The quick take
From build quality to battery life and performance, the View 10 leaves little to be desired and gives the OnePlus 5T a run for its money in the budget flagship category.
- Premium build quality and modern design
- Oreo out of the box
- Solid camera performance
- Impressive battery life
- EMUI still isn't for everyone
- No water/dust resistance
- Fingerprint sensor is a bit too small
Honor View 10 Full Review
These days, there's no shortage of great budget options for consumers that don't want to spend four figures on a smartphone every year. That range spans across multiple devices from nearly every OEM, including many of Honor's offerings like the Honor 7X. Likewise, most brands are happy to sell ultra-premium devices that satisfy even the most demanding power users' needs.
On the other hand, there's a pretty limited selection of "affordable flagships" out there — that is, phones that provide top-end features and performance without the increasingly prohibitive price tag. In recent months, the OnePlus 5T has reigned as the mostly uncontested champion of this space, but the View 10 stands as a fierce new competitor.
About this review
We're publishing this review after spending over a month with an unlocked Honor View 10 (OXF-L09). I (Hayato Huseman) have been using it on T-Mobile in Indianapolis, IN and Chicago, IL. The phone was running software version 126.96.36.199 based on Android 8.0 Oreo, along with the November 2017 Android security patch. The phone was provided to Android Central for review by Honor.
Honor View 10 Hardware
Alongside the cheaper 7X, the View 10 is one of Honor's first devices fitted with some of the newer design trends popularized last year — namely dual cameras and an 18:9 display. That tall, narrow aspect ratio helps make the otherwise overbearing 5.99-inch Full HD+ (2160x1080) screen manageable, even during one-handed operation. Likewise, the slim profile and subtly rounded sides make the View 10 comfortable to hold, though the smooth aluminum finish is a bit slippery in addition to being easily smudged.
My review unit came in navy blue, though the View 10 is also available in midnight black, beach gold, aurora blue, and charm red. Whichever finish you choose, Honor does a nice job at blending the top and bottom antenna bands into the design with complementary shades.
The rear cameras stick out a fair bit from the rest of the body, and Honor made the interesting design choice to separate each camera protrusion rather than encasing the two lenses together.
Equally unusual, despite a high screen-to-body ratio (78.6%), the View 10's fingerprint sensor sits below the display in the form of a narrow sliver. This seems like the perfect compromise for those that demand small bezels but don't get along with rear-mounted fingerprint sensors — though that reduced size comes at the cost of reduced accuracy, and I often find myself having to scan three or four times before successfully unlocking the phone.
Still, I appreciate the symmetry afforded by the downsized fingerprint sensor. The View 10 isn't the most exciting hardware around, but every aspect of its design is functional. No fragile glass backing or curved display — in fact, its reinforced corners could likely withstand most drops unscathed, though unfortunately it's not backed up by any form of water or dust resistance.
The View 10 is every bit as well-made as the OnePlus 5T.
As more and more manufacturers are beginning to move away from the 3.5mm headphone jack standard (including Honor's parent company Huawei), it's relieving to see the auxiliary output alive and well on the bottom of the View 10. Alongside it rest a USB-C port (equally relieving given the microUSB port on the Honor 7X) and a speaker grill that puts out decently loud audio, if not unexceptional in quality.
Along the lefthand side of the frame is the receptacle for the phone's dual-SIM tray. Both slots accept a nanoSIM card, but the second slot can also hold a microSD card for expanding the View 10's internal storage.
Inside, the Honor View 10 runs Huawei's powerful Kirin 970 chipset — the same one found in the much more expensive Huawei Mate 10 Pro — backed by 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. Just like the Mate 10 Pro, the View 10 features Huawei's Neural Processing Unit for AI enhancements.
Once you press the power button (which, along with the volume rocker, is wonderfully clicky), you'll be greeted by the bright and vibrant 5.99-inch 18:9 display. At 2160x1080, it's just as sharp as the OnePlus 5T, though it differs in panel technology. The View 10 features an IPS LCD panel which, though not quite as power-efficient as AMOLED, has great viewing angles and color reproduction.
It's not a perfect panel, though; there's a bit of light bleed around the edges on my unit, and there's no Gorilla Glass protection to be found.
On the bright side, the View 10 does include NFC — unlike the cheaper Honor 7X. This means it fully supports mobile payments and quick Bluetooth pairing with devices like Sony's WH1000XM2 headphones.
Honor View 10 Software
When it comes to software, the View 10 is pleasingly modern. Out of the box, it ships with Android 8.0 Oreo, augmented with Huawei's EMUI 8.0 firmware. If you've used the Mate 10 Pro before, you'll instantly feel at home; this phone is nearly identical in operation.
If you're used to stock Android, EMUI will certainly feel like a different experience — though with Google obfuscating Oreo on the Pixel, it's hard to say what truly "stock" Android is at this point anyway (that's a topic for a different article). By default, there's no app drawer on the home screen, and there's a pretty significant number of pre-installed apps from both Huawei and third parties that you may or may not be able to uninstall.
Aside from some aesthetic differences, though, EMUI is cleaner and less intrusive than ever. The settings menu is much better organized than in older versions, and the home screen even supports the Google Feed. The inclusion of Oreo's notification dots and app shortcut menus is nice as well, along with the ability to run Google Maps or YouTube (if you're a Red subscriber) in a floating window.
EMUI 8 brings some great features of its own to the table, as well. Swiping up from the bottom of the lock screen opens a small shade of useful tools like the flashlight or calendar that can be used without unlocking the phone. You're also able to use the fingerprint sensor in lieu of the on-screen buttons to navigate the software, or even opt for a floating dock on the screen — both options rely on gestures. EMUI also embraces theme support, though the process of finding new themes isn't quite as streamlined as on other phones; rather than offering its own hub to download new themes, you'll need to search through the often dodgy selection on the Play Store.
While I still personally prefer a lighter touch to Android like OxygenOS, I actually quite enjoy the software on the View 10. Where EMUI used to feel a bit too heavy-handed, it's now hitting a much better balance of bringing truly useful new features without deviating too far from the Android operating system it's built upon. It still won't be everyone's favorite software experience, but I can't imagine it being enough to run off anyone but the most die-hard stock purists.
EMUI 8 on top of Oreo feels intuitive, not intrusive, and that's a big step for Honor and Huawei.
So let's talk about AI for a second. Just like with the Mate 10 Pro, the Neural Processing Unit (NPU for short) baked into the Kirin 970 has been one of the View 10's main marketing features. In short, it helps the View 10 process images faster and learns from your behavior over time to improve certain aspects of the phone. Right now it's pretty limited in terms of demonstratable benefits, though Microsoft's Translator app comes pre-installed on the View 10 to fill that role. It's almost instantaneous when hovering the camera over foreign text, which can be incredibly useful when traveling.
Honor also says that the NPU will help prolong the degradation of performance over time — a problem that plagues every device. While that's a bit difficult to judge after only a month, it's nice to see the company making a commitment to long-term quality.
Honor View 10 Cameras
The View 10 may not feature Leica-branded glass like some of its Huawei counterparts, but its dual camera system is still impressive. Both lenses pull off a fast f/1.8 aperture, but each plays a different role; the 16MP RGB camera serves as the main sensor, while the secondary 20MP monochrome camera pulls in finer details for a cleaner, clearer shot.
The NPU also plays a role in improving photography through AI. It's able to identify 13 types of objects and scenes, then automatically optimizes your camera settings to best suit each shot.
Camera performance is a big win for the View 10.
All of this leads to some great photos coming from the View 10, with plenty of detail and dynamic range. The various shooting modes in the camera software help capture artsier shots, with wide aperture mode for bokeh or light painting mode for creative long exposures. Even in auto mode, though, the View 10 rarely disappoints.
Without OIS in either lens, things can get a bit shaky at times, and the View 10 isn't the best low-light performer, but it's aided on both fronts by the monochrome sensor and NPU. You're also able to achieve mostly lossless 2x zoom, thanks to a combination of digital zoom and the higher resolution of the secondary sensor.
On the flip side, the View 10 features a surprisingly good front-facing camera: a 13MP sensor with an f/2.0 aperture. Despite a tendency to overexpose in direct sunlight, it's sharper than most selfie shooters, and produces pleasing colors — though you'll probably want to turn off beauty mode before taking a photo (unless you're into that unnaturally smooth look).
Honor View 10 Battery Life
In spite of the phone's slim profile, the View 10 packs a hefty 3,750mAh battery inside. Combined with the power-efficient Kirin 970 chipset, that leads to impressive battery performance — plenty to last through a full day of social media, music and video streaming, phone calls, and web browsing, and likely enough to last for two days with more conservative usage.
When you don't need to make use of all the power of the KIrin 970, the View 10 can last even longer with the use of EMUI's excellent power saving modes. To be clear, we aren't talking about ground-breaking battery life here — this isn't the BlackBerry KEYone, after all — but it's still more than enough for most people's needs, and certainly a better performer than the similarly priced OnePlus 5T.
The View 10 muscles its way to great battery life with raw capacity and power-saving features.
Since the View 10 is made of metal, you won't be able to set it on a wireless charger and expect any results, but it does pack Huawei's SuperCharge technology for extra-quick top-ups. Specifically, the View 10 charges at up to 5A at 4.5V, and Honor says you can expect to see a 50% increase in half an hour when using the included charger. In my experience, that's about right.
The bottom line
Should you buy the Honor View 10? Yes
The Honor View 10 meets all of the basic requirements of a flagship phone at a significantly lower price point. Its hardware is attractive and well built. Its specs are powerful, and it even brings a unique dedicated component for artificial intelligence. Its cameras are excellent, beating out just about everything else in its price range.
As with all Honor phones, you'll need to take Huawei's EMUI software into consideration. With version 8.0, it's more refined and cohesive than ever, but it's still a fair leap from the stock Android experience offered by the View 10's direct rival, the OnePlus 5T. You'll need to decide for yourself whether that's of any significant importance, but I think it's a non-issue for most people.
The View 10 is a well-rounded, powerful, and affordable alternative to the mainstream flagships on the market.
Honor is putting a lot of emphasis on its AI technology, but right now with its limited practical applications, it's not exactly the biggest selling point for this phone. Maybe with a little more time and some third-party support, that'll change.
In the meantime, the View 10 is absolutely still worth your money.
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