Huawei’s sub-brand Honor has been going from strength to strength in various regions and segments in the past few years. They have also made a habit of trying and taking on the OnePlus devices when they launch. In that tradition, this year, they have the Honor 10 pitched against the OnePlus 6. I spent considerable time with the Honor 10 and here is my review of this affordable flagship from Honor.
The design and build team and Honor needs to be given special kudos for this one. The whole phone is almost completely made of glass. The metal sides have been given the glass sheen so to the ordinary eye, it looks like all-glass. The rear is curved and shimmering when you take it out of the box. The phone certainly turns heads when you take it out and make calls. Honor has given this absolutely gorgeous color coating that makes the phone look psychedelic when the light hits the phone from different angles. The back literally changes colors when you see it under sunlight. The phone is large enough to be comfy in your hand and small enough to fit into your pocket without bulging out. The design and crafting is supreme and beyond. A definite head turner here.
The Honor 10 comes with a 5.84-inch 19:9 display with a resolution of 2280 x 1080, making it a full HD panel here, with a notch on the top. Now under-the-hood, Honor 10 is powered by the Kirin 970 chipset with 4GB or 6GB of RAM and either 64GB or 128GB of storage (our review unit has 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage). On the software side, running the phone is Android 8.1 Oreo on-board with EMIUI v8.1 as well, and the juice giver for all this is a 3400mAh capacity battery to keep the Honor 10 going all day long.
Keeping with the tradition for Honor smartphones in the past, the company has added two cameras to the back. For this phone, there is a 16-megapixel main sensor with an aperture of f/1.8 and a 24-megapixel black and white sensor as well. Definitely helps you to get better pictures, as the phone is able to combine both pictures into one. The front-facing camera is a 24-megapixel sensor with a f/2.0 aperture, and both the front and rear cameras come with support for Portrait Mode. The front camera also has the option to let you play with studio, classic or other fancy lighting effects that give you dramatic selfies that turn heads. The Honor 10 also has support for WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.2 and uses a USB-C port for charging the device. There is a unique and innovative fingerprint sensor that is located under the glass on the front of the device –sitting flush with the front side with absolutely no crevice around it – and of course there is facial recognition available as that has become an understood norm in the affordable flagship segment now and Honor is known to not cut corners and deliver a smooth experience all round.
The box includes the phone with a fast charging wall adapter, a USB-C to USB-A cable, and some paperwork. Though Honor has also included a jelly case for the Honor 10 in the retail unit, so you can keep the phone nice and clean and protected right out of the box, our review unit came without a cover. Believe me, this beauty needs a cover. Otherwise all the psychedelic glory can become a fingerprint magnet or a slippery dream in one second.
The Honor 10 in it’s rear side is using 2.5D glass. This actually makes the left and right sides curve in very slightly when you hold it. This actually makes the device feel very luxurious and premium in the hand. The glass back does mean that it tends to pick up fingerprints pretty easily, and hence using a clear case is a brilliant idea, so you can still show off the changing colored back, without getting fingerprints all over it. The side frame is aluminum, which is the predominant trend these days, offering a glass sandwich with metal in the middle. It actually makes the frame a bit more sturdy and keeps it from bending or breaking easily. Speaking of the frame, Honor has the USB-C port, speaker and headphone jack on the bottom, with the volume rocker and power button on the right side, and you’ll find the SIM card slot on the left. The top has an IR blaster, something that many smartphone makers are starting to move away from.
Coming to the front of the phone, you’ll notice that it looks pretty dramatic and immersive. And that is because it is virtually all display. Honor says that it is about 79.9-percent display on the front, with a very slim chin, tiny side bezels and then a notch up at the top. The fingerprint sensor is below the display. It’s actually an under-glass fingerprint sensor. Note that the fingerprint scanner is not under the display, but instead, it’s under the glass here. So it looks really clean and flush in the front. The notch at the top houses the front-facing camera and the earpiece and very small. You also get the option to turn it off if you are not a notch fan.
The build quality on the Honor 10 is super premium if you ask me, and it’s one of those phones that you could just look at all day long because of how beautiful it is. I kept pulling the rear cover off and staring at the phone for a long time everyday as it is incredible to look at. Not many phones have that effect on me. I was quite literally smitten with the way this phone looks and feels when you hold it. It is also a definitely attention puller when you use it in public places. Full marks to Honor here.
The Honor 10 has an LCD panel and not an OLED display. This has resulted in the “Always On” option not being available in the device. The phone has a cool color tone and that is fine. You do get the option to customize the color tone in the settings, That way you can have it at a level that you are comfortable with. The screen looks very good, with solid brightness and colours, and it is pretty crisp. It isn’t as good as the OLED screen on its top-end P20 Pro, nor the OLED screen on the closer competitor OnePlus 6, but it is still a good-looking display and most people will be happy with it.
The performance of this phone is absolutely butter smooth and it is able to take above average to heavy usage loads very effortlessly. The memory management is good and I tried running 14 apps in parallel with a lot of heavy multimedia streaming and gaming thrown in and the phone just stood up and took all that and just did not even stutter faintly.
Coming to the camera department. The phone is using a main sensor that is a 16-megapixel affair with a f/1.8 aperture. And the secondary camera is a monochrome 24-megapixel sensor with an aperture of f/1.8. Honor has also included some artificial intelligence into the camera, allowing you to get even better images without needing to use manual mode. With AI Camera on, the camera is able to sense, understand and adjust settings automatically to 500 scenarios across about 22 different categories. This means that even an average photographer like me was able to get decent pictures from the phone with the AI mode on. But in a few cases there was a tad bit of over-saturation, but I am not complaining at all. You can also use Portrait and Aperture modes in monochrome. So you can get some really good looking Portrait photos in black and white. Overall, the camera is very impressive and here are a few pictures I took with it
Let’s talk about the battery now, When it was my primary device – I was browsing and using apps for about four hours while receiving hundreds of push emails and messages, a lot streaming video, taking a large number of photos and listening to hours of music. The battery lasted a clear day and a half for me and I am very happy with it.
Call quality and music output were good. The phone supports Jio VoLTE and Airtel VoLTE seamlessly. The sensors are all in line with industry standards. Overall a very good experience.
Does the Honor 10 stand up to the OnePlus 6? Is it the best affordable flagship till date. Well, I will say this, at a price of INR 32,999/- the phone is a nearly perfect smartphone experience and a compelling buy. The young and enterprising will find this phone exciting and simply irresistible.