In a bizarre change from previous flagships, there's no oleophobic coating on the P10's display.
The Huawei P10, like many of the company's phones, comes with a factory-fitted screen protector out of the box. That's great if you were already planning on covering up the phone's screen to guard against scratches and other damage, and many other Chinese manufacturers like OnePlus and Oppo do the same. But the screen protector itself is made of plastic film, and that's exactly what it feels like — nowhere near as nice as the glass beneath it. So for that reason, peeling off the screen protector is usually one of the first things we do when unboxing a new Huawei phone.
In the case of the Huawei P10, however, that's a very, very bad idea.
That's because there's no oleophobic coating on the actual display of the P10 — at least on the review devices we were given in Barcelona last week. An oleophobic coating may sound obscure and technical, but it's a staple feature of all but the cheapest smartphone screens. This nanocoating, usually applied to the glass during manufacturing, repels oils — like the kind on your face and fingers — and stops the display from looking like it's been used as a pizza slice after you've been tapping, swiping and calling.
Without an oleophobic coating, a phone's display quickly starts to look like... well, the image you see above, with copious oily smudges and a generally unpleasant in-hand feel.
Usually it's only the cheapest phones which forego the oleophobic coating.
To say this is a bizarre omission in such an expensive series of phones is an understatement. Usually it's only bargain-bin models that don't use oleophobic coatings on the display, in order to save on their bill of materials. A Huawei spokesperson wasn't able to provide any further clarity on the oleophobic issue, but instead offered the following statement:
Huawei remains focused on delivering high-quality devices to provide the best consumer experience. The P10 is the world's first smartphone with capacitive under-glass fingerprint sensor for seamless navigation. For screen protection, we have used premium materials such as Gorilla Glass 5 and include a screen protector as part of the integrated product.
In the meantime, if you plan on buying a Huawei P10 (or P10 Plus), plan on using it with the preinstalled screen protector, or with an aftermarket replacement when they become available.