The sub Rs. 40,000 price segment in Indian smartphone market is primarily dominated by OnePlus. Priced at Rs. 32,999 (6GB RAM), the company's latest flagship OnePlus 5T has successfully managed to capture the market with its top-of-the line hardware and software performance. Xiaomi also tried to make a mark in premium segment but largely failed. However, the company is doing a great job in budget and mid-range price-segment.
If I think of any other brand that has delivered some noteworthy handsets in the very price-point where OnePlus tops the charts, it has to be Huawei. The tech giant has offered some excellent Android smartphones in last two years that even surpass the popular OnePlus handsets in several performance aspects at somewhat lower price-point. Honor View 10, which was showcased to media and the world in December 2017 during the global launch event of Honor 7X in London has the same ambitions.
Honor View 10 is touted as "Your first AI phone". The smartphone is backed by Huawei's in-house Kirin 970 AI chipset that has a dedicated Neural Processing Unit to enhance your smartphone user experience in every possible way. Priced aggressively at Rs. 29,999 in India, the smartphone has the ability to topple OnePlus 5T in upper mid-range price segment.
The latter is not injected with AI and Honor View 10 might just come out as a better overall modern smartphone. Besides the intelligent AI backed chipset, Honor View 10 also has a capable dual-lens camera setup, 18:9 aspect ratio display, ample RAM-storage and a sleek metal profile. Does all of this make Honor View 10 the smartest smartphone in its respective price segment? We tried to find out with our review.
Kirin 970 AI Chipset: Intelligent and Future proof
I am going to focus on the Kirin 970 AI CPU in my review, which is the driving force behind Honor View 10 and does all the talking. Kirin 970 is Huawei's first mobile AI computing platform featuring a dedicated Neural Processing Unit (NPU).
The CPU combined with the dedicated NPU unit basically takes care of everything you do on Honor View 10, be it photography, media playback, battery consumption, gaming, etc. Built on 10nm manufacturing process, Kirin 970 integrates 5.5 billion transistors in a single square centimeter.
The chipset is roughly the size of your thumbnail and combines an octa-core CPU, a 12-core Mali GPU, dual ISP, AI computing architecture and other elements required by a modern mobile device. What's important to understand here is the incorporation of a separate hardware unit (NPU) to tackle AI related tasks. How much of a difference that NPU is going to make in everyday performance of Honor View 10? Let's find out.
Blazing fast speed in everyday scenarios
Honor View 10 is as fast as a smartphone should be in the year 2018. I did not come across any delays in app loading, basic UI navigation, loading of a web page, making a call, or while executing other routine tasks.
The smartphone has ample amount of RAM accompanied with AI enabled octa-core CPU that makes sure you don't experience any major performance slowdown in everyday life. What surprises me is the fact that Honor View 10 costs less than half of what Google charges for its flagship Pixel 2 XL, but still offers the same level of computing and multitasking performance.
The dedicated NPU actually makes a difference once you start using the smartphone as your daily driver. I experienced comparatively faster app response time and improved download speeds over same network. Honor also says that the View 10 can translate written text up to 300% faster than other phones without a dedicated NPU.
With my experience, I can tell that the overall mobile user experience on Honor View 10 is a bit accelerated as compared to other flagship smartphones. The difference is not always visible but in some scenarios, Honor View 10 feels snappier as compared to other smartphones priced similar and even higher. It seems that the AI backed Honor 10 is better than other flagship handsets to understand your usage pattern to enhance everyday user experience.
Honor View 10 vs other Flagship smartphones (Kirin 970 AI CPU vs Snapdragon 835 CPU)
It was natural to compare Kirin 970 AI chipset with Snapdragon 835 CPU. Fortunately I manage to have three other flagship handsets at the time of reviewing Honor View 10 that runs the Qualcomm's flagship CPU. I started using Honor View 10 side by side with OnePlus 5T, LG V30+ and Google Pixel 2 XL. The other three are comparatively pricier than the View 10.
I did not notice any major differences in overall response time of apps, web pages and games on the four devices. OnePlus 5T was the overall winner in memory management as I was using the higher variant that offered extra 2GB RAM. There were some apps that worked faster on Honor View 10 as compared to the other three. For instance, Prisma app rendered results slightly faster on View than the other three.
The cloud enabled AI resources on Kirin 970 did make a noticeable difference in applying editing effects on pictures. I used one picture on all devices and applied same filters to see the response time. Honor View 10 managed to offer faster results (7 out of 10 times) with similar effects, similar picture and on same Wi-Fi network.
Gaming Response on Honor View 10
I was also hoping for better and quicker game response on Honor View10, but OnePlus 5T won the fight here. The Injustice 2 and Asphalt 8 loaded noticeably faster on OnePlus handset as compared to Honor View 10. However, once the game was up and running, both the handsets responded in a similar manner.
There were no frame drops on Honor View 10 while running the most resource intensive games from Play Store. Honor EMUI's Game Suite has uninterrupted gaming mode that when enabled only shows on-screen notifications for incoming calls, low battery and alarms. The mode improves game performance but also takes a toll on battery consumption. You can enable Smart mode for optimal performance.
Overall, Honor View 10 is a smart performer. The company also says that the handset is also more secure than other Android devices as your information is stored on device and is not network dependent.
Does AI improve View 10’s Camera performance?
Huawei is not new to dual-lens camera game and has delivered some of the best two-lens camera smartphones in past. However, Honor View 10 brings a new kind of two-lens camera implementation which is backed by Artificial Intelligence. The dedicated NPU has a big role in the way dual-lens camera works on Honor View 10. On papers, the Kirin 970 can process 2,000 images per minute, which is considerably higher than what other CPUs can achieve. The faster response time is once again due to the dedicated NPU unit.
What this means in real-life is that the cameras on Honor View 10 are faster in recognizing the subjects, which gives them some extra benefits. I was hoping that the NPU will just make Honor View 10 a faster camera smartphone that will capture images quickly as compared to other handsets. But that's not the case here.
While there's no noticeable difference in focusing speed of View 10's camera as compared to cameras on LG V30+ and OnePlus 5T, the overall image quality has some notable improvements. The particular image shot by all the three smartphones showed varied outputs. The scene captured by OnePlus 5T showed maximum noise and less detailing as compared to images shot by Honor and LG smartphone. On maximizing the images to 100%, the loss in detailing was maximum on OnePlus 5T and minimum on LG V30+. Honor View 10 was just somewhere in the middle of the two.
Macro images, Bokeh effect and overall image quality
Honor View 10 sports a 20MP monochrome lens and a 16MP RGB lens. The AI equipped camera is said to have better control over shooting conditions and can auto adjust the camera's settings to give the best output. The image output is impressive. As I mentioned above, images have very good detailing and camera algorithm has better control over noise even in low-light. View 10's dual-lens camera is better at macro photography than OnePlus 5T's camera.
Good detailing and accurate colors
Even the bokeh shots captured from Honor smartphone look better than the ones captured by OnePlus 5T. Honor View 10 also performs better in low-light than OnePlus 5T. Besides, you also get a feature-rich camera app that will force you to experiment better with your surroundings.
Some noteworthy modes in Honor's camera app that you must try are Artist mode, Monochrome, Night mode, Pro mode, etc. One small restriction is camera's inability to zoom in on a subject if the resolution is set to max 20MP. You have to reduce it to 16MP if you want to zoom in and out while taking a shot.
13MP front camera that also captures Bokeh shots
As far as 13MP front camera is concerned, image output is equally impressive and will impress users who are fond of capturing selfies.
Multimedia experience on Honor View 10
Honor View 10 sports a 5.99-inch LCD screen with 18:9 aspect ratio. The display offers a resolution of 2160x1080p pixels and is quite responsive. The minimal bezels on all four sides let you view more content in a compact form factor.
The LCD screen also gets fairly bright to offer a comfortable viewing experience outdoors. What seems missing here is that color punch which makes AMOLED and OLED screens better for video playback and gaming.
Huawei's EMUI allows you to tweak screen temperature and change color modes to customize it as per your requirement. However, the overall color reproduction on Honor View 10 is still not as lively as the display on OnePlus 5T.
I would love to see a mobile device from Honor in similar price-point with an AMOLED screen as it will certainly improve the overall multimedia viewing experience. Something we experienced with Honor Magic handset that never made it to the Indian market.
Look and Feel
Honor View 10 is razor thin and is one of the best looking smartphone I have tested. It is made out of metal and glass and looks as premium as a smartphone priced above Rs. 50,000. Honor View 10 also feels fairly light in hands but at the same time it is very slippery.
Honor ships the View 10 with a transparent silicon case that protects the handset from slipping off the hands. Between Honor View 10 and OnePlus 5T, the former is a better looking handset but is less ergonomic. OnePlus 5T fits better in your palm.
Talking about the aesthetics, the power button and volume rockers are placed on right side and hybrid SIM card tray is positioned at left side. Up top you have a microphone and the charging port, microphone and the standard 3.5mm headphone jack is positioned at the bottom edge of the handset. The fingerprint scanner is integrated on the home button at front.
EMUI 8.0 is feature rich but not as user friendly as stock Android UI
Honor View 10 runs EMUI 8.0 deployed over Android 8.0 Oreo. Huawei is sticking with its customized skin- EMUI that packs in several useful features and has improved significantly in last few years. However, if you are switching from a smartphone developed by Motorola, OnePlus, Apple or Google, you will take time to adjust to changes that EMUI brings to the table.
Huawei's EMUI is highly customizable and at the same time it also feels quite cluttered, especially the settings menu which throws a lot of written text on your face the moment you fire the app. There are too many sub sections that might confuse you at first.
EMUI is highly customizable
EMUI is very customizable. You can choose the home screen type, change the layout of on-screen navigation buttons or simply disable them to use the home button gestures to navigate throughout the UI. Theme store is provided and you also have one-handed mode to ease up the handling process. Besides, you can also log in to two different accounts for the same app at same time with ‘App Twin'.
Honor View 10 also supports Face recognition but for now the feature can only be used to read notifications on locked display. A software update from Huawei might soon enable the face unlock functionality in View 10.
Overall, Honor View 10 is very feature rich in terms of software. However, the user experience is not as refined and friendly as it is on a Stock Android handset and on OnePlus smartphones.
Battery performance and Connectivity
Honor View 10 delivers a lasting battery backup. The smartphone has a 3,750 mAh battery unit that survived for a day with moderate to heavy usage. Apparently the Kirin 970 AI chipset is efficient and has low power demands.
For connectivity, Honor View 10 has Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Hybrid dual-SIM, and GPS. The smartphone supports VoLTE on both the SIM cards, which is a worthy feature.
If I have to summarize in one line, Honor View 10 is intelligent and the most feature packed Android smartphone in its price-point. By adding the AI cloud on the device itself with the help of a dedicated NPU, Huawei has cut down the response time that makes Honor View 10 faster and more responsive than other smartphones in the market.
The Mobile AI learns your everyday behavior and promises to deliver intelligent mobile user experience while you use camera, play games and run cloud driven mobile applications. Honor View 10 is also a good camera device and easily lasts a day on a single charge.
The smartphone is a slight letdown in display and user interface department. The LCD screen fails to match the vibrant colors of AMOLED and OLED panels and UI is not as user friendly as stock Android or Oxygen OS from OnePlus. If you can live up with a less lively LCD screen and Huawei's complicated EMUI, Honor View 10 is an excellent value for money deal in sub Rs. 30k price-segment. You can also check OnePlus 5T as it is also a compelling device at slightly higher price-point.