Huawei Honor View 10 Review

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PROS

  • Well-built
  • Front facing fingerprint sensor
  • Good battery life
  • Fluid performance
  • Good camera performance at its price point

CONS

  • Display has a blue bias in default mode
  • Uninspiring design
  • Underwhelming AI features

Huawei Honor View 10: Detailed Review

If you were looking for an affordable flagship smartphone, chances are you were looking at a OnePlus device, or a previous generation smartphone that saw a price cut. A lot of smartphone makers have realized that the 30 to 40k price point is a lucrative market. It is also the sweet spot where a smartphone offers flagship like features but doesn’t cost you a kidney. We have seen devices like the Nokia 8, LG V30+, Sony XZ1 and more launch in the 30K to 45K price point. Today we have with us the Honor View 10. The smartphone boasts of an impressive set of specifications, and features that can give any flagship a run for its money. It is priced at Rs 29,999 in India which is very competitive, especially when you consider the international pricing of the device. Does it have what it takes to take on the likes of the Nokia 8, OnePlus 5T and others?

Key specifications at a glance

Thickness: 7mm
Weight: 172 grams
CPU: Hisilicon Kirin 970 Octa-Core CPU
OS & UI: Android 8 with EMUI 8
Display: 5.99-inch 18:9 display
Display resolution: 2160x1080p
Rear Camera: 16MP+20MP
Front camera: 13MP
RAM: 6GB
Built-in storage: 128GB
Battery: 3750mAh

Build and design

Sleek, well-built and attractive are the first things that come to mind when you see the Honor View 10. Sure, it has a protruding dual-camera setup at the back, but we aren’t complaining about it since there are a bunch of phones that have it and we’ve grown to live with it. Besides, once you put a case on the smartphone (the one that comes in the box), everything is OK. I would have appreciated an Honor 8 Pro like seamless design with the camera though.

The smartphone has a 5.99-inch 1080p display in the new 18:9 form factor. Below the display rests the fingerprint sensor, which is more convenient over havng it at the back. I personally prefer a front-facing fingerprint sensor and I’m glad that the smartphone has this. The side bezels around the phone are slim. The bottom of the device has the speaker grille, USB-C port, and the 3.5mm headphones jack. The back of the smartphone is smooth and our review unit sports a metallic navy blue color.

The smartphone feels premium in terms of material used as well as the fit and finish, though it doesn’t boast of any extraordinary design elements that can make it stand out. The bundled case adds grip to the slippery metal smartphone and also solves the problem of the protruding camera. Single handed operation will be a task on this device and you won’t be able to access the top third of the smartphone with your thumb.

Display and Sound

As you may have noticed, the View 10 has an 18:9 display. A lot of apps in the Play Store have been updated to take advantage of the new form aspect ratio. Those that haven’t work perfectly fine, but with a black bar at the bottom. The smartphone also gives you the option to scale apps that aren’t optimised for the display, which is nice. When you power up the phone and start using it, the display looks good. You can watch YouTube, Netflix, play a bunch of games and it will work quite well. Out of the box, the display tilts slightly towards the cooler side and has a blue tint. This is a little surprising since it has an LTPS IPS display. In the settings, you have the option to manually control the colour temperature along with default options like warm and cool.  You also have the eye comfort mode in the display settings. With an FHD plus display, the Honor View 10 Plus isn’t the most pixel dense or the most vibrant displays around, but it also doesn’t suffer from any drawbacks or issues when it comes to the basics. We wish the brigthness levels were a bit higher though, along with better performance under direct sunlight.

The display to beat (and compete) for the View 10 would be the one on the OnePlus 5T. The OnePlus 5T has an Optic AMOLED display. On default settings, the OnePlus 5T doesn’t have a blue tint and the offers better contrast and overall performance in comparison to the View 10. Though all that also comes at a higher price point. We ran the Spiderman Homecoming trailer on both the smartphones and the outcome was more vibrant on the OnePlus 5T’s display. The Honor View 10 produced good true to source colours with a slight blue bias on the display (which was corrected by manually controlling the colour temperature).

The sound from the mono speaker is adequate. You can enjoy a YouTube video at full volume in a decently populated noisy office and still get by without feeling the need for higher decibel levels. Playing games like Asphalt 8, you hear the punchy sounds of crashing other cars coupled with the nitro injection. The smartphone still retains the endangered headphones jack which is a crucial inclusion for most buyers.

UI

Kicking things off with the UI, if you have used an Honor phone in the past, you will feel right at home. The Smartphone runs on Android Oreo out of the box (something the OnePlus 5T doesn’t), skinned with the companies own EMUI 8. If you like, you can have an iOS-like layout where all the apps are present on the home screen. Or if you are one that prefers an app drawer, then that option is there too. The phone comes with a bunch of pre-loaded apps and games similar to what we have seen on the Honor 7X.

One of the pre-loaded apps on the device is the Microsoft translator app. The app is available for Android on the Play Store, but Honor has partnered with Microsoft and preloaded the app on the smartphone. The functionality doesn’t differ when the app is used on any other Android device.

We tried translating from English to Hindi and the experience wasn’t perfect. There are times when the app translated what I said well and there are times when it was way off. We are still looking for people who speak Spanish or Czech, Danish and more to try the app. But between English and Hindi, the experience has its shortfalls.

The app has the ability to translate text too. So, if you are reading a menu in another language, you can click a picture of the menu in the translation app and see it in your choice of language.

Another interesting feature of the smartphone is how you can use the home button. Just like Moto gestures on the Moto phones, the Honor View 10 has fingerprint sensor gestures. You can touch the fingerprint sensor to go back, touch and hold to go back home and slide left or right to see the multitasking menu. It’s quite functional once you get used to it and I liked it. It also frees up the displays real estate from onscreen buttons.

Honor brings with it an interesting UI and it is one that grows on you. It gives you enough customization to keep thing interesting and for the duration that we used the smartphone, the UI was fluid.

A.I.

What according to you qualifies as AI? Is it the ability of your smartphone to tell you how much traffic there is before you leave for work? Is it a smart assistant? Is it the camera’s ability to identify the scenario and click better images? We are in the nascent stages of AI on a smartphone. The Honor View 10 brings with it camera enhancements which is related to AI, but the other features are more features than AI enhancements. The question remains, are these enhancements useful or gimmicky?

Before we begin, we’d like to tell you that the ability to unlock the smartphone with your face isn’t available and will come as an OTA update in the coming days. There are however a few features that we did put to test.

The camera of the smartphone can intelligently recognise the person, object or place you are at. This feature didn’t always work. For example, if you point the camera at a person, it says “optimized for portrait mode”. But this object recognition didn’t always work. It sometimes recognized the cup on my table and sometimes it didn’t. More on this in the camera section later.

Another interesting feature is that when you receive notifications, the smartphone will only show you the notification without showing you the content of that notification. When the person with the registered face looks at the phone, you can see a small preview of the notifications, like you would on any android device. This is a nice privacy setting as none can see your notifications unless you look at the device. This is a feature we have seen on the Apple iPhone X.

Another useful feature (but not necessariy AI), is how it manages display orientation. Keep the auto rotate on and lie down while texting, and the smartphone won’t change the orientation. The smartphone realizes that you are texting and stays in landscape mode.

If you have set your display to go to sleep in 15 seconds and are reading a news story or a website and don’t touch the display for 15 seconds, it won’t go to sleep. The phone will realize that you are reading and wont lock the display. These are smart and useful features, but we’ve seen such eye tracking/app aware features in smartphones launched way back in 2013 (Samsung S4?). Esentially, the AI hype around the smartphone could have been toned down quite a bit.

There are more such features scattered throughout the device.

Apart from the camera which can intelligently recognise the scenario and enhance the image accordingly, the other features can’t technically be classified under AI. You have a simple translation app that comes preloaded, something you can achieve with an app on the PlayStore. Others are trickery using the gyroscope and front facing camera of the device.

Overall, it will be quite a while before we see true AI on a smartphone, but the move is in the right direction. Today I can use, “OK Google” to click a selfie but I can’t say “OK Google, lock my phone” to lock my phone. Unlike Samsung which has Bixby, The Honor View 10 doesn’t have its own assistant. It relies on Google assistant and that’s OK. The features I mentioned above may not be AI related but they are handy. Orientation staying the same when you want it to, the display not going to sleep when you are reading a book, are good examples of features that once enabled can be taken for granted and that is a good thing. But again, they can’t be classified as AI features. Not at all.

Performance

Under the hood the device is powered by the Hisilicon Kirin 970 (10nm). For those of you interested in the benchmark scores, here you go

For everyday use the smartphone is butter smooth. Animations are swift, apps open almost instantly, games run without any glitches, there is really nothing I can tell you about the performance that has a significant drawback in real world scenarios. Apps crashed randomly once or twice on me, but that’s really nothing to talk about in the grand scheme of things. It can go toe to toe with the performance of the any flagship on offer today. Even after about 6 months of use, if the performance dips about 10 to 15 percent, the phone will still be pretty smooth.

When it comes to gaming, from Farm Hero Saga to Asphalt 8 and even Max Payne, the games are super smooth. Low load times and consistent high frame rate makes the gaming experience fun.

Camera

The Honor View 10 has a 16MP+20MP RGB+Monochrome setup at the back. Put simply, images clicked from the phone in both day light and low-lit shots are good. The only downside is the inconstancy with which photos are clicked. In well-lit conditions, you get good photos. No problems. The Bokeh images clicked on the View 10 are better than those we have seen on the OnePlus 5T. When it comes to low light, in some images, the View 10 gives good images with low noise. On other occasions, the low light images don’t preserve the details of the image and the white balance is off.

The front facing camera offers few nifty featues, Snapchat like AR based filters, software based background softening (bokeh) with the single front facing camera, etc. The Bokeh images of the front facing camera aren’t Pixel 2grade as they lose out on edge details of the subject. In normal scenarios, the front camera produces good selfies, but it does evidently softens details on the skin.

Below are some camera samples from the smartphone (scaled for web)

If we were to draw a comparison with the OnePlus 5T, the Honor View 10 is in the same league with better low-light performance and noise management. What holds it back though is the inconsistent whitebalance and occasional highlight clipping. When you consider the price however, at Rs, 29,999, the Honor View 10 has the best camera of all phones in 25-32K price range.

Battery Life

Another area where the Honor View 10 impresses is with the battery life. You can easily run the device for a work-heavy day with little gaming and video content consumption among the daily routine of calling, messaging, social networking and more.  After a work day, I had about 40 percent battery left which is better than most phones I’ve used. It better my daily driver, the OnePlus 5T by about 10% in battery life. Which is good for a non-AMOLED display based flagship phone with a 6-inch screen.

How it compares

It’s a lot cheaper than the OnePlus 5T so the value for money proposition is right there. Apart from the display which has a slight blue bias, the phone overall can take on any phone in its price bracket and emerge victorious – be it with the battery life, raw performance and gaming.

Bottom line

The Honor View 9 is a very competitively priced device in India especially if you consider its price internationally. For Rs 29,999 you get a well-built phone which is fast and fluid, runs the latest OS and has a good battery life. The camera is good too with the only problem being the blue bias with the display which can be corrected if you manually change the colour temperature. The features that come under the AI umbrella may not be true AI, but the fact is that they work. With the exception of Microsoft translation app, all the other features mentioned just work. For the price, the Honor View 10 is surely recommended for anyone looking to buy a flagship class smartphone that’s light on the wallet.

(digit.in, https://goo.gl/Q7EW3A)

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