Honor 10

Android Advisor - - Contents -

Price: £399 inc VAT from fave.co/2J6vrnF

Honor has been do­ing a pretty good job of step­ping out of Huawei’s shadow, usu­ally helped by the ex­plo­sively shiny blue it clads its phones in. The Honor 10 is no dif­fer­ent and feels ev­ery bit an Honor de­vice de­spite hav­ing its par­ent com­pany’s name stamped on the back.

The phone comes with all the 2018 bells and whis­tles (An­droid Oreo, notch, face un­lock), high end specs and a price to make OnePlus blush. The Honor 10 could well turn out to be the smart­phone deal of

the year – as it is cer­tainly the best mid-range phone on of­fer right now.

De­sign

De­spite its sim­i­lar­i­ties to Huawei phones, the Honor 10 is pretty unique in look. Also ship­ping in a grey ver­sion, our re­view unit is in at­trac­tive Phan­tom Blue, a gra­di­ent of blue and pur­ple that is ac­tu­ally quite dif­fer­ent to the Twi­light Huawei P20 Pro of the same shift­ing shades. We might even pre­fer the Honor.

The mul­ti­lay­ered glass re­ally does shim­mer, with ver­ti­cal lines re­fract­ing light at ev­ery an­gle. It’s awe­some if you like the colours and will get peo­ple ask­ing you what phone you have. Honor’s blue phones have al­ways stood out, but this is next level.

Around the front is a fa­mil­iar 2018 story with a notch at the top of a 19:9 dis­play. It’s not the end of

the world, and you can black out the sta­tus bar and ‘hide’ it if you want, but that does seem de­featist to us – though Honor joins Huawei and LG in of­fer­ing the op­tion. The phone looks very, very sim­i­lar from the front to the Huawei P20 Lite rather than the reg­u­lar P20 or P20 Pro.

This means the dis­play of the 10 is taller than on the Honor 9 and has an un­der-glass fin­ger­print scan­ner in­side the black chin on the front of the phone. We aren’t talk­ing ac­tu­ally in the dis­play, but in­stead an area sub­tly marked with a dot­ted line on the chin where a but­ton sen­sor might nor­mally be.

It’s a cool touch and the first time we’ve seen it, but the func­tion­al­ity is less re­spon­sive than hav­ing an ac­tual but­ton as you have to press down harder. It also makes it harder to lo­cate than an ac­tual but­ton would.

There are rear dual cam­eras, one round the front, USB-C, a head­phone jack, bot­tom fir­ing speaker and a lesser-spot­ted IR blaster. Not a bad list when most phones dou­ble the price this year don’t have all that.

The vol­ume rocker and power key sit on the right in what is a svelte, com­pact de­sign. You might need to shrink the key­board to do so, but we found it can be used one hand most of the time. Honor also puts a cheap sil­i­cone case in the box to help you grip on and keep the in­evitable fin­ger­prints at bay.

Just be aware that it isn’t wa­ter­proof – a small re­minder of the cor­ners cut to achieve the price.

Dis­play

The 19:9, 5.84in IPS LCD dis­play has a res­o­lu­tion of 2,280x1,080. This equates to a vi­brant 432 pix­els

per inch and it looks great. An LCD rather than an OLED, it strug­gles in di­rect sun­light but in ev­ery other sit­u­a­tion looks very good.

View­ing an­gles are no­tice­ably ex­cel­lent and while you aren’t spoiled with the deep blacks of an OLED dis­play, it’s among the best LCDs you’ll find – though it won’t go as amaz­ingly bright as the one on the LG G7 ThinQ (see page 15).

The dis­play is 19:9 be­cause of the ex­tra room the notch af­fords. It’s nei­ther here nor there to us about the notch, but we do find it an­noy­ing that you lose no­ti­fi­ca­tion icons and in­for­ma­tion more of­ten than on a nor­mal screen.

You may also run into scal­ing is­sues where the notch ac­ci­den­tally cov­ers up an icon or piece of in­for­ma­tion. But the soft­ware is clever enough that

if you turn the phone to watch video in land­scape, it hides the notch and dis­plays the video with­out cut­ting any­thing off.

But the notch does cause some is­sues. The op­er­a­tor name dis­ap­pears if you have too many no­ti­fi­ca­tions, and some­times icons are ob­scured by the right edge of the notch. It is only a small thing, but it’s a fault, and it’s an­noy­ing.

The chin also con­tains the fin­ger­print sen­sor, which is shown with a dot­ted out­line but is un­der the glass. It’s a cool touch, but ac­tu­ally makes the fea­ture harder to use. It’s more dif­fi­cult to lo­cate with no but­ton to feel for and it’s less re­spon­sive than we’d like as you have to push down harder.

It looks cool, but it doesn’t work very well. Thank­fully, face un­lock is in­cred­i­bly fast and easy to set up, and we found this method prefer­able.

Pro­ces­sor, mem­ory and stor­age

The Honor 10 bears a pass­ing re­sem­blance to the cheaper Huawei P20 Lite, but its spec­i­fi­ca­tions are very much sim­i­larly high-end as on the flag­ship P20. In fact, al­most iden­ti­cal.

This means the Honor 10 has the top of the line Huawei Kirin 970 pro­ces­sor found in the P20 Pro and Mate 10 Pro. The Mali-G72 GPU is the same as in the P20 line also, along with 4GB and 128GB stor­age in the UK (other re­gions will get other con­fig­u­ra­tions with more of both).

Its no­table that this stor­age, though gen­er­ous, is not ex­pand­able. The Honor 9 was, but the change to a very high 128GB is a good trade-off – un­less you carry

all your mu­sic around with you, you won’t run out of space for a long time.

This means the Honor 10 screams along with no is­sues. We bench­marked its per­for­mance against phones of the same price and spec­i­fi­ca­tions, with the re­sults be­low. We com­pare it to the Huawei P20 for ob­vi­ous rea­sons, but also to the LG V30 as an­other ex­am­ple of a more ex­pen­sive phone, the Nokia 8 be­cause it cur­rently re­tails for the same £399, and the pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion Honor 9.

The Honor 10 has higher scores than the V30 and Nokia 8 in some of the GFXBench graph­ics tests as those phones have higher res­o­lu­tion dis­plays. Oth­er­wise, the Honor 10 is ev­i­dently a very fast phone.

It scores very sim­i­larly to the P20 phones and proves Huawei charges a pre­mium price on its

prod­ucts when they can sell on the Honor 10 for at least £200 less.

All you need to know is that for the money, this is a ridicu­lously ca­pa­ble smart­phone. Buy­ing it now will likely have you set for at least the next three years be­fore any no­tice­able degra­da­tion in per­for­mance.

Con­nec­tiv­ity and au­dio

Blue­tooth sup­port re­mains at 4.2 rather than 5.0, and drop outs were fairly fre­quent when paired with wire­less head­phones, which is a shame con­sid­er­ing the aptX codec here means the qual­ity is ac­tu­ally quite good when it works. You do have a head­phone jack here, but no head­phones in the box. This is a dual SIM smart­phone by de­fault too,

and the soft­ware al­lows for gran­u­lar con­trol of the set­tings if you want calls and texts on one SIM and data on an­other, for ex­am­ple.

Cam­eras

The dual cam­eras of the Honor 10 are very good for a mid-range phone – though as we have es­tab­lished by now, this is a flag­ship that’s sim­ply cheaper than most. The main colour sen­sor is 16Mp f/1.8 cou­pled with a 24Mp monochrome sen­sor that al­lows bet­ter dy­namic range and depth sens­ing for por­trait mode and 2x zoom.

Stills look great, and while this isn’t the best cam­era on a smart­phone, Honor has done some good things. More gim­micky is the AI fea­ture in the main cam­era – and it’s cringe­wor­thy that it ac­tu­ally says ‘AI cam­era’ on the back of the phone.

How­ever, when on, the fea­ture reads your scene or sub­ject and boosts colour and de­tail where it thinks the sen­sors were lack­ing, us­ing post pro­cess­ing al­go­rithms. For the most part, it ac­tu­ally helps a lot, and will par­tic­u­larly please those who want to post straight to so­cial me­dia.

What it does mean is the pho­tos are then less true to life than they were, but you can flick be­tween the two ver­sions to see which you pre­fer – just re­mem­ber to shoot in AI mode in the first place. You can tog­gle it on and off in the im­proved and mer­ci­fully sim­pler cam­era app (com­pared to pre­vi­ous ver­sions of EMUI).

Th­ese fea­tures are sim­i­lar, but not iden­ti­cal, to those AI smarts found on the Huawei P20. The P20 in­te­grates it bet­ter, and though the Honor 10 has

the same night mode op­tion, it doesn’t per­form as well as on the Huawei – so maybe that ex­tra £200 gets you what we do con­sider an amaz­ing fea­ture (the P20 has a bet­ter aper­ture and OIS where it counts). De­spite the im­prove­ments, the cam­era is where the phone of­ten lags a touch, which is odd con­sid­er­ing the de­cent specs on of­fer.

Por­trait mode is merely okay here – Honor still adds

beauty mode to it and the selfie ver­sion which is mad­den­ing, and even when turned off we feel there is a smooth­ing and whiten­ing of faces that isn’t to our tastes. Though all th­ese bokeh ef­fects are sub­jec­tive as to pref­er­ence, we can still say with con­fi­dence that this is not as good as on the Google Pixel 2 or iPhone X.

That selfie cam­era is a 24Mp f/2.0 sen­sor is good but noth­ing spe­cial, and you can’t do bokeh de­spite the ‘por­trait’ mode in the app – all you can do is fid­dle with the beauty set­tings, which never look flat­ter­ing.

All cam­eras can also do por­trait light­ing, nicked straight off Ap­ple with no shame. It’s pretty bad – the fil­ters are more fun. Bet­ter are the video ca­pa­bil­i­ties, with the Honor 10 able to shoot in 1080p at 60fps or 4K at 30fps. This is be­com­ing stan­dard, but again is good to see on a mid-range de­vice. Elec­tronic sta­bi­liza­tion at the de­fault res­o­lu­tion set­ting helps keep the jit­ters to a min­i­mum.

Bat­tery life

The real-world bat­tery life of the Honor 10 is one of its down­sides. We ex­pected more out of the phone, as in 2018 there aren’t many high-spec phones that get

The mul­ti­lay­ered glass used on the rear of the Honor 10 shim­mers

The dis­play is 19:9 be­cause of the ex­tra room the notch af­fords

Geekbench 4

JetStream

Land­scape shot

Low light shot

You can jazz up a selfie by adding one of the in­cluded ef­fects

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