Honor 10 first impressions: An eye-catching design with respectable internals helps it stand tall amongst its peers

The Honor 10 is really well built and feels solid in the hand. Thanks to the glossy back, it is a tad bit slippery.

Honor has just finished wrapping up the global launch event for its Honor 10 smartphone. At the event, Honor announced its intention of taking at least the third spot in the global smartphone race. It intends to do that with phones like the Honor 10, which feature some unique design elements and an infusion of "AI". Is this a recipe for success or is Honor courting disaster? Only time will tell. For now, here are my first impressions of the Honor 10 smartphone.

Honor 10. Image: tech2/ Nimish Sawant

Honor 10. Image: tech2/ Nimish Sawant

Build and Design

The Honor 10 takes off from where the Honor 9 /9 Lite left off. In terms of design language, Honor 10 has added some finesse to the design, which we were impressed with on the Honor 9 Lite itself. The Honor 10 is available in four colours, namely, Glacier Grey, Midnight Black, Phantom Blue, and Phantom Green.

Honor has used what it calls the Aurora Glass design element with the phone, where the Midnight Black colour looks like any other glossy back phone, the Phantom Blue and Green has a sort of dual tone design aesthetic.

When seen from different angles the device looks like it has a purple or blue colour. The glass back also means that the Honor 10 will be a smudge and dust magnet. I found myself constantly cleaning the back, so that's something you'll have to get used to.

Honor 10. Image: tech2/ Nimish Sawant

Honor 10. Image: tech2/ Nimish Sawant

The glass back is complemented with an aluminium frame which has a glossy colour on the Midnight Black phone and a matte finish on the Phantom Blue variant. The glass back curves nicely around the edges such that the transition from glass (on the back) to metal to glass (on the front) is smooth.

The dual rear cameras are arranged horizontally on the top left-hand corner and they tend to protrude out. That means wobbly behaviour if your phone is flat on a table and you want to type. An LED flash unit is present beside the camera module and towards the right you see the AI Camera branding followed by the Honor branding towards the bottom of the rear side.

Honor 10. Image: tech2/ Nimish Sawant

Honor 10. Image: tech2/ Nimish Sawant

On the front you get a 5.84-inch FHD+ display. There's a notch up top and a chin down below. In the centre, you have a marker for a fingerprint sensor. It's not a separate button but a perforated rectangular demarcation that is flush with the entire chin. The volume rocker and power buttons are on the right-hand side and the dual SIM tray is on the left. The base houses the speaker grille, a USB Type C port for charging and data transfer and a 3.5 mm audio jack. There's also an infrared port at the top edge, in case you want to control your home appliances.

The Honor 10 is really well built and feels solid in the hand. Thanks to the glossy back, it is a tad bit slippery.

Display, Chipset

The Honor 10 comes with a 5.84-inch FHD+ display with a resolution of 2280 x 1080 pixels, which gives a pixel density of 432 PPI. This ensures that text is sharp and colours are vibrant. The sunlight legibility was a bit of an issue with auto brightness being on, in the limited time that I tested it. I had to manually increase the brightness. I still need to do a thorough testing of the display, but other than auto-brightness, it seems fine.

The HiSilicon Kirin 970 Chipset, which is the flagship SoC from Huawei, is seen powering the Honor 10. The Kirin 970 SoC comprises a quad-core Cortex A73 processor clocked at 2.36 GHz and another Cortex A53 quad-core processor clocked at 1.8 GHz.

RAM, Storage, Battery

The Kirin 970 Chipset is paired with 6 GB RAM and 128 GB of onboard storage. There is no microSD card support on the Honor 10.

In terms of the battery, you get a 3,400 mAh battery on board the Honor 10. The bundled charger supports fast charging as well.

Software and OS

Honor 10. Image: tech2/ Nimish Sawant

Honor 10. Image: tech2/ Nimish Sawant

Just like it’s high-end sibling – the Huawei P20 Pro – the Honor 10 also runs on Android 8.1 along with the Emotion UI 8.1 skin atop it, and it comes with the 1 April 2018 security patch. The software works just like it did with the Honor 9 Lite as well as with the Huawei P20 Pro. There are minor animation freezes while using the device. You can read out complete feature lowdown on the EMUI 8.1 in the Huawei P20 Pro as well as in the Honor 9 Lite review. The EMUI software has some thoughtful additions, but I'm still not convinced that it's better than a stock Android version. The EMUI skin is definitely not the best skin out there, but it gets the work done along with adding it's own refinements.

Camera

Honor 10. Image: tech2/ Nimish Sawant

Honor 10. Image: tech2/ Nimish Sawant

As has been the case with the last few Honor smartphones we have seen, the camera is the highlight of the Honor 10 Pro.

It sports a horizontal dual camera system which has a 24 MP and a 16 MP sensor along with an LED flash unit. Both the sensors have an f/1.8 aperture and support PDAF as well. On the front, we see that the phone has a 24 MP sensor which has 1.8 micron pixel size. The front camera which will be using the AI features on the Kirin 970 SoC will also support 3D portrait lighting. Honor is touting the AI chops on the cameras on the Honor 10 and in my brief testing time, the AI, although good, tends to oversaturate things, in daylight at least. There’s definitely an audience for these kind of photographs as well.

The Honor 10 is also capable of shooting in 4K at 30 fps, FHD at 18:9 aspect ratio, 60fps and 30fps and it saves the videos in H.265 format as well, which will help save some space on your device.

The Honor 10 also lets you toggle between AI mode and original photo after you've taken a photograph. This is a nice addition as opposed to taking that decision while composing the photograph, as it helps you quickly decide while reviewing your photos whether to keep the AI activated ones.

I still have to run the Honor 10 camera through its paces I'm various lighting situations, but I am quite pleased with what I've seen so far.

Conclusion

Honor 10. Image: tech2/ Nimish Sawant

Honor 10. Image: tech2/ Nimish Sawant

Honor 10 is definitely going to create some action in the Rs 30,000 space. The gorgeous design coupled with an able camera and respectable internal specifications definitely make this phone stand tall among its peers. How it performs in real life use case scenarios is something I will be trying to find an answer to in the coming days. Thanks to the first few hours trying out the camera, I am getting the feeling that the Honor 10 definitely has the potential to be the spiritual successor of the Honor 8 Pro’s camera – something the the Honor V10 was supposed to be but didn't end up being. The full review shall be coming out soon.

The Honor 10 has been priced at Rs 32,999 for the 128 GB variant, which is quite a competitive price point. It will most likely be going neck and neck with the OnePlus 6 which will be launching tomorrow. For all practical purposes, barring the triple camera setup, you're getting an experience that's closer to the Rs 65,000 priced Huawei P20 Pro at this price point.

Disclosure: The correspondent was invited for the launch of the Honor 10 by Honor India, who took care of his travel, accommodation and lodging expenses.

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