The Honor View10 is priced at Rs 29,999.
The phone comes with a dual-camera setup at the rear that performs well in all conditions.
The Honor View10 is powered by the AI-infused HiSilicon Kirin 970 SoC, which makes for good performance.
Back when top-end smartphones cost a lot of money, a little brand called OnePlus introduced the concept of the ‘flagship killer’. It was a promise of all of the important bits that you need from a flagship, but at a fraction of the price. We’re into 2018, and the concept isn’t just limited to OnePlus anymore. Other brands, including Xiaomi, Nokia and Honor are taking the space on with solid offerings. Today we’re going to talk about the last brand I mentioned – Honor.
While parent company and brand Huawei typically deals in the premium space, the Honor brand represents value-for-money made affordable by intelligent distribution strategies. The latest offering from Honor is the View10, which is the current top-end smartphone from the company in India. With top-end specifications and features, the Rs 29,999. Honor View10 takes on the current affordable flagship champion – the OnePlus 5T – head on. Here’s our review.
When it comes to design and build, the Honor View10 checks all the right boxes. The phone sports a metal back, and the blue color of our review unit looks absolutely fantastic. The matte finish and slim profile make this a phone that definitely stands out in a crowd. And while the significantly-protruding dual-camera setup looks interesting, it’s a bit scary when the phone rests on the camera lenses.
The front of the phone has the 18:9 aspect ratio 6-inch full-HD+ IPS LCD screen. While most phones with the stretched screen aspect ratio go for the all-screen look, where the front is dominated by the screen with very little else apart from the front camera, sensors and earpiece. In the case of the Honor View10, the company has also managed to integrate the fingerprint sensor at its traditional place, right below the screen. The screen itself is excellent, with good, clean colors, and leaves nothing to complain about.
I’ve always preferred the fingerprint sensor being at the front, as that makes it possible to unlock the phone even while it’s placed on a flat surface, and is also easier and quicker when it’s in your hand. Muscle-memory eventually trains you as to the position of a rear fingerprint sensor, but it does add that fraction of a second in unlocking the phone. The Honor View10 does therefore retain the preferred position, but this is achieved by making the phone a little bit larger than similar devices such as the OnePlus 5T. It’s a taller and therefore heavier device as a result. It’s perhaps a hint too large.
Under the hood are specifications that would make most other phones look bad, including 6GB of DDR4X RAM, 128GB of internal storage, a hybrid dual-SIM slot that supports extra storage and a massive 3,750mAh battery. Charging and data transfers are through the USB type-C port, and the phone also supports Huawei’s proprietary Quick Charge standard.
The bundled charger can deliver up to 18W of power, and effectively charges the device from zero to 100 percent in about 90 minutes. It isn’t quite as quick as OnePlus’ Dash Charge and doesn’t deliver as much power in short bursts, but it’s an effective solution nonetheless. Battery life is decent as well for a flagship smartphone, and will get you through a day with moderate use. Once again, it isn’t quite as good as that of the OnePlus 5T, despite the similar screen size and specifications. The OnePlus 5 benefits from the better battery optimization of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC, as well as the AMOLED screen that consumes a bit less power.
One of the biggest changes in this Honor flagship is the chipset powering the phone. Huawei and Honor use chipsets from HiSilicon, a chipset maker owned by Huawei itself. While HiSilicon SoCs haven’t typically been considered on par with the options from Qualcomm, Samsung and Apple, the current Kirin 970 SoC is a significant improvement over its predecessors. Fabricated on the 10nm process and featuring special AI capabilities, the Kirin 970 SoC is claimed to be on-par with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, currently considered the most powerful mobile chipset around.
Indeed, our testing revealed that this is the case. The Honor View10 is a power performer, making optimal use of its chipset and RAM to offer a usage experience that is among the best you can get on an Android smartphone. Whether it is in synthetic benchmark tests or with practical use, the phone felt on-par with the OnePlus 5T on performance, which puts it in the top-rung of devices right now.
The chipset is also the first to support dual-4G standby, which lets you stay connected to 4G network on both SIMs at the same time. This would theoretically allow you to use two Jio connections, or be connected to data on even an Airtel or Vodafone connection without deactivating the Jio connection entirely. While smartphones in 2018 are expected to come with this feature, the Honor View10 deserves credit for beating others to it in January itself.
Honor also speaks of the Kirin 970’s artificial intelligence capabilities. The View10 is said to learn from your usage over time and optimize the phone according to the way you’re using it. This includes intelligently preparing your phone based on the apps you frequently use, maintaining resources on important apps and getting tips and tricks to optimize your phone based on the device’s learning of how you use it. It’s hard to properly judge this, as it’s all working behind the scenes. Additionally, the difference it’s making is significant, but not greatly noticeable on a day-to-day basis.
Camera that shines
The artificial intelligence capabilities also translate into better performance for the camera. The Honor View10 comes with a dual-camera setup at the rear, which uses a 16-megapixel primary sensor and a 20-megapixel secondary sensor with single-tone LED flash. Additionally, the sensors are also in Honor’s preferred RGB + Monochrome setup, which helps with shooting in low-light. The primary sensor has an aperture of f/1.8, while the secondary sensor enables lossless zoom of up to 2X, as well as depth-sensing abilities for portrait shots. The phone has a 13-megapixel camera at the front.
(Camera samples shot with the Honor View10)
The artificial intelligence uses algorithms to accurately sense what’s being captured and adjusts settings behind the scenes accordingly. This helps take better, sharper, clearer pictures, and the results are visible in the quality of the images captured by the phone. The AI also kicks in when you’re shooting portrait images. While it does use data gathered by the dual-camera setup, the AI touch is visible in making portrait images better.
On the whole, pictures are fantastic when it comes to color, depth-of-field, detail and composition. While performance isn’t quite on par with more expensive smartphones such as the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 or Google Pixel 2 XL, it’s certainly a significant step ahead of the OnePlus 5T in this department. Take a look at some of the sample shots.
(Camera samples shot with the Honor View10)
Software brings the overall experience down
While the above sub-head might give you the impression that the software is bad, that isn’t the case. The Honor View10 runs on EMUI 8.0 on top of Android Oreo. EMUI 8.0 is a significant step up over 5.0 (including the skipping of a couple of numbers in between), and is indeed geared to take full advantage of the AI capabilities of the homegrown HiSilicon Kirin 970 SoC. There is a lot to like about the new software, including the ability to switch between single and dual-layering, the speed of unlocking the phone and the quick settings shade, to name a few.
However, it does lack the sheer quality and minimalism that interfaces such as OxygenOS and stock Android bring. The whole experience feels a bit messy, and I was left feeling like the phone was trying too hard to push information at me. The settings menu is equally cluttered, and there are no meaningful customisations that truly make a difference to your phone’s usage. What does exist feels gimmicky and unnecessary, and EMUI feels neither too feature-filled, nor efficient and minimalistic enough. If you’re looking for a better software experience, you’re likely to be more satisfied by OxygenOS, with its continuous tweaks and fixes, and generally better approach to user-friendliness.
Although the Honor View10 has a face unlock feature, it’s currently quite underpowered and a bit useless, if I may say so. It doesn’t unlock the device – you’ll still have to use the fingerprint sensor or PIN for that – but it will only make lock-screen notifications visible when it sees your face, if you activate the feature. Perhaps this is in the interest of security, and it’s possible that Honor will make this available in a future software update.
At Rs 29,999, is the Honor View10 a good phone? Undoubtedly. It’s an excellent device on all counts, and indeed the only aspect that isn’t fantastic is the software. If you compare it directly with the OnePlus 5T that it hopes to take on, it’s actually better when it comes to camera performance. If you want a good phone with a great camera, look no further than the Honor View10. Furthermore, the dual-4G standby is one feature that no other phone can boast of today, and might be important to many users.
However, the OnePlus 5T’s superior software, better battery life, faster charging and functional face unlock help it feel like the better phone on the whole. Additionally, while there’s very little to fault in the performance of the Honor View10, the Snapdragon 835-powered OnePlus 5T is perhaps slightly better in practicality, and is helped along by 8GB of RAM in the higher variant. It entirely comes down to what matters more to you in practical use. But the Honor View10 is certainly worth considering, particularly if camera capability matters.
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