The alternative par excellence for the Xiaomi Mi Max 3 has arrived: The Honor Note 10 with its 6.95-inches is a real phablet – and the display is even an AMOLED screen! Is this the ultimate phablet experience? The Honor Note 10 has now accompanied me for a good 2 weeks and you can find out how it went for me in the review.The Honor View 10 with its 6-inch 18:9 screen was only a foretaste, because with the Note 10 the focus is clearly on the display. It is powered by the well-known Kirin 970, although the Octa-Core is really not as fresh as it used to be – the Kirin 980 is just available in the Huawei Mate 20 Pro – it is supported by 6GB RAM, 64GB storage and a generous 5000mAh battery. The main camera is the same as was used in the handy Honor 10, only the front camera has a lower resolution. Instead, the large housing accommodates two large speakers, so you get stereo sound with Dolby-Atmos certification – full focus on multimedia consumption.
Honor has even more big display smartphones to offer. Right at the front is the largest phablet so far, the Honor 8X with 7.12-inches and Snapdragon 660, but also the Honor Play with Kirin 970 and its 6.3-inch display is not one of the smallest representatives. In this review, you’ll find out everything you need to know about the Honor Note 10 and whether EMUI is also suitable for phablets.
Design & Build quality
The Honor Note 10 is definitely not compact! But it doesn’t have to be either, after all, it’s a phablet. But it’s not that much bigger than other smartphones, despite the display diagonal of 6.95-inches, and one-hand operation is still possible to a certain extent. For typing, however, it is better to use it with both hands. It is currently available in the colors black-black front and black rear- as well as blue-black front and blue rear. Our black rear is not quite deep black, as with the OnePlus, but an intermediate thing made of anthracite and black.
|Honor Note 10:||177 x 85 x 8mm||6.95-inches||231g|
|Xiaomi Mi Max 3:||176 x 87 x 8mm||6.9-inches||218g|
|Xiaomi Mi8:||155 x 75 x 7,5mm||6.21-inches||176g|
|Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S:||151 x 75 x 8,2mm||6-inches||194g|
|OnePlus 6:||155 x 75 x 7,8mm||6.28-inches||177g|
In addition to the Honor Note 10 and operating instructions, the scope of delivery also includes a protective cover, which is slightly grey, an already attached display protection film, the Huawei Super Charger, a USB-C cable and a USB-C to 3.5mm jack adapter.
The Honor Note 10 is made of smooth glass both at the front and at the rear. On the front, the 2.5D display curves towards the frame, creating a nice semicircle. The distance between the display and the frame is 7.4mm at the top – here there is room for the front camera, sensors and a small loudspeaker for telephoning – at the bottom, it is 6.4mm and there is only an “Honor” chrome lettering. On the sides, the bezels are about 2mm. The RGB notification LED can also be found on the top right of the front.
The rear is also made of glass and much easier to grip – unfortunately, it is also a magnet for fingerprints. I also tested the Honor View 10 about half a year ago and here the rear was also completely smooth, but made of metal. I like it the honor Note 10’s glass rear better – but in case of a fall, you absolutely want to have the supplied silicone protective cover on it. The camera unit is also on the rear, and it is arranged vertically, but consists of two single lenses and is decorated with the lettering “AI CAMERA”. Below, you find the fingerprint sensor and in the left corner, another “Honor” print. The frame is made of black matte metal and is completely wrapped around the casing and retains its rounded shape. On the right, you have the volume control and the power button; in addition, a little further down is a button that serves as a camera release or activates the GPU Turbo. On the other side, you find the SIM slot. At the top and bottom, the frame is interrupted by two reception strips and is almost completely equipped with small holes (48mm wide). The loudspeakers and microphones are located here. The USB-C port is also located at the bottom in the middle.
The Honor Note 10 brings along everything a flagship needs including a great build quality. But as a whole it is somehow too big to be perceived as a flagship-jewel. The size outshines the great materials and design for many of those who had the smartphone in their hands. Compared to the Mi Max 3, however, it lies better in the hand. This is partly due to the 2mm narrower width and also due to the more handy rear, so I can still grip it well with one hand.
The heart of the Honor Note 10 is clearly the display. The other categories are secondary actors that you just need in a smartphone, but they didn’t save on the display and used an AMOLED panel. The display measures 6.95-inches in the diagonal and is in 18.5:9 format. The resolution is therefore 2220 x 1080 pixels, resulting in a pixel density of 355PPI. For comparison: the Xiaomi Mi Max 3 offers 6.9-inches, 18:9, IPS, 2160 x 1080 pixels, 350PPI. Thus, both smartphones reach a display area of 122.4cm², but the Honor Note 10 is 2mm narrower, which makes it easier to operate it. With the strong AMOLED display, we could also measure a brightness of 830 cd/m² – so you can ignore the summer sun.
The Full HD+ display offers everything a multimedia enthusiast needs. The contrasts are strong and the black is very deep. From TVs you know the terms HDR and HDR10, which is also used here. In the settings you can adjust the picture a little bit. A reading mode or automatic blue light filter are available.
The resolution is sufficient, but considering the size it could have been a 2K display – if you sit closer than usual in front of the smartphone, then experienced eyes can see not quite round icons and letters here and there. However, Netflix and Amazon Prime can be streamed in FHD, since the smartphone has received Widevine L1 approval. Also, the picture in picture function makes sense for me only with such a display: above you can watch a YouTube video and below have a website or news.
For the operation, the Honor Note 10 doesn’t offer the new gesture control, only other own possibilities, like the NaviDot or single button operation – so, the buttons can’t be hidden completely, as with Xiaomi. I haven’t missed it, because the Max 3 isn’t as easy to operate with gestures as a Redmi 6a, for example. The touchscreen also registers 10 points simultaneously. The display is protected by a screen protection film, but the technology used to harden the display glass couldn’t be found out.
In my eyes, the Honor Note 10 is already one thing: a therapy for anyone who is afraid of the “too large” display diagonals. After two weeks, my daily driver, the OnePlus 6, suddenly seems really small to me. Before that, I would have put it on the list of the best phablets instead of on that of the “normal smartphones”, but now I’m happy about the normally large display.
For commuters, smartphone junkies, users who work a lot with the smartphone or bored students in the lecture, the display is ingenious! With the almost 7-inch screen you can easily view the desktop version of a website or enjoy videos & series better than on the tiny 5-inch smartphones.
In the Honor Note 10, you find a very fast Octa-Core processor, but, unfortunately, it is still the Kirin 970 of the Huawei subsidiary HiSilicon. The chip consists of four Cortex A73 cores with 2.4GHz and four A53 cores à 1.8GHz. The GPU used is the Mali-G72 – which, to be honest, is also somewhat the problem of the team. Huawei Honor is currently focusing heavily on the GPU turbo “innovation”. The aim is to increase the rate of the graphics unit in order to improve performance.
Casually speaking: the GPU turbo would not have been necessary if a decent GPU had been installed. Qualcomm’s Adreno 630 doesn’t need that. Using the Honor Note 10, the message “GPU Turbo” appeared a few times, but since our system is based on the Chinese ROM, the content of the notification remains encrypted. Basically, the graphics boost only works in the background and improves the gaming experience. For cooling, a kind of liquid system is supposed to be integrated, as in the BlackShark. After 15 minutes of full load in the benchmark, the Note 10 clocks down to 90% of the performance.Antutu Result Geekbench Multi Result Geekbench Single Result 3D Mark Result
The benchmarks and numbers still speak for the class of a Kirin 970 and the Honor Note 10 shows a perfect working speed. I didn’t notice during the test that it jerks somewhere, a website is set up slower than on the desktop PC or apps don’t start in the same second.
As storage,, you get 6GB RAM plus either 64GB system storage or 128GB. In the largest version, it is 8GB RAM plus 128GB storage. The main storage is quite fast with its 7.6GB/s and is great for multitasking. The system storage is connected via UFS 2.1 and is just as fast. If the 128GB is not enough for you, you can expand the storage via the hybrid slot up to 256GB via Micro-SD card – but then it can no longer be used in Dual-SIM mode, because you sacrifice the second slot for storage expansion.
|6GB RAM + 64GB ROM||6 + 128GB||8 + 128GB|
We already know this setup from 3 smartphones: the Honor View 10, Honor 10 and Huawei Mate 10 Pro. The Kirin 970 can’t stand up to the Snapdragon 845, but it can to the Snapdragon 835. And this gives you a kind of flagship. Only the GPU sooner or later becomes a bottleneck in 3D games. With the GPU-Turbo, Huawei Honor works a little against it – with the Kirin 980 they hopefully do it better.
EMUI – System
Our Honor Note 10 was delivered by the CECT-Shop. EMUI version 8.2 was installed, which is based on Android 8.1. The security patch is accordingly up-to-date with August 2018. The Honor Note 10 is only available on the Chinese market, so our ROM is not originally by Honor: the system is well translated, only here and there you can find some parts in Chinese.
Most of our readers will already know about EMUI. The Huawei launcher is also used by Honor and offers, similar to Samsung’s Touch Wiz, many settings and even more apps, such as health, reader, music player, a design store or a game center. The only difference is that EMUI does not slow down the smartphone. On the Chinese ROM, you won’t find bloatware or advertising apps that need to be uninstalled. If you still don’t like EMUI, you can of course change the launcher, the corresponding settings can be found under “Apps and notifications”. For example you can use the Rootless Pixel Launcher or the Evie Launcher.
EMUI in itself is ok – it won’t be my favorite launcher, because this is already Oxygen OS by OnePlus, then MIUI and then Stock Android by Google Pixel – but in itself everyone will get along well with it. It is not a reason against an Honor Smartphone. In addition, the smartphones are supplied with the latest updates for 2 years, also the Honor 9 gets Android 9. Our China ROM gets normal updates – whether a Global ROM, probably coupled with the Note 10 for Europe, appears, is not yet known, but the Global version is already listed in the shops.
The phablet also offers everything you need to take good photos these days. As we know it from Honor smartphones, they are focused on particularly nice shots: the pictures are supposed to inspire at first glance with sharp colors, high contrast and, if desired, a very strong bokeh effect. The Honor Note 10 has the same camera setup as the Honor 10. It’s a 16MP sensor in RGB (color) and a 24MP sensor in monochrom (black / white), both with a f/1.8 aperture. The front camera has unfortunately been downgraded and now only resolves with 13MP and has a f/2.0 aperture.
The main camera does a good job: the phablet costs more than 460$ and a Mi8 or OnePlus 6 are even better, but the pictures that I managed to take during the test period can be watched on a big TV screen without feeling ashamed. Sometimes a few structures blur in landscape shots or the software exaggerates with high-contrast colors, but with macros you can see that it can be done differently. The OnePlus 6 simply offers even more details as you scroll closer and also bokehs are real here and not created with the help of the software. The shots were taken in the late evening, where the OP6 gets more light on the larger lens – so the Honor Note 10’s pictures have more image noise.
Once again, I was impressed by the EMUI’s camera app, because unlike the slim camera app of OnePlus, the Honor Note 10 invites you to play with its many modes. I think you get the best bokeh shots with the mode “aperture”. The degree of the depth-of-field effect can be determined freely and the software clearly separates the subject in focus from the background. In portrait mode this often didn’t work, despite the bokeh mode being activated. Here, the app first wants to recognize a face before it is ready. In night mode, for example, it is best looking for a railing to support the Honor Note 10, then let the camera capture light for a few seconds and then you can take great night shots with a little post-processing.
Again the term AI – Artificial Intelligence – comes up: if you activate it, the NPU – Neural Processing Unit – of the Kirin 970 does the work for you and selects the appropriate mode, adjusts the colors to the subject and you get a great photo without reworking. The function manages to distinguish between dogs and cats and also selects based on the environment what looks better at the moment. The effect can then be removed from the photo in the gallery if it has become too unnatural.
When taking photos, I missed the OIS, optical image stabilizer: even if no image was blurred at the end, you can always see how shaky your hand is when taking pictures.
The selfie camera is worse than that of the Honor 10 and you notice it in the results. The closer details (face) are roughly on the same level, although a bit coarser. Colors remain quite neutral and also the edge of the hair is not blurred. The background can usually hardly be captured with the Honor Note 10 with a selfie: it gets too blurred, moreover, I often had the problem that it was greatly overexposed outside – in the darker forest, it worked again. The front camera can also shoot bokehs, which also works fully electronically here. And that also works quite well, the person is then even more clearly in the focus. There are better smartphones for taking selfies than the Honor Note 10, but the images are still usable – unless they are overexposed.
Videos can be recorded in 4K at 30fps, although the electronic image stabilizer no longer works here. If you use the app “Open Camera” (PlayStore), then you also get stabilized 4K recordings. The best results are obtained with FHD at 60fps, as the image is not blurred and colors turn out better. In slow motion mode the sensor achieves 120fps.
The Honor Note 10 is, like almost all China smartphones, a Dual-SIM mobile phone. So far, only the Chinese version has been introduced and is available. Basically, the phablet supports all necessary frequencies. However, it often changed between 2G and 3G, which consumed a lot of battery. The Note 10 supports the following frequencies:
- GSM: 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900; CDMA 800
- HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100; CDMA2000 1xEV-DO / TD-SCDMA
- LTE FDD: B1 / B3 / B5 / B7 / B8; TD-LTE: B34 / B38 / B39 / B40 / B41
The reception was very good and stable, surfing the Internet was really fun with the fast Internet and the huge display. You can also make normal phone calls with the phablet. The noise-cancelling microphone does a good job, but,, in some cases it made my voice quieter for the caller. VoLTE was activated right from the start and was also used – there is no option for WiFi calling in the settings. Also the loudspeaker can be used extraordinarily well as a hands-free speaker.
In the Honor Note 10, there is space for two speakers at the top and bottom of the frame. Almost both sides are completely perforated here. In the sound check, the speakers are among the best we’ve ever had. They are even certified with Dolby Atmos, which can be switched on and off in the quick settings. The sound gets a bit more brilliance and three-dimensionality. Unfortunately, you still notice bass only rarely, but using the Honor Note 10, you can also enjoy a series on Netflix.
GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS and BeiDou are available for navigation, and are also supported by an electronic compass. You can get a fix in less than 5 seconds to an accuracy of about 100m, after about 20 seconds the position is determined to an accuracy of 3m. The navigation with the Honor Note 10 works quite well: in the car you have a huge display as a navigation device and the position was also rarely shown next to the highway. The phone didn’t always have a fast data connection at hand, which however doesn’t bother Google Maps. The package of sensors includes: the three standards (brightness, proximity, acceleration/position), pedometer and a gyroscope.
In local WiFi networks, the Honor Note 10 works in the ac standard and also supports Dual Band (2.4 & 5.0GHz). The Bluetooth version (4.2) is unfortunately no longer up-to-date, but there is NFC – how else would you pay on the go? Unfortunately, there is only one USB-C port available – the 3.5mm jack port has been rationalized and supplemented by a USB-C to 3.5mm jack adapter. My Xiaomi USB-C headphones were recognized as a headset.
Either the index finger or the face can be used for biometric unlocking. The fingerprint sensor was placed on the rear. The sensor itself works well and didn’t make any mistakes during 10 attempts in a row. But since the phablet is so large, it is really difficult to get hold of it – a little further down would have done the trick. With Face Unlock, Honor gives you a second method to unlock your phablet quickly. Unlocking takes about 0.5 seconds with the fingerprint sensor and 0.8(?) with Face Unlock. Unfortunately, the Face Unlock doesn’t work at night, because no infrared sensor is installed. You only have to lift your smartphone and the face recognition starts. Fortunately, this can also be switched off, because sometimes the camera was started from the lock screen and once even the emergency call.
The 6.95-inch display and the Octa Core both need power and for that 5000mAh are available. Honor made good use of the casing’s space and built in a large battery that promises almost infinitely long multimedia enjoyment. This is also confirmed in practice, as the Honor Note 10 lasted for 3 days with my user profile. At the end of the 3rd day, the Honor Note 10 had 3% left with a good 9:30 display-on time. The PC Mark Battery benchmark confirmed this with 11:10 hours. In the streaming test, a one-hour YouTube video with medium screen brightness at medium volume consumed 7%. In theory, this results in 14 hours of streaming.
Does the Note 10 even beat the Mi Max 3? No, Xiaomi has mastered optimizing the battery life and makes manufacturers of big battery smartphones look old. The Mi Max 3 offers 500mAh more battery capacity and the processor consumes less power. So there are also 13 hours as a benchmark result. Nevertheless, both smartphones are suitable for strong multimedia users, especially since you can recharge 10 times faster with the Honor Note smartphone.Battery lifetime Result Unit: hours
As if this long breath wasn’t enough, the Note 10 can be charged with Huawei’s Super Charge technology. The supplied power supply unit provides 5V and 4.5 amps for the battery. From 0% to 100% it takes only 1:50h. If you want to recharge a bit, you can go from 50% to 90% in 35 minutes.