The Huawei Honor 8 is Huawei’s latest and greatest Android smartphone. Does it give the Huawei name the Honor it deserves?
For just under $400, the Huawei Honor 8 is certainly not the most expensive high end smartphone on the market, but from a first look you could be convinced otherwise. The Huawei Honor 8 comes with a feature packed software offering, powerful hardware and a sleek build design.
Appearance and Build Quality
With the Huawei Honor 8’s sturdy aluminum frame, you’ll never find yourself second guessing the durability of the device. The entire smartphone holds together well. It feels like one of the most comfortable smartphones I’ve ever held, and to top it off, it looks stunning too.
Huawei has opted for a dual glass build design, which is akin to Galaxy S7. Both the rear and the front of the device have been coated with a sleek glass frame which serves no real purpose other than to glam itself up. For just $400, it’s surprising how premium the Honor 8 looks and feels.
The physical power and volume rocker buttons are situated on the right side of the Honor 8’s aluminum band and offer a very tactile response when pressed.
The ultra premium appearance does come at a cost, though. I’ve found that the slidy glass material on the back and front make the Honor 8 a hard fish to catch. You may find the device likes to slip out of your hands or off of surfaces a lot more than most other smartphones.
Fortunately enough, the device is durable enough to withstand a few drops, but you’re still going to see drops catch a few nicks, especially around the frame. Looking past the slipperiness, the Huawei Honor 8 has an incredibly impressive build design.
For me, build design and good display quality go hand in hand. One thing I like about Huawei is that they like to do everything themselves, and that also means going their own route for display technology.
Huawei has used an LTPS capacitive touch screen display for the Honor 8, at a size of 5.2 inches and a resolution of 1080 x 1920 pixels.
Further examination has shown that the display on the Huawei has a fairly average brightness level and there’s nothing to complain about when it comes to overall image sharpness at full brightness. It’s not quite as fascinating and bright as a Samsung display, but it does well for a flagship.
One thing to note is the color accuracy, which, on the other end of the spectrum to the Samsung Galaxy lineup, seems to produce a larger range of colder colors.
The display is reasonable on the Huawei Honor 8 – you won’t find yourself complaining about it, but it won’t win any awards.
Camera, Specs & Performance
Huawei also like to manufacturer their own smartphone chipsets. This means that whilst the Honor 8 doesn’t have a powerful Snapdragon 820, it has enough oomph with it’s HiSilicon Kirin 950 to ensure the experience is silky smooth throughout.
In fact, with Huawei able to optimize their chips for their own device specifically, it may mean a smoother experience overall – the Snapdragon 820 is fast, but in terms of performance, some devices have fallen out of the tree so to speak.
The HiSilicon Kirin 950 comes equipped with a Octa-core CPU setup and a Mali-T880 MP4 GPU. The CUP has four 2.3GHz Cortex A72 cores and four 1.8GHz Cortex A53 cores. The Kirin 950 is also backed by a whopping 4GB of RAM.
Expectedly, the Honor 8 does fall short when compared to the Galaxy S7 range and the OnePlus 3 in benchmark tests, but real life performance has shown to me at least that the Honor 8 runs smoothly and at a decent temperature almost all of the time.
The GPU option Huawei took gives the Honor 8 a good shot at playing all current mobile games at a smooth frame rate.
When it comes to the camera, the Huawei Honor 8 has an interesting setup.
On the back of the device, the Honor 8 has two 12 megapixel cameras. Both cameras have a f/2.2 aperture and laser assisted autofocus. That’s the typical technology you’d find in a smartphone camera these days, but the double camera setup is a bit new.
On the Honor 8, one camera captures images in color, whilst the other captures monochrome shots. Both images are then combined to create a higher quality version. The Honor 8 can also take wide angle shots by combining both cameras, essentially increasing the aperture.
The camera performed very well when taking outdoor images – contrast was superb and the camera caught colors better than the display could show them. Low light images on the Honor 8 weren’t bad either.
Software and Functionality
Things get pretty interesting here because Huawei features a custom version of Android Marshmallow 6.0. This custom version includes a rather heavily modified experience. Things have been changed so much that if you’ve used Android before, you may find yourself getting a little lost whilst trying to find different options and settings.
The software overlay, which Huawei have named the Emotion UI, has it’s pros and cons. The app drawer has gone, some menus have been moved and the experience feels more similar to iOS than it does Android.
I also found that the settings menu were a little hard to navigate manually, but a helpful search function makes it easy to find the options you’re looking for without having to tap through multiple menus.
The overall experience does feel quite bloated – Huawei’s custom overlay won’t ever escape you, so if you’re a fan of making your own software experience on Android, you’re not going to like the Honor 8 so much.
Whilst the software offers a vastly different experience, those willing to adapt to it may find that they appreciate the changes Huawei has made.
Price and Rating – 4.5/5
Available for $398, the Huawei Honor 8 is a hot device right now and there’s not much it can do wrong. What I’ve found is that the Honor 8 experience is anything from pleasant to superb in each of the areas where it matters, such as the camera, software, performance and build design.
The price point of the Honor 8 puts it into a very competitive space, and it does everything it needs to put up a good fight against the competition.
Nothing about the Huawei Honor 8 is a straight negative experience, and the only moot point I can consider is the software, which may be frustrating for those who prefer the free stock-like Android experience. Alternatively, the software experience could be something a lot of Honor 8 owners will appreciate.
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