Phones

Premium features at affordable price

Chinese smartphone maker Huawei's budget brand Honor rolls out the View 10, which has both mid-range and high-end features

The Honor View 10 is a flagship smartphone from a budget brand. It offers a good set of features and competitive performance at an attractive price, though it lacks the cachet of more premium smartphone brands.

Not that it is lacking in pedigree. Honor is, after all, a sub-brand of top Chinese smartphone maker Huawei and the View 10 is one of the first Honor smartphones to launch officially in Singapore.

The Huawei influence is evident from the View 10's hardware specifications. It uses the same Huawei Kirin 970 processor found in the latest Huawei P20 Pro smartphone and has an identical amount of RAM (6GB) and storage (128GB).

With only dual cameras at the rear, View 10 is probably more comparable with last year's Huawei Mate 10 series than the triple-camera-equipped P20 Pro.

However, the View 10's primary camera is not as impressive as the Mate 10's. It lacks optical image stabilisation and has a slower aperture (f/1.8 versus Mate 10's f/1.6) .

The View 10 has a similar 20-megapixel monochrome camera for bokeh, or depth-of-field, effect. This effect is also available for the front-facing camera, though it is enabled via software processing.

  • SPECS

    PRICE: $599

    PROCESSOR: Kirin 970 (Quad-core 2.36GHz, quad-core 1.8GHz)

    DISPLAY: 5.99-inch, IPS LCD, 2,160 x 1,080 pixels, 403 ppi pixel density

    OPERATING SYSTEM: EMUI 8.0 (Android 8.0)

    MEMORY: 128GB (microSD expandable up to 256GB), 6GB RAM

    REAR CAMERA: 16MP RGB (f/1.8) and 20MP monochrome

    FRONT CAMERA: 13MP (f/2.0)

    BATTERY: Non-removable 3,750mAh

  • RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 3/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

I found the bokeh effect a tad unnatural, but overall, the camera takes good photos, especially in well-lit conditions.

Like the Mate 10 series, the View 10 has AI-powered scene detection that adjusts the camera settings automatically in 13 different scenarios, from food photography to night scenes.

The View 10 has narrow bezels at the sides sandwiching its LCD screen, which has a trendy 18:9 aspect ratio.

From the front, it looks fairly generic, with an oval-shaped fingerprint sensor below the display. Its back view, meanwhile, could be mistaken for the Apple iPhone 6, especially given the similar location of the antenna lines.

The phone feels smooth in the hand, thanks to a solid aluminium chassis.

Note that the rear cameras jut out a fair bit from the back, so I recommend using a case.

I like that the View 10 retains a 3.5mm audio jack at the bottom, right beside the USB Type-C port. But typical features on premium smartphones, such as wireless charging and water resistance, are absent.

The phone runs on Huawei's EMUI interface, based on Android 8.0 Oreo. The interface appearance borrows liberally from Apple's iOS operating system, though it takes just a couple of taps to switch to a more Android-like experience.

The phone also comes preloaded with proprietary Huawei apps, from a health and fitness tracking app to a news feed and weather aggregator.

The View 10 posted similar scores as the Mate 10 Pro in the Geekbench 4 benchmark app, which is unsurprising, considering they both use the same chip.

But benchmarks aside, the phone does feel very responsive, probably because of its ample 6GB of RAM.

However, its battery life is not as good as the 10.5 hours posted by the Mate 10 Pro. The View 10 was an hour short at 9.5 hours.

At $599, the Honor View 10 is more affordable than Huawei's Mate 10 series (about $800) while offering similar performance.

You do lose out on some features such as water resistance and camera-related elements. But its main competitors are likely other Chinese smartphone makers such as Xiaomi and Vivo, which are focused on offering good value for money.

• Verdict: The Honor View 10 offers a mix of mid-range and high-end features at a competitive price. It may have the right blend of features and performance for those looking for a value-oriented flagship device.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 09, 2018, with the headline 'Premium features at affordable price'. Print Edition | Subscribe