The $500 question: Can the Honor View 10 beat the OnePlus 5T in a camera shootout?

Honor View 10 vs Oneplus 5T camera shootout
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

If you’ve got about $500 to spend on a new smartphone, then the Honor View 10 and the OnePlus 5T should be high up the list of devices to check out. Both are excellent value, and great performers. We’re going to take a deeper look at one key feature — the camera.

We took both phones on a day out to capture photos in a variety of situations and environments, with the goal of seeing which takes the best photos, and which camera is the most versatile. If you’re interested to see how the Honor View 10 compares to the closely-related Huawei Mate 10 Pro, we’ve also put the two against each other.

If you want to see more camera comparisons, check out our smartphone camera shootout series. Comment below to let us know what camera shootouts you want to see next!

Camera specs

Before we start looking at photos, how do the two cameras compare on paper? The Honor View 10 has an f/1.8 aperture, 16-megapixel RGB lens, and a 20-megapixel monochrome lens, with phase detection auto-focus. Used together it captures bokeh-style blurred background shots (like the iPhone’s Portrait Mode), while the monochrome lens on its own takes great looking black and white photos without a filter. The Kirin 970 processor and the Neural Processing Unit (NPU) provides fast scene and object recognition, then adjusts the settings to the appropriate levels for the best picture.

The OnePlus 5T also has two camera lenses on the back — a 16-megapixel, f/1.7 aperture lens, and a second 20-megapixel lens with the same aperture. It’s not a telephoto lens, therefore the blurred background Portrait Mode shots it takes are created in a different way to the Honor View 10 and most other phones. You’ll see how in our examples shortly.

Neither have optical image stabilisation (OIS), but the OnePlus 5T has electronic image stabilization (EIS), which should in theory make it the better low-light performer.

Camera apps

The OnePlus 5T’s camera is feature-light compared to the Honor phone, and the user experience is easy to follow. You can enter video or portrait mode with a quick swipe to the left or right, and swipe up to enter the manual Pro mode. It couldn’t be easier, and it’s quick to capture images. Still, there are some options, like adding a grid, that aren’t easy to find.

Honor shares the same software as the Huawei Mate 10 Pro, and the camera app is packed full of features — from auto modes for taking pictures of the stars to an editing suite for post-picture alterations. Thankfully, it’s all easy to navigate and use. Yes, there are plenty of buttons to figure out, but it’s not confusing, and after using it for a few shots, you’ll be very familiar with it. It’s worth pointing out that if simplicity is your goal, the OnePlus 5T has the Honor View 10 beat.

Challenging light

We started out relatively early in the day, taking both phones out on a countryside walk on a very cold morning. The skies were mostly clear, but the clouds that were there presented a challenge when taking pictures. Take a look at the shot of the windmill and you’ll see how each phone handled it. It’s tough to call a winner here because the photos are quite different. Arguably, the OnePlus 5T photo is the more accurate in terms of what we saw at the time, but we like the vivid blue and moodier clouds captured by the Honor View 10. That being said, the higher contrast makes the grass look a deeper green than in the OnePlus 5T’s photo.

Left: Honor View 10, Right: OnePlus 5T

Let’s move on to the photo of the tree and blue sky. The look is so different it’s hard to believe they were taken seconds apart. The OnePlus 5T’s HDR mode kicked in automatically, and although we manually activated it on the Honor View 10, the picture didn’t really change. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the OnePlus 5T’s picture is more accurate, while the Honor View 10’s picture is slightly hyper-real. At the same time, it’s a turnaround from the first picture — it’s the OnePlus 5T that took the more dramatic, eye-catching picture.

Left: Honor View 10, Right: OnePlus 5T

What’s crucial here is that the OnePlus 5T took a photo we wanted to share on social media, and the Honor View 10 took only an acceptable picture that doesn’t offer anything special.

Left: Honor View 10, Right: OnePlus 5T

Our final shot is of a tree surrounded by autumnal leaves. In an ideal world, we’d like to combine these two images together. The detail and natural color of the tree in the Honor View 10’s photo looks great, as does the background and the shade of the sky. However, the deep browns of the leaves on the ground in the OnePlus 5T’s picture better reflect the time of year, and give the picture more emotion. Forced to choose, we prefer the Honor View 10’s photo, but we’re calling this category a draw.

Bokeh/Portrait Mode

The themes established in the section above continue here. The OnePlus 5T’s lower contrast pictures hide detail but often look better, while the Honor View 10’s photos revel in the amount of detail they reveal, sometimes at the expense of realism. The goal here is to see how the bokeh modes work. The fallen tree trunk is much larger than it looks, and the Honor View 10 took longer to focus on it than the OnePlus 5T.

Left: Honor View 10, Right: OnePlus 5T

The degree of “pop” is similar, but look closely at the spike pointing towards the top left of the photo. The OnePlus 5T has more of this in focus than the Honor View 10, and it’s the same for the moss-covered section below it. The OnePlus 5T’s different lens arrangement makes this possible. Neither picture is really better than the other, but we really do like the detail revealed by the Honor View 10.

Left: Honor View 10, Right: OnePlus 5T

Our photo of the public footpath sign illustrates perfectly the difference between the two bokeh modes. The subject is obviously much closer in Honor View 10’s photo, and we took it at the point where it first recognized the object. The OnePlus 5T generated the effect long before this. We’ve seen the same effect when we compared the iPhone 8 Plus with the Samsung Galaxy Note 8. The Honor View 10’s superiority shines through, perfectly isolating the sign and its writing from the background.

Left: Honor View 10, Right: OnePlus 5T

Our last bokeh picture was taken in low light, and it’s the OnePlus 5T that takes the better picture this time. The edges around the end of the fence are crisp, while the Honor View 10 struggles to maintain focus on the subject, and the OnePlus 5T’s gradual blur down the fence itself is much more attractive and natural than the Honor View 10’s attempt. We’d call this category another draw, with both cameras taking great photos, just in different situations.

Cathedral

Our ultimate destination for the day was Guildford Cathedral, a unique design 25 years in the making, that while reminiscent of traditional cathedrals, has a startlingly modern look. Staring up at the front, it’s the OnePlus 5T that wins with a detailed picture showing the color of the brickwork, the darkening clouds, and the lush grass in the foreground. It’s a great all around. The Honor View 10 suffers here, and it’s the same story as we move around the side. The blue car shows how the View 10 can’t compete with the OnePlus 5T here — the front is shrouded in darkness compared to the 5T’s photo.

Left: Honor View 10, Right: OnePlus 5T

Once around the side of the cathedral and shooting towards the sunset, the Honor View 10 wins back a few points with its wonderful sky and ominous clouds. It even manages to pick out the little bit of blue sky the OnePlus 5T misses. The building itself is also more detailed with less shadow, making it the better picture.

Left: Honor View 10, Right: OnePlus 5T

The cathedral is on top of a hill, and turning around on the spot gives a super view over the city. But you’d never know it if you photograph it with the Honor View 10 — it performed unexpectedly poor here. Taken at almost exactly the same time, the Honor View 10’s picture ignores the buildings and instead concentrates on the clouds and the sky. It is, without a doubt, a terrible photo. The OnePlus 5T’s picture is infinitely better.

This final performance sees the OnePlus 5T crush the Honor View 10 at the cathedral.

Low light

Does the Honor View 10’s dismal performance at the cathedral mean it can’t take decent low light pictures? Surprisingly, no, and it actually beats the OnePlus 5T when taking pictures after dark. Check the two pictures of the town hall on the middle of the street. The OnePlus 5T takes a cooler, far more blue-tinged picture that still looks good, but not on the same level as the brighter, warmer, and more detailed shot generated by the Honor View 10.

Left: Honor View 10, Right: OnePlus 5T

It was only dusk when the town hall photo was taken, but almost completely dark when we took the picture of the obelisk. The noisy, dark, and generally poor photo produced by the OnePlus 5T can’t compete with the Honor View 10’s excellent low-light image. The stone has detail, the grass has color, and there’s almost no noise at all. It’s by far the superior picture. We can’t understand how the Honor View 10 got the picture over the rooftops so wrong.

Conclusion

The OnePlus 5T has been the more consistent camera here. We began to know how it would perform, and what its strengths and weaknesses were quite quickly. The Honor View 10 was much less predictable. After one dismal picture in difficult lighting, who would have guessed that it would do well in the the low-light category?

It did, and apart from one misstep, took excellent pictures. The OnePlus 5T took our favorite shot of the day — the tree with the blue sky — and the bokeh mode is really great, but the pictures didn’t pop enough, the contrast was too low, and frequently wanted to edit the photos to improve them. We did the same with some of the Honor View 10’s pictures too, especially at the cathedral.

Camera features aren’t everything, but the monochrome mode on the View 10 is a great option, as is the Portrait mode, the editing suite, and the ease with which bokeh shots can be manipulated after taking them. The OnePlus 5T is barebones. Which would we rather carry around with us? It’s a really tough choice, but it would be the Honor View 10 for its versatility, better low light shots, and general robustness in most situations. However, we’d have never caught our favourite picture if we didn’t have the OnePlus 5T with us.

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