Honor 8 Shines Bright Among the Android Smartphone Crowd [Review]

Huawei’s Honor lineup has its focus on affordability, while offering flagship specifications. The latest device in this series is the Honor 8, one the shiniest phone we’ve ever seen.

This trendy and fashionable device is uniquely designed with glass on both front and back. It combines a unique design with high-quality camera capabilities and performs above expectations.

Huawei launched this device a few months back in Pakistan, however we got our hands on Honor 8 just a couple of weeks ago. This device surely feels premium and it easily stands out in the crowd of iPhone looking Androids.

The most interesting things about this phone are the Dual Camera setup and the all shinny design, but it does offer decent hardware performance as well. You can think of this phone as P9 but with a different outfit.

Design and Display:

Honor 8 offers a refreshing change from the aluminum devices, the 2.5D curved glass sits on both front and back of this phone. We’ve got the gold version of Honor 8, which has this slightly curved chassis with the same paint job, that sits between the two slices of glass.

It offers a bump-free layout which is also quite sleek and stylish, the phone’s size is easy to handle at 146 x 71 x 7.45mm, and a weight of 153. Due to the glass and metal combination Honor 8 is a bit slippery and easily attracts smudges, but that is price you have pay for the good looks.

The front side is mostly dominated by the screen, which measures 5.2-inch and offers 1080p resolution. The resolution seems natural for a device this size and the colors appear vivid and sharp.

The viewing angles are also very good on this phone and outdoor visibility is something we can accept but it certainly isn’t the brightest display.

The placements on the front are pretty standard, there’s this 8-Megapixel Selfie camera on top of the screen with a proximity sensor and a speaker grille. Interestingly the notifications LED is embedded inside the speaker grille, which looks classy and modern. Below the screen there’s nothing except the Honor branding.

One thing I like about this phone is the front panel matches the color of the phone, which is quite rare these days since most the phones have white borders on the front or some have full black.

The top side features an IR blaster and a noise cancellation mic, and there is a 3.5mm headphones jack along with USB Type-C port and a speaker grille on the bottom. The primary microphone seems to be embedded inside the speaker grille as there is no hole on bottom for microphone.

The top and bottom parts have these thin antenna strips running along the frame, which leaves the back plate untouched.

The left side of the Honor 8 has the hybrid tray, which can take two nano SIM cards or one nano SIM card and a microSD card. The metal volume rocker and power/lock key are on the right.

The backside of this phone is pretty interesting, it features 12-Megapixel dual cameras along with laser auto-focus and dual-LED (dual tone) flash on the top left. In the middle, there is round shape plastic button, which also doubles as a fingerprint reader. You can assign different tasks and apps to this key and it works differently when pressed once or multiple times.

The fingerprint works quite fast and you just have to place your finger on it to unlock the phone and activate the screen.

Honor 8 gets full marks for its design and build quality as it feels natural and flawless. It gives this swanky and sophisticated feel that we have only seen in the Galaxy S7 or the ill-fated Note 7.

 

Hardware Performance & OS:

On the inside Honor 8 is powered by a Kirin 950 chipset, which is almost identical to the ones used in P9 and Mate 8. The Kirin 950 SoC features an octa-core CPU with four Cortex-A72 cores clocked at up to 2.3GHz and four Cortex-A53 cores ticking at up to 1.8GHz. The GPU is quad-core Mali-T880 MP4, which works great for 3D apps and games.

The Honor 8 comes with 4GB of RAM and 64GB internal storage, you can also use a microSD card if you don’t want a second SIM card inside the phone.

In benchmarks, Honor 8 shines with high scores, matching the performance of top flagships of 2016. Antutu puts it above P9 and Geekbench scores are better than Galaxy S7 and Note 7.

In the real-world scenarios, Honor 8 doesn’t break a sweat either as there is no lag or sluggishness. It can handle pretty much all resource hungry apps and games without any problem and phone keeps its cool while doing such extensive tasks.

The telephony and 4G experience of this phone is also remarkable, the voice is quite clear for both earpiece and the loudspeaker. We’ve tested Telenor’s 4G network on this phone, which performs at its best.

In terms of Software, Honor 8 runs on Android 6.0 Marshmallow, dressed with Huwaei’s home-baked EMUI 4.1. Huawei has added the much-demanded app drawer in the latest version of its EMUI but for Honor 8 there is still no app drawer. So you only get the option to install any other launcher from Google Play Store.

The interface is pretty much the same as other Huawei phones and there is an option to select a simple homescreen style as well, which shows big tiles – all business and no fun.

The Honor 8 features a notification center, Phone manager and smart gestures to make the usage much easier. You can also control the phone with voice commands and unwanted callers can be blocked via phone manager as well.

One thing which we didn’t like about this phone is the permissions manager, which keeps nagging about different apps asking for certain permissions.

Other than that, the overall experience of the OS is quite good, its super-fast, smooth and there’s only a little amount of bloatware, which you can easily uninstall.

Camera & Video:

The key highlight of Honor 8 is the Dual-Camera setup on the back, it features two 12MP sensors, one color and one monochrome. The monochrome sensor captures up to 3x more light and enhances the color photos while reducing the noise levels.

These two camera sensors also create a depth map of the scene and use this information to create a high-quality bokeh effect in the photos. While shooting such photos, you can always change the focus point post shooting, and you can even opt for some nice effects.

Camera app is also easy to use and offers much functionality in terms of scene selection. It offers you modes like HDR, B&W, Beauty, Time Lapse, Light Trail, Night Shoots, Star Track and many other to play with.

Although, these cameras are not Leica certified, the quality of the photos is very good. It certainly isn’t the best camera phone available in the market but it does the job well.

During the night shots there seems to be some noise in the photos and some photos in bright light have washed out colors, but if you switch to the pro-mode these problems can be easily vanquished.

The front selfie camera works great on the other hand, if the light is adequate it can easily capture the tinniest details. You can look some of the sample photos attached below to see that Selfies are quite good with this phone – and hey! there is the beauty mode to whiten your skin and remove the wrinkles as well.

The front 8-Megapixel camera has a f/2.4 aperture and shoots very well in nearly all kind of lighting conditions. It also features a white screen flash to make your selfies look much better in the dark, in fact you can take a photo in complete darkness and it would turn out to be great. No doubt its one of the best selfie snappers we’ve seen to date.

In terms of video the primary setup can record in 1080p at 60fps, whereas the selfie camera is capable of 30fps only. Honor 8 lacks OIS, so the video is certainly not good as other flagships phones. It can also record slow motion videos at 120fps, but for that the resolution is limited to 720p only.

Battery & Standby:

Honor 8 is powered by a non-removable 3,000 mAh battery. It supports fast charging with a 9V/2A charger. It reaches a 47% charge in just 30 minutes and according to company claims a 10-minute charge is enough for 2-hour call.

In our experience the battery does perform well and with 4-5 hour screen on time playing 3D games and using Internet, the phone loses only half of its charge, which means that for a normal smartphone user it offers more than a single day usage with a 100% charge.

The fast charging only works with the supplied cable and charger and with other standard chargers the phone takes almost 2 hours to charge.

Connectivity Options:

Honor 8 support 2 nano-SIM cards with 4G LTE support, however at one time you can have 4G enabled on SIM card and second card can only tap into 2G networks. LTE on Band 5 is also supported and we tested it with Telenor 4G network as well.

It also supports dual-band 2.4/5.0GHz Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, with Bluetooth, Wi-Fi Direct and hotspot – but there is no NFC.

Furthermore, there is no FM radio available on this phone but you do get a 3.5mm jack which provides standard connectivity for wired headphones.

Honor 8 also brings USB Type-C connector for charging and wired connectivity. There is an IR blaster on top coupled with an app, so you can use it as a remote control for other electronic devices.

Pricing and availability:

Honor 8 is available across Pakistan for a price of Rs. 48,499 and color options to choose from are: Pearl White, Midnight Black, gold and Sapphire Blue. Airlink Communication, the official distributor of Huawei in Pakistan is also providing one year warranty for this phone with accidental coverage.

Mobilink (Jazz) users will also get an unlimited 3G internet package by along with this mobile for the next month

Conclusion:

Honor 8 is great Android phone, it is a complete package that offer stunning looks and performs above expectations. The 5.2-inch doesn’t feel small as compared to a regular 5.5-inch display, since the phone has some tinniest bezels.

The camera setup, while not perfect works great for every kind of occasion and the performance is above par. It has a snappy fingerprint scanner and you get to use 4G LTE on this phone. While it lacks some features like NFC and wireless charging, this is one of best smartphones Huawei has made.

Honor 8 could be perfect choice for people looking to buy a phone: that is eye-catching, trendy and stylish. But for those who want better specs, there are many other options available in this price range – for example OnePlus 3 and 3T packs better hardware and clearly beat Honor 8 in terms of performance and software experience.

The one thing Honor 8 lacks is the decent software, Huawei’s EMUI is great for sure and it has its own gimmicks, but more and more users are converging towards pure Android experience. Moreover, it would be much easier to provide timely security updates, if Huawei choses pure Android over its own EMUI.

What are your thoughts about this phone? Do comment below.