Honor smartphones often surprise me. We all remember who makes them, and yet it’s bizarre when Honors tend to be more interesting then their rivals with Huawei logos. An interesting strategy, but a topic for another day. Today we talk about Honor 10 Lite, which can become a strong new player. It already is a good rival to a recently released Huawei P smart 2019.
Technical characteristics of Honor 10 Lite
- Display: 6.21″, IPS LCD, 2340×1080 pixels, 19.5:9 aspect ratio
- Processor: Hisilicon Kirin 710, 8-core (4 core Cortex A73 with a frequency of 2.2 GHz and 4 core Cortex-A53 with a frequency of 1.7 GHz)
- Graphics accelerator: Mali-G51 MP4
- RAM: 3 GB
- Storage: 32/64 GB
- Support for microSD memory cards: up to 512 GB
- Wireless networks: Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.2 (LE, A2DP), GPS (A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS), NFC
- Main camera: main module 13 megapixel (f/1.8), PDAF and 2 megapixel
- Front camera: 24 MP, f/2.0, 0.9µm
- Battery: 3400 mAh
- Dimensions: 154.8 × 73.6 × 8 mm
- OS: Android 9.0 Pie with EMUI 9.0 Shell
- Weight: 162 g
Дизайн, материалы и сборка
Huawei Honor continues to play design using interesting colors with different effects and gradients - and I like what they do. The trend was picked up by many other brands.
As for Honor 10 Lite, it is available in as many as 4 colors: the classics are black and white, as well as trendy blue and red. The last two have gradient transitions, but all four smartphones have a beautiful play of colors on the back and a black front panel.
My test sample is black. The back part is not too flashy – the design will do even for those who prefer the strict-looking “serious” tech.
The frame is glossy around the perimeter of the case, which adds a couple of points for the overall design - it looks good. The back is not glass, but plastic. The frame is also plastic, although it looks like metal. There are no antenna lines - they are not needed here.
The front panel of the smartphone looks modern - a large notch is finally gone. Now it’s a small, neat, drop-shaped with a single front-facing camera.
And if you have to choose between types of notches, this one is the best. It looks concise, not annoying, I don’t want to hide it, application icons and other information in the status bar fit completely. This is what the notch should have been right from the start.
Bezels around the screen are thin, but the bottom is still wider than the side. Looking ahead, I’ll say that you can’t blame the manufacturer for it, because the area below is far from useless.
In addition, I would like to mention a 2.5D glass in front and a plastic cover curved on the sides.
Even with all this plastic the build quality is actually great. I hope it will stay the same way.
But not all is well. The body is not that practical: it attracts fingerprints, dust, and so on. This is seriously one of the most powerful fingerprint magnets I’ve ever seen.
In the box we have a transparent silicone case which should protect the smartphone from scratches and other signs of use.
The quality of the case is quite mediocre. It was initially very tight, but quickly stretched out. It’s okay, but that’s about it.
Also, a protective film was pasted on the screen of my sample. After I'd been done with the phone, it was battered.
Front center above the notch with the front camera is a speaker, to the right of which there is a proximity sensor.
Below the screen is the LED indicator of notifications. In addition to the diode in this area there is a light sensor. There is no logo on the front panel.
On the right side, the power and volume buttons are in their usual place, and there’s nothing on the left.
At the bottom is, unfortunately, a microUSB port. A very strange decision, especially since it’s almost year 2019. When manufacturers will finally switch to Type-C is still a mystery to us. To the left of the port is the main microphone and 3.5-mm audio port, to the right - five holes with a multimedia speaker behind them.
The upper edge has an additional microphone and a combined slot for two nanoSIM cards or one SIM card and microSD memory card.
On the back are two vertically arranged individual eyes of the cameras, which protrude slightly above the body. Below them is a single flash and the AI Camera inscription. Near in the middle there is a round platform of the fingerprint scanner. Below is another inscription with the name of the brand and some service marking.
The body of Honor 10 Lite is elongated, the width is small, so it is convenient to use the smartphone. With one hand, the device is usable, except that you have to change the grip a bit to reach the top of the display.
In general, its dimensions do not exceed those of a smartphone with a popular screen diagonal of 5.5″ and an aspect ratio of 16:9. Honor is even smaller, but it has much more useful screen area.
The control buttons and the fingerprint scanner are well placed. Nothing out of the ordinary.
In Honor 10 Lite the manufacturer installed an IPS screen (more precisely, LTPS) with a diagonal of 6.21″. Its resolution is 2340×1080 pixels, the aspect ratio is 19.5:9, the pixel density is 415 ppi. Once again, typical.
As for the quality of a particular matrix, it is good. Outdoors, the display remains legible, but I personally wanted more brightness. The remaining parameters are on the same level.
The picture is pleasant, the viewing angles are wide, and only with diagonal deviations on a dark background can you notice a very slight loss of contrast. But that’s okay. There are no complaints about auto-brightness adjustment - it works correctly, the main thing to remember is that the sensor is not above the display, as usual, but below; don’t cover it with your fingers.
From the settings there are two color modes: normal and bright.
In the first picture, the default is warm, but the colors are a bit dull. The second is colder, but the colors are richer. But it’s not worth worrying about the color temperature since you can fix it manually and achieve the desired result in both color display modes.
In the display settings we can turn on eyesight protection and change the screen resolution from standard FHD+ to HD+; or turn on automatic resolution to save battery power.
In addition, there’s manual control of full-screen display that enables forcing full screen in applications that are not yet optimized for elongated screens. Personally, I have found only one application where this option was really needed - the rest added the support for the ratio a long time ago.
As in smartphones with regular notches, the drop-shaped one can be hidden by turning on the dark area fill on either side of it. You can also choose the separate apps for this setting.
The smartphone with the disguise on.
When you watch a video on YouTube, the notch eats away a small part, but again, I personally have never seen any important information or anything useful in that area.
In applications, too, everything is fine, and only in Telegram X you can see this picture with unstable network connection. However, this is a feature of the application, where the notification is located right in the center in the status bar.
In most games, the area on the sides of the notch is simply filled with black, but there are exceptions.
Honor 10 Lite is powered by Hisilicon Kirin 710 processor familiar from Huawei P Smart + and Honor 8x smartphones. It is manufactured using the 12-nm process technology, and it has 4 Cortex A-73 cores with a maximum clock frequency of 2.2 GHz and 4 Cortex-A53 cores with a frequency of 1.7 GHz. Mali-G51 MP4 handles video.
I couldn’t test my sample in various benchmarks due to early software, but if you are wondering what numbers of Kirin 710, you can check Honor 8x results. 10 Lite should show similar numbers. I managed to install 3DMark, the results are below.
There’s 3 GB of RAM, which is not very much. This is the necessary minimum by today’s standarts. It allows switching between several open applications, but some will certainly be restarted. Storage is 64 GB, of which 49.56 GB are left for the user's needs. Storage can be expanded, but you will have to lose the second SIM-card.
According to GSMArena, in some regions the smartphone comes with 4 or even 6 GB of RAM, and the amount of storage can be up to 128 GB.
If we talk about the speed of the interface and the smartphone as a whole, it is fast, but not without slowdowns. For example, when minimizing applications. I would like to hope that this is a flaw in the firmware, and not a shortage of RAM or something else, because as the practice with Huawei P Smart + has shown, the processor is good enough to perform any tasks.
The smartphone supports GPU Turbo technology. For it to work, you need to add supported games to the AppAssistant application, enable game acceleration in it and run them from this application. There is also a mode here that will block notifications so that they do not distract from the gameplay.
This function has two modes of operation: “Games without pauses” and “Full immersion”. In the first, all notifications are “locked”, except for incoming calls, alarm signals and SMS. The second one allows you to block everything at all, even calls.
In games, Honor 10 Lite behaves quite expectedly - it runs everything, but not always on the maximum settings. You can play PUBG Mobile at high settings. For maximum smoothness, you need to run it through the application I described above. Normal start from the desktop is slow, and with AppAssistant everything is much better.
Other games, like WoT Blitz, run great at maximum 46-60 fps. Asphalt 9 on high works fine too. Undemanding arcade games are even better.
Honor 10 Lite cameras
The smartphone has a dual main camera module. The main sensor has a 13 megapixel resolution and a rather high-end aperture - f/1.8. The auxiliary camera is a 2 MP module, and it is needed to measure the depth (background blur). Artificial intelligence is here and it does a lot.
The pictures during the day are quite good. Detailing is normal, but the dynamic range is not very wide. The phone quite often messes with the exposure and distorts the shadows, which leads to photos being overexposed - you have to manually pull the exposure slider down. Indoors, the quality of the photo is already noticeably falling, but at night, even more so.
Autofocus is fast, camera release is also immediate. The minimum distance to the subject is about 7 cm. Blurring the background works well, but misfires do happen.
AI recognizes 22 shooting scenes and adapts to its surroundings. In general, the color rendition becomes quite a bit richer, the photos are lighter. If the end result is still not good enough, in the gallery you can disable all the effects.
Honor 10 Lite is capable of recording video in full HD resolution with 30 or 60 frames per second, in H.264 or H.265 formats. The quality is rather ordinary, there is no electronic stabilization. There is no slow motion, only accelerated (timelaps) in HD-resolution.
Front camera module with a resolution of 24 megapixels and f/2.0 aperture. But to be honest, I did not appreciate the quality of the pictures. Decent, but that’s about it. The white balance indoors is all messed up, there is no autofocus. For undemanding users, it will do.
The camera application is familiar, there are several shooting modes: portrait, blur, panorama, augmented reality, HDR. Manual mode is here, but there is no RAW support – only “plebian” JPEG. You can also open HiVision from the camera, which understands QR and barcodes, recognizes and translates text in real time, scans objects and landmarks in analogy with Google Lens.
Unlocking the device is possible using a standard fingerprint scanner and face scan. The first one works about the same as other Huawei devices - incredibly fast and accurate, as in more expensive models.
The sensor can not only unlock the smartphone and log in to applications, but also control the camera release, answer calls, turn off the alarm, open the notification panel and scroll through photos in the gallery.
Unlocking by scanning the face as before is done with a single front-facing camera. There are the same two methods: after identifying a person, navigate the screen to enter the system or immediately get to the desktop or open application without the need to additionally swipe across the screen. There is an option of smart notifications and activation of the device screen when you take it in hand.
This method works well in almost any situation. In the daytime it is easy to replace the fingerprint scanner, and in the dark even if it takes a little more time to scan, it still works, because the face will be additionally highlighted by the screen.
Honor 10 Lite battery life
The smartphone is equipped with a non-removable battery with a capacity of 3400 mAh. The battery life of the Honor 10 Lite is more than fine. It lasts for the whole day of the most active use and for two with more moderate use. For example, in 23 hours of operation from a single charge I used the phone for about 6.5 hours.
The shell has two power saving modes that will help you work longer. But how much time the smartphone will need to charge from the bundled charger, I can not say, since I wasn’t provided with one.
Sound and communication
The built-in earpiece speaker is loud enough - the voices are clearly audible, even not in the quietest environment. But with multimedia it is not so obvious. It will be enough to not miss a call or notification, but I would not listen to music or watch a video with it.
The volume margin is high, but the quality, especially at maximum volume, is mediocre. The sound becomes flat and the low frequencies are inaudible. Up to 50% of the volume is still tolerable, but above I want to immediately connect headphones.
It is good that for the latter there is a 3.5-mm port on the bottom. The sound is good, especially if you configure it with Huawei Histen pre-installed audio effects.
With communications everything is fine. Mobile network works fine in 4G networks. Wi-Fi is 802.11 b/g/n, which means that 5 GHz network is not supported, which is a bummer. But with 2.4 GHz networks I did not notice any problems. The same goes for Bluetooth 4.2 (LE, A2DP) and GPS (A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS).
The NFC module separates it from the most of the potential competitors in this price range. This is a big plus of this smartphone, because contactless payments are becoming more popular, and in the segment of low-cost devices NFC is a rare sight.
Firmware and software
Another important feature of Honor 10 Lite is the freshest version of Android 9 Pie and proprietary EMUI 9.0.1 shell. The shell has not undergone major changes in design, but proprietary applications have all bee updated.
On the application icons, notifications can not only be displayed with a color marker, but also show the number of messages in a particular application. The general view of the pop-up notification window also changed a little and became similar to that in a pure Android Pie.
The Digital Wellbeing function from 9 “robot” is available, but is called “Digital Balance”. It is possible to limit the use of applications, see the statistics of the use of applications and in general a lot of other interesting information.
Gestures and special movements for different tasks remained the same. System navigation has already received full gestures support and in comparison with gestures in pure Android they seemed more convenient. You can turn on the usual three navigation keys, but I didn’t want to go back to them.
Gestures are implemented by swipe across the screen. Swipe from the bottom of the screen up returns to the desktop, the same action but holding the finger on the screen opens a list of running applications. The “Back” action can be performed by swiping to the center from the left and right edges. Swipe up from the bottom corners will call Google Assistant.
In addition, you can turn on the display of the navigation marker. With this bar the applications themselves are slightly reduced, and without a bar, they are displayed directly on the whole screen.
Gestures of returning to the previous window are accompanied by visual display, which, by the way, looks like a drop-shaped notch in the display.
These are, of course, not all changes in EMUI 9. I just focused on the key features of the new version.
Honor 10 Lite is a curious device. Not without its cons, of course, but still one of the best in this price range.
The plastic body is not as premium as one might want, but the build quality is great. Good screen and hardware, decent battery life, fresh software and – this is a biggie – an NFC module.
There are many caveats as well. The old microUSB port, single-band Wi-Fi and not the most practical body. RAM and storage might also be not enough for some. Still, those are smaller problems. P smart 2019 is the only serious rival, but we'll have to wait and see how it holds up against Honor 10 Lite.