69.3 by 6.98 mm
  • Colors: Ceramic White, Dazzling Blue, Dazzling Gold, Prestige Gold, Graphite Black, Mystic Silver, Rose Gold, Greenery
  • Finishes: High Gloss, Hyper Diamond-Cut, Sandblast
  • 5.1-inch FHD (P10) or 5.5-inch WQHD (P10 Plus) Gorilla Glass 5 display
  • Huawei Kirin 960 octacore processor
  • Mali G71 Octa-core GPU
  • Cameras: front-facing 8-megapixel (f/1.9), rear Leica Dual-Camera 2.0 (20-megapixel monochrome and RGB), OIS (P10: f/2.2, P10 Plus: f/1.8)
  • Batteries: 3,200mAh (P10), 3,750mAh (P10 Plus), both with fast charging
  • Android 7.0
  • not water resistant (The P10 Plus is IPX3 rated, which is "splash resistant," but don't dunk either phone)

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