Chinese smartphone maker Huawei unveiled the Mate 10-series, powered by its flagship artificial intelligence-based Kirin 970 system on chip, in its home country last year. Like the previous Mate-series devices, the Mate10-series phones were released in only a handful of markets – and the price-conscious Indian smartphone market was not one of them.
However, Huawei’s online sub-brand Honor has launched in India the View10, an affordable version designed on the footprints of the Mate 10-series, at Rs 29,999. The View10 is Honor’s third launch at this price – the Honor 8 and Honor 8 Pro were the previous two.
The Honor View10 features the company’s latest Kirin 970 processor, which boasts a neural-processing unit for artificial intelligence wizardry. The phone comes with 6GB RAM and 128 GB internal storage packed inside a sturdy metallic body reminiscent of the Honor 8 Pro. The key attraction of the device is its dual-camera set-up on the back and the futuristic 18:9 aspect ratio screen.
Business Standard reviewed the View10 to test the phone’s hardware and software prowess, besides the overall smartphone performance. Here are our observations:
Design and display
Despite a 5.99-inch screen, the View10 is narrower than the Honor 8 Pro, which had a 5.7-inch screen; in terms of height and thickness, it has retained the dimensions of the predecessor. The screen has been stretched to fit the 18:9 aspect ratio which leaves limited space for bezels. The screen resolution has been reduced from quadHD (1440 x 2560) in the Honor 8 Pro to fullHD+ (1080 x 2160) in the View10. That does affect the pixel counts of the otherwise capable display.
Talking of the overall design, the front is now dominated by the 18:9 aspect ratio screen and a fingerprint scanner embedded under the home key, which is placed on the limited bottom bezel space. While the front sees a major improvement and looks better, the back looks a tad bland, reminiscent of the Honor 8 Pro design. The protruding camera lenses, coupled with prominent antenna lines on top and bottom, temper the overall design theme.
Honor has a history of using dual-camera set-ups; it is among the first few smartphone manufacturers to introduce the concept in mobile phones. Besides, the company has a dedicated series of smartphones – the P-series – that boasts industry-first dual-camera set-up co-created in partnership with imaging experts ‘Leica’.
The approach of different manufacturers to the dual-camera set-up is different, and Huawei opted for a monochrome sensor, mated with a regular RGB-based primary sensor, to power its two rear cameras. For the camera-centric P-series and Mate-series smartphones, the camera performance is fine-tuned on the basis of algorithms co-designed by Leica and Huawei. However, for an all-rounder device like the View10, the company has relied on internal engineering and, therefore, the phone brings a capable dual-camera set-up minus the Leica branding and some software goodies that are limited to the P-series and Mate-series smartphones.
The View10 utilises a 16-megapixel RGB camera sensor, coupled with a 20MP monochrome lens, with a bright f/1.8 aperture. In the View10, the camera carries the advantage of the processor’s AI-based NPU to improve imaging capabilities, which are prominent in the Bokeh (portrait included) and AI modes. The camera delivers a consistent performance during day-light conditions, but getting the night shots right takes some effort – especially if you are not using the flash. You need to tweak the settings and select the right mode. The focus is a little out of touch and not the fastest we have seen in mid-range flagships like the OnePlus 5T.
The front camera houses a 13MP sensor, backed by the AI-based Bokeh mode that also has a beauty mode. The beauty mode works as intended, but the Bokeh is not a success story every time. It works mostly but causes artificial blurring on portrait’s edges which looks out of place.
Performance and battery life
The Kirin 970 processor powering the View10 is a powerhouse. The phone’s performance is top-notch, with no visible lags or slowdowns anywhere. The View10 handles multitasking, background operations and multiple apps working in the background with ease. Graphic-intensive games like Need for Speed and Asphalt 8 work like a charm at the maximum graphic setting.
The phone boots Android Oreo 8.0 covered under the highly customised EMUI 8.0 theme, which comes packed with a host of features. EMUI offers a lot of scope for customisation, but the theme, visibly inspired by Apple’s iOS, does little good with Android. For example, there are no on-screen or capacitive navigation keys. The home key doubles up as the back and recent app keys. Long pressing the home button takes you to home; swiping left or right opens the recent app window; and a single touch on home key works as the back button. It takes some time to get used to the set-up, but the overall Android operating system just does not feel as swift as the iOS for single-button usage.
Powering all the action is a 3,750 mAh battery that easily keeps the show running for more than a day, even after intensive use. The phone comes bundled with a fast charger that replenishes the battery fairly quickly.
The Honor View10 is an all-rounder with a clear edge over other mid-tier flagships in terms of imaging, performance and battery life. It does not feel as plush as OnePlus 5T but offers a solid all-round performance, which can potentially leave the OnePlus flagship behind. Priced competitively at Rs 29,999, the phone offers a futuristic screen, a dual-camera set-up and a top-notch processor that justifies the cost in every sense.