Honor View 10 Hands-on Review

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The Honor 7X is easily one of the best value smartphones released in 2017. But Honor isn’t only about budget phones with plenty of bang-for-your-buck. It’s taking on OnePlus too with the flagship-spec Honor View 10 — a phone Honor said will introduce you to the joy of mobile artificial intelligence.

If you have enviously been looking at the superb Huawei Mate 10 Pro, but can’t stomach the price, then the Honor View 10 will send waves of excitement flooding through your body, and see dollar bills fly out of your wallet.

Flagship specifications

Here’s a View 10 — which is known as the V10 in China — specification rundown to get things started. The LCD screen is 5.99-inches (2,160 x 1,080 pixel resolution) with an 18:9 aspect ratio, shrinking the surrounding bezels right down. They don’t disappear entirely, and the section below the screen is large enough to squeeze in a capacitive home button — no, it doesn’t physically press — with a fingerprint sensor inside.

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The metal body is only 6.97mm thick, and is smooth all over, aside from two large and ugly camera lens bumps. These are filled with a 20-megapixel and 16-megapixel lens array, producing both bokeh shots and monochrome pictures. We snapped a couple of pictures at the launch event, but it was tough to judge quality. Using and taking photos with the camera app was slick and natural, just like on the Mate 10 Pro and other Huawei/Honor phones with the same camera software. We should note, Honor is a subsidiary of Huawei and the two companies often share technologies.

As powerful and pleasurable to use as you’d expect.

A 3,750mAh battery sends energy to Huawei’s new Kirin 970 processor with the Neural Processing Unit (NPU). This is a big deal. It performs artificial intelligence calculations on the device, rather than in the cloud, speeding things up, and keeping them more secure. We’ve already seen its ability in the Huawei Mate 10 Pro. It’s joined by 6GB of RAM, 128GB of storage space, Android 8.0 Oreo and EMUI 8, fast charging, and face unlock using the front camera.

The NPU performs many of the same tasks on the Honor View 10 as it does on the Mate 10 Pro. For example, it will change camera settings based on the scene. There are 13 in total, ranging from recognizing the beach to pets. Several other AI-related features are ported across from the Honor Magic, an interesting China-only phone we checked out almost a year ago. Honor said it couldn’t release the Magic internationally due to trouble setting up important partnerships. The Kirin 970 and the NPU, plus the rise of mobile AI has changed the situation.

What can it do? It intelligently recognizes your face and only shows you your private lock screen notifications, much like Apple’s iPhone X. This joins a secure face unlock system, an auto screen activation, and an auto screen rotate. It works if you’re laying down in bed looking at the phone sideways. Sadly, it wasn’t possible to try out these features in the short hands-on time we had with the phone. What makes them extra interesting is they’re not available on the more expensive Huawei Mate 10 Pro.

Honor View 10 Compared To

In the time we did spend with the View 10, the software zipped through menus, the camera reacted quickly, we played a game and it performed really well, the screen is great to look at, and the phone is slim and comfortable to hold. It was as powerful and pleasurable to use as you’d expect such a high performance phone to be. In the U.K., the Honor View 10 will cost just 450 British pounds when it’s released on January 8, around 250 British pounds less than the Mate 10 Pro. That’s unquestionably superb value.

What about the Mate 10 Pro?

Does that mean you should ignore the Huawei flagship even if it’s within budget? No, based on our early impressions, you shouldn’t. The Huawei Mate 10 Pro’s Leica camera is more than just a branding exercise and produces jaw-dropping photos. The two lenses are different, up to and including megapixel count; so we’d be shocked if the Honor phone matched it, but are prepared to have our minds changed when we spend more time with it. The Huawei phone’s design is also more attractive, with the glossy rear panel and flush camera lenses looking and feeling more premium than the rather plain Honor View 10. It’s the same with the stunning OLED screen on the Mate 10 Pro, plus the View 10’s battery is a little smaller too. These are the immediate compromises you’ll make buying the Honor View 10 over the Huawei Mate 10 Pro.

However, the savings is so substantial, and the Honor Magic AI tweaks are genuinely helpful, it’s impossible not to be very, very tempted by the View 10. It almost seems too good to be true. We have yet to see U.S. pricing yet, but the View 10 is cheaper than the OnePlus 5T, a fantastic smartphone at a great price. If the Honor View 10 really is as good as it seems, and appears to be after a short while using it; then you’d have to be crazy to ignore it. We very much look forward to trying the View 10 out more.

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