Honor View 10 Review – What’s the story behind this AI phone?

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Honor V10 aka Honor View 10 is the latest flagship launched by Huawei in India. This is allegedly the first AI phone to be launched this year, and this phone also marks the new trend of introducing NPU in chipsets. So, would this make the phone to define the real meaning of being called as a smartphone? Well to find out, let’s check out the Honor view 10 review.

If you remember, last year was the inception of making phones smarter by incorporating AI. Most of the phones used machine learning and made image recognition smarter, but the OEMs limited the application of AI only for the camera until Apple took it to the next level by introducing the neural engine in its A11 bionic chip. It made the iPhone X the most intelligent iPhone ever. Just like Apple, Huawei also uses their own chipsets in their flagship phones, and they introduced HiSilicon Kirin 970 SoC with AI capabilities. This chipset was first introduced in their flagship phone – Huawei Mate 10 Pro which was the first Android smartphone to have NPU [neural processing unit] along with CPU and GPU. Now the same chipset is introduced in their latest honor flagship – Honor View 10 which will go on sale next week. But what’s so special about introducing NPU in the chipsets? Would it really make the phone smarter? What’s the story behind this? To find out, we shall get started with the Honor View 10 review.

Honor View 10 Review – The AI Phone:

The AI Phone meets most of the 2018-ish smartphone specifications. It has thin bezels, 18:9 display, AI chipset, etc. But first, let’s start with the design.

Design –

Huawei has been impressing with their ergonomic design in their honor series smartphones, and Honor View 10 is yet another smartphone which is exquisitely designed to complement your lifestyle. The screen size is 5.99′ inches, and it has 18:9 aspect ratio. I can’t call it as a bezel-less display phone, but because of a 6′ size and 18:9 aspect ratio, the bezels look thin on the sides, but not at the bottom and top. The design does resemble several other smartphones launched last year like LG Q6, Pixel 2 XL, Honor 7X, Vivo V7 Plus, etc. All these smartphones have top and bottom bezels, and nearly no bezels on sides.

On the rear side, you can find the dual rear camera of 16MP [RGB] + 20MP [Monochrome]  with f/1.8 aperture. The Antenna bands can be seen at the top and bottom and they go all over the sides [curved].

On the front side, you can find a 13MP AI-selfie camera at the top left, and the microphone next to it. It also comes with a set of sensors that are present at the top.

At the bottom of the screen, you can find the home button which has a fingerprint sensor embedded on it. The home button has gesture control too, and that’s why you don’t find any capacitive buttons next to the home button. It has on-screen navigation which you can enable in the settings.

The speaker grill is at the bottom right, and man it has a headphone jack. Yes, we’re in 2018 and Honor view 10 still comes with an analog headphone jack. Other things like infra-red port, USB Type – C port and extra mic can be found on the phone.

Build Quality –

Huawei phones are known for their good build quality, and this phone is not an exception here. Though it doesn’t have an IP68 rating, I did drop a little amount of water [accidentally] on the phone, and it didn’t show any adverse effect. I didn’t drop the phone [no drop test folks] but I feel it can easily withstand drops from certain heights as it has an aluminum body. Even the chassis is curved which could reduce the impulse force. But I can’t promise if the drop is towards the screen. I’d recommend you to use the case that comes with the phone just to be on the safe side.

Display –

I can strongly say that Honor View 10 is a 2018 smartphone as it meets the major requirement of an 18:9 aspect ratio. But the screen resolution [full HD+] is a major drawback. Though the phone has a fullview display, the resolution is just 1080p. Even the PPI density is very low and is just 403. So, you can enjoy YouTube in just 1080p.

I really liked the adjustments you can do to the display. It has an eye comfort feature which you can schedule to turn on during night times. You can instantly make all apps to adopt the fullview display from the fullscreen display settings. The brightness is not too bright nor low and is perfect. I haven’t found any glareness and felt comfortable even in broad sunlight. But as I said, I was expecting a better screen resolution as to enjoy videos in a fullview display.

Performance –

Many major publications have posted that HiSilicon Kirin 970 has already beat Snapdragon 845 but I feel it’s just a myth. The Huawei SoC is made power efficient, but it’s not as great as Qualcomm’s flagship chipset. The addition of NPU on Kirin 970 made it smarter, but not a performance beast. To know more, let’s go deep and see how it works with the AI.

CPU and OS:

Honor View 10 is powered by an Octa-core (4 x 2.4GHz Cortex-A73 & 4 x 1.8GHz Cortex-A53) processor. Out of all the flagships available now, there are only a few phones which runs on Android 8.0 [Oreo] and Honor V10 is among them. Though it’s not pure stock Android, the EMUI 8 won’t disappoint you [for beginners]. It has a whopping 6GB of RAM and a 128GB internal memory. This can further be expanded to 256GB using a microSD card as the phone comes with hybrid SIM slot. As already said, the NPU on Kirin 970 makes the chipset power efficient, and I felt the same while using it.

Even after opening 20+ apps and switching in between them, I didn’t feel a lag in the device. I can say the EMUI 8 is one of the best user interfaces I’ve liked and tried. But there’s one thing that bothered me, and it’s the bloatware. There are dozens of apps pre-installed and they can’t be uninstalled. As they’re of no use to me, I simply disabled them.

As it runs on Android 8.0, logging in apps are quite easy. The Google smart-lock and auto-fill feature come handy. Even checking the notifications in individual apps are pretty easy now. Holding the app will show the notifications [messages]. Even when there’re no notifications, holding on apps will give shortcuts. For an example, holding on camera will show you shortcuts like open the selfie camera, start video recording, etc.

Now it’s time to bust the myth – I mean can HiSilcon Kirin 970 outperform? So to know, let’s take a look at the AnTuTu Benchmark and Geekbench 4 scores.

On AnTuTu, the Honor View 10’s Kirin 970 scored a decent score of 165K [tested thrice] which is comparatively lower than OnePlus 5, Samsung Galaxy S8 & S8+, Nokia 8 and iPhone 7. You can take a look at the test results in the below gallery.

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On Geekbench, the Honor View 10’s Kirin 970 scores are as below –

  • The Single-Core score is 1899 which is way higher than OnePlus 5 and is pretty near to S8 and S8+
  • The multi-core score is 6733 which is higher than Note 8 and every other phone in the Android benchmark list
  • The RenderScript score is 8836 and this time the Honor V10 resides next to Note 8

For a better understanding, you can take a look at the below gallery –

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On Geekbench, Honor V10 scored relatively higher than on AnTuTu. So, does this mean it could outperform smartphones running on SD 845? Well, it’s not gonna happen. In many instances, the phone couldn’t beat the S8 and S8+. I feel it’s because of the GPU. As we’re heading to gaming segment, here’re some 3DMark GPU benchmark results.

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As you can see, the results are not overwhelming, and the phone’s GPU could be better.

GPU and Gaming:

Honor V10 has Mali-G72 MP12 GPU which is pretty decent for gaming. The phone comes with an application called Game Suite which boosts the performance of games. The app automatically recognizes the games installed, and adds them to the game suite. The major feature of this is the uninterrupted gaming. You can even lock the navigation buttons, and enjoy gaming, but the battery will be drained quickly. You can play a maximum of 5 hours with maximum specifications. I played a few games, and the 3D rendering was quite good. I felt a little bit of heat, but it’s only when I played without the game suite. If I have to say the gaming performance of Honor V10 in a line then this one suits it –

‘you can play every f**king high-end game on this phone.’

Battery Life –

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Honor V10 comes equipped with 3,750mAh Li-Poly battery. It’s a decent range for a near 6′ screen. In my testing, the battery life is modest and for normal tasks like browsing, watching videos on YouTube, and phone calls, the phone lives almost a day. But on heavy gaming, it can only live for 4-5 hours. There are many optimizations that help improve the battery life. One such is the ultra power saving mode. Once it is enabled, it limits the app usage, reduces the graphics, and displays a single screen where you can add 6 applications. Other optimizations like smart resolution and smart rotation could further improve the battery life.

The phone supports fast charging [9V/2A] and takes 30 minutes to reach 58%. The full charge may further take 50-60 minutes. The discharge rate is not as bad as other phones I tested. It’s smart power optimization restrict the apps running on background.

Sound Quality:

Huawei didn’t remove the headphone jack though it comes with USB-Type C. Not just me, I believe you’d also be interested in the headphone jack as we’re so used to it. But there’s no headphone I could find in the box. So, I used ZenEar to listen to my favorite playlist. Once the headphone is connected, you can further optimize it by changing the Histen sound effects settings.

The sound is loud enough, but it’s not the best. The voice calls are pretty great. I can clearly hear the other person’s voice though I was in a construction zone.

Camera –

One major feature everyone cares about is the best camera. The Huawei Honor View 10 has a dual rear camera of 20MP [Monochrome] + 16MP [RGB] with f/1.8 aperture. The front selfie camera is of 13MP which can produce good quality selfies. As mentioned already, both camera sensors work with the NPU, the output produced is way beyond my expectation. Before I talk anything, check out some of the camera samples –

The Portrait mode is quite good, but I wouldn’t say it’s better than other smartphones like Pixel 2 XL, Note 8, and iPhone 8 Plus. The sharpness of the focussed object is perfect, but the blur in the background is too much. In some shots, it looks pretty unnatural.

As it can recognize 13 different modes and objects, I didn’t have to opt for a manual mode to adjust the ISO and aperture. The HDR can take the images in 18:9 aspect ratio, but the resolution is quite low [5MP]. Only in the normal/portrait mode, the phone uses 20MP [16:9].

In low light, the camera produces pretty good shots. Maybe because of low aperture, it’s allowing more light.

There’s a special food mode [good food] which is typically to take food pics. The camera settings are automatically optimized to make the food pics Instagram-ready.

As it’s not a telephoto lens, I don’t have to talk about the monochrome mode. In one line, the images taken in the monochrome mode made me love the B/W photography.

Other modes like Panorama, 3D Panorama, AR Lens, etc. comes quite handy. Overall the phone’s camera is par excellence except for the night mode.

The selfie camera is a big asset on the phone. The 13MP camera sensor outputs great shots. It uses AI to recognize the objects in real time, and for a person, it beautifies with a natural look.

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Also, Image stabilization is a big problem while shooting videos. The phone does support 4K video recording @ 30fps, but as because of no image stabilization, the output is more like shaken frames. You can find the videos, and other images taken using Honor View 10 in this private album.

AI Capabilities –

I’ll say this is the main part of Honor View 10 review, as the phone is dubbed as the first AI Phone you can afford. Unlike Vivo and Oppo phones, which has an AI camera, the Honor V10’s AI capabilities are limitless. Using the deep learning process, the NPU understands the user behavior and optimizes the phone’s performance. It also controls the OS [EMUI] and makes it allocate the necessary resources required. Overall, what it really means is, the more you use your phone, the more it learns from you and makes your phone truly understand you. Also, the phone’s camera has the ability to recognize objects better than other phones’ as the AI is trained with millions of pictures. It can identify 13 different types of scenes and objects like cats, text, evening, night, etc. One other feature is the real-time translation and is made possible using the Microsoft Translator. These 3 features are the major capabilities of what AI can do in View 10.

I hope this is the information you come across when you search for Honor V10 AI capabilities. But what about the real-time user experience?

Performance –

  • Firstly, the NPU does optimize the phone initially [when the time you start using your phone for the first time] and it suggests you some features to enable/disable it to make it power efficient
  • Once you do all this, it won’t suggest you anything else, and I felt the phone is in learning process
  • I used the phone for like more than 2 weeks, and haven’t come across any other suggestions except to enable account protection in my Huawei Account
  • The battery optimization feature is just like the third-party battery optimization apps as it suggests you to turn off WiFi, NFC, Bluetooth, Screen rotation and reduce the display turn off time to 15 seconds. It removes cache files and shows you the large files you can delete [using machine learning, Google Files Go does the same]
  • The suggestions on the app screen are purely based on which apps I recently used

Camera:

  • The intelligent photography algorithms do recognize the different scenes and objects, but they’re very limited. They do optimize the camera settings, but it’s not up to the mark. You’ve to manually adjust the brightness to bring some light to the shot
  • The front camera also has AI capabilities, and I truly felt this is the major asset on the phone. It recognizes you [and others] and instantly beautifies each person based on their screentone, and captures the best shot

Facial Recognition:

The phone has face unlock feature too, but it will be available soon by an OTA update. As of now, the facial recognition has a limited capability of identifying you and shows you, and only to you the content on the lock screen. It worked well, until the moment I took my phone at a traffic signal. I was wearing a helmet and it didn’t show the content on the lock screen. I faced the same issue when I came out of a head bath, and wanted to check messages quickly but it didn’t recognize me as I had a towel on my head. It also troubles to identify me in dark rooms.

By the way, every time I have to lift the phone and wait for some 2 seconds till it identifies me to show the content. If not, I have to lock the screen again [clicking the power button] and unlock it again.

Translation:

Huawei used Microsoft Bing translation app and optimized it for Honor View 10. There are many apps already available which uses NPL and recognizes the context and translates it. This app is no different from them. It comes in 3 modes –

  • Voice Translation
  • Text Translation
  •  OCR / Recognizing text from images and translates it in the real-time

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The translations are quite okay, but there’s a catch. Every translation works only if you download the language packages which are in 200MB each. Also, in the voice translation, you can only hear the Spanish translation, and for other translations, the app shows in the text form. The same happens when you try to translate a text from an image. If there are two languages in an image, it gives priority to the language the app can speak and translate. So, most of my translations ended up from English to English. The other language in the image would be translated to an English-equivalent text. To understand better, take a look at the below gallery

Gimmick – The Beginning of a New Era:

By now, you’d have understood the phone’s AI capabilities. To be honest, I liked their idea but the implementation is wrong. I hope with future OTA updates, the Huawei team would be able to fix the problems I mentioned. So, for now, it’s just a gimmick and AI is still a fancy term.

But this phone marked the beginning of a new era. Last year, iPhone X and Huawei Mate 10 Pro were the only phones with NPU, but this year we can see the same capabilities in most of the flagships. Samsung already confirmed they have incorporated deep learning processing capabilities in their latest SoC. This is just the beginning, as the phones will become more efficient once they understand how users’ use their phones. So, I can call the Honor View 10 as the future-ready phone as it already has the best hardware and the only thing that’s required now is better learning capabilities.

Pros and Cons:

Pros –

  • Implementing the NPU
  • CPU Performance
  • Power-efficiency
  • Battery Life
  • Fast charging
  • Selfie Camera
  • Smart rotation – follows face

Cons –

  • AI capabilities are limited
  • Facial recognition
  • GPU performance
  • Image stabilization
  • Night mode

Verdict:

I may not call it as the first AI phone you can purchase, but if you’re planning to purchase a phone within 30k with high-end specifications, then I would recommend you to go with Honor V10. The AI capabilities are still in the initial stage and may take a lot of time to understand the user, till then you can enjoy owning a flagship for just Rs. 29,999.

Note: The images attached here are scaled down and compressed to make the page load faster.
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