Honor Note 10

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Price: £350 inc VAT from fave.co/2NySTLX

Honor is fairly firmly es­tab­lished in the Euro­pean smart­phone mar­ket, mak­ing bud­get to midrange smart­phones with good specs. Many of the com­pany’s best hand­sets have the same in­ter­nals as the best Huawei phones.

But not all of Honor’s phones launch glob­ally. The un­apolo­get­i­cally huge Honor Note 10 is one of these, a mas­sive flag­ship glass slab with dual cam­eras and a 6.95in screen.

The Chi­nese mar­ket tra­di­tion­ally de­mands huge screens and the Note 10 has nearly seven inches of dis­play, with­out a notch. It’s noth­ing if

not im­pres­sive, even if you think it’s overkill. What are the ad­van­tages to such a huge phone, and is this one any good? Read on to find out.

De­sign

The Note 10 is in­cred­i­bly well-built, helped by its sheer im­pos­ing size. Yes, this phone will be too big for 95 per­cent of peo­ple. But if you want a huge phone and notches bring you out in a full-on rage, then this could be the niche smart­phone you need in your life.

From the front it looks sim­i­lar to a Pixel 2 XL thanks to the bezel shape and curve, an al­ready large phone that the Note 10 dwarfs. The de­sign is fairly uni­form – glass on front and back with an alu­minium frame. The flat back glass is for aes­thet­ics only as the phone can­not charge wire­lessly.

That back has a fin­ger­print sen­sor and two cam­eras that poke out slightly. Oth­er­wise it’s clean, smash­able

glass that doesn’t stay clean for long (although there is a rub­ber­ized case in the box that we used con­stantly).

The phone has dual speak­ers on the top and bot­tom edges in an at­trac­tive sym­met­ri­cal grille pat­tern. We found that we blocked them quite a lot though when hold­ing the phone land­scape, the way it ended up stay­ing quite a lot thanks to the large screen that’s best for video.

But when unim­peded they are plenty loud, if a tad tinny but hey, this is a phone we are talk­ing about. They’re not as good as the front-fac­ing speak­ers on the Pixel 2 XL, but they are far bet­ter than most phones with a sin­gle down-fac­ing speaker, and show that the Note 10 is in its el­e­ment in land­scape.

Maybe it’s a sign that all phones are grad­u­ally get­ting larger, but even with our small hands we got used to typ­ing (with both thumbs) on the Note 10 pretty quickly. The AMOLED dis­play, while large, has an 18.5:9 as­pect ra­tio that makes it just that bit slim­mer. But when a phone makes the iPhone 8 Plus look small, it ain’t for ev­ery­one. It’s also very heavy at 230g.

Get­ting Google go­ing

Our re­view unit is a Chi­nese model and yours would be the same if you de­cide to im­port. This means we had to side load the Google Play Store our­selves, as Google is banned in China.

We didn’t have any prob­lem do­ing this, and nei­ther will you – you can sim­ply use the pre-in­stalled browser to search for ‘Google Play ser­vices .apk file’ and down­load it from a listed source like this one –

fave.co/2OfuCzE. We were then able to down­load

Google ser­vices and third-party apps from the Play Store rather than try­ing to do it through Huawei’s App Gallery. From here, the Note 10 has acted just like an An­droid phone with Google pre-in­stalled. Aside from the oc­ca­sional part of the OS such as the screen­saver text that re­mains in Chi­nese (as it’s an over­lay) we were us­ing the phone in English from set up.

Per­for­mance

With a Kirin 970 pro­ces­sor, the Note 10 is no slouch. This is the same chip in­side the Huawei P20 Pro and Honor 10 and per­forms just as well on the Note 10, paired with 6GB RAM (an 8GB RAM model is also avail­able in some mar­kets).

De­spite be­ing out­gunned on a spec sheet by Ap­ple’s A12 Bionic, Qual­comm’s Snap­dragon 845 and even Huawei’s own Kirin 980, the 970 is more than pow­er­ful enough in 2018 into 2019. The fol­low­ing bench­marks show that it is the pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion, but these scores are still very good. The Note 10 runs An­droid 8.1 Oreo with EMUI 8.2 over­laid and it didn’t stut­ter or creak un­der any­thing we threw at it.

We live in an age of smart­phone one-up­man­ship and mar­ket­ing that say we need to up­grade ev­ery year. But if you buy a phone as pow­er­ful as the Note 10 in 2018, it’s go­ing to be good for at least three years use. Don’t be­lieve the hype. A sig­nif­i­cant up­grade from the reg­u­lar Honor 10 is the dis­play, which comes with a screen pro­tec­tor pre­in­stalled. The Note 10’s screen is a 6.95in AMOLED with 2,220x1,080 res­o­lu­tion and surely the sole rea­son any­one would opt for this phone. It is a screen, that’s why you buy it.

It has sup­port for HDR10 con­tent and no notch. All video we streamed to it looked awe­some, if a touch be­low the mar­ket-lead­ing qual­ity of the OLEDs on the iPhone XS and Sony Xpe­ria XZ3. But paired with the dual Dolby At­mos speak­ers, the Note 10 is one of the best me­dia-friendly phones we’ve re­viewed.

But other than the screen size, this is ba­si­cally any other high-end Honor (or Huawei) phone thanks to the spec­i­fi­ca­tions and soft­ware ex­pe­ri­ence. In fact, the Note 10 is ba­si­cally the Honor 10 in a dif­fer­ent shell, from the CPU and GPU right down to the same cam­era parts (an­noy­ingly, the Note 10 loses the head­phone jack).

There’s also an ex­tra but­ton on the right edge of the phone, and it’s a bit odd. It’s a turbo but­ton that only works in some games, such as PUBG. Press it,

and (in Chi­nese) you’ll be told you can push the phone into turbo mode to eke bet­ter per­for­mance out of it at the cost of bat­tery life. It’s nice to have, but not es­sen­tial. The but­ton proved far more use­ful in its other guise as a cam­era shut­ter.

Cam­eras

Dual cam­eras mean you can do quite a lot with them– bokeh ef­fect, 2x zoom and mono­chrome. The cam­eras are very good but not truly great, in part thanks to the over­sat­u­ra­tion we saw when we re­viewed the Honor 10.

Like that phone, the Note 10 has an ‘AI’ mode that ag­gres­sively changes the colour­iza­tion of your snaps to make them more so­cial me­dia ready. If you take pho­tos in AI mode you can turn off the ef­fect, but if

taken with­out the mode switched on, you can’t ap­ply the changes. We pre­fer shots with­out AI turned on, but you might think oth­er­wise. Oh, it’s also not AI. But that’s a rant for an­other day.

It’s not as bad as the 13Mp front-fac­ing cam­era’s beauty mode, shown on and off in the sam­ples on page 55.

Specs of Note

Add to that a 5,000mAh bat­tery and you have a phone that can last all day. Much of that ex­tra power is there to sim­ply power the hug dis­play though, so bat­tery life isn’t that much bet­ter than other flag­ship phones. It charges very fast with the in­cluded charger.

There’s no wire­less charg­ing and, as we have lamented, no head­phone jack, but there is a USB-C to 3.5mm don­gle. With 64- or 128GB stor­age and dual SIM sup­port as stan­dard, the Note 10 is fully fea­tured.

You shouldn’t be too put off by the soft­ware, which we find per­fectly us­able if a lit­tle too far re­moved from Google’s vi­sion of An­droid. This is the case with ev­ery re­cent Huawei and Honor phone we’ve re­viewed. EMUI works, but it makes you work a tiny bit harder than it should.

Once you’re used to menus and quirks, you’ll be fine. Just don’t for­get you’ll have to get Google Play ser­vices run­ning on your own.

Ver­dict

All smart­phones have screens, but the Honor Note 10 is a phone that feels like it is just a screen, and not in a bad way. If you want a big, well-priced An­droid

smart­phone with no notch, this is the one to get. It’s verg­ing on tablet sized yet some­how re­mains ac­cept­able (just) in a pocket. We are used to big phones though, and if you are rock­ing an iPhone SE then you won’t be in­ter­ested in the slight­est. If you’ve got this far into re­search­ing and can be both­ered with the faff of im­port­ing the Note 10, we think you’re go­ing to love it. Henry Bur­rell

Spec­i­fi­ca­tions

• 6.95in (2,220x1,080, 355ppi) AMOLED ca­pac­i­tive touch­screen • An­droid 8.1 Oreo • Hisil­i­con Kirin 970 (10nm) pro­ces­sor • Octa-core (4x 2.4GHz Cor­tex-A73, 4x 1.8GHz Cor­tex-A53) CPU • Mali-G72 MP12 GPU

• 6/8GB RAM • 64/128GB stor­age • Mi­croSD card slot (up to 256GB) • Dual rear-fac­ing cam­eras: 16Mp f/1.8, PDAF; 24Mp B/W, f/1.8, PDAF • Front-fac­ing cam­era: 13Mp f/2.0 • Blue­tooth 4.2 • A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS • NFC • Fin­ger­print sen­sor (rear) • USB 3.1, Type-C 1.0 re­versible con­nec­tor • Non-re­mov­able Lithium-poly­mer 5,000mAh bat­tery • 177x85x7.7mm • 230g

The phone has dual speak­ers on the top and bot­tom edges in an at­trac­tive sym­met­ri­cal grille pat­tern

Geek­bench 4

Beauty mode turned off… …and on

We found the soft­ware per­fectly us­able

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