Since Honor 8, the brand has emerged from Huawei’s shadow and, with the new Honor 10, they are definitely ready for the big leap. The new Honor 10 – “Beauty in AI” – is more than just a cheap Huawei P20, it is a competitive flagship that also has a say among China mobile phones.
The currently fastest chip from the Huawei subsidiary HiSilicon is used: the Kirin 970 has been in use since Huawei Mate 10 Pro and also in Honor View 10, Huawei P20, and P20 Pro. The camera should also take the next step and take intelligent pictures now. In Honor 10, we find a 5.8-inch display in 19:9 format with notch – which is really no abort, as we will see later. With the fingerprint sensor on the front and the 3.5 mm jack connection, the wishes of the community were heard. With 400€ for 64GB, or 450€ for 128GB, including the agony of choice among the four colours you get a flagship-worthy Honor 10 – the best “Huawei” smartphone at the moment?
Design and build quality
Honor 10 offers the form factor that seems to have been lost with mobile phones and especially flagships: with the 5.84-inch display, it is still quite compact. It measures 149.6 x 71.2 x 7.7 mm at 153g on the scale. It has all the amenities you could wish for: fingerprint sensor on the front, USB-C, and 3.5mm jack connector, the selfie-cam on the right spot and, of course, the notch in the display.
The front side is occupied by the long full-screen display, but not dominated. Honor has managed to find a great mix here: to the left and right, it is not completely edgeless, which is good for the operation. The functionality above and below is still given, on the one hand, by the fingerprint sensor, which functions as a multifunction button, and, on the other hand, by the notch, which enables the “full-screen design” including the correct camera positioning.
The front is always black, but the rear is a real eye-catcher thanks to trendy colours and shimmering effect: Black (Black / Shiny), Glacier Grey (Ice Blue / Shiny), Phantom Blue (Blue / Shimmering Purple) and Phantom Green (Green / Shimmering Purple).
I would describe our grey as light blue/ice blue. Which is a pity, because grey with shimmering blue effects would have been really pretty. Most people will probably reach for the simple black, because the blue is already really conspicuous with the purple shine. If you’re looking for “Phantom Green”, you’ll also need the 128GB version. Otherwise, there is only the horizontal dual camera on the back, next to it a glossy lettering with “AI Camera” and “Honor” in the middle below.
Honor 10 is even smaller than a OnePlus 5, despite a display of approximately the same size. Thus it lies great in the hand and can also be used with one hand. The build quality is outstanding and top class: nothing groans or wobbles, it feels well in the hand. The lacquered frame, like the glass rear, feels quite “softly”. Only the bright colours and dazzling effects go in a different direction than luxury. The only drawback: the fingerprint sensor is located under the display glass – unfortunately, this build quality detail is lost due to the attached display protection film.
- Honor 10
- Huawei Supercharger & USB-C cabel
- SIM ejection tool
- Operating instructions
- Silicone protective cover
Honor 10 houses a 5.84-inch display, which resolves with Full HD+ and has a resolution of 2280 x 1080 pixels, resulting in a pixel density of 432 PPI. Firstly, the display glass is nicely rounded at the sides (2.5D) and it protects the panel with Corning Gorilla Glass. The display itself is in 19:9 format, which is mainly due to the notch. The Notch: “Learn to love the notch” (Carl Pei, OnePlus Co-Founder). Yes, the cut in the display is an eye-catcher, but helps to create a full-screen display. Of course, you can also call it ugly – but you don’t have to. With the option to leave the area black, I get along very well!
Even better, of course, would be to have an OLED display instead of an IPS (see One Plus 6). Then, the black would be even less conspicuous. The two small areas at the top are used for white status symbols on a black background. You can only see the notch itself by dragging the status bar down from above.
The fingerprint sensor/multi-function button below the display provides even more access to the Full-Screen ideal. More is only possible if you do it like OnePlus 6 and install a huge display, move the fingerprint sensor to the back and use the gesture control. In the settings, you can choose between 4 variants: On-screen buttons and the external button will probably be the most popular. The fingerprint sensor got worse than compared to Honor View 10, but it is under the glass and also reacts to wet fingers. In practice, Honor 10 can easily be unlocked with the thumb, and in about 70% of trials, it can be unlocked immediately. In combination with the well-thought-out Face Unlock, you have no more problems. If you use it to control Android, “Home”, and “Back” will work as usual. With “Recently Opened Apps”, we had our problems and it required sensitivity and time to get used to it.
Huawei / Honor has been using the Kirin 970 as its top processor for some time now. The chip by the subsidiary HiSilicon has been used since Huawei Mate 10 Pro. The Octa Core is manufactured in a 10nm process and is divided into a power and an energy saving cluster. Four A73 cores clock up to 2.4GHz and four A53s up to 1.8GHz. The ARM Mali-G72 is still used as graphics unit.
Honor 10 with current Android 8 and the top Kirin 970 has a working speed that is in no way inferior to the current flagships. If you look at the benchmarks, Kirin 970 is on the same level with the Snapdragon 835, if not even a bit higher. Against the newest SD845, which also works in Mi Mix 2S, the HiSilicon product is left standing – but we are only talking numbers here. The performance of Honor 10 is really on a top level; even more can only be achieved with a slim and well-optimized system – e.g. Oxygen from OnePlus. Here again the hint: for 400€, respectively even only 370€ on Amazon, at the moment, you get a whole lot of performance with Honor 10!Antutu Result Geekbench Multi Result
The only drawback of the insanely fast CPU is the GPU: unfortunately, Mali cannot keep up with its Adreno counterparts. Still, you can play all games without problems: PUPG Mobile on second highest details run fluently also 2 rounds in a row and Asphalt 8 can be played at the highest graphics level. But if the games demand even more power, it gets a bit difficult.
You can also praise the storage: a fast UFS 2.0 storage allows apps to start very fast. This creates 500 MB/s reading and 200 MB/s writing speed – the 6 GB/s of RAM are also on flagship levels. Honor 10 is available in two storage versions in Europe: 4+64GB cost 400€ and 4+128GB 450€. But you have to decide beforehand how much storage you need, because you can’t expand the storage via Micro-SD. I, personally, get along well with the 64GB version and can also collect many photos on the device. The version with 6GB RAM is only available in China. But it’s not that bad: we have the version with 4GB RAM and never reached the limits of 4GB during the test period. Android and EMUI, as well as all services that work in the background, need about 2GB. With the remaining 2GB, multitasking, playing two (or more) games simultaneously and even huge files are no problem.
EMUI & Software
The latest version of EMUI is pre-installed in Honor 10: both EMUI and Android are available in version 8.1. EMUI hasn’t changed much with the update to Android 8.1 – during test of Honor View 10, this is what we could say about it:
“EMUI – either you love it or hate it – or you just get used to it. Actually, EMUI isn’t that bad, as I noticed in the course of my Huawei or Honor smartphone tests. It is simply fundamentally different from the pure Android 7/8 or Oxygen OS of OnePlus. The OS by Huawei is more complex, overloaded and has a more extensive appearance. However, Android is underneath it and every user – even defectors of iOS – should quickly find their way around. … Many people complain about one thing about EMUI and that’s the pre-installed apps, also called bloatware. … Uninstalling the bloatware takes less than 5 minutes, plus 3 clicks in the settings and in the launcher menu and it’s done”.
After three test devices with EMUI, Huawei Mate 10 Pro, Honor View 10, and now Honor 10, I get along very well with the launcher. The design isn’t as slim as Oxygen and less complex than MIUI, it’s more in the direction of iOS or Samsung’s creation, but it’s better. In my opinion, at least: in the settings, you will find enough options to customize EMUI to your needs. In addition, there are good and useful features. I would say that basically everyone can get used to EMUI – but those who basically refuse it, I can also (partly) understand.
Honor 10 is based on a dual camera setup consisting of a 24MP sensor with an aperture of f/1.8 and a second monochrome sensor with 16MP with an equal aperture. From the beginning, however, the resolution is set to 16 MP, which also makes sense. Using the Lightfusion technology 4 pixels are added up to one, which also works with selfies. The front camera also has a 24MP resolution and an aperture of f/2.0, but you still have to live with a few restrictions: Bokehs are created electronically (and it works perfectly) & the hybrid zoom with double zoom is also only electronic.
The AI camera and the smart software improve from model to model of the Huawei/Honor Group. EMUI’s camera software for the flagship models is very extensive and lavish. You have to admit that the camera invites you to try and play around to get even more out of your subject. I like it, but the Stock Android or even OnePlus camera application is simpler – simple and quick to use, but without artistic incentives.
At the very beginning, shortly after the release, there were still some errors in the intelligent AI function, like fragments or pink lips. Less than a week later, however, an update came with which the errors are gone. The key experience that convinced me was the American classic car from the gallery! The AI mode has recognized it as a vehicle and improved the paint considerably. The Ford was not unkempt, but in the photo, it looks like freshly polished. The intelligent software basically makes every photo prettier, even if it only increases the contrast and dynamic range. By setting parameters and automatically, selecting the individual modes (aperture, portrait, HDR), the Honor 10 AI camera is a guarantee for a handsome shot.
Of course, this is not always desired. And that’s the disadvantage of Honor 10: unfortunately, Leica’s technology isn’t directly used here, that’s reserved for the expensive Huawei flagships. The device stays behind the elite, because a good camera sensor costs money. You can get a lot out of the software and I would say that 90% of the users are totally enthusiastic about the camera – including me. For 400€ it is a very strong performance, really – but not upper class. You can see that through a high ISO value and image noise with little light:
Honor 10 offers space for two Nano-SIM cards, both of which support LTE and VoLTE. The data throughput is good, but you have to say that other smartphones perform about 5 MB/s better in the speed test. But that’s no problem, as Honor 10 offers LTE Band 20. Voice over LTE and Wifi calling are also available for telephoning. The two microphones transport the voice very cleanly to the caller, but the own earpiece tends to distort at full volume. Otherwise, there is nothing to complain about at the reception of Honor 10.
In addition, Honor 10 transmits with Dual-Band (2.4 & 5.0 GHz) in .ac Wi-Fi and the range is okay as well. It’s a pity that only Bluetooth 4.2 is available, but at least NFC is offered. With Honor 10, you navigate very neatly: the position is determined very precisely and also recorded running routes run straight without jagged lines. The position is determined via GPS, A-GPS, Beidou and GLONASS; an E-compass helps additionally.
The built-in speaker, unfortunately, only sounds mono: it is usable for an occasional YouTube video. The 3.5mm jack connection does a better job. First of all a praise that it is still there! The sound chip does its job properly and the “HiListen” sound effects are also usable. Defining the earphone type (In-Ears, Over-Ears, Earplugs) the sound improves – but it’s basically a matter of taste and you can also use the equalizer. Additionally, we tried the Xiaomi In-Ears with USB-C and they were fully usable.
Additionally, some sensors are installed in Honor 10. Right at the front, there is the fingerprint sensor: it also works well with wet fingers and is nicely installed under the display glass. But unlocking only works to approx. 70% and gestures need more accuracy in the thumb. If your finger is detected, the phone is unlocked within just over half a second. Besides, there is an infrared transmitter and a “universal remote control” – in the test, our 5 year old Samsung Smart TV was not recognized (also MIUI does not have this device in the database). You also find the following sensors: brightness, proximity, position, acceleration, gyroscope, hall sensor for smart covers, and a barometer. In the notch there is also a small notification LED.
In Honor 10, which is quite compact, “only” a 3400mAh battery was installed. Honor 10 managed to last for 1.5 to 2 days almost throughout the entire testing period. Both EMUI and the camera app invite to try them out, and many also wanted to try Honor 10 because it shines and the notch polarizes. In the PC Mark Akku benchmark, it lasted for 8:37. This was enough for a display-on time of 4:50 for two days. Power users will have about 7 hours per day. A one-hour YouTube video consumed 14% of battery at medium brightness. Honor 10 requires a remarkable amount of energy with a very brightly illuminated display.
Honor 10 is charged via the USB-C port. It comes with a Huawei Super Charger that charges from 0 to 100% in 73 minutes. If you want to recharge in between, you’ll get 25% in 20 minutes. The resurrected trend of Wireless Charging is unfortunately not available, despite the glass rear side.Battery lifetime Result Unit: hours