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  3. Honor 10 review: a very affordable take on the Huawei P20

Honor 10 review: a very affordable take on the Huawei P20

Pros

  • Feels featherlight in the hand
  • Good battery life
  • Face unlocking security is fast

Cons

  • Fingerprint unlocking could be better
  • Could have done without the pre-installed games that take up space
  • Shame it's not water-resistant

First impressions and design

  • Amazingly compact for a phone with a 6” display
  • iPhone X-style 'notch' at the top of the screen
  • Shiny blue edition looks fantastic

Honor 10 in hand

The Honor 10 design borrows a lot from Apple.

The Honor 10 is a surprisingly light smartphone, with minimalist lines and a design that's reminiscent of the iPhone X.

Just like Apple's top-of-the-range phone, the Honor 10 features a "notch” at the top at the top of the screen, which eats into the display area.

The good news is that if the notch bothers you or you find it intrusive, you can turn it off in the display preferences.

As with many premium phones currently on the market, the Honor 10 has a smooth glass back. The glossy finish works brilliantly with the Phantom Blue edition, which looks genuinely lovely.

The downside of super shiny phones of this ilk is that they're fingerprint magnets. So if you're not careful, they can quickly become a smudgy mess.

Honor 10 back

Super shiny glass backs are all the rage at the moment. But no phone beats the Honor 10 in Phantom Blue for looks.

You don't need to be too careful with your Honor 10, though. Despite being smoother than an otter's back, it never feels slippery in the hand.
If you're especially accident-prone, though, I highly recommend you use the transparent Honor-branded rubber case that comes free in the box. It'll give you peace of mind and the phone will still look great.

The Honor 10's fingerprint scanner is located at the front and is built underneath the screen. That means that there's no physical home button on this handset. A first for Honor.

Dispensing with a physical home button adds to the Honor 10's very minimalist look at the front. It's an effect that's magnified further by the complete lack of indentations, aside from the tiny speaker located within the “screen notch” in the top bezel.

Given that this appears to be a well put-together device, I was surprised by how poorly the fingerprint reader works.

It was frustratingly slow to register a new fingerprint and when used to unlock the phone was so unresponsive it was virtually unusable.

Luckily the face-unlock is very fast.

It's certainly not as fast as the one found on the Huawei P20. But it's fast enough to quickly become the preferred way to unlock the phone.

Honor 10 unboxed

The Honor 10, unboxed.

The Honor 10 has no water resistance certification. That's a feature present on almost all top of the range devices, but is rare at this price point. So it's perhaps not too much of a surprise that Honor has omitted it here too.

Build Front/Back glass and aluminium frame
Weight 153g
Dimensions 149.6 x 71.2 x 7.7 mm

No time to read the full review? Here's the five key things you need to know about the Honor 10.


Screen and sound

  • Narrow 19:9 ratio display
  • Robust Gorilla Glass, but version isn't specified
  • Headphone jack is present
  • Main speaker could be a bit louder

honor 10 ports colours

The Honor 10's display uses LCD technology, which is fairly common on mid-range phones.

It's generally dimmer than the AMOLED screens you find on pricier smartphones. But the Honor 10's Full HD display is still pretty bright and is a pleasure to use in most situations.

It may appear underlit when used outdoors, but never to the point of being unusable. You’ll find its dimness only becomes a problem when using the camera preview in very bright sunlight.

Colour reproduction is generally good, although it can look oversaturated in the default “Vivid mode”. This can be set to “Normal” in the Display Settings for a more natural look, if you prefer.

Despite its lower resolution compared to similarly sized, but considerably more expensive rivals such as the HTC U12+, this is an excellent LCD screen and offers a great viewing experience for high-resolution YouTube videos.

For best results when playing videos, brightness needs to be set to a high level. Naturally, this can eat into your battery life, so it's best to dial it back down after you’re done watching.

Honor 10 hero

Reproduction of dark scenes is usually an area where LCD screens show their limitations.

The Honor 10 may not be the sharpest out there, but it's certainly a display I’d be happy to watch plenty of videos on.

Honor doesn't specify which grade of Gorilla Glass it has used on this device.

Given this phone's mid-range price point, though, it's unlikely to be the latest, toughest version that you'll find in the likes of the Huawei P20 or Galaxy S9. But it's still highly resistant to scratches and shattering.

The built-in single speaker is a bit of a letdown, with rather thin sound reproduction. That makes the Honor 10 unsuitable for use without an external speaker or headphones.

On a positive note, the phone retains a traditional headphone jack. So you can still use your favourite headphones without having to employ a USB adaptor.

Size 5.84 inches
Resolution 1080 x 2280 pixels, 19:9 ratio (~432 ppi density)
Technology LCD

Camera

  • Colours can be oversaturated
  • No image stabilisation
  • A slightly cluttered camera interface
  • AI adjustment not always reliable
  • Separate aperture and portrait modes

Honor heavily touts its new phone's AI-enabled camera as one of its biggest selling points.

It works very much like the AI cameras seen in the more expensive smartphones from Honor's parent company Huawei.

And in much the same way as those handsets, the AI works to identify the scene and subjects that you're shooting. It then selects one of 22 pre-set modes and adjusts focus, brightness and colour to try and get you the best result possible.

Honor 10 camera detail

The AI is fast and accurate when it comes to recognising the scene and the subjects you're shooting.

But it can be overzealous with contrast and saturation, resulting in pictures that look artificial, but are the nonetheless well suited for sharing on social media.

Honor 10 landscape camera sample

The AI does a good job at improving the brightness of the darker areas but makes the house look slightly oversaturated.

The AI photography option icon is always visible and easy to reach. So you can toggle between the 'AI mode' and standard 'auto mode' to check which will yield best results.

Honor 10 depth of field feet

Bright colours, with a very short depth of field. The result is good, even without help from the AI.

The Honor 10's dual-lens camera set-up matches the one seen on the latest, most expensive Huawei phones and pairs a 16-megapixel wide angle coupled with a 20-megapixel monochrome lens.

Honor 10 monochrome camera sample

The secondary monochrome lens delivers a level of detail that matches the Huawei P20.

The monochrome option offers a higher level of detail compared to full colour.

Honor 10 camera sample aperture mode

Aperture mode is far from perfect. In this sample the aperture was taken to the maximum level and a part of the stem is cut off. But the edges of the flowers blend really well with the background.

Honor 10 camera interface

The camera app has more features and settings than you can shake a stick at.

Honor 10 photo effects

A selection of face effects and crazy background can be added to your selfies in the AR mode.

Honor 10 olympus

Despite the visible 2x icon, the Honor 10 has no optical zoom. Given that it also lacks optical image stabilisation, pinch zooming may result in blurred images.

Honor 10 kitchen

The Honor 10 camera makes the most of some late afternoon sunlight, but it can’t help overdoing it with the saturation.

Camera 16 MP (f/1.8) + 24 MP B/W (f/1.8)
Optical image stabilisation No
Unique features AI auto setting

Performance and battery life

  • Fast and reliable face recognition
  • Impressive battery life
  • Dual SIM
  • Too much unnecessary bundled software

Honor 10 phantom blue

The Honor 10 comes with EMUI 8.1, a tried and tested skin that runs on top of Android 8.1 Oreo and is identical to the one found on the latest Huawei phones.

It's fast, easy to customise and includes all the necessary utilities from a weather widget to email and a calendar.

Some of these are duplicated by the bundled Google Suite of apps. But you can easily pick and choose the ones that you like the most and remove the rest from the homescreen.

For further customisation, you can access the Honor Theme gallery. Here, you can choose from countless wallpapers and icons to make your Honor 10 distinctively yours.

A “Huawei App Gallery” is also included. However due to the amount of choice available on the Google Play store, most folk are unlikely to spend too much time there.

Both the App Gallery and the Theme Store require a Huawei ID. This is also required for setting up Huawei's Cloud back-up and sync service.

A selection of games are pre-installed and grouped in a “Games” folder. None of them is new or particularly interesting.

They can be uninstalled in seconds. However, it's unfortunate that pre-installed software as a form of advertising is still in use and it doesn’t help Honor’s brand image.

The Honor 10 comes with a respectable 128GB capacity and 4GB RAM.

Unlike many of its similarly priced rivals, however, you can't expand capacity by adding a microSD card.

The battery has a 3400mAh capacity, which is about average for a phone of this size.

But performance is pretty good and we had no problems getting through the day on a single charge, even with fairly heavy usage.

After a day of casual usage including a couple of gaming sessions and plenty of YouTube, the battery was showing a healthy 42% at bedtime.

I left it unplugged to test its stamina on standby and it wasn't until 2:30pm on the next day that the battery went below 30%.

Of course, battery life will vary with usage, and heavy use of the screen, as well as mobile data, can greatly affect it.

Fast charging works well and takes the battery back to 100% within 2 hours.

RAM 4GB
Battery capacity 3,400mAh
OS and version Android 8.0 (Oreo)

Value and verdict

  • Compact, light design
  • Fast face unlock
  • Good battery life
  • Lacks premium features such as water resistance
  • Same AI camera mode as more expensive Huawei phones
  • No optical zoom or image stabilisation

honor 10 ports colours

This phone more than lives up to Honor's “for the brave” motto by unashamedly co-opting design features from premium rivals, such as the iPhone X, but selling for a fraction of the price.

Despite its derivative design, the Honor 10 is well put together. Its compact design, amazingly light build and striking looks make it a good buy and a handset that I'd be only too happy to recommend.

As with previous Honor phones, some of this handset's best features have systematically handed down from more expensive phones made by Honor's parent company Huawei.

And because the latter has upped its game so much lately, this is allowing Honor devices to really shine and stand out from comparably priced rival phones.

The Face recognition software is a perfect example: the Huawei P20 series had the fastest face unlock we have ever tested. And even though the Honor 10 doesn’t quite match that speed, it's reliable and fast enough to easily outperform competitors at this price point.

Battery life may not be exceptional, but it’s well above average and fast charging means it's unlikely this device will ever let you down.

The Honor 10's specs and performance make it one of the best phones you can buy for less than £400 and it represents an excellent alternative to the slightly better specced, but slightly pricier OnePlus 6.

Category: Reviews
Tagged: honor 10
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