Honor Philippines, in partnership with their local e-commerce partner Shopee, successfully launched the the budget brand’s flagship model Honor 10 in the local market last May 31, and the Kanto Tech team (or as we like to call ourselves, KantoTechies, hehe) was there to witness the unveiling of Honor’s latest flagship.
One of the most interesting things about the Honor 10, from Huawei’s budget sub-brand Honor, is that some people are calling it “Affordable Flagship”, since it certainly has monster specs that rival its more popular cousin, the Huawei P20, at around ~Php12,000 cheaper.
- Screen: 5.84in IPS LCD (432ppi), 1080 x 2280 pixels (FHD+), 19:9 ratio, Corning Gorilla Glass. With display notch (79.9% screen to body ratio)
- Processor: Octa-core Huawei Kirin 970
- GPU: Mali G72 MP12
- RAM: 4GB of RAM
- Storage: 128GB, no microSD slot
- Operating system: EMUI 8.1 based on Android 8.1 Oreo
- Camera: Dual rear camera 16MP (f/1.8) + 24MP B/W, 24MP (f/2.0) front-facing camera, with AI Camera feature
- Connectivity: Dual sim LTE, Wi-Fi, NFC, Bluetooth 4.2, Infrared Blaster, and GPS
- Battery: Non-Removable Li-Po 3400mAh, with Honor SuperCharge
- Dimensions: 149.6 x 71.2 x 7.7 mm
- Weight: 153g
PACKAGING AND CONTENTS
The unit we currently have is the midnight black version, with 4GB RAM and 128GB ROM. Aside from the main unit, the packaging included a SIM ejector tool, a clear case, a USB Type-C cable, and a Huawei Supercharge (5V/4.5a) USB charger. The main unit also has a screen protector installed, which really makes it a really practical package. Unfortunately, there were no included earphones. However, if you are pre-order from May 31 to June 6, you will get a chance to win JBL headphones worth Php2,990 + Php1,000 off.
Huawei Supercharge USB Type-C compatible cables are colored purple to indicate that they are capable of using a 5V/4.5a current. If you use the USB charger but an incompatible cable, the supercharge feature won’t work. I tried using a normal charger and it doubled the charging time.
DESIGN AND BUILD QUALITY
The Honor 10 feels really great to hold. I have large hands, and considering that I was a bit uncomfortable using a Nova 2i because of its size, the Honor 10 felt just right. The thinner bezels enabled the 5.84-in screen to be more reasonable to handle. The 2.5D curved glass on both front and back are fingerprint magnets, and the sides are all made of polished metal. Unfortunately, since the unit is black, it didn’t feature the “Aurora Glass”, which is the color-changing glass design visible in the blue version. All in all, the materials used definitely makes it feel like a flagship device.
At the bottom, there’s a USB type-C port; and thankfully, a 3.5mm audio jack. The speaker grills are on the right side. On the top of the unit, there’s also an IR blaster, which is probably one of most underrated features missing on flagships now.
At the back, Honor is so proud of its AI camera that it actually put the name there. The dual camera is a 24MP BW + 16MP (f/1.8) wide aperture shooter capable of utilizing Honor’s AI feature. Essentially, it detects objects, scenes, or people, and automatically chooses effects to enhance the photo. Think of it as auto mode on steroids. There is only a single-LED direct white flash. Unless you’ve been using a dual-LED setup previously, you won’t really notice a big difference in using the flash.
The Honor 10 features the notch popularized by the iPhone X. The notch houses the earpiece speaker, sensor, and the single front/selfie camera. This notch on the Honor 10 effectively makes it look as similar as the LG G7 or the OnePlus 6. The good thing is, there is a way to “hide” the notch, meaning black out the status bar natively in the display settings. However, you still will not to be able to see all the phone notifications, since the notch bumps out some of it when the status bar is full.
One of most personally annoying things about the phone, which I appreciated on the Nova 2i, is the location of the “Ultrasonic” fingerprint scanner, which supposedly helps when you use wet fingers. It’s a great feature, but it’s pretty difficult to reach, and it would have been better if it was at the back, like most other flagships.
The display of the Honor 10 is a 5.84in IPS LCD FHD+ screen, which has very crisp detail and colors. However, it is a few notches lower in terms of overall quality compared to the OLED screens of the Huawei P20 Pro, Samsung Galaxy S9, or the Oneplus 6. In this regard, the “budget” aspect of this flagship really shows. One of the things that further highlights the seemingly lower-quality display shows during daytime, as usage in direct sunlight even in 100% brightness results in an almost unreadable screen.
However, if you’ve never seen any one of those phones mentioned above, and don’t have any basis of comparison, you’ll be already very satisfied with the quality of the display. Just don’t use it in direct sunlight, hehe.
CAMERA PERFORMANCE AND SAMPLE PHOTOS
The AI camera feature, which does some pretty quick scene detection, is one of the key highlights of the phone. According to Honor team, it’s due to the separate NPU or Neural-Network Processing unit. It should intelligently predict what kind of photo you’re going to take and optimizes your photo subsequently. However, it’s definitely not [yet] perfect. Some photos become too bright or look fake. Bokeh effect is definitely welcome but sometimes it looks overdone. Thankfully, although the HiSilicon Kirin 970 processor powers AI, it is still primarily a software-based feature, and it might improve with future updates.
Even if you shoot with AI turned on, you can still reverse it after you shoot. I guess there are really just some photos that almost require AI, while it is almost unnecessary for some. For scenery, the AI effect is similar to the HDR mode found in some other phones. There are a ton of other camera features, and deserves a shootout in a separate post. But for now, here are some sample photos :
Scenery (with AI)
Scenery (without AI)
Portrait (with AI)
Portrait (without AI)
Flower (with AI)
Flower (without AI)
Despite the Honor 10 not having a dual-lens front-facing camera, it still churns out pretty impressive photos with its 24MP f/2.0 front-facing shooter. Selfie photos generally also look bright and detailed. I usually turn off beauty mode because in most phones, I find the effect too fake (Also, it turns my bald head into a glowing ball). It’s the same with the Honor 10, even at lower-level beauty modes, the effect is drastic. The below selfies did not have beauty mode turned on.
With the screen acting as flash, photos taken in dark environments are also very acceptable, and details are still visible although some colors are flushed.
There’s also a huge line of really cute Augmented Reality (AR) stickers and effects available, which I’m sure some people would love to use.
With the Honor Supercharge, I was able to bring the battery of the Honor 10 from 0% to 50% in less than 30 minutes, so their claim of 50% in 25 minutes is true, given that the phone is completely turned off. Full charge to 100% can be done in a little under an hour.
However, battery life was okay but not the best, despite it being rated at 3,400mAh. On the first day of use, after playing games, surfing, email, and 4G turned on most of the time, battery lasted for around 28 hours until it got fully drained. On the second day, and with the same usage, by the time I had reached home, it was already at less than 20%., and I had to charge the unit anyway. So, most likely you would still need to charge the unit every night after a full day’s use.
PERFORMANCE and GAMING
This is probably where the Honor 10 shines the most. There were no major issues with everyday performance. Shifting between apps is buttery smooth, and running usual apps (facebook, youtube, email, chats, etc) poses no problem for the Honor 10.
In addition, I’ve used the Honor 10 on different games, and it all shows one thing – the combination of the Kirin 970 processor + Mali G-72 GPU makes it a monster in terms of real-life performance.
After testing for two days, it can basically run most games on high to highest settings with no visible lag or sudden FPS drops. Arena of Valor (AOV) runs on the highest settings with high frame rate mode on, and can still manage between 40-43 fps. For PUBG Mobile, it can run on high settings with high frame rate setting as well. Pretty much the same goes with Mobile Legends, Asphalt 9: Legends, Honkai Impact 3, and all other basic games. There is substantial heat generated when playing visually demanding games, but so far it wasn’t much of an issue with the plastic case installed. Also, take note that for optimal performance (and since there’s only 4GB of RAM), it’s much better to play games with all other apps closed.
- Face unlock is quick and effortless – and can detect my face with or without glasses (which is very important for me)
- No expandable storage/microSD slot
- EMUI 8.1 has a lot of small quirks, and OS sometimes lags when doing multitasking
- No wireless charging
- No water resistance/drop protection
CONCLUSION: The best “affordable flagship” phone right now
The Honor 10 is a very capable phone, and with its flagship-like features at a relatively low price of just Php 23,990, it’s probably the best “Affordable Flagship” so far this 2018. For simple users, it basically shares almost the same specs as the Huawei P20 Pro, minus the Leica lens (and accompanying camera quality) and the OLED display. Sure, there are some minor setbacks like lack of expandable storage and water resistance, but for a phone this cheap, it’s truly a best buy if you’re looking to upgrade to a mid-range phone.
If you currently already have a flagship device like the Huawei P20 Pro, Samsung S9, Oneplus 6, LG G7, Apple iPhone X, etc it’s definitely not worth buying, so just stick with what you have.
The Honor 10 is launching on June 6 locally, with Shopee as its exclusive online partner. Check out the Honor Philippines Facebook page for more updates.