Honor 10 full review: the irresistible beauty

Honor 10 GT

Rating: 7.4/10 

Yay:

  • Gorgeous design
  • Compact size
  • Impressive for still photography

Nay:

  • Delicate build
  • Average video quality
  • Low battery life

Honor has been belligerent in the budget market by launching nearly as many phones as Xiaomi. Which by the way, is a lot. While the brand has quite a hold in the budget segment, it is still trying to catch up with OnePlus in the race for the best affordable flagship Android phone. 

Honor has gone head-to-head against the OnePlus 5 with the Honor 8 Pro and the OnePlus 5T with the Honor View 10. Their latest offering is the Honor 10 and it goes up against the OnePlus 6. The Honor 10 is a phone that will leave you awestruck with its looks and packs enough power to make your life easier, but will that be enough?

Honor 10 design: it’s flaunt-worthy

The Honor 10 is a gorgeous phone from every angle. And, I haven’t come across a single person whose eyes haven’t lit up after looking at the phone. The blue metal frame is sandwiched between front and back glass panels, both curved. The front here is a 2.5D curved glass, but the back is the real eye catcher here. The Phantom Blue color we got for review, showcases a purple-ish shade at certain angles and that is what makes it stunning. I know it’s a big claim, but this is the most beautiful phone I’ve ever reviewed. The blue frame also compliments the whole back and makes it a look like a very well crafted phone.

The buttons are also made of metal and they work perfectly well and feel premium. Accidental clicks were rare which can be attributed to the sturdy buttons too. The bottom hosts a single speaker, a headphone jack, and a USB-C port. The top has the IR blaster, which can be used to control all the supported appliances.

The one thing that I just love about the Honor 10 is its size. The Honor 10 is considerably smaller than the Oneplus 6 and it feels awesome because of that. The compact size is by far the best thing about the Honor 10 because it is one of the very few Android flagships with a compact form factor.

Now, with beautiful glass bodies, the risk we run is of dropping and hence cracking it. Well, the Honor 10 is no different and I feel I’m the best person to tell you because I did drop it once that developed a hairline crack at the curved edges. Thankfully, you do get a case inside the box so I’ll suggest you to slap it on the phone unless you want cracks all over it.

Talking about another fairly unique feature on the Honor 10, let’s talk about the fingerprint scanner. It’s special in a way that it’s not a capacitive fingerprint scanner as we see on most phones. The Honor 10 has an under-the-glass scanner and hence uses ultrasonic technology. It still sits under the chin and not the screen, but it just gives a very seamless look to it. Now the actual fingerprint scanner is meh! And, it generally took a few tries to unlock. Thankfully, the face unlock is quite good, which made me use it even less.

Also Read: OnePlus 6 vs iPhone X vs Google Pixel 2 camera comparison: our final result could surprise you

Honor 10 display: bright and punchy albeit with the notch

The notch has been plaguing the smartphone market this year and it seems like even Honor’s got it. It’s like the guy who bit Steve job’s Apple was still hungry. I don’t know how a lot of you are coping up with the notch, but I can’t embrace it in any form.

Although, despite my inherent dislike for the notch, I have learned to actually live with it. It is definitely a compromise. But coming to the rest of the display, I can safely say that it’s gorgeous. It’s not an AMOLED panel but is a high-quality LCD display with deep blacks and vibrant colors.

The glass on top also happens to be very smooth and registers touch very well. You do get Corning’s Gorilla glass on both the front and the back, which doesn’t protect the phone from cracks, but you will be able to avoid a lot of scratches. All in all, you get an uncompromised experience with the Honor 10.

Honor 10 software: I’m lovin it!

The Honor 10 runs EMUI 8 built on top of Android 8.0 Oreo, and it is actually quite impressive. There was a time when I was an adamant follower of stock Android and didn’t even give other skins a chance. Well, now I have been exorcised and  I can finally see the good in others too.

I’ve realized after using a lot of Android skins, that every operating system has its own advantages and disadvantages. And over a period of time, most of them grow on you. This one is no different. EMUI is one of the better-operating systems out there. It comes out-of-the-box without an app drawer like many other Chinese skins, but this one gives you the option of adding one. This is exactly where EMUI stands out.

Although it comes out of China, there is a lot of breathing space to change things around unlike Oppo, Vivo, or Xiaomi where you don’t really have that choice.

To the left of the home screen, we have the Google Now page, which again, is something others don’t have. On swiping down we get a quick settings panel, which is well laid out and makes it easier to turn toggles ON and OFF easily. It is also sheathed in this sexy looking black and grey layout with blue accents that just hits home for me.

The Settings page is again a very standard looking Oreo settings page with smart grouping and a Search tab for easy access. The battery page does have a few interesting features like the power saving mode and an Ultra Power Saving mode that takes things to the extreme. So, the Ultra Power Saving mode limits your usage to a single home screen with only eight apps and no more. The entire background is turned Black, although I don’t know how much it would help on an LCD display. But, this does help when you want to save those last few watts.

Honor 10 performance: AI much?

The Honor 10 is powered by the Kirin 970 AI chipset, which is Huawei’s homegrown flagship processor and it’s good, just not the best. The AI part comes from a special NPU – Neural Processing Unit. The Kirin 970 is a year-old processor now, but Huawei is adamant that the performance output is relevant for 2018 and I couldn’t agree more. Everyday tasks work seamlessly and there hasn’t been a day when I’ve experienced lag on the Honor 10.

The RAM performance was also extremely good and I didn’t feel any restriction when it comes to limiting apps in the background. Now when it comes to gaming, the processor again didn’t disappoint and worked flawlessly. Although here’s the thing, the Honor 10 feels fast until you use the OnePlus 6.

The Snapdragon 845 is just inherently way more powerful. Apps load up a lot faster, games run at a higher frame rate, and it just makes for a super snappy phone. Now if you are not someone who’s gonna constantly worry about having the latest and greatest processor, then this should be enough for you.

Also read: Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1 vs Realme 1 vs Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro camera comparison: the budget battle

Honor 10 cameras: buy this for the photos

The Honor 10 sports a dual camera setup at the back like most other phones in 2018, but very few people are aware that it was Huawei with the P9 which actually introduced the concept of dual cameras. While others have come up with crazy looking telephoto and depth sensing dual camera setup, I am a fan of Huawei’s take.

The Honor 10 uses a dual camera setup with a monochrome sensor and a colour sensor. Now, this might not be able to give you an optical zoom or wide angle, but what it does is really unique. The monochrome sensor takes a monochromatic image which means that it can focus on details and dynamic range. The color sensor gets all the color information and fills in once the monochrome sensor has done its job.

Click on the image to view more camera samples of the Honor 10

This combination results in good details and appealing images. Now, I say appealing because the Honor 10 by default uses AI in the camera, which is mostly there for scene recognition. While it’s called AI, what Honor 10 simply does is recognize the major color palette and turn the picture warm or cool with few other tweaks. Surprisingly enough I got a lot of good-looking night shots out of it too.

Click here to view all camera samples

I am not a fan of the selfie pictures, though. It compromises on details in favor of a smooth skin and a slightly pinkish shade. The resolution on the front camera is a crazy 24MP but I just feel like the aggressive AI beauty mode suppresses its capabilities. I have to say here that I enjoyed taking photos of people with the monochrome lens. It just felt like it gave me a lot more detail and believe me it is completely different than a software-based black and white mode.

The video quality on the Honor 10 can go up to 4K, but Honor with the latest update has added EIS which was missing earlier. This gives the video quality a big bump, although the details are weirdly lacking. The photos come out pretty good looking, but the videos are just not at the same level.

Honor 10 battery: could’ve been better

The battery inside the Honor 10 measures in at 3,400 mAh, and for the small screen size, it should last long right? Well, this one actually doesn’t. Honor 10 is one of the first phones I’ve reviewed where I could really feel the battery being a bit on the lower side. With my kind of usage i.e., WiFi being on all the time, a few calls, and obviously taking a good number of pictures, the Honor 10 would usually die on me before six in the evening.

This is a problem I never had with any other phone. This also meant that I had to charge it quite often. Although when it comes to charging, you do get fast charging on the Honor 10. Hence, you’ll be able to get a full day’s juice in about an hour and a half. And, 0-100 takes approximately 2 hours.

Conclusion: I like it more than the OnePlus 6 

Let’s summarise: you get a beautiful design that is unparalleled in the way it looks, a very vibrant LCD display, a powerful Kirin 970 chipset, an extremely versatile camera for still shots, and a standard battery life.

The Honor 10 is a good smartphone, just not the best. So then, why should someone buy this? Well, this phone is meant for the person who values elegance and comfort over the beefy specs. This is for someone who wants to steer away from the crowd and values uniqueness. I’ve enjoyed reviewing the Honor 10, and while I had the OnePlus 6 lying around, I never wanted to switch. If I had to choose between the OnePlus 6 and the Honor 10, I’d pick the Honor 10. But, I am sure that my colleague Ershad would disagree.

And that’s a good thing for the Honor 10, because if you look at it positively there is definitely an audience for the phone. 

You can pick up the 6GB RAM/128GB storage version of the Honor 10 on Flipkart.

Let us know what you thought of this review in the comments.

 

Sreehari

Sreehari is in love; in love with technology. His enthusiasm for new gadgets can be seen in his videos. He single-handedly built Mr. Phone's YouTube channel and continues to persevere with Nitesh in making world-class tech videos. Sree - as everyone calls him affectionately - is also a big fan of Artificial Intelligence and Industrial Design. If he is not working on gadget reviews, Sree is a trained Carnatic singer. When you meet him, do to request for his rendition of Kabira by Arijit Singh.