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Honor 10: Budget-friendly flagship

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Review

By Zsarlene B. Chua, Reporter

In recent years, the battleground in the fiercely competitive smartphone market has shifted from top-tier phones with top-tier pricing to mid-range pricing with top-tier specs and for the Chinese Honor brand (a sub-brand of Huawei) this is a battleground they want to dominate in, especially with the introduction of Honor 10.

There’s a lot to love about this phone, starting from its design which has the almost bezel-less display and iridescent color, the variant BusinessWorld was sent to review is called Phantom Blue and bears striking resemblance to Huawei’s Klein Blue, a Royal Blue with a “Twilight” effect for a bit more shine.

At first glance, the design for the Honor 10 is very similar to the mother brand’s P20 line. This writer has a P20 Lite and aside from the repositioning of things — the rear camera in Honor is horizontal while P20 Lite is vertical — and the position of the fingerprint scanner (Honor’s is in front while P20 Lite is at the back), it was entirely possible for the two to be mistaken for the other.

And that’s not necessarily a bad thing as the 128 GB/4 GB RAM variant of the Honor 10 is priced at P23,990 while the P20 with 128 GB/4 GB RAM is priced at P34,990. So if one wants to have the P20 but cannot afford the price, Honor 10 is more than just a good alternative as inside, the Honor 10 contains the same Kirin 970 chipset that powers the P20.

But how does it perform? Pretty admirably but it’s not without a few concerns. Focusing on all the good things it has to offer, the almost bezel-less screen display is crisp and with 5.84 inches the full HD display provides amazing visuals.

The device feels premium and while Honor went for a minimalist design — the volume rocker and power button is on the right while the SIM tray is on the left and the fingerprint scanner sitting unobtrusively at the bottom of the screen display with a hazy outline to show where it is — it didn’t skimp on the metal trim running on the side of the device or the aforementioned iridescent glass panel at the back.

It is a beautiful phone though the back does attract more than attract fingerprints so one has to repeatedly wipe it off. It feels good on the hand though this writer has found that it’s a bit slippery so one can benefit from using the jelly case provided in the box for better handling.

With 4 GB RAM and 128 GB ROM, there’s a lot of room to play with and multi-task. It runs Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) mobile on high without a hitch though playing Asphalt 8: Airborne tends to heat up the device a bit. The device doesn’t have a microSD slot, which is a bit disappointing but with 128 GB of storage, the sting hurts less.

The speakers are located at the bottom of the device where it accompanies the USB Type-C charging port and the 3.5-mm earphone jack. The speakers are nice and loud and clear, so that’s a definite plus for this writer.

Honor 10 has also incorporated a face recognition technology which was fairly reliable, though it does take a lot of getting used to the fact that one has to raise the phone to eye level to unlock the phone every time. Most of the time, recognition is snappy though there are times — when there’s low light — when it requires several tries. It also does not recognize one’s face if one is wearing a pair of sunglasses.

Honor 10: Budget-friendly flagship
The author’s selfie using Honor 10 — Photo: Zsarlene B. Chua

The face recognition technology made the fingerprint scanner on the bottom of the display a bit unnecessary though it is more reliable than face recognition. Personal preference-wise, this writer likes having the fingerprint scanner at the back of the device like the P20 line instead of below the display.

The rear camera sports a dual 24 MP (f/1.8) monochrome camera and a 16 MP (f/1.8) full color camera while the front has a single 24 MP shooter. While the Honor 10, likely due to its lower price point, doesn’t carry the Leica-branded cameras, the shooters on this device are no slackers: it does perform admirably in low light situations though several brightly-lit areas can be overexposed and it shoots daytime scenes beautifully though it tends to be on the warmer side of the spectrum.

Honor 10: Budget-friendly flagship
Low-light shot using Honor 10 — Photo: Zsarlene B. Chua
Honor 10: Budget-friendly flagship
Low-light shot using Honor 10 — Photo: Zsarlene B. Chua

Honor 10 runs on EMUI 8.1 which is based on Android 8.1 Oreo. It doesn’t have an app drawer though there’s an option to put one in (and the notch can be hidden as well), so it’s a matter of preference. Out of the box, the device comes with a bit of bloatware including several games such as the aforementioned Asphalt and a few others. This writer found that it’s the same for the P20 Lite, several games are pre-installed. Is it a deal-breaker? No, but it can be a bit annoying.

That aside, the phone has a 3,400 mAH non-removable battery which affords a user a decent a day and a half of moderate usage though it does come with a supercharge technology that charge from 0% to 100% in a little over two hours.

In all, this is a pretty solid device — there’s a lot to love and a few quirks that usually is about personal preference. It’s a half-step down from the P20 but it certainly is no slouch in any department.

Huawei Honor 10 4GB/128 variant is available at Lazada for P23,990.

Here’s a glance at its specs sheet:

OS: Android 8.1 (Oreo)

CPU: Octa-core (4×2.4 GHz Cortex-A73 & 4×1.8 GHz Cortex-A53)

Internal Storage: 64/128 GB, 4/6 GB RAM

Primary Camera: Dual 16 MP (f/1.8) + 24 MP B/W (f/1.8), phase detection autofocus, LED flash,check quality

Secondary Camera: 24 MP, f/2.0, 1080p

Color: Phantom Blue, Phantom Green, Midnight Black, Glacier Grey