For long the smartphone world has been dominated by dreary greys and blacks, with the occasional white, red and gold coloured devices providing the only respite. Honor, that has propelled Huawei’s meteoric rise on the global smartphone sales charts has a predilection for blue. This blue gets a whole new makeover as the brand’s 2018 flagship gets ready to do battle in the Rs 30,000 – 40,000 price band. This is where consumers are the most demanding and brands like OnePlus have thrived. Yes, this is the zone of the flagship killer where the Honor 10 has just landed.

Phantom blue. That’s a shade you’ll probably hear about this year. Huawei’s designers have worked overtime to create an iridescent glass back that turns from blue to purple and back to blue almost like magic. Huawei calls this Aurora glass, it took the company many iterations before arriving at the process that involves stacking 15 layers of glass to achieve this. The device is also available in a midnight black option but it’s the Phantom blue that truly sets this phone apart in a cluttered marketplace.

AI (Artificial Intelligence) is clearly one of 2018’s overused buzz words. The Honor 10 is not placing all its bets on the psychedelic chassis but also riding heavily on its AI camera. We’re seeing AI integrated into multiple layers of the smartphone experience and the camera is one area where brands are letting your camera take decisions for you. We experienced this while testing Huawei’s P20 Pro, where the camera might figure you’re on the beach even if you’re not. Huawei calls this Semantic Image Segmentation technology. It applies ‘scene-specific’ parameters to every image you snap and also helps the camera isolate multiple objects in the same frame. It all sounds good in theory but it doesn’t always work the way you want. The AI mode tends to brighten up things or colourise them. Honor 10 understands it might not rock everyone’s boat and offers the option of viewing and editing images by turning off the AI mode, so you’re left with the ‘real picture’

The rear camera combines two lenses – 16MP (f/1.8 aperture) and a 24MP monochrome lens. Huawei is partial to the monochrome lens that doesn’t just give you an option to shoot crisp black and white images, but also improves image quality once it teams up with the primary lens. A 24MP selfie cam completes the camera set up. We weren’t overly impressed with the camera during our tests, especially in lowlight conditions. Consumers will be keeping an eye on the OnePlus 6 camera as they make up their mind. We’ll find out soon enough.

It’s not just the standout finish of the device, the Honor 10 is an elegantly designed smartphone. It feels great in your hands and light in your pocket – it weighs just 153 gms. This is despite a large 5.84-inch IPS LCD display (1080 x 2280 pixels / 19:9 aspect ratio / 432 Pixels per inch). Part of the trick is an 86.2% screen:body ratio that completely knocks off the bezels and still manages to retain an almost invisible fingerprint sensor under the screen. There’s one slight problem though, it’s not always easy to use in the dark. There’s a tiny notch – the feature that the iPhone X made popular, on the top of the screen. Just like on the Huawei P20 Pro, the Honor 10 has a ‘hide notch’ feature if you’d prefer a black band to a ‘cut-out’ on the top. You can’t take this device for a swim though – it’s not water-resistant.

The flagship killer segment is full of power users, consumers who need their device to respond to every thing they throw at it. We were impressed with how Huawei’s very own Kirin 970 octa-core processor (that teams up with 6GB of RAM) breezed through all our multi-tasking and gaming tests. The device has 128GB of internal memory under the hood and a robust 3,400 mAh battery that should satisfy most users. Interestingly enough the Honor 10 is kitted with near identical internals as the pricier Huawei flagship – the P20 Pro. It’s one of the many things we dig about the Honor 10, and then there’s the Phantom Blue.

The Honor 10 costs Rs 32,999 and went up on sale last month

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