A lovely blue and purple finish and a reasonable price tag aren't enough to put the Honor 10 over the top.
Huawei wowed me with its hypercolourful flagship P20 Pro phone and now Honor -- Huawei's sub-brand -- is getting in on the vibrant action with the Honor 10.
The Honor 10 brings the colour without the high price tag however. At only £399 it's half the price of Huawei's top smartphone. International availability hasn't been confirmed yet -- Huawei phones aren't easily available in the US -- but that UK price converts to about $540 or AU$720.
The phone has an all-glass back that looks vivid blue in some light, but give it a twirl in your fingers and you'll see the hue subtly blend into a deep purple tone. I like it a lot -- as I did the pink and blue Huawei P20 Pro -- as it's much more interesting to look at than the usual grey and black rectangles that pass for phones these days. The new OnePlus 6 has an all-glass design too, and while I like the classy look of the black model, I prefer the Honor's vibrant colours.
Flip it over and you'll see a 5.84-inch screen. Honor has joined the ranks of Huawei, LG, Asus and others in using a cut-out notch that juts into the display at the top and houses the speaker and front-facing camera. You can fill in the gaps either side of the notch to make it look like a solid status bar, if you'd prefer.
The display itself has a 2,280x1,080-pixel resolution and is bright and vibrant, with text easily readable under harsh overhead office lights. There's a fingerprint scanner below the display, although you'd be forgiven for missing it, as it's molded into the bezel. There's no depression where a home button would normally be, which gives the phone a neat, seamless look. The downside is that it makes it a little harder to place your thumb in the right spot in a hurry, but I quickly got used to it. The scanner itself is lightning fast and mostly accurate. It doubles as a touch-sensitive home button when the phone's in use.
There are two camera lenses on the back: a 24-megapixel monochrome sensor and a 16-megapixel colour sensor. Like the Huawei P20 Pro, the camera uses artificial intelligence to analyse the scene being photographed and tweak the image accordingly.
Also like the P20 Pro, I found those tweaks to be heavy-handed, often boosting saturation -- the blues when it detects a sky, for example -- to unnatural levels. You can turn this setting off altogether and you can also turn off the "boosted" effect after you've taken your shot. I found it best to leave AI mode switched on when shooting, giving me the option to turn it off later if I don't like the tweaks.
Beyond the AI, the Honor 10's camera is no match for the Huawei P20 Pro's. Outdoor shots were hit and miss, with some images looking flat, with little contrast and mushy details. Others were better, with more vibrant colours and more satisfying contrast, but this inconsistency is frustrating.
Low-light shots come out reasonably bright, but there's evidently a lot of software trying to reduce image noise, which results in fuzzy details when you look close up. It's certainly no match for the incredible low light skills of the P20 Pro.
Selfies from the 24-megapixel front-facing camera were similarly disappointing. An overall lack of contrast and fine details resulted in drab, lifeless images, even when taken outdoors with good light. If photography is your main concern, look towards the P20 Pro.
Inside, the phone runs the same top-end Kirin 970 chip found in Huawei's flagship (the company makes the chip itself) so it's no surprise the phones gave almost identical performances on our benchmark tests. That's impressive when you bear in mind that the P20 Pro costs twice as much. It's not quite a match for the OnePlus 6, however, which achieved better scores on all of our tests. In everyday use, the Honor 10 is speedy. Apps load quickly, photo editing is hassle-free and demanding games such as Riptide GP: Renegade play smoothly.
The phone charges with USB-C. There's no waterproofing to keep it safe from spilled beer, but there is at least a 3.5mm headphone jack on the bottom. The 3,400 mAh battery kept going for a little under 16 hours on our tests, putting it right alongside the OnePlus 6. You'll comfortably get a day of use from it, but you'll want to give it a full charge each night.
Overall the Honor 10 looks great and has plenty of power for its reasonable asking price, so it's a shame the camera doesn't shine. Its biggest competition comes from the brand-new OnePlus 6. The OnePlus also has a glossy design, its processor is more powerful and its dual camera captures much better shots. It's only £70 more here in the UK, and for my money it's definitely worth ponying up that extra cash.
|Huawei Honor 10||OnePlus 6||Samsung Galaxy S9||Huawei P20 Pro||Google Pixel 2|
|Display size, resolution||5.84-inch; 1,080x2,280-pixels||6.28-inch OLED; 2,280x1,080 pixels||5.8-inch OLED; 2,960x1,440 pixels||6.1-inch; 2,240x1,080 pixels (OLED)||5-inch; 1,920x1,080 pixels|
|Pixel density||432 ppi||402 ppi||570 ppi||408 ppi||441 ppi|
|Dimensions (Inches)||5.89x2.8x0.3 inches||6.13x2.97x0.31 in||5.81x2.70x0.33 in||6.1x2.9x0.31 in||5.7x2.7x0.3 in|
|Dimensions (Millimeters)||149.6x71.2x7.7 mm||155.7x75.4x7.75 mm||147.7x68.7x8.5 mm||155x73.9x7.8mm||145.7x69.7x7.8 mm|
|Weight (Ounces, Grams)||5.4 oz; 153 g||6.2 oz; 177 g||5.75 oz; 163 g||6.3 oz; 180 g||5.04 oz; 143 g|
|Mobile software||Android 8.1 Oreo||Android 8.1 Oreo||Android 8.0 Oreo||Android 8.1 Oreo||Android 8 Oreo|
|Camera (megapixels)||24MP mono, 16MP colour||16MP standard, 20MP telephoto||12MP||40MP colour, 20MP monochrome, 8MP telephoto||12MP|
|Front-facing camera (megapixels)||24MP||16MP||8MP||24MP||8MP|
|Processor||2.3GHz Kirin 970||2.8GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 845||Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 (2.8GHz + 1.7GHz), or Samsung Exynos 9810 (2.7 GHz + 1.7 GHz)||2.3GHz Kirin 970||Qualcomm Snapdragon 835|
|Storage||128GB||64GB, 128GB, 256GB||64GB, 128GB, 256GB||128GB||64GB, 128GB|
|Fingerprint sensor||Below screen||Back of phone||Back||Below screen||Back cover|
|Special features||Blue-purple shimmering colour, notch at top of screen, affordable||Portrait mode, notifications toggle, dual-SIM, Dash Charging||Dual-aperture camera, water-resistant (IP68); super slo-mo video; wireless charging; iris scanning||Three rear cameras, super slow-mo video (960fps), 3x optical zoom, 5x hybrid zoom, water-resistant (IP67)||Google Assistant; unlimited cloud storage; Daydream VR-ready|
|Price off-contract (USD)||$540 (converted)||$529 (64GB), $579 (128GB), $629 (256GB)||Varies: $720-$800 (64GB)||Converts to $1,140||$649 (64GB), $749 (128GB)|
|Price (GBP)||£399||£469 (64GB), £519 (128GB), £569 (256GB)||£739||£799||£629 (64GB), £729 (128GB)|
|Price (AUD)||AU$720 (converted)||AU$702 (64GB), AU$769 (128GB), AU$835 (256GB)||AU$1,199 (64GB), AU$1,349 (256GB)||AU$1,099||AU$1,079 (64GB), AU$1,229 (128GB)|