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honor 10: Affordable never looked this pretty

The Honor 10 is easily the prettiest phones Honor has ever made. It's a sexy looking device with a set of solid flagship features

When you’re looking for a value-oriented device, good looks are usually sacrificed for raw spec-sheet performance. And that’s completely fair because companies have to shave bits here and there anyway if they want to keep prices low.

Apparently, honor didn’t get the memo because their flagship smartphones — since the gorgeous honor 8 — have remained some of the prettiest smartphones money can buy. Now, they’ve got the brand new honor 10 and I think it’s easily the prettiest one they’ve made yet.

It’s hard to capture how mesmerising the honor 10’s “aurora glass” design with still images, but if you’ve seen an honor 8, you’ll get the idea. Because of the glass’ fabrication process, light that hits the back of this device gets distorted into these gorgeous lines that are just so eye-catching.

While you do get this design on both the honor 8 and the honor 9 (which never came to Malaysia officially, but we got to take a sneak peek at), the company added a new colour shift to the otherwise blue smartphone. honor calls this particular colour Phantom Blue and it’s definitely a colour I can get behind.

Huawei’s P20 Pro made headlines with their fascinating multi-tone Twilight colour option where the smartphone’s back shifts from a gentle green to a blue and finally a soft lilac at the top. But, while that’s a very pretty colour, some may find it a little too show-y.

On the honor 10, the colour shift is less in-your-face. In Phantom Blue, the phone spends most of its time in a striking azure until you start to tilt where it gradually shifts into this almost electric purple colour. It works similarly to the way the HTC U11‘s Solar Red (which is red but turns gold as you tilt it off axis) but more subtly. Very nice.

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But it isn’t just prettier to look at, its build is also far better than the honor 10’s predecessors. While this handset doesn’t quite exude the rigid, rock solid body of handsets like Samsung’s Galaxy S9, Huawei P20 and the iPhone X, there’s no denying the handset’s premium feel in the hand. The back is also subtly curved so it feels a lot more comfortable in your palm than the P20.

Perhaps the only point against this smartphone’s build is that the honor 10 is a little lighter than you expect. Weight goes a long way in making something feel expensive so at first touch the honor 10’s lightness may be a little off-putting but I also think lightness is a benefit for day-to-day use. It will also hurt a lot less when you inevitably drop it on your face by accident.

Much to the chagrin of notch haters, the honor 10 follows in the footsteps of Huawei’s 2018 flagship lineup and does in fact include a notch in its display up front. Personally, I like the notch because the notifications area in Android always felt like wasted space to me, so pushing those screen elements up to the new space created by the notch is something I’m OK with.


However, I do wish Android app developers — I’m looking at you, Instagram — would quickly adapt their apps to the notch to avoid further awkwardness when interacting with apps.

Despite the notch, there is still a bit of a chin on the front of the phone. On this chin, there’s a front-mounted ultrasonic fingerprint scanner. This should mean a more accurate reading even if your finger is wet or dirty so that’s good news. it also sits flush against the front glass though I’m not a big fan of the way they made the outline of the scanner look. What was wrong with a normal oblong again?

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honor 10’s screen looks about as good as it gets. It’s bright, vibrant and has good viewing angles. Performance on this handset has also been solid so far with an overall speediness rating of “smooth”. Then again, I’m not particularly surprised because it is a flagship after all. That said, keep in mind this smartphone is still pretty empty so I’ll keep you updated on this as I load it up with apps in my full review.

Speaking of things that will need time to give a final judgement, we have the honor 10’s camera. The handset has a dual camera module at the back and a single selfie camera in front. But the highlight feature is that the camera is powered by AI. Gee, where have we heard that before?

In any case, you can shoot photos with it like a regular smartphone, or you can turn on the AI mode. With this mode enabled, the handset’s scene recognition kicks in and it will adjust various settings depending on the kind of scene you point the phone at.


With AI

No Beauty

Full Beauty

Auto Portrait Mode:

For the most part, these are settings tweaks that I’m not a fan of. I prefer to do my own tweaking but your mileage may vary here.

They’ve also included a feature called 3D Lighting which is very similar to the iPhone X’s Portrait Lighting feature with a couple of differences. In addition to having a bunch of lighting modes to choose from, you can also adjust the position of the lighting for that extra bit of control.

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With front camera:

With back camera:

Does it make your photos look like they just came out of a studio? I’ll let you decide on that.

And that pretty much wraps up my first impressions with the honor 10. It’s a sexy looking device with a set of solid flagship features and a couple of extra quirks to keep things interesting. But we all know that the key factor with any honor smartphone is its price and we’re expecting it to be under RM2,000. If that does turn out to be true, this could be the best alternative to the already bang-for-buck Huawei P20.

The official local launch for the honor 10 will take place on the 22nd of May 2018 so stay tuned for all the juicy details.

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