CPU & System Performance

The P10 and P10 Plus both use the same Kirin 960 SoC from HiSilicon as Huawei’s other flagship phone, the Mate 9. We already looked at Kirin 960’s performance and power efficiency in detail, and we also reviewed the Mate 9 earlier this year, so the two P10’s we’re testing now should not provide many surprises. The only outstanding questions are what type of RAM and NAND our units have, and do the P10s still perform the same as the larger Mate 9?

To evaluate overall system performance, we turn to the PCMark Work 2.0 suite, which tests the combined effects of the CPU, GPU, RAM, and NAND storage. Because it uses standard Android API calls and runs several different real-world workloads that elicit realistic behavior from the CPU governor (unlike synthetic tests that simply run one or more CPUs at max frequency), it’s a good indicator of everyday performance.

PCMark - Work 2.0 Performance Overall

PCMark - Web Browsing 2.0

PCMark - Writing 2.0

PCMark - Data Manipulation 2.0

As expected, there’s no significant performance difference between the P10, P10 Plus, and Mate 9 in any of the PCMark Work 2.0 tests. All three phones post excellent results, with the P10 outperforming the older P9 and its Kirin 955 SoC by 11% overall.

There is not much difference between Huawei’s current generation flagships and last year’s P9 and Mate 8 in the Web Browsing test. The P10 Plus holds a slim 11% lead over Xiaomi’s Mi MIX and its Snapdragon 821 SoC, which grows to a more significant 27% lead over the Galaxy S7 and Pixel XL.

The Writing test is characterized by frequent but short bursts of activity that benefit from running on the big CPU cluster. While CPU IPC and frequency are important here, so is the phone’s proclivity to migrate threads onto the big cores. Huawei’s phones perform well once again in this test, with the P10 maintaining its roughly 11% advantage over the P9. There’s significantly more variation among the other phones in the chart, with the Mi MIX landing near the bottom at only half the performance of the P10. The Pixel XL trades places with the MIX in this test, but is still outperformed by the P10 by about 40%.

PCMark - Video Editing 2.0

PCMark - Photo Editing 2.0

The PCMark Video Editing test is not particularly strenuous, so most phones perform about the same. The Photo Editing test, which uses both the CPU and GPU for applying various photo effects, produces more interesting results. It’s the only PCMark test where Huawei’s phones do not finish on top. Instead, phones using Snapdragon 820/821 SoCs and Qualcomm’s Adreno 530 GPU perform the best when running these workloads. The P10 holds a slim 12% advantage over the P9, but the Snapdragon 821 powered Le Pro3 is 30% faster.

AndroBench 5.0 - Sequential Read

AndroBench 5.0 - Sequential Write

AndroBench 5.0 - Random Read

AndroBench 5.0 - Random Write

Obviously there is nothing wrong with storage performance for our P10s. Both the P10 and P10 Plus post excellent (and essentially identical) sequential and random throughput values. It’s also worth noting that both units are using UFS 2.0 NAND from Samsung.

The P10s easily outperform the Mate 9, especially when writing data sequentially or randomly. This particular Mate 9 is using UFS 2.0 NAND from Toshiba, which illustrates an important point: Just because a phone uses UFS 2.0 or 2.1 NAND does not mean it will perform well. Storage performance is multi-layered, starting with the operating system kernel and eventually ending at the storage controller and NAND itself. Even the underlying filesystem makes a big difference, with the P10, P10 Plus, P9, Mate 9, and OnePlus 3T all using the better performing F2FS (Flash-Friendly File System) for the /data partition instead of the default EXT4 file system.

With all of these variables in play, it’s impossible to even say that UFS NAND is always faster than eMMC NAND. For example, the Huawei P9, which uses eMMC 5.1 NAND, outperforms the newer Pixel XL and its UFS NAND in all but the sequential read test. The P9 also outperforms the Mate 9 in both writing tests. Now this does not mean a P10 with eMMC 5.1 NAND would perform the same or better than the two UFS examples we tested (it would not be able to match the sequential numbers at least), but it is important to take a step back and see the bigger picture.

Storage Performance (AndroBench 5.0)
  Seq. Read
(KB)
Seq. Write
(KB)
Random Read
(KB)
Random Write
(KB)
  1024 2048 1024 2048 8 16 8 16
Huawei P10 499.35 541.97 185.50 185.18 55.73 96.00 84.86 139.32
Huawei P10 Plus 516.78 558.45 182.24 183.15 53.22 93.37 82.52 137.51
Huawei Mate 9 429.17 480.07 74.60 100.01 38.81 66.27 10.77 16.99
Huawei Honor 8 169.07 198.77 83.65 102.45 30.2 46.25 17.17 26.59

The table above shows how storage performance scales with larger IO sizes. While the values we use in our general tests above represent the most common IO sizes, other workloads, notably accessing media files like photos and video, will utilize larger IO transfers, so it’s important to see how a phone performs over a wider range of scenarios. Sequential read throughput for the P10s continues to scale as expected, maintaining their lead over the Mate 9. Sequential write performance does not scale any further and only maintains its already high values. The Honor 8, which uses eMMC 5.1 NAND like the P9, manages to outperform the Mate 9 when writing sequentially or randomly at any IO size.

Kraken 1.1 (Chrome/Safari/IE)

WebXPRT 2015 (Chrome/Safari/IE)

JetStream 1.1 (Chrome/Safari)

In the Kraken JavaScript test, both P10s fall behind the Mate 9 by 15%. The P10’s A73 CPU cores also cannot match the performance of the higher frequency A72s in the P9’s Kirin 955 SoC, or the custom Kryo cores in the Snapdragon 820/821 devices. The P10s do outperform the less-expensive Honor 6X by a factor of three, highlighting the performance deficit of using octa-core A53 CPU configurations instead of pairing the A53 cluster with 2-4 big out-of-order CPU cores.

Finishing positions flip in WebXPRT 2015, with the P10s out in front of the Mate 9 by 18% and the P9 by 30%. Scores in JetStream show less variation, but the P10s fall behind the Mate 9 and P9 once again by 17%.

The tests above corroborate my own subjective experience with the P10: It’s fast. Common tasks such as installing or opening apps, switching between running apps, and searching through my email inbox complete quickly. The redesigned EMUI 5.1 UI is smooth and responsive—not Pixel XL smooth, but flagship smooth.

Introduction GPU & Gaming Performance
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  • Eden-K121D - Friday, May 12, 2017 - link

    It is very hypocritical of a company when they market a Product as a flagship but don't hold them to the same standard. It is very bad that they mislead customers about very much slower emmc and then make rubbish claims of optimization. Reply
  • BurntMyBacon - Friday, May 12, 2017 - link

    Roughly equivalent or perceptually equivalent is one thing. Clearly different, as is the case with the flash here, is unquestionably unacceptable. Guess I can mark Huawei off my list of manufacturers to follow. Reply
  • niva - Friday, May 12, 2017 - link

    The only Huawei I wanted to buy was the Nexus 6P, and only because Google was in charge of the software running on it. Otherwise I'm really not interested in any Chinese phones, this may be generally true for any non Nexus/Pixel phones but the Chinese have earned a special disdain from me many years ago with their practices/software.

    So no... I'm not interested in this phone. If you gave me one I'll go ahead and try to sell it immediately.
    Reply
  • AlphaBlaster - Sunday, May 14, 2017 - link

    Who writes this innocuous crap? "Trump is ruining his political career?" Trump doesn't have a political career. He is a circus clown told what to say by the wealthy few who are running everything, own everything! They put a magpie frontman in that position to guarantee that their status quo is maintained and increases , by design, to their benefit alone, and to the oppression, impoverishment, and murdering of everybody else. "Providing context?" On what? At this stage of the game, the only 'context' any legitimate person should be engaged in is guerilla warfare! Reply
  • kaidenshi - Sunday, May 14, 2017 - link

    Did you mix up your AnandTech and Facebook tabs? Reply
  • leexgx - Friday, May 12, 2017 - link

    This reminds me of Kingston using different flash that is far slower but nothing on the box to state what it is (only find out when you used it for a bit or do benchmark tests Reply
  • s.yu - Saturday, July 29, 2017 - link

    If they didn't advertise about specific technology or a specific performance standard the product should reach then you can't fault them, not the case for Huawei. Reply
  • boozed - Monday, May 15, 2017 - link

    Did we read the same review? Reply
  • s.yu - Saturday, July 29, 2017 - link

    Nice to see more people agreeing with what I've been saying for literally years(since P8), I guess it's inevitable that more discerning customers will come to realize Huawei's deceptive nature as they expand their businesses beyond China. I honestly hope that a company like this would crash into the ground real soon, but I just don't think most of the consumer market is knowledgeable and principled enough for that to happen. Reply
  • virtuastro - Friday, May 12, 2017 - link

    I'm glad you said that it's smooth and responsive but not Pixel XL smooth. It's good to know. I want to see how P10/ P10 Plus's camera image quality. But I did saw dxomark review about it. Reply

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