Honor 10 review: Reflections of a true performer
The Honor 10 is a lot of phone for the money. The reflective glass design and Kirin 970 processor are amongst the best around regardless of price.
Specifications: 5.84-inch IPS notch display, 2280 x 1080 pixels, octa core HiSilicon Kirin 970 processor, 6GB RAM, 128GB storage, dual SIM slot, 16MP (f1.8) + 2MP (monochrome) rear camera with phase detect autofocus, 4k video recording, 24MP (f2.0) front camera, USB Type-C, fingerprint scanner, Face unlock, 4G with VoLTE, WiFi, Bluetooth, NFC, GPS, IR port, Android 8.1, 3,400mAh battery, 153 grams
Pros: Beautiful Aurora glass design, top-spec hardware and performance, high-quality IPS LCD screen, excellent value
Cons: Glass back is slippery and prone to scratches/ smudges, ultrasonic fingerprint scanner can’t be found by touch, no optical image stabilization, no advertised water resistance
Honor has suddenly carved out a niche for itself in the budget space with the Honor 7x and 9 lite. Now it’s time to set sights a bit higher, namely the Rs 30k+ segment where brands like OnePlus rule the roost. You’ll also find some previous flagships from Apple, Samsung and LG jostling for attention in the same space. At this segment, you have demanding users so the phone has to up the game too. To start with, the Honor 10 has what they call the Aurora Glass design. We reviewed the blue and these 15 multi-reflective layers under the glass back are nothing short of head-turning. It takes one source of light and turns it into multiples, bending and twisting the reflections, quite like the refractive internals of a diamond. The polished metal and glass design is also very premium to see and hold. The black colour doesn’t look half as good in our opinion. You have to get the Phantom Blue variant if you want the stand-out reflections.
There is the typical full screen design (yes, with a notch) with slim bezels. This is also the first phone with an ultrasonic fingerprint scanner and it’s placed in front. Unlike the typical capacitive fingerprint, this one is placed behind glass with just a tiny outline to demarcate the location of the scanner. This means you can’t really ‘feel’ where the scanner is - you look and place a finger or rely on muscle memory to take over after a while. The lower bezel is also thicker to accommodate the fingerprint scanner and this could be seen as a disadvantage. That being said, the scanner works really well with speed and accuracy. An added advantage is that it can also work if you have damp or oily fingers.
Honor is offering the best of hardware at this price: the Kirin 970 processor (which is like the Snapdragon 845 in terms of performance), 6GB RAM and 128GB storage. The 5.84-inch screen is not OLED but a high quality IPS LCD with punchy colour and deep blacks. Most people will really like this display and might even think that it’s an OLED panel. It has EMUI 8.1 based on Android 8.1 plus all the usual flagship features you expect.
The Honor 10 camera borrows heavily from the flagship Huawei P20 Pro actually. The AI component is capable of recognizing over 500 scenarios in 22 categories in real time. This means that the camera will automatically recognize what you’re trying to photograph and adjust accordingly. For instance, if you have a subject with strong backlighting, it will bump up the dynamic range. Similarly, if you have greenery, blue sky or pets, it will auto recognize and adjust. The auto optimizations work about 80% of the time we reckon. Other times you might find them to be a little too bright, vibrant or unnatural. The front camera is great and captures lots of detail. You also have different lighting modes and soft focus to play with.
Battery is life is about average. A full day at best though heavy users will find themselves reaching for a charger by last evening. There’s no wireless charging but it does have fast charging.
So overall, this is a lot of phone for the money. The lack of microSD shouldn’t be a problem because 128GB is more than enough. You get flagship level specs and performance at a nice price. There are many similarities between this and the Rs 65k Huawei P20 Pro so that in itself is a big bonus. For a little bit more (Rs 35k), you can get the 64GB version of the OnePlus 6 though the 8/128GB version is Rs 40k. The OnePlus gives you OIS in the camera, three different finishes to choose from, smoother performance and a much cleaner interface (Oxygen OS).