Image: Charles McLellan/ZDNet

Having been unveiled in China on 19 April, the Honor 10 offered few surprises for the assembled smartphone cognoscenti at its launch event in London on 15 May. Replacing the well-received Honor 9, which will sell for £299.99 (down from £379.99) until the end of May, Honor’s new flagship will cost £399.99 SIM-free from a variety of outlets, or from £31 a month on Three.

Read also: OnePlus 6: Features, price, release date, and everything you need to know

Honor’s parent company Huawei is now the third-placed smartphone company in terms of global market share, reaching a new high of 11 percent in Q1 2018 on shipments of 39.3 million handsets, according to IDC. Honor handsets tend to offer similar functionality to their Huawei counterparts at a lower price point and with more of a ‘youth’ focus; the Honor 10 is in many ways the affordable version of Huawei P20.

honor-launch-main.jpg

The 5.84-inch Honor 10 features a striking curved glass back in iridescent colours, and an iPhone X-style notch.


Images: Honor

The headline specs for the Honor 10 are: a 5.84-inch IPS LCD screen with 1,080 by 2,280 resolution (19:9 aspect ratio, 432ppi); octa-core Kirin 970 chipset with 4GB or 6GB of RAM (4GB in the UK) and 64GB or 128GB of internal storage; Android 8.1 (Oreo) overlain with EMUI 8.1; dual 24MP and 16MP cameras at the rear and a 24MP front-facing selfie camera. The handset measures 71.2mm wide by 149.6mm deep by 7.7mm thick, offering a minimal-bezel 79.9 percent screen-to-body ratio, and weighs 153g. The battery capacity is 3,400mAh. Here’s how it matches up to its predecessor and to the Huawei P20:

Honor 10 Honor 9 Huawei P20
Display 5.84 inches, 1,080 x 2,280 pixels (19:9, 432ppi) 5.15 inches, 1,080 x 1,920 pixels (16:9, 428ppi) 5.8 inches, 1,080 x 2,240 pixels (18.7:9, 429ppi)
Chipset HiSilicon Kirin 970 HiSilicon Kirin 960 HiSilicon Kirin 970
RAM 4GB or 6GB 4GB or 6GB 4GB
Internal storage 64GB or 128GB 64GB or 128GB 128GB
MicroSD slot no yes no
Rear cameras 24MP (mono), 16MP (colour) 20MP (mono), 12MP (colour) 20MP (mono), 12MP (colour), Leica optics
Front camera 24MP 8MP 24MP
USB-C yes yes yes
Infrared yes yes no
3.5mm headphone jack yes yes no
Fingerprint sensor Front, under glass Front Front
Dimensions 71.2mm x 149.6mm x 7.7mm 70.9mm x 147.3mm x 7.5mm 70.8mm x 149.1mm 7.7mm
Screen-to-body ratio ~79.9% ~70% ~80.4%
Weight 153g 155g 165g
Battery capacity 3,400mAh 3,200mAh 3,400mAh
Price £399 (128GB) £299.99 £599.99

As befits the company’s ‘youth’ focus, Honor’s president George Zhao stressed the new handset’s design credentials and AI-driven photography features in his keynote.

The Honor 10’s most striking feature is its curved glass back, constructed from 15 layers of 3D glass, which comes in two iridescent shades (somewhat reminiscent of a beetle’s carapace) — Phantom Blue and Phantom Green — plus more conventional Midnight Black and Glacier Grey. The two ever-changing Phantom shades certainly look impressive, although the shine is (literally) taken off somewhat when the clear protective case that comes in the box is fitted.

See: IT pro’s guide to the evolution and impact of 5G technology (free PDF)

Powered by the Kirin 970 chipset’s NPU (Neural-Processing Unit), the rear camera system can recognise over 500 image scenarios in 22 categories in real time, identifying the outlines of elements like people, vegetation and sky in order to optimise automatic settings for more professional-looking shots. The front camera offers improved facial recognition for more accurate bokeh (blurred background) images, and supports a range of studio-lighting effects for more dramatic selfies.

Other notable features are the ultrasonic fingerprint sensor, which sits unobtrusively under the glass at the foot of the screen and will work with wet fingers, and the iPhone X-like notch at the top of the screen housing the front camera and a speaker (the notch can be optionally disabled if you don’t like it). Many people will be pleased to see a 3.5mm audio jack at the bottom next to the USB-C port. The 3,400mAh battery supports Honor Super Charge, charging to 50 percent in 25 minutes according to the company.

The Honor 10 continues Huawei’s strategy of offering flagship-level features at a competitive price via its smartphone sub-brand.

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