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HONOR 10 is here: AI smarts and striking HUAWEI P20-inspired design

It's cheaper than the P20, but what kind of compromises have been made to get to the price point?

Published onMay 15, 2018

Huawei’s HONOR sub-brand is no stranger to taking the best bits from the P-series and Mate range and putting them in a different body. Now, the company has officially launched the HONOR 10 for Western markets, coming just under a month after the Chinese launch.

We’ve got a detailed HONOR 10 specs rundown already, but the short of it is that you’re essentially looking at a P20 in slightly different clothing. The P20 offered some great internals anyway, so you shouldn’t be left wanting much more, if anything.

honor 10 logo rear

The basic specs

The flagship Kirin 970 chip landed late last year and powers all HUAWEI and HONOR flagships for the first half of 2018. The HONOR 10 is no exception here, packing the nimble chip and its neural processing unit (NPU). A complement of 4GB or 6GB of RAM and 64GB or 128GB of fixed storage rounds out the core specs.

HONOR has also opted for a 3,400mAh battery — the same size as the P20. The phone serves up SuperCharge fast-charging via the USB Type-C port as well.

HONOR 10 notch

Oddly enough, it looks like the West isn’t getting a 6GB RAM option, as Western promotional material explicitly omits any mention of a 6GB RAM variant. Meanwhile, the Chinese product page lists 6GB of RAM as the only option.

Hoping the HONOR 10 lacks a notch? Unfortunately, it copies the P20 here too, packing the display cutout in addition to a 5.84-inch 2,280 x 1,080 19:9 LCD screen. The notch also hosts a 24MP selfie shooter, while a 24MP f/1.8 monochrome and 16MP f/1.8 RGB dual camera setup resides on the back.

HONOR 7X Oreo update rolling out now in the US (Updated)

Staying on the front of the phone, the device serves up a fingerprint scanner right where you’d expect the home button to be. This scanner is located under the glass cover and uses ultrasonic technology, which means wet or greasy fingers should still unlock the phone just fine.

The HONOR 10 makes for a notable upgrade on paper over the HONOR 9, which packed a Kirin 960 chipset, a slightly smaller 3,200mAh battery, a 20MP and 12MP main camera setup, and an 8MP front-facing camera.

Striking appearance

The most striking thing about the HONOR 10 are the new Phantom Blue and Phantom Green colorways and the 3D glass design. If you thought HONOR’s previous experiments with light-refracting glass produced impressive results, you’ll be absolutely blown away by the HONOR 10’s shimmering rear panel.

HONOR 10 logo

Constructed from 15 different layers of glass with a nano-scale optical coating, the resulting visual effect can be absolutely mesmerizing. The Phantom Blue version pictured for this review shifts between different shades of blue and purple from different angles, while the Phantom Green has been designed to evoke the blue and green hues of the aurora borealis. If the more jazzy colorways aren’t to your liking, there are also Midnight Black and Glacier Grey variants available in select markets.

Huawei’s AI features abound

honor 10 phantom blue

Much like other Kirin 970 phones, the HONOR 10 serves up several AI-related features, with the camera department being a big focus (pun intended).

The HONOR team says it uses “semantic image segmentation” powered by the NPU to deliver better image quality. The technology effectively identifies various subjects/objects by their outlines in a single scene. This sounds like the HONOR 10 will take multiple objects/subjects into account when you take a photo. We’ve asked company representatives to clarify the technology and will update the article with a response.

Basic image segmentation also forms part of the underlying technology for portrait modes seen on the Pixel range. However, HUAWEI’s take is meant to improve overall quality, rather than portraits alone, it would appear.

The AI Master mode seen on the P20 and Mate 10 is still in effect on the HONOR 10, but this has been expanded to 22 scenes (up from 19 in the P20). Selfies are also getting AI attention, as the HONOR 10’s front-facing camera boasts 3D face recognition for “more detailed facial optimization”. Basically better selfies, then.

Are the cameras better than P20?

HONOR 10 camera app

The HONOR 10 has higher resolution rear cameras than the P20 (20MP f/1.6 monochrome , 16MP f/1.8 RGB), but we might be worse off here. That’s because the HONOR handset lacks optical image stabilization, being key for low-light photography and video. So you should expect blurrier night-time shots and jittery video than the HUAWEI flagship.

Nevertheless, the combination of 24MP monochrome f/1.8 and 16MP RGB f/1.8 cameras should still result in some great results. And existing features like portrait mode, night shot (it doesn’t seem as advanced as the P20 night mode though), portrait lighting effects, wide aperture mode, light painting and AR stickers/masks are all present and accounted for anyway.

In the selfie department, we’re looking at a 24MP snapper. The front-facing camera also utilizes pixel binning to take better night-time selfies.

HONOR 10 availability and price

HONOR 10 logo

We already know the HONOR flagship will have a 399 pound (~$539) price in the U.K., making for a notable premium over the 2,599 yuan (~$408) price in China. The HONOR 10 is roughly 200 pounds (~$270) cheaper than the P20 though, which doesn’t seem bad considering the many shared features.

The HONOR 10 will be available in Phantom Blue, Phantom Green, Midnight Black, and Glacier Grey.

Check out our article here, detailing HONOR 10 pricing, availability and other release information.

More HONOR 10 coverage

Go deeper with our extended HONOR 10 coverage:

Would you buy the HONOR 10 over the HUAWEI P20? Let us know in the comments below!

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