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Interested in a top of the line smartphone but put off by the high prices most range topping phones command? Well, then, have we got the phone for you!

This is the Honor 10 – a phone from the Huawei sub-brand that takes after Huawei’s own acclaimed P20 flagship. But it boasts a slightly different approach that still does manage to set it apart from its Huawei stablemate.

Given that, is the 10 worthy of consideration? Come join us as we try and find out!

Deja vu?

We won’t take it against you if you do a double-take upon seeing the Honor 10 in the flesh, so to speak, for the first time. It really does look quite a bit like the P20 (and as you’ll see, they do share some features and even a color choice or two).

With the 10, Honor jumps on the bandwagon by crafting its back out of glass (in Honor-speak, this is referred to as “Ever Changing Aurora Glass Design”). While this may make the phone a little less sturdy, it does make it much more eye-catching – the deep, striking blue hue of the stunning blue version can look purple from some angles and given the right kind of lighting. By the way, we hear that the rear incorporates no less than 15 layers of glass, making it look very regal and a true standout in a world where many smartphones, even flagship ones, are content to look so similar they verge on being anonymous. There’s a clear case in the package should you wish to hide your Honor 10’s panache from the prying eyes of the public.

The 10’s screen is exactly the same size as that of the Honor 10: 5.84 inches. And both, of course, unabashedly borrow screen notches housing speakers and their front-facing cameras from the Apple playbook. (If you don’t like the notch, at least Honor will allow you to fill in the gaps on either side of said notch.)

The 10’s screen – an IPS LCD FullView FHD+ Aurora Glass affair, quite a mouthful, right? – is beautiful and vibrant and boasts a 2,280 x 1,080 resolution. Screen ratio is 19:9. The screen is super usable and really enjoyable to gaze at for any length of time.

Interestingly, the 10 comes with an inbuilt fingerprint scanner located below the display, bucking the trend of Android phones mounting their scanners out back. This phone’s scanner is built into the bezel and fits flush with the phone’s front – it doesn’t mess up the phone’s styling at all. (This of course makes the scanner a little bit harder to find than in other phones with “regular” fingerprint scanners.) Not to worry if you find such a scanner a chore to use or if hunting for it every time irks you; the 10 also features face unlock technology.

Up next we take a quick peek at the camera. The 10 mounts a 24MP (monochrome) and 16MP (color) dual-camera module at the rear, augmented by a “cutting-edge AI algorithm” which works to pair subjects with optimal camera settings and brings about faster and more efficient performance thanks to what Honor calls a Neural Processing Unit. Up front it has a single 24MP lens that supposedly enables particularly sharp selfies. More on the performance of these cameras in the succeeding section.

Regarding the 10’s firepower, it boasts a HiSilicon Kirin 970 octa-core processor that’s supposed to confer smooth and powerful performance – yup, the very same processor that takes pride of place in the P20 itself.

As for color choices for the Honor 10, you can select between the gorgeous Phantom Blue and a deep, dark Midnight Black.

And we almost forgot to mention – last but certainly not least, the 10 comes with a headphone jack for those of you who don’t feel like giving up wires just yet.

Steadfast performance

You needn’t be concerned if the 10 looks a little too much like the P20 for your comfort – it’s decidedly its own machine, so to speak.

Let’s start with the 10’s processor, which as in the P20 is a beast. Bolstered by the phone’s 4GB of RAM, it took everything we threw at in without flinching, so to speak, even the relatively tougher and more challenging games and other resource-intensive tasks. The 10 runs Android 8.1 Oreo overlaid with Huawei’s and Honor’s Emotion UI (EMUI). EMUI is a relatively decent overlay, but it can need a little getting used to if you haven’t used it the first time. By the way, the 10 comes with 128GB of internal storage – which isn’t expandable, mind you.

Up next is the camera – which you may feel wouldn’t be as good a performer as that in the P20 given that the P20’s was developed with Leica. Sure, that camera set is exceptional and has rightly been honored for being so. But that being said the Honor 10 still does take great shots with its dual-lens rear camera.

In a nutshell, the camera brings its artificial intelligence to bear and employs algorithms to automatically improve shots taken – it identifies up to 22 different scenes and works out how to make the shot look its best. Moreover, the camera takes the same shot with both 24MP and 16MP sensors and combines the pictures it takes into photos that supposedly boast far more detail than those taken with single-lens cameras ever could.

We found the 10’s camera to work about as well as advertised, most of the time, although there were occasions when it would overly saturate certain shots. Pictures taken in low light were in general pretty decent. Selfies taken with the front-facing camera were relatively quite good as well.

Lastly, the 10’s 3,400mAh battery doesn’t seem all that substantial, but we were happy to see that a full charge lasts about three-fourths of a day – plus it can charge up to 50% in less than half an hour thanks to its fast charging feature.

The verdict

We like what Honor is offering with the Honor 10. It’s essentially a slight rethink of the Huawei P20 (with a somewhat different design and feature set), sans that phone’s awesome Leica-branded camera. But don’t think of this phone in relation to the P20 – as we mentioned earlier it’s nothing if not its own machine. And there’s plenty to like about it as we’ve mentioned in our review.

 

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