Honor 10 is here, and the new premium smartphone has the potential to please all, from tech geeks to the average Joe. Honor 10 offers every possible feature you would expect from a flagship smartphone in 2018. From an edge-to-edge display to super fast processor to AI-assisted cameras, Honor 10 has it all. Plus the fingerprint scanner on the Honor 10 is placed under the glass, which is something new.
Ahead of the official debut of the Honor 10 in London, I had the chance to go hands-on with Honor’s latest flagship to see if it can succeed in the premium segment and give the OnePlus 6 a run for its money. Here is our first impressions of the Honor 10.
Honor 10 first impressions: Yes, there’s a notch
By now, it is clear that the smartphone industry is obsessed with the controversial notch design. The trend was initially started by the Essential Phone, Apple made it more popular with the iPhone X, and the rest wholeheartedly adopted it. Still I do not get the idea of having a notch on the top of the screen; it feels so unnecessary.
So yes, I was not astonished to see a cut-out at the top of the Honor 10’s FullVision display. The notch is smaller than the one on the iPhone X, though. Thankfully you do get a choice to disappear the notch that otherwise hides the front-facing camera and earpiece from the setting menu and replace it with a horizontal bar for notifications.
Honor 10 first impressions: No OLED, but bright screen
Huawei has stuck with an LCD display for the Honor 10 (rather than using an OLED panel seen on the P20 Pro). I do get the point; OLED is an expensive option which is why the Honor 10 comes with a 5.84-inch IPS display. This is a FHD+ panel with minimum bezels with a resolution of 1080 x 2280 at 432 pixels-per-inch. The screen is bright, colourful, and with perfect contrast. This is a great screen for watching YouTube videos and playing games. I would like to mention that the screen is a bit reflective, but that won’t be a major issue for most users I believe.
Honor 10 first impressions: A beautiful all-glass design
These days every new smartphone has a glass-backed design, however, Huawei has at least tried to incorporate its own design aesthetics to make the Honor 10 stand-out from the crowd. You will notice how the glass curves on all sides blends seamlessly with the metal frame surrounding the device’s edges.
Huawei gave the Phantom Blue colour option for review (I’m told the phone will be available in Midnight Black as well), and it looks so impressive. So, basically it has a reflective glass design that changes colour to either blue or purple. It entirely depends on the angle you look at it. If you are planning to pick up the Honor 10 on May 16, I would urge you to get the Phantom Blue colour option, given how stunning it is in appearance.
Aesthetically, this glass-covered design feels great to held in hand. But the phone is slippery and fingerprint prone. A small request: the case is mandatory if you want to guard the phone from cracks and regular wear and tear.
Honor 10 first impressions: Say hello to the headphone jack
No dongles or adapters required, and it is a big relief for Honor 10 users. Honor 10 does come with the 3.5mm headphone jack, despite being just 7.7mm think. I see it as a huge advantage, because let us admit not all of us are convinced with the idea of attaching an adapter so that we can use our old headphones.
Also, many still like to use their regular headphones, over Bluetooth-powered headphones. That means the Honor 10 has an advantage over the competition. Oh wait, OnePlus 6 too comes with a headphone jack. What a coincidence!
Honor 10 first impressions: And that fingerprint scanner…
One of the most interesting features of the Honor 10 is an under-glass “Ultrasonic” fingerprint reader. Many of you might be hearing it for the first time, because most smartphones do not offer this ultrasonic fingerprint sensor. It is different from a regular fingerprint scanner that is usually present either on the back of the device or on the front, embedded right into physical home button.
In case of the Honor 10, the ultrasonic fingerprint sensor is located on the front of the phone right into glass bezel below the display, thus removing the need for a physical panel. Even though the fingerprint sensor is under the glass panel, Honor has carved a virtual home button to make consumer easily find the detection area. Xiaomi Mi 5s was the first smartphone in the world to use an ultrasonic fingerprint reader, though the device was largely limited to China. If in case the fingerprint scanner doesn’t work properly, one can always rely on Honor’s face unlock feature. It works surprisingly well, but not in very dark conditions.
Honor 10 first impressions: Kirin 970 is blazingly fast
Honor 10 feels exceedingly snappy, no matter if you’re streaming videos on YouTube or editing a doc file. That’s because the Honor 10 uses the Kirin 970 processor that also powers the P20 and P20 Pro. If you’re keen to know more about the Kirin 970, you can always read our in-depth review of the P20 Pro. The Honor 10 also comes with a healthy 6GB RAM and 128GB of storage. However, a microSD card expansion isn’t a part of the package.
Wondering how the battery performed in my tests? Well, it’s too early to pass the judgement but I’m expecting the 3,400mAh battery to last a day on a single charge. Plus, Huawei has also included its own SuperCharge tech to quickly charge the battery.
Running Android 8.1 Oreo , Honor 10 has a customised EMUI 8.1 skin on top of Android. Also, the phone comes with a ton of Huawei-specific apps and services that I probably won’t use in my entire course of review. I’m not a big fan of Huawei and Honor’s EMUI interface, but I can see the company is trying to improve the experience. Still a long way to go.
Honor 10 first impressions: AI in the camera
A 16MP camera with an f/1.8 aperture and a 24MP monochrome sensor can be found on the back of the Honor 10. I tested the Honor 10’s camera in my neighborhood park for an hour to see how it performs in real world. It manages to capture a lot of details. The colours in this photo are, once again, accurate to real life. I also used the phone to shoot still photos of bright yellow coloured flowers. You can check out the samples below. I’ll thoroughly test the Honor 10 camera in real-word scenarios for the review and compare it to the OnePlus 6’s camera as when it is out.
Things get a bit of out of hand when you turn on Huawei’s AI feature, though. The phone recognises “nature and “food” scenes and automatically enhances colour saturation. In my brief testing, I captured many shots where the colours were a bit oversaturated and unrealistic.
Thankfully Huawei gives you an option to turn the AI off. The 24MP selfie camera is incredible at taking detailed selfies, though I’m yet to test the front-facing shooter extensively.
Honor 10 first impressions: Early verdict
There’s a lot to like about the Honor 10. The display is bright, camera works fine, performance so far has been fairly good, and it ships with latest Android version. Huawei and Honor’s push to make AI as part of the camera experience, though, isn’t convincing. Nevertheless, this is the most interesting Honor smartphone I’ve used. Honor 10 is clearly aimed at the OnePlus 6, which will likely be launched at a similar price point, though rumours indicate it could cost more.