Android

Honor View 10 Review – A Flagship That Doesn’t Break The Bank

It doesn’t feel like too long ago when Honor, the sub-brand of Huawei, brought to us their flagship Honor 8 Pro, but stepping into the 2nd month of 2018, Honor is ready for another flagship, and Honor Malaysia is quick to bring it in to our market. It might be quite unfamiliar to our market, but Honor’s V-series smartphones that are available in other markets are known for having access to parts from Huawei’s flagship line-up, but still offering a budget price. With a price tag of RM2099, is Honor’s efforts worth the price? Let’s find out.

Unboxing

Like other more expensive Honor devices in the line-up, the Honor View 10 comes in a darker navy-blue packaging. We’re greeted by the phone immediately once we slid the top cover off, and in the packaging it comes with the usual accessories – a bunch of documentations, a SIM-tray removal tool, a soft clear case, a USB-C cable for charging and data transfer as well as a wall-adapter. As a bonus, the wall adapter supports Huawei’s proprietary SuperCharge quick-charging system. Sadly, a pair of earphones is nowhere to be found.

Design

A familiar look, getting the job done.

At first glance, the Honor View 10 might look a little familiar to another device that is in Honor’s line-up, and yes, it’s the Honor 8 Pro. Our unit looks even more familiar being the blue colour, which is Honor’s signature colour. But, if you look closely, there are still differences. The simple, no-nonsense design is there for it to look classy, Honor style. In fact, we think that the designers went a little too far with the design – by no means it’s revolutionary or something fresh. Still, it’s not offensive and gets the job done. The dimensions are spot on, as the device comfortably fits in our hands without feeling bulky. It doesn’t feel unnecessarily bulky as well with a weight of 172-grams.

The materials used are pretty premium too, but there’s a catch. Covering the display is a premium-feeling glass with 2.5D edges, which is nicely rounded off to give it a premium look, feel and rigidity. The rest of the body though is not a one-piece metal unibody as found on the Honor 8 Pro. If you look closely, there is a separation between the side bands and the rear panel. The side band is now plastic, while the rear panel remains metal with a matte finish, but it still holds like a metal unibody, and despite its materials, the side bands do feel premium, and looks great with its chamfered edges design.

The star of the front panel is definitely the 5.99-inch display. It has a display-to-body ratio of close to 79% being a 18:9 display, kind of what’s similar to Huawei’s flagship Mate 10 Pro. Above the display is where the front-facing 13-megapixel camera, a LED notification light, an earpiece and a couple of sensors live. Even though it looks like there’s not much space for anything else below the display, Honor has managed to squeeze in a fingerprint sensor. So it does look like a weird combination of Huawei’s regular Mate 10 with the fingerprint sensor at the bottom and their Mate 10 Pro with the 18:9 display.

The SIM tray is located on the left as usual, and you do need a tray removal tool to eject the tray. In the tray contains 2 slots – a primary micro-SIM slot and a hybrid slot, which takes either a secondary micro-SIM card or a microSD card for storage expansion.

Apart from a secondary microphone, the top is also where the IR blaster lives, and as usual, Huawei’s Smart Controller app is included. The volume and power buttons live on the right, and they are conveniently located as well.

Even though the Honor View 10 does not ship with a pair of earphones, there is still a 3.5-mm headphone jack located at the bottom, followed by a USB-C connector for data and power, as well as a mono speaker at the bottom.

There’s really nothing much going on the back with its simple design. On the top left is 2 identical camera housings for the dual-cameras, and both of them sticks out from the body. The camera housings are followed by a simple LED flash beside them. Apart from the antenna bands that goes over the top and bottom of the panel and the Honor branding in the middle, that’s pretty much it.

Choices of colour for the Honor View 10 includes a classy black or a signature blue colour like our review unit.

Specs and Performance

Best of the best.

What’s packed in the Honor View 10 is where the device really shines. Last year, Huawei introduced their flagship in-house developed Kirin 970 processor with their flagship Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro. The big news about the processor is it’s inclusion of a Neural-Network Processing Unit (NPU) which handles all it’s AI capabilities. The View 10 is lucky enough to have this processor powering it as well. It’s the same story on the View 10 – an Octa-core unit with its 4 primary cores clocked at 2.4GHz, while the rest is clocked at 1.8GHz. It also includes the NPU as mentioned above, which explains the tagline “Your first AI phone”.

The NPU included is responsible as a hardware acceleration for machine learning tasks such as voice or image recognition. It takes artificial intelligent processing from the cloud and apply it on the device, which is why apart from machine learning, it will generally improve over software updates as well.

The variant that we receive also includes a 6GB LPDDR4 RAM, along with 128GB of internal storage.

We’ve seen what the Huawei Mate 10 Pro can do with similar setup, and our expectations are quite high for the View 10. After a long time of testing, we’re glad to say that the Honor View 10 is pretty much as fast as the Mate 10 Pro at most tasks. Going through the user interface and built-in apps is not a problem at all, and EMUI also plays a huge role in this matter. It just takes in well in all the tasks that we throw at it. Even with heavy task, there’s little to no signs of difficulty. There are apps that could use some better launching times and better performance, but it’s not entirely the device’s fault. With all the cores fired up at max, there seems to be very little heat coming from the back panel, but doesn’t temper with the performance, and the battery drain isn’t too bad.

The included 6GB RAM gives the device a lot of space for background processes to run, and EMUI is smart to allocate performance for apps that requires more punch. It will also monitor background processes and warn if any of them are consuming a lot of power.

After a run on Geekbench, the results obtained isn’t short of expectation. Single-core score settles at around 1901, while multi-core score is at 6776. And if you’re wondering, Google’s Pixel 2 XL with a competing Snapdragon 835 processor gets pretty much the same results, so the Kirin 970 is still looking great.

While the Honor 8 Pro tops out at only 64GB of storage, the Honor View 10 gets a whopping 128GB of storage. And even though the Honor View 10 costs significantly lower than any real flagships, Honor did not cheap out on the storage type, and gave the Honor View 10 an UFS 2.1 storage. You can expect sequential read speeds of over 800MB/s and write speeds close to 200MB/s. Of course, the Honor View 10 retains the option for a microSD card for storage expansion, and it will take cards up to 256GB, even though you have to give up on dual-SIM functionality. You can also plug in an external storage device via a USB-C to USB-A OTG cable.

A dual-band 802.11a/b/g/n/ac is supported by the Honor View 10, and it comes with the usual Wi-Fi direct and hotspot functionality. The View 10 is not on the Bluetooth 5.0 bandwagon yet, instead opting for the usual Bluetooth 4.2. Another let-down of the Honor View 10 is that it doesn’t support 4G+ band, which is definitely a bummer, but a weird thing to sacrifice on the View 10. The View 10 does have a USB-C port at the bottom for power and data, but it’s nothing more than a USB 2.0. There is a little IR blaster at the top, which can control appliances with IR with the included app.

Despite it’s 18:9 display which usually takes up most of the front panel, Honor managed to squeeze in a little fingerprint sensor just below the display. It does require getting some used to at first, but still couldn’t help think that they should just put it at the back just like the Mate 10 Pro. It is easy to enroll your finger, and is quick and accurate despite not having a matte surface. It does freak out a little bit with damp fingers, but most of the time, it works perfect. It is very quick to respond as well.

The Honor View 10 also supports face unlock, and is one of the easiest we’ve seen so far. Setting up face unlock is easier than setting up fingerprint unlock to be honest. All you have to do is to position your face in the selected area, and once it picks up, you’re good to go. You can set it to start recognizing your face once you pick up the device, and you can add a secondary swipe to unlock motion in case you don’t want it to unlock every time you pick up the device. Most of the time it works as fast and as accurate as the fingerprint unlock, but of course, it won’t work in dark conditions, where you still have to resort to the fingerprint sensor.

Display

18:9 is back again!

The display on the View 10 is a small part of how it gets its name. Presented to you is an 18:9 display which is getting really common with smartphones these days, including lower-priced ones. The bezels on both sides are really small, almost non-existent. The FullView display measures 5.99-inches and spots a resolution of 1080 X 2160, which translates to a pixel density of 403 pixels-per-inch. It is definitely not the sharpest, and like the Mate 10 Pro, it is sharp enough and is hard to pick up the pixels, even though the regular Mate 10 has a sharper display. The 18:9 display makes up for being able to display more vertical content, and is a blast to use while consuming widescreen content.

Being a device that costs significantly less than the Mate 10 Pro, the View 10 had to settle with an LTPS IPS display instead of an OLED display. Being an IPS panel, the colours are vivid enough, and the vividness is not too artificial. Like any other Huawei device with the same IPS panel, it could use a little more brightness under sunlight, but overall, it’s a great experience.

Honor does include some adjustments for the display to suite user’s needs. The usual colour temperature and comfort display mode is also included where users can adjust the colour temperature to suit their needs and the comfort display filters off bluelight at night. Other options include the ability to switch the screen resolution between regular HD+ (720 X 1440) and FHD+ (1080 X 2160). There’s also the option to alter the colour mode between Normal and Vivid, and it comes with vivid mode right out of the box. That’s definitely the setting to stick to as the normal setting looks dull and not exciting at all.

Speakers

Gets the job done.

The View 10 also settles with a single mono speaker located at the bottom of the device. It is a regular speaker, with enough bass and clarity for a mono speaker. There’s very little distortion at maximum volume, only gets messy when sounds get complicated. It is quite loud too.

Camera performance

Dual-camera, baby.

In the camera department, Honor does a good job keeping it right at it’s price. It is an improvement over the Honor 8 Pro, but still a notch under Huawei’s Mate series flagships. It spots a pair of sensors which consists of 16-megapixels and 20-megapixels, with the latter being a monochrome unit. While it sounds familiar, Leica, Huawei’s “best-buddy” when it comes to camera department, does not involve in the development of the camera setup on the View 10. Both sensors can work independently or together, with the monochrome sensor capturing the details, then letting the RGB sensor filling in the colours. They also contribute to the wide aperture and portrait modes.

We’ve seen good samples from other higher-end Honor devices, and the View 10 certainly does not fall short. In sufficient lighting conditions, it does capture great image. The details are rich and sharp. Dynamic range is spot on as well as it is quite wide, which allows it to capture accurate colours. It does lack the vivid option found in the Mate 10, and thus unable to capture photos with very rich colours. But it’s definitely not too bad.

Stepping up to the 20-megapixel option, both sensors are hard at work at the same time. To be honest, there’s very little change in terms of details and overall picture quality, and it is hard to notice. The monochrome sensor can also work alone, taking artistic black and white pictures, amplifying their details. The dynamic range is not as wide as what’s on the Mate 10, but overall, it is a good experience. There’s not much focus-hunting going on, and the HDR works well balancing the lighting on an image, even though you have to manually toggle it.

The View 10 also captures images alright in low-light conditions too. It is not going to blow minds or anything, but at least there’s low amount of noise, even though the colour and details can go a little off in this scenario which makes the image looks soft. Another feature the View 10 had to forgo is Optical Image Stabilization (OIS), so in order to deal with the increased shutter speed, you do need very steady hands or a tripod. There is a night mode where it increases its shutter speed up to 15 seconds, or you can play around with the pro mode. At this price-point, it really goes as expected.

Honor View 10 Samples

Honor did make a big noise regarding the AI capabilities of the Kirin 970, and one of them is being able to recognize objects or scenes, showing the icon of the object at the bottom right corner, thus adjusting the colours to suit the environment. Image recognition is quick and accurate, from small items to large sceneries.

With dual-cameras on the back, you can expect a portrait mode in addition to the usual wide aperture mode. Information collected from both sensors determine the shape and distance of the object, and then applying bokeh effect to the background. On the View 10, it works okay, and while most of the time it was able to make it really look like something off a expensive camera with its realistic bokeh effect, it may freak out a little with complicated shapes, which makes it look artificial. The portrait mode adds software beautification on top of bokeh effects, and you do need to keep the settings mid-to-low for both, or else images produced will look ridiculous.

Another plus for the View 10 is its ability to record videos up to 4K resolution at 30 frames-per-second (FPS), and like other Huawei devices, it is recorded in H265 codec, which means similar quality at lower file size, but also translates to problems for certain players. Stepping down to 1080p you do get a choice of 30 or 60 fps, and it’ll go all the way down to MMS resolution. 4K videos are fine, with good enough details and colour, but at times there is some exposure flicker, which is uncommon. Surprisingly, the sweet spot seems to be in 1080p 30 fps mode, as surprisingly while in 60 fps the frames are smooth enough, there seems to be some detail loss.

On the other side we’re presented a 13-megapixel shooter with f/2.0 aperture for front-facing selfies. As always, it does a good job taking good quality selfies. There’s lots of details, and putting more effort to make sure your face looks good at all times, which can tamper with the background at times. The portrait mode is here as well, which includes background blurring and software beautification. While there’s no autofocus yet, it is easy to still get your face in focus. It could still use a wider angle lens, but you can do panorama shots with the front-facing camera.

As with all Honor phones, the View 10 comes with a simple and regular camera app. It does not look as complicated as the ones in Mate 10 Pro at first, but there’s still a lot to play with. There’s a dedicated AR mode which can picks up a person’s face, then applying fun backgrounds and filters. There is also a pro mode where you can play with the ISO and shutter speed, amongst other things.

Software

EMUI 8.0

As a new device from Honor, the View 10 ships with Android 8 Oreo out of the box, with Huawei’s own EMUI 8.0 customization on top. While on most part it looks like every other Huawei smartphone out there with EMUI, there is some Honor-themed light blue at some parts of the user interface. As usual, it is clean, easy to navigate and quite simplified. It does come with quite a lot of apps, especially questionable ones like a standalone app for the torch and mirror. But still, with Kirin 970 and 6GB of RAM, the user interface is a breeze to go through.

Honor View 10 Screenshots

Battery life

The Honor View 10 has a 3750mAh battery, significantly smaller than the 4000mAh found in the Mate 10 Pro. This does have quite an impact on the battery life. Our usual test returns around 20-25% at the end of the day, and we found ourselves searching for a charger significantly more times than the Mate 10 Pro.

On the other hand, the View 10 is shipped with a charger that supports Huawei’s SuperCharge technology. Using the included cable, you can enjoy up to 5V 4.5A of speed charging, which takes the battery from a completely flat state to 50% in 30 minutes. If you don’t have access to either of those, a regular 2A charge doesn’t take too long as well.

To Wrap Things Up

While the View 10 has some sacrifices to make in order to make it to its price point, to be honest, its not the end of the world. They say that you get what you paid, but honestly in this case, you are getting more of what you paid for. There is still reasons why you should spend more to get the Mate 10 series, but if you’re on a budget and think that the View 10 is good enough for you, then definitely, go ahead then. It is still worth noting that other devices in this price range do still have their own advantages, but you just have to put the View 10 on your consideration list.

Recap:
Kirin 970 Processor with NPU for AI capabilities
6GB RAM + 128GB internal storage + microSD support up to 256GB
5.99-inch 18:9 FHD+ LTPS IPS display, 1080 X 2160, 403 ppi
16MP RGB + 20MP monochrome rear camera
13MP front-facing camera
3750mAh battery

The Pros:
Good value for money
Flagship processor paired with good specs
Good performance
18:9 display allows better content consumption
Good device unlock solution (face + fingerprint)

The Cons:
Battery life is not as good as expected
Looks a little too boring
Camera lens stick out is prone to scratches
Speaker is alright
Low-light photography can still be improved

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