When young brands take up the courage to create something incredible, it is not only appreciable, but if that product is priced affordable, then it can be afforded by a larger audience, of course, subject to availability rule applies. But the point is that many companies just launch their flagship handsets as premium devices and even priced them at higher than expected costs. Which is why there are brands out there who are more focussed on bringing premium look, feel and features to the more affordable bracket. And we think Honor is doing a great job in that. Last year they released the Honor 7, which was a fantastic affordable flagship competing with the likes of Samsung and LG.
This year the Honor brand has brought a much shinier, stronger and efficient handset in the form of Honor 8. It is a phone that actually opens up your eyes to the world of possibilities. Looking at the current pace in the country, it can be stated that smartphone industry has now a good number of options when it comes to affordable flagship devices. With many brands shifting their focus in this price bracket, it can be said that the competition in this range is quite heated up. Thus, despite great set of specifications on Honor 8, it would have to offer an overall good user experience to come out as a champion in this price range. Let’s discuss in detail about the Honor 8.
On a first look at the device, you would feel it’s an attractive device, which is what was the intention & reason to make it a lot shinier than the previous iteration. The difference between current and older iteration can be easily noticed, one came with full blown metal design, while the new one comes with a heavy 2.5D curved glass on front screen as well as on the back surface. Although, the device does have a finished aluminum alloy body, which makes it stand sturdy. But i do have little complaints about the slippery surface. No matter you put it faced upwards or downwards, the device will slip on your desk if it had even a little push. While if somehow you’re using a slanted desk, then we won’t recommend you to put it on that desk.
Coming to the talk of design schematics. We have the white variant, which clearly looks stunning from all angles. On the front, you can see the narrow bezels and a black strip running along the border of the display. There is an Honor branding on the bottom part. Unfortunately, there is no capacitive button. If the company would have decided to keep fingerprint sensor in the front, then it also makes sense to give capacity buttons. We felt that is what company might have thought since they have gone with a fingerprint sensor on the rear side. From the front side, you can clearly see how elegant the device looks, there are not many complexities on the Honor 8 in terms of the looks. Same can be said for the rear side of the device; it has a minimalist look. On the top rear side, you can see a glass covered surface, but the first thing that is noticeable is the dual lens camera modules, which will remind you about the Huawei P9. But of course, it is not developed in partnership with Leica neither does it functions like on P9. On the bottom part of the back surface, you can notice the second Honor branding on the device with some information. Just below the camera setup, you can see the fingerprint sensor, which is circular in shape and feels nice and easy to put finger for detection. We will talk about fingerprint performance in a later section.
Continuing with edges, you can notice that company has used the edges wisely and have put the signal white bands on the corners of the four edges. Where the right edge houses volume rocker keys and a power button, while the left edge has a place for SIM card slot. The top edge is empty while the bottom edge houses, loudspeaker, USB port and a 3.5mm audio jack. The ports placement on this handset is ideally correct according to my preferences. For most of the users, it shouldn’t have any problem, unless you have a problem with a fingerprint sensor on the back side of the device. Overall, we felt that the Honor 8 offers a stunning design aesthetics and sturdy build quality. The complaints are just about the slippery surface on the rear as well as the front. It not only makes it more vulnerable to fall, but a fingerprint magnet as well.
When it comes to displays, I’m very particular about the user experience and how they should be in my daily driver. Now Honor 8 being the current daily driver, it felt quite pleasing to my eyes. All thanks to the “Eye Comfort” feature that has been tucked away in a blue filter mode. Which made it less harsh at night as colour temperature is tweaked. Talking about the display size, it has an ideal 5.2-inch screen that is a full HD resolution of 1920 x 1080.
You may not find it pretty exciting on paper, as everyone today wants a 2K display on their Android smartphone. But when you consider a 423 PPI it is pretty sharp considering needs of browsing websites, playing games, as well as watching YouTube videos. The brightness of the device is plenty enough for outdoor visibility, but we weren’t too happy with viewing angles. The display is a bit reflective, but that is only natural when a glass protection is present. Though, unfortunately, we saw the Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protection on Honor 8 to be not scratch proof. As over the usage period of a couple of days, we have noticed the front glass has some scratches. Nonetheless, the overall experience of the display was pretty good.
Gone the days when the Chinese smartphones manufacturer’s use to have very bad customer feedback in terms of the software build. The custom interfaces in the early days weren’t quite intuitive and as clean and fast as they are today. Running on the Android Marshmallow 6.0-based OS, the interface on the Honor 8 is something on the similar lines of the earlier Honor models such as Honor 7, Honor 6 and Honor 6 Plus. Though, the visual differences that are noticeable are in terms of the colour schemes and icons. Honor brands it’s custom Android interface as an EMUI. And you might be familiar with the interface if you ahem every held an Honor handset previously.
Though, there is a huge difference as well when considering the older Honor models, in terms of the software experience. The Emotion UI 4.1 is the version you’ll be seeing on the Honor 8 smartphone. On first look at the launcher, you’ll notice the iOS inspiration, which is fine considering the user experience. These days it has become common on Android smartphones not to have an app drawer. The company may have followed the visual guidelines of iOS, but there are certain changes made sure in perspective of Android. You’ll see many of the Android Marshmallow features tucked away in the EMUI.
Regarding the bloatware, the device indeed has a set of pre-installed apps that some may, and some may not consider being resourceful. But the fact that they all can be uninstalled with one tap makes it convenient. For the users to uninstall the apps when they no longer feel the need to keep it on their device. Although, do make a note that there are some apps such as Health, Smart Manager and some dedicated tools utilising IR Blaster and other hardware of the devices would be quite resourceful. Regarding the personalisation of the appearance, you can do that in one-tap using the Themes app. You can change wallpapers to icons, as well as can give a full makeover to the appearance of the interface. Since it’s a modified interface, you’re getting such options, which is not available on stock UI. Do make a note that notification tray isn’t the same as stock Android Marshmallow, as Honor has embedded two separate sections; one is for notifications, and one is for shortcuts.
The interface is filled with all sorts of animations, from the lock screen to the time you switch between the apps, lots of animations can be noticed while using the EMUI. They are visually gratifying. Talking about the storage, it has a 32GB internal storage, which can be expanded up to 128GB via microSD card slot. So, if you need large storage, then you don’t need to worry about the storage at all. Do make a note that company has bundled many resourceful, smart features such as gesture functions.
Hardware & Performance
Benchmarks are the means to get the idea of how good a device can perform. But they aren’t the right means to measure the real-life performance of the device. Since, we know for a fact that numbers can be photoshopped and apps can be forced to perform better for some specific devices. Despite people knowing about this fact, they always ignore them due to the high popularity of the benchmark apps. Though, we suggest you take those numbers with a pinch of salt.
Honor uses their own chips, in this case, Octa-core Kirin 950 processor with i5 being the co-processor. It is paired with slightly more RAM than the previous iteration at 4GB. In a day-to-day usage of the phone, we didn’t encounter any stutter or slowdown; apps are pretty quick to open, and pages are fast to load. With such specifications would you think it works like a charm, and indeed it does feel like that. I would like to admit that the overall user experience of the Honor 8 is quite impressive in terms of the performance when compared with Honor 7. It can be easily stated that the new model is a capable performer in the price segment.
It might be enlightening to compare the benchmark numbers of the devices and shed some light onto the devices’ performance in comparison to other handsets in this price range. I feel that it is the ordinary use case scenarios, which would matter the most to consumers who would use this handset as their daily driver. In my experience, the hardware on the Honor 8 is more than capable of handling the fancy animations and heavy duty tasks you through at it. It can be said that one will have a good time using this despite as their daily driver.
Do make a note that you can modify the interface and the launcher can be swapped for any alternative simpler interface. But escaping from multitasking and apps running in the background is quite a hard task. It is fortunate that Honor 8 nails this feature as well. The fact that even with more than a dozen apps running in the background, it could be found with no sweat at all. You might encounter some issues of RAM management, but with functionality like revoking app permissions, you could easily make it work.
The gaming performance of the device is perhaps not the best-in-class, but you won’t face any issues such as lagging and stuttering between the games. As many heavy graphic intense games load pretty well, thanks to the Mali GPU, it is equipped with. Moreover, the image processor is fast, so web surfing experience is pretty smooth, pinch to Zoom-in and zoom-out is fast. The heat generation by Honor 8 is moderate, so don’t worry about it. It may lag in benchmarking performance, but we didn’t experience any slowdowns or depreciation, unlike Oneplus 3, which despite being benchmarked one of the first in the list yielded weaker results. It can be quote that Honor 8 is an extremely stable handset with no crashes or necessary reboots.Talking briefly about the fingerprint sensor we had one of the best fingerprint sensor experience on the Honor 8.
Arguably the headline feature of many handsets these days, the Dual-sensor camera returns to the Honor series, after Honor 6 Plus. These two sensors that you see are Sony’s 12-megapixel IMX286 sensors, one RGB and one monochrome. These two sensors have 1.25 micron-sized pixels. These two sensors combine to create a punchier, high contrast packed output, all thanks to the monochrome sensor, which is said to capture more light.
Taking photos with Honor 8 is a pleasure, most pictures look immediately good, and you don’t even have to repeat that capture at all. Even if you want to make sure the focus is correct before the shooting, you will do it only a few times initially. After spending a couple of minutes capturing the photos with Honor 8, you won’t stop again. Such is the magic of this dual-lens camera setup. The Colours and details in the day, as well as night, are pretty amazing. Do make a note that this camera setup doesn’t have the monochrome mode like Huawei P9, despite the hardware availability.
The main cameras have an aperture of f/2.2, while the front-facing camera makes use of an 8-megapixel sensor with f/2.4 aperture lens. It’s great for selfies, although, i advise turning off the beats features, as they over do your face with virtual makeup. The camera app offers more control using manual mode; the app has customizable features including exposure dial that helps in shooting at night. Interestingly, there is a pro mode for video recording as well, which means you can track the objects, activate digital stabilisation, shoot slow-mo shots and time-lapse. Overall, it’s a great package.
There is a 3000 mAh capacity battery on the device that can offer it’s users an easy 24-hour usage time, which is just mind blowing. Thanks to the complex power management system it is equipped with, Honor 8 can last long than many of it’s counterparts, even those which are more expensive such as HTC 10. The power management system works out-of-the-box and automatically, and in the background. You will notice that system will regularly close apps and notifies you about the fact that Facebook, Camera or a Music app is running in the background and is consuming too much power. And that it needs to be closed. Although well-intentioned system can prove to be problematic sometimes, as it stops some working apps that you wanted to be opened. Do make a note that there are lots of power saving modes; you should only consider the extreme power saving mode when in need, otherwise, the average power saving modes you see aren’t going to make even a marginal difference. Since the Honor 8 has a good battery life even without those features, they should be reconsidered and not required at all.
The Honor 8 offers an interesting set of tools when it comes to connectivity options. The SmartControl 4.0 utilises the IR Blaster feature present on the device. It allows you to control devices enabled with Infrared. You just have to set it up for the first time with a new device; then you’re good to go. Controlling your TVs, Air Conditioners, Music System, Network STBs, Camera, DVD Player, etc. via your phone was never such easy. This dedicated app claims to work swiftly with 232,740 products from 5810 brands.
The Other set of connectivity options that are deemed important includes 4G LTE, dual-SIM, Wi-Fi, 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.2 BLE and GPS/AGPS/GLONASS. With a 2.4G/5G Wi-Fi Dual-band automatic switchover, you don’t have to worry about losing connection to the W-Fi. It has sensors such as Accelerometer, Ambient Light, Proximity, Compass, Gyroscope, Infrared, NFC and Hall. As you noticed it has an NFC feature as well, users can utilise this and create actionable NFC tags using the Honor 8 device. If you’re someone who knows their ways around NFC tags, then it could be a great convenient feature to use. In an earlier iteration, we quoted that NFC was the only thing that was lagged, now that is also offered on the latest iteration.
The Honor 8 is quite an impressive handset inside and out, as the beauty of the device is excellent. Thanks to the good camera and looks, it scores well in lifestyle. You might see a lot of options around the price tag of the Honor 8, but you won’t find such incredibly stable performer in that price range at all. It is capable to even beat more expensive handsets from brands such as Samsung, LG, Sony and HTC. While the OnePlus and Xiaomi being it’s best competitors with OnePlus 3 and Mi 5 smartphones, respectively.