in

Honor 10 review: A real competitor – Hardware reviews


Honor is both closely associated with Huawei as well as on of the strongest competitors of the world’s third largest smartphone manufacturer. This is also due to the fact that Honor always introduces a very similar and significantly cheaper model shortly after launches of Huawei smartphones. This is also true of the Honor 10, which has the potential to easily outperform the Huawei P20. The rest of the competition in the smartphone world might have to take notice in light of the Honor 10’s release.

Good

  • Eye-catching design with great colors
  • Strong performance in all respects
  • Very good camera with many features
  • Good display with notch
  • Jack and infrared blaster

Bad

  • No option to expand memory
  • AI features on the camera can be aggressive
  • New fingerprint sensor has gotten worse

SPONSORED

The price is exceptional

The Honor 10 will be available in black, silver, and blue starting May 16. There is also a special version in green with 128 GB of internal store available exclusively in the HiHonor store. Honor asks for a more than tempting price for the new smartphone if you consider the device’s specs.

The Honor 10 with 64 GB costs 399 euros (around 475 dollars). With 128 GB it costs 449 euros (around 535 dollars). In addition to the quick charger and the USB cable, the device comes with a transparent case, but no headset. We’ll keep you updated on the price and availability stateside.

An eye-catcher, whether elegant or striking

The Honor 10 follows current trends in design. There’s glass in the back and front with a metal frame in between. The edges around the display are as slim as possible. That might sound somewhat conventional, but it actually looks really good. The smartphone is 7.7 millimeters thin, and the dual camera with its “AI camera” imprint protrudes significantly from the frame. At 153 grams, the Honor 10 isn’t too light or too heavy.

You’ll get a great selection of colors. If you like things simple and elegant, take the black or silver version. The blue and green versions of Honor 10 attract more attention, as they shimmer when you tilt the device at different angles. Honor applies 25 layers of paint to the glass on the back. This may be an exorbitant amount, but it’s worth it, since the colorful Honor 10 looks even more fascinating than the Huawei P20 Pro in the Twilight finish.

h10 review 09
That’s how striking the Honor 10 is in blue. / © AndroidPIT

The Honor 10’s finishing is resounding. The parts fit seamlessly into one another, as the smartphone looks as if it was made in one piece. One small drawback is the fact that Honor still doesn’t have IP certification for its smartphones. In normal everyday life, however, a few drops of rain or splashes of water won’t do a thing.

h10 review 13
If it’s viewed from the side, the color changes to purple. / © AndroidPIT

Beautiful display with many options

The Honor 10 has a 5.84 inch display with Full-HD+ resolution. That’s exactly 2,240 x 1,080 pixels, resulting in a pixel density of 426 pixels per inch. Of course, there’s a little more to it, but the difference isn’t noticeable to the human eye. The Honor 10 features rich colors, high contrasts, and good viewing angle stability. The maximum brightness could be a little higher, but it’s decent.

With the help of a trustworthy measuring device, the Honor 10 provides to have high color fidelity and very generous coverage of the CIE color space. There was one striking finding: with the standard settings, the blue is a little too strong and the red is a little too weak. You can adjust the display settings to your own preferences, both in terms of color mode and temperature.

honor 10 display test 4
The CIE color space is covered very nicely. / © AndroidPIT

The narrow recess, known as the notch, houses the front camera, the earpiece and the light sensor of the Honor 10. If you don’t like the notch in the display, you can hide it. The area to the right and left is then colored blacked, so the notch becomes less noticeable.

Face Unlock is good, fingerprint sensor isn’t

The Honor 10 offers the option of recognizing its owner’s face to unlock the smartphone. Honor does this through the front camera, without additional special sensor to detect depth. This may be somewhat less secure than a 3D section, but it worked reliably in our test and is also incredibly fast. Face Unlock works very well in dark rooms since Honor automatically turns up the display and uses its brightness to recognize your face. Since Honor 10 automatically wakes up from standby mode when you lift it up and then recognizes your face so quickly, there’s hardly any reason to unlock your phone in any other way.

The new fingerprint sensor is disappointing

The fingerprint reader is completely different. Honor emphasizes that Honor 10 is the first affordable smartphone with a fingerprint sensor under the glass on the front, a wink to the Huawei Porsche Design Mate RS. On the expensive Porsche smartphone, the sensor is actually in the display, while Honor puts the component in the place where fingerprint sensors are usually located, just below the screen. So it’s not that different from a ‘normal’ sensor.

h10 review 05
Face Unlock works faster and more reliably than the new fingerprint sensor. / © AndroidPIT

The sensor in the Honor 10 works with ultrasound to detect the user’s fingerprint. The manufacturer states that this works even better than previous solutions, for example if your fingers are damp. In practice, however, this isn’t confirmed. It takes longer to register your fingerprint and detection is neither as fast or reliable as it is with Honor smartphones. So the new sensor doesn’t have any advantages, but functions are worse in everyday use compared to older models.

Cutting-edge software from Google and Honor

It’s hard to believe, but there are still smartphones hitting the market in 2018 with the old Android 7 Nougat, most recently the HTC Desire 12. Fortunately, this doesn’t include the Honor 10. Honor is equipping its new top model directly with Android 8.1 Oreo. The security patch is from April 2018, and an update to Android P is considered certain.

The EMUI interface is also up-to-date. It comes with Version 8.1, which can also be found on the latest Huawei smartphones, can be visually adapted in many ways and offers some exciting additional functions. On of them is called HiTouch and it’s an intelligent aid to identify products with the camera and to buy them directly. To use HiTouch, you have to activate the corresponding option in the settings in the Smart assistance area. The first time you use it, you’ll need to install the Amazon Assistant app.

Yesterday’s chip, today’s performance

The Honor 10 contains a Kirin 970 from Hisilicon, the chip manufacturer that belongs to Huawei. The processor can access 4 GB of RAM, which should be sufficient in the coming years. The Kirin 970 doesn’t quite match the current top processors from Samsung and Qualcomm in pure benchmark performance, especially in terms of graphics.

Benchmark results of the Honor 10

Benchmarks comparison
  Honor 10 Samsung Galaxy S9+
3DMark Sling Shot Extreme 2.526 points 3.304 points
3DMark Sling Shot Vulkan 2.845 points 3.021 points
3DMark Sling Shot ES 3.0 3.179 points 3.966 points
3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited 30.954 points 38.701 points
Geekbench 4 Single / Multi Core 1.897 / 6.441 points 3.771 / 8.923 points
PassMark Memory 13.798 points 24.164 points
Passmark Disk 62.015 points 67.765 points

The good news is that in daily use you won’t notice that the Honor 10 has a processor that’s one year old. The smartphone runs smoothly in all situations, can hold its own with high-resolution videos and demanding games and has no problem with intensive multitasking. Smartphones that cost 1,000 dollars or more don’t run any faster in everyday life. The Honor 10, however, does have something in common with the P20: both can get quite hot under heavy use, even as hot as 120 degrees Fahrenheit on the frame. This is unusually hot, but the manufacturer is expected to alleviate this issue with software updates. Hopefully that won’t be at the expense of performance.

The NPU of the Kirin 970 is still unique

The Kirin 970 still has a unique selling point with the NPU, which is used in several aspects of the Honor 10. The AI unit on the chip mainly benefits the camera with image processing and recognition, but also brings advantages in energy efficiency and translation apps. The approach of applying AI methods primarily locally, i.e. directly on a chip in the smartphone rather than in the cloud, is different from Qualcomm’s decentralized approach. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.

The jack survives

With the Honor 10, you’ll still have a good old jack plug. Although you can achieve better sound with the appropriate accessories via USB-C, there’s something nice about the simplicity of the jack plug. If you prefer wireless headphones, you can use Bluetooth 4.2 and aptX. The sound from the mono speaker in the Honor 10 is sufficient for emergencies, but that’s it.

Honor 10 camera

The Honor 10 has three cameras, with two in the back and one in the front. The dual camera has a color and a monochrome sensor with 24 and 16 megapixels and an aperture of f/1.8, while an additional 24 megapixel lens and an aperture of f/2.0 is responsible for selfies. Both cameras can record videos in UHD with 4K. The camera app has been slightly modified compared to the previous Honor devices and is no longer identical to the Huawei app. The most striking change is the AI switch, which switches the additional functions of the camera software on and off. Huawei hides this option in the menu.

The image quality on the Honor 10 was above average in our test. The pictures have rich colors and are generally well exposed. There’s also a richness in the detail. If you zoom in closely, you will see that the software helps you quite a bit and makes the images sharper, but that won’t bother you when you look at the photos.

IMG 20180506 112655
The Honor 10 really takes beautiful photos. / © AndroidPIT
IMG 20180514 134446
The photos are characterized by the amount of detail and low image noise. / © AndroidPIT
IMG 20180514 125243
If the AI detects flowers, the colors are enhanced. / © AndroidPIT

An important ingredient for the Honor 10 camera is the AI functions. The phone can recognize 500 designs from 22 categories and set the parameters accordingly. And not only that, because the smartphone adapts different areas, such as a person’s face, the sky and the tree next to it. Honor has fed its software with 100 million photos so that it always recognizes the right subject and reacts accordingly.

The AI effects can be removed afterwards

In our test, this usually works well. The content of the images are accurately recognized. But here and there, however, the AI overshoots the mark. Colors are especially often over-emphasized and can look unnatural. The good thing is that the AI mode can still remain switched on since the automatic corrections can be undone in the gallery by clicking on the AI icon. This isn’t possible with the P20 series from Huawei.

There are also new AR effects, which Honor has put in a new camera mode. You can, for example, put on some virtual rabbit ears or conjure up the background of a tropical island. Admittedly, that sounds a bit silly, but it’s fun. There are also artistic filters available.

IMG 20180509 134348
Artificial intelligence was made for photos like this! / © AndroidPIT
IMG 20180514 134516
You can also take normal selfies. / © AndroidPIT

Selfies benefit from the high resolution and display many details. The beauty mode, which is active by default, is just as much a matter of taste as the artificially created lighting effects. The front camera cannot produce as strong of a bokeh effect as the main camera.

Only an average battery

The battery in the Honor 10 is permanently integrated and has a capacity of 3,400 mAh. That should be enough to make it through the day, and the device always managed that much autonomy in our test. But the new Honor 10 isn’t an endurance athlete, so two days of battery life isn’t really possible. This is exactly how well the Huawei P20 performs. In the PCMark test, the Honor 10 achieved a rather average running time of 7 hours and 22 minutes. There’s no wireless charging despite the fact that there’s a glass black, but you can quick charge the smartphone from 0 to 100% in about an hour and a half.

Honor 10 technical specifications

Dimensions: 149.6 x 71.2 x 7.7 mm
Weight: 153 g
Battery size: 3400 mAh
Screen size: 5.84 in
Display technology: LCD
Screen: 2280 x 1080 pixels (432 ppi)
Front camera: 24 megapixels
Rear camera: 16 megapixels
Flashlight: LED
Android version: 8.1 – Oreo
User interface: Emotion UI
RAM: 4 GB
6 GB
Internal storage: 64 GB
128 GB
Removable storage: Not available
Chipset: HiSilicon Kirin 970
Number of cores: 8
Max. clock speed: 2.36 GHz
Connectivity: HSPA, LTE, NFC, Dual-SIM , Bluetooth 4.2

The Honor 10 is currently difficult to top

The Honor 10 is the complete package, especially if you consider the price. It’ll be difficult to top for the time being. The new Honor smartphone looks great, is superbly crafted, and offers performance for which you pay twice as much and even more elsewhere. In terms of design, display, performance, the camera, and software, the Honor 10 can compete with everyone, and offers all that for under 500 dollars. The non-expandable memory and the average battery may pose a problem, but all in all, the Honor 10 is really impressive and should scare the competition.