Honor’s back and hungry for more, but this time it's loaded with AI and a friendly notch.
Honor is always looking to strive for the best, whether it’s budget-breaking beasts, mid-range powerhouses or flagship material contenders. They’re sniffing around in every segment to take down rivals like OnePlus, Xiaomi, Vivo and others in the game.
This time Honor is pointing its gun to 2018’s favorite budget flagship, the OnePlus 6 and others in that similar price segment. It’s clearly the underdog here, but it holds the upper-hand by being powered with the Kirin 970 Chip, boasting AI smarts, a shiny back that is super eye-catching, houses the perfect specs to take down its rivals and is priced quite well.
We tested the Honor 10 in various scenarios, why don’t you scroll down to see what we think?
Design: Shinier than your pair of shades
They say don't judge a book by its cover, well judge this one all you want my friend, because the shiny glass back on this one will blind you with wow-ness. The Honor 10 comes in two colours Midnight black and Phantom Blue (Green and Grey colour variants available abroad).
Initially, we were quite bummed out with the Midnight black, but after using it for a bit, we realised how sexy black could be. From afar, this strikes a pose and may look like an iPhone 7 because of the glossy glass back finish. You can use it as a mirror for rear-shot selfies or annoy someone by reflecting sunlight on their face, heh.
If you’re the kind who loves to flaunt off shiny clothes and accessories, we’d recommend getting the blue to boost your bling game.
The notch is here to stay and honestly, we’re quite okay with it. Although, it’s the first Honor to sport the notch and it’s well spaced to fit in idle icons like carrier name, battery, notifications and other toggles. If you’re not a fan, there’s an option to hide the notch, but a few apps - especially Instagram - are not yet compatible with it. So we kept it anyway.
It’s got a tall 5.8in (2280 x 1080) FHD+ display which is practical and easy to use with one hand. It holds an LCD screen instead of the OLED, but it doesn't seem bad at all. The colours pop bright and vivid and the screen is smooth to operate and watching videos on the 18:9 almost bezel-less screen is wide and enjoyable. Thumbs up to you Honor.
It’s molded well from the sides and feels premium with that glass like finish. It isn't as slim and trim like the OnePlus 6, but because of its compact body it feels firm in the hand and doesn't feel like it’s going to slip off easily. You can strap a case on (given in the box) if you’re very clumsy, but you’d be dimming out the shine.
Underneath you’ll find the missing jack everyone's been looking for, a USB Type-C for super- fast charging and next to that a single stereo speaker which is decent enough for average listening. Think of it as the premium Huawei P20 Pro’s shiny shadow for half the price.
Performance and Software: Better than your daily shampoo
First let’s get the boring stuff out of the way. The Honor 10 is loaded with 6GB RAM which is plenty for daily multitasking, app switching, and everyday heavy lifting. It’s housed with 128GB for storage (no SD card slot) which is enough for storing birthday party blooper videos, an entire downloaded season of Black Mirror on Netflix and a bunch of apps and games like PUBG, Jurassic World and more.
What makes this flagship material? Well, it flaunts the HiSilicon Kirin 970 processing chip which is found on its bigger brother - the Huawei P20 Pro. We tested games like PUBG (Graphics - High and HDR) and Real Car Parking 2 and Clash Royale and the phone did not seem to lag or stutter, but it did heat up a little with excessive use. Ah the joy of power and all that comes bundled with it.
All this gaming talk and there’s no mention of battery drain? What rubbish. Well, one full round of PUBG could drain about 10-12% of juice in a go. That’s fairly decent keeping the graphic setting in mind.
If you’re not an avid gamer and just need the phone for regular stuff, then the 3400mAh brick is sufficient enough from morning to midnight. And if you need to get a quick recharge mid-way, it’ll charge up pretty quick too. No major battery complaints from our side.
EMUI has taken several turns, faced mines of obstacles and still manages to stick its way through to compete with OnePlus’ Oxygen OS, Xiaomi’s MIUI, Samsung’s TouchWiz and obviously stock Android. It’s progressed in faster animations, finer visuals and better themes with its EMUI 8.1 version running on Android Oreo.
Apart from the looks, it's also the little things that matter, which you only realise when the phone’s being used. The OS is loaded with stock apps and a little bit of bloatware along with it, but doesn't feel unnecessary or heavy for that matter.
There’s a lot of freedom to customise, tune the phone to our liking and it’s loaded with smart features.
Features like - off-screen navigation with just a button, switch to have an app drawer, add five icons on the screen instead of four, auto Shazam toggle option in the notification toolbox, battery and storage optimisation, hide the annoying notch, pair multiple phones for music through Party Mode via Bluetooth or WiFi, motion control and much more.
Hey, what are my unlocking options? You can unlock the Honor 10 through the Ultasonic in-glass fingerprint scanner which is not common on devices today and works pretty responsively and serves as a multifunctional button too. The unlocking isn't super-duper fast like other flagships, but it does the job.
We mainly used the face unlock to get access to the device and it worked pretty darn good, even in dim-lighting. There’s also the usual pattern or password option.
All this is great, but how does it manage to do on a daily basis without having to download a launcher? It works buttery smooth and feels great to use. There are times when it slightly heats up and stutters with heavy use but we’re positive that with a few software patches in the future, it should get even better.
Camera: Smarty snapper
The Honor 10 packs in twin cams at the back (24MP+16MP) preloaded with AI functionalities for better pictures. Which is true... well kind of.
It’s got the potential to click some admirable photos without the AI assistant (can be toggled off). But once AI is turned on, think of it as the Director of Photography sitting in your camera to make your pictures look visually stunning. It’s so smart it can understand objects within seconds, identifies the nearest light source for best lighting, adjusts lens settings automatically, colour corrects, sharpens and does so much more before you hit that shutter button.
If you’ve already browsed through our photo gallery, you’ll notice that pictures look less natural and feel somewhat edited to make it more eye-pleasing. Some pictures look over saturated, over sharpened, and sometimes it smudges the background a little bit more than needed to get the focus right. Well, after all you gotta please your followers on the gram, right?
Other than that, you can shoot some 4K video, slo-mo (460FPS), time-lapse, use the AR lens, draw with light painting and even has an independent document scanner. How cool.
If you consider yourself a selfie-addict, guess what? This one does excellent portrait mode with its 24MP front shooter to do the business. We felt it fared better than the iPhone X in some cases. Ouch.
Here’s how - it will blur out your pimples to make you look pretty, add some sophisticated stage lighting, throw some bokeh to block out photobombers and voila, there you have it, a tailor-made selfie for the pretty girls or guys out there.
Overall for all you shutterbugs out there, this one has the potential to take some really good photos and selfies. If Honor throws in a camera software patch, fixes some minor bugs and teaches the AI assistant a few tricks and tips it might be the best snapper under the ₹35k segment.
Honor 10 Verdict
We know you’re comparing this to the OnePlus 6 the entire time, OK? That may perform better, charge quicker and run slightly faster in terms of specs. But get this, if you’re looking to stand out from the crowd, not be the common salmon in the sea and willing to splash out a little more than ₹30k for good looks, great power and a sharp-shooter loaded with AI, then yes, this is your best bet.
There are other mid-range flagships out there, but Honor has honoured us with a perfect mid-range-flagship alternative that does justice to your money’s worth and has the potential to rack up a good fight amongst others in the sub-₹40k budget segment.