The Honor 10 comes with an AI-powered dual-camera setup at the back.
The setup has a 16-megapixel color sensor and a 24-megapixel monochrome sensor.
Up front, you get a 24-megapixel camera.
Huawei has been putting a lot of engineering efforts on its range of smartphones. With the recent launches such as the Honor 10, Huawei P20 and Huawei P20 Pro, the company has been playing around with exotic color options making the phones stand out. At the same time, Huawei has also been focusing on the camera aspect of its smartphones, with AI (Artificial Intelligence) being a major addition.
Unlike the Huawei P20 Pro and P20, the newly-launched Honor 10 does not feature a Leica-branded dual-camera setup. Instead, the company is highlighting something called AI Dual Cameras, which it claims can help amateur and professional photographers click crisp and clear-looking photos. But what exactly the AI does to enhance photos, and are the end results any good? I reviewed the dual-camera setup on the Honor 10 to find out.
Watch: Watch: Huawei P20 Pro Review
Let’s talk camera specifications first
The Honor 10 comes with dual cameras at the back, and a single camera at the front. Out of the two cameras, one is a 16-megapixel primary color sensor (RGB) of f/1.8 aperture, supplemented with a 24-megapixel monochrome (Black & White) sensor. Together the cameras let you click photos with 2X optical zoom, and also add DSLR-like bokeh effects to your photos.
Up front is a 24-megapixel camera of aperture f/2.0 for selfies and video calling. It also lets you click portrait selfies with background blur effects, add augmented reality (AR) based stickers, and add studio like 3D lighting effects. There is also an artist mode that lets you add Prisma-like artwork effects to your photos and selfies.
The AI that powers the dual cameras
Huawei is using AI to let you capture good photos that are sharp, crisp and punchy. The on-device machine learning (ML), thanks to the Kirin 970 SoC and dedicated NPU, is capable of real-time recognition of 500+ scenarios in 22 different categories. For instance, it can recognize pets such as dogs and cats, food, sky, clouds, monuments and more.
Huawei says, the AI algorithm can also detect multiple subjects in a photo and apply necessary optimizations. For instance, if you are clicking a photo on a beach, the AI can detect the beach, blue sky, sand and the subject, and individually tweak colors for all these subjects accordingly. There is also AI portrait mode which can detect the subject and background, and apply artistic bokeh effects.
Honor 10 Camera App
The camera app is pretty straightforward. The top bar has toggle buttons for LED flash, live photos and to turn AI camera on and off, along with Settings button. Along the bottom, you have the camera shutter button in the center, a shortcut to camera roll on the left and a button to switch between front and rear cameras on the right.
Just above the camera shutter button, you also have different photo options that you can slide to activate. These include Aperture mode, Portrait mode, Photo and Video. On the extreme right, you can find many more settings such as true Monochrome mode, timelapse, 3D creator, Light Painting, Filters and more. Now, let’s look at some camera samples to see the Honor 10 AI Dual Cameras at work.
Honor 10 AI camera samples
Generally, when you hear or read about a smartphone, the marketing campaigns highlight some of its key features, like the chipset, battery life, speed and more. In case of the Honor 10, it is the AI camera that is making the headlines. So for this camera review, I thought of showing how the AI is helping to enhance photos.
Below are some camera samples that I shot on the Honor 10. The image on the left is the one without AI optimizations, and on the right, you can see the AI at work. Essentially, the AI and on-device machine learning, thanks to the dedicated NPU, is recognizing scenes from the photo, and amplifying colors, while also tweaking contrast and brightness levels. Also, there is no telephoto lens, but the smartphone offers 2X zoom, and the picture looks crisp and clear.
In one photo it sees a blue sky, and the building color is yellow, it is individually increasing the color saturation levels in those areas, and not for the entire picture. The resulting image is pretty good. Similarly, when you see the close-up photo of a flower, the AI is tweaking colors, like making the whites brighter, greens greener, and the yellow color is also amplified. Check samples below.
Same with the low-light shots; it detects the colors seeing that it is street lighting, and amplifies those colors. Also, the monochrome sensor captures true black and white image with less noise. The AI combines photos from color and monochrome sensor, to give you a final good low-light image, that is lively and without noise. Below are low-light camera samples.
Next, we talk about selfies. Again, for the portrait mode, the AI is detecting the face (subject) and the background. It is then adding DSLR-like blur effects to the background while keeping the subject in focus. However, I believe the edge detection could have been better to give a more artistic look and feel.
There are 3D studio lighting effects too, but I’m not a fan of it, as photos shot using that mode look artificial and awkward at times.
Overall, the Honor 10 is equipped with good front and rear cameras for its price point. In the upper mid-range segment, if you are looking for a camera smartphone that performs, I will surely recommend the Honor 10. But you don’t just buy a smartphone for the camera, the overall performance matters too, right? We will very soon come up with our detailed review of the Honor 10, so stay tuned for that.