Honor View 10 full review
Hot on the heels of the mid-range 7X, Honor has announced the View 10, a flagship device that starts 2018 with the 2017’s biggest smartphone trend, an 18:9 display. But there's a lot more to this phone than that.
The phone was expected to be called the Honor 9 Pro as per its usual naming conventions, but the company have chosen View 10 thanks to its similarities to the Huawei Mate 10 Pro.
It's the first time the View branding has been used outside of Asia, and the device is actually very similar (on the inside at least) to the cheaper Honor 10.
The device has premium build, and while is not exactly the same dimensions as either Huawei’s Mate 10 or Mate 10 Pro, shares many of the traits of the two.
For a company trying to break into the UK mainstream at the same time as its parent company, Huawei, this affordable high-end flagship makes a decent case for itself so long as you’re looking to buy a handset outright. Honor phones are not always easily available from UK operators.
Price and availability
The UK price of the Honor View 10 is £449, making it £20 less than the OnePlus 6, and £50 more than the Honor 10.
In the UK, It is on sale now direct from Honor. It is also be available in France, Germany, India, Italy, the US, Spain and Russia. It's unlikely to see a US launch.
It's worth bearing in mind that you can pick up a Samsung Galaxy S8 for around £500 on Amazon these days, which is not a lot more. The View 10 holds its own against it in terms of specs, but you might prefer the comfort of a household brand and a superior OLED display.
Design and build
The Honor View 10 looks like a lot of other premium phones of the last 12 months, sporting an 18:9 display. First seen on the LG G6 and then the Samsung Galaxy S8, the form factor keeps the View 10 slim and manageable in the hand while adding some height to the screen.
This is the same aspect ratio as the Huawei Mate 10 Pro, yet there’s a front-placed fingerprint sensor and headphone jack like on the Mate 10. Confused? It means you get the better 18:9 display size with the familiar fingerprint sensor and headphone jack. This means the View 10 has an excellent mix of features from both versions of Huawei’s recent flagship - the best of both worlds.
The front of the phone is visually similar to the OnePlus 5T, though the View 10 has a more uniform, straight edged feel to it. Despite the front mounted fingerprint sensor, the phone isn't really taller than rivals.
The back of the phone is less exciting, with iPhone-esque antenna lines at the top and bottom, with a solitary Honor logo and dual rear cameras. Squint, and the View 10 resembles an iPhone 7 Plus with a taller screen running Android.
Two cameras are good to see, two ugly camera bumps are not, and is a shame when Huawei’s flagships manage to bring design that keeps the lenses flush with the body. A nod to the lower price perhaps.
With no glass back, there's no chance of wireless charging, though that is still a non-essential feature that would have increased the cost here - and also makes for a more slippery finish.
We like the matte back in comparison to smeary glass, and the View 10 has attractive shiny edges running around the display, sandwiching the matte rim that helps you hold it. It only adds to the premium feel of this decidedly mid-range price phone.
The Honor View 10 is alarmingly thin at 6.97mm and recalls the Apple of a few years ago that became obsessed with this measurement, to the detriment of build quality and 'Bendgate'. In our time with the phone though it hasn’t exhibited much sign of wear at all, even without a case.
If you’re on a budget, this is as premium a device as you’ll get for the price – the same £449 asking price as the OnePlus 5T while pretty much matching that phone’s specs.
The View 10 is available in midnight black and navy blue (though only the latter in the UK), but isn't as notably stunning as other flagships this year, or even compared to the older glass-backed Honor 9. It looks very similar to the 8 Pro that we reviewed last year.
Despite its upsides, the design isn't particularly inspiring, and reeks of a phone whose features you'll have to love way more than the hardware to shell out for it. Perhaps the black version we haven’t used fares better, but we still aren’t convinced many people actually want a blue phone.
Specs and features
So it's affordable and it looks pretty good. More importantly, how does it perform?
The display on the View 10 is a vibrant 5.99in LCD with a 2160x1080 resolution. It is pleasingly punchy for an LCD, but is not as vibrant as a Samsung or OnePlus OLED panel, even when you have the settings on Honor’s ‘vibrant’ mode.
But the size of the screen and its high brightness capabilities means video streaming and gaming on the View 10 is more than acceptable, and easily good enough for long sessions.
Processor, RAM and storage
It’s also great to see the octa-core Kirin 970 processor carried over, as it is Huawei’s latest chip and a powerful alternative to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 in most other high-end Android phones this year. The pure processing power and speed of this chip is a better sell for Honor than the half-baked, half-functional ‘AI’ capabilities.
It comes with 128GB storage, which is crazily good for the price (and industry morn of 64GB). On top of that there's a microSD card slot for up to 256GB - though bear in mind this will cover the SIM 2 slot, so you can't expand storage and use two SIMs.
A generous 6GB RAM too means that the View 10 zips through absolutely everything, and multitasking is no bother whatsoever.
Honor is leading with the AI features that Huawei pushed on the Mate 10 Pro and Honor had on its Asia-only Magic phone, and in theory they are impressive. There’s an argument to be had that it’s not really AI at all and rather a prominent assistant-style layer to the software, but we’ll let them have it for now.
The Kirin 970 processor allows for language translation in the pre-loaded Translator app, while the AI smarts also allow the camera to intelligently select the right parameters of a certain shot, without you having to go into a confusing pro mode.
It’s worth noting that you still need a data connection to use the translation features, much like Google Translate, so if you are planning on going abroad then you will have to download the relevant language pack.
Really what the NPU (neural processing unit, what Huawei calls its Kirin 970 chip) does is learn your behaviours to better enhance the day to day use of your phone. From sleeping background processes of unused apps to prioritising certain functions at certain times, supposedly the View 10 learns you better than other phones.
But on use there is no proof of that in the short term, and we doubt there will be in the long term either. Many Android phones are intelligent enough to prioritise processes, face recognition functions and vague claims like ‘AI enhanced translation’ are fairly vacuous.
The dual 20Mp and 16Mp rear cameras are more impressive, and offer portrait mode for a depth effect on photos, as well as a monochrome lens for excellent black and white photography. The 20Mp sensor is monochrome, and gives a natural effect compared to phones whose software simulate black and white.
Detail in landscape shots such as this shows excellent detail and light balance
The dual cameras also allow for decent portrait mode effects
An AI feature that proved genuinely good is object recognition. Point the camera at something, and an icon appears. Tap it, and the phone runs a search of what it thinks is in frame.
When it works, it works really well, identifying landmarks and even specific products like a Rough Trade mug. But frustratingly, the feature often disappears from the camera app with no way to recall it. And of course, it doesn’t always work. Honor also claims AI helps reduce blur in photos of moving objects.
It also says AI helps you get better selfies with the 13Mp front camera. In reality, this is not AI at all but post-processing software. Honor’s insistence of having the awful beauty mode on by default is also annoying, but at least you can turn it off. Selfies still look fairly washed out to us, even though there are some fun AR masks in the native camera app.
In its razor thin body, Honor has packed a whopping 3,750mAh battery with fast-charge the company claims can get you to 50 percent from dead in half an hour. In our testing, it proved good on that promise.
The View 10 has what the company describes as 'fast and secure facial recognition', but its only functionality is to reveal lock screen notifications when you look at the screen. The phone still falls back on its fingerprint sensor for secure app activity like banking, and it’s odd that the facial recognition is reserved for notifications only and not even unlocking the screen.
The phone is dual SIM active (the best kind) and has a headphone jack, mercifully, though no headphones in the box. If you didn't like the omission of the jack on the Huawei Mate 10 Pro, here's a way to get the same basic specs, a headphone jack, and save over £200.
The View 10 zipped through everything we threw at it. This comparison chart shows you some benchmark results against similarly specced Android phones, including the Huawei Mate 10 Pro that has basically the same internals.
You won't notice any difference in performance day to day between any of these phones. And with the View 10 vs the Mate 10 Pro, you're spending £449 vs £699.
Software could be what lets this phone down if you’re not a fan of Honor (and Huawei’s) EMUI skin. Granted, EMUI 8.0 is a lot better than previous iterations, but the changes it makes to stock Android don’t always make a lot of sense. Intuitive actions from stock Android are overlayed with different actions and icons, while the notification shade is still a bit of a mess.
Huawei and Honor’s changes to the basic look and function of Android is off-putting if you are used to Google’s version. OnePlus’ OxygenOS is a much better example of refined change to Android, where EMUI is the definition of change for change sake it seems.
Having said this, it doesn’t restrict use, it’s just a lot to adjust to if you’re coming from another Android device that doesn't have EMUI.
Yet the View 10 ships on Android Oreo 8.0, still one of the first handsets worldwide to do so, and remains an excellently affordable way to get your hands on an OS running Google’s latest software – even if it is masked by the massive changes EMUI brings.
You can add the preferable app drawer where EMUI by default displays all app on the home screens iOS-style, or you could just add the Google or Nova launchers from the Play Store to change the vibe.
In fact, Honor includes probably the most granular customisation settings of any widely available Android manufacturer, from screen resolution to accessibility features, secure enclaves and file encryption.
If you are looking for a phone you can completely and utterly make your own, this is a great option. But if you want a clean, straight forward Android experience out of the box, you are best off looking at a OnePlus 5T or Pixel 2.
Honor View 10: Specs
- Android 8.0 Oreo with EMUI 8.0
- 5.99in 2160x1080p FHD LCD display, 403ppi
- Huawei Kirin 970 processor
- 4GB RAM
- Mali G72-MP12 GPU
- 64GB storage
- microSD expandable to 256GB
- 16Mp main camera f/1.8
- 13Mp front camera, f/2.0
- 802.11ac dual-band Wi-Fi
- Bluetooth 4.2
- 3750mAh non-removable battery
- 157 x 75 x 7 mm