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Highlights

Honor 8 Review




Huawei’s smartphone sub-brand, Honor, has arrived in the country late last month via Hellotronics. And the first offering is the 2016 flagship announced in August – the Honor 8. Like it’s distant cousin, the Huawei P9, it sports a dual rear camera setup which is one of the most popular features in a smartphone today. It’s not officially offered in the Philippines, but is it still worth getting? Find out in our review below.

Design and Construction

The first time you hold the Honor 8, you will immediately notice that it is going for that premium look and feel that you would normally experience in more expensive flagship devices.

The chassis is made of aluminum with curved sides with smoothly chamfered edges. The front and the back are mounted with 2.5D glass, which, when held, gives a sense of uniformity.

The front houses the 5.2-inch display. Above it is the receiver with the LED notifications light tucked beside it, the 8MP front camera, and light sensor. Below is the Honor logo. Capacitive keys are absent as the Honor 8 uses on-screen navigation.

To the right are the metallic volume and power/lock button. The side houses the hybrid tray that can accommodate two nano-sized SIM cards or a microSD card using the SIM 2 slot.

The top part is an Ir blaster for controlling appliances such as your TV and a secondary microphone. Below we have the headset jack, USB C port, and a row of drilled holes for the loudspeaker.

Flip the device on its back and you will find the dual cameras, Laser AF, and dual-LED flash. There’s the round fingerprint scanner / clickable shortcut button on the upper center, and another honor logo below.

Overall, the Honor 8 is a simple yet attractive device. It’s easy to grip thanks to its 71mm narrow and 7.5mm thin frame. It has a decent heft to it as well at 153g, but still comfortable on hands or in the pockets.

Display and Multimedia

The Honor 8 sports a similar screen size as the Huawei P9 at 5.2-inches at full HD resolution or equal to 423ppi. The IPS LCD display is crisp with vibrant colors and wide viewing angles. It’s bright enough for the outdoors and under direct sunlight.

While the entire front panel is covered with glass, there’s a lot of empty space at the bottom bezels (where the Honor branding is prominently displayed). The side bezels are narrow and almost the same thinness as the P9.

The loudspeaker, on the other hand, produces audio that is loud, clear and full. It’s not going to compete with a dedicated external speaker but the sound quality won’t disappoint you.

OS, UI, Apps

Out of the box, running the software department is Android 6.0 Marshmallow with Emotion UI 4.1. However, it finally received the Android 7.0 Nougat with Emotion UI 5.0 during the time we were reviewing it. We didn’t dwell much with Marshmallow and downloaded the more than 2GB software update.

So far, we’re liking the Nougat update as it’s cleaner yet attractive. The caveat here is that the unit we have uses the Chinese ROM. That said, there’s no Google Play Store and comes pre-installed with plenty of Chinese-centric apps. On the bright side, you can still install the Play Store through its own app store called HiApp and it will work just fine. However, some Google account services are not supported so sync options like with Contacts are not available.

The pre-installed apps, on the other hand, can be uninstalled. You can even remove most of Honor’s own apps which only makes sense if you live in China. That said, you’ll get some space from the 21.37GB usable storage after a little bit of house cleaning.

Note: China-specific releases do not normally come with Google Play Services as the Chinese market has their own set of equivalent local services. Getting the Play Store also requires certification from Google which entails from fees to Google.

Camera

One of the main features of the Honor 8 is the dual-camera setup — two 12MP sensors, one RGB and one monochrome, which is similar to the Huawei P9 and Mate 9. With the dual camera setup, the Honor 8 can capture an image of a subject with a blurred background for that bokeh effect. Honor calls feature “Wide Aperture”. You can also adjust the blur and focus after the image is captured which is pretty nifty.

When it comes to auto-focus, the two cameras are paired to a hybrid AF setup – Laser, depth, and contrast. That said, the Honor 8 can easily lock on a subject in a variety of scenarios like outdoor, indoor, or low-light.

Do note that there is not Leica co-branding here despite the fact the a lot of the features and capabilities are the same.

The 8MP front camera, on the other hand, can capture decent photos and has screen flash and beautify feature. It’s not as good as, let’s say, the Vivo V5 Plus, but it’s good enough for casual users.

As for videos, the Honor 8 can record 1080p clips at a fluid 60fps in MP4 format. There’s no EIS or OIS so footage can be shaky, however, the Wide Aperture effect can still be used. Watch the sample below:

Performance and Benchmarks

Powering the Honor 8 is a HiSilicon Kirin 950 octa-core CPU clocked at 2.3GHz, Mali-T880MP4 GPU and 4GB RAM – the same configuration as the Huawei Mate 8. If you have read our review of the Mate 8, you’ll know that the Kirin 950 CPU packs a punch, and the same goes for the Honor 8. Navigation is smooth and apps launch fast. We had no problems with games as well and can take on games like Mobile Legends without choking and with minimal warming.

We also want to highlight the fingerprint scanner as it is one of the most responsive we’ve experienced. Setup doesn’t take much time compared to other devices yet it accurately recognizes our prints even with the faintest of touch and unlocks the device instantaneously.

* AnTuTu – 85,338
* Geekbench – 1,693 (Single-Core), 4,894 (Multi-Core), 2,634 (RenderScript)
* Vellamo – 4,089 (Multicore), 3,064 (Metal), 4,195 (Chrome)
* 3D Mark – 942 (Sling Shot Extreme)
* PC Mark – 5,486 (Work 2.0), 7,498 (Storage)

Connectivity and Call Quality

The Honor 8 got all connectivity features covered, including dual-SIM support, 4G LTE, dual-band WiFi, Bluetooth, NFC, and IR blaster which serves as a universal remote for your home appliances (TVs, air con, media player, etc.). It locks in quick on available LTE signal in our area although we doubt it supports the local telco’s Band 28. Call quality, on the other hand, is loud and clear thanks to noise-cancelling.

Battery Life

Providing power to the Honor 8 is a 3,000mAh battery which can be considered baseline for devices of this caliber. So far when used for heavy social media browsing on WiFi with light calls and texts, it can last you a whole day with some left towards the night. If you need to be frugal on the battery, there’s the Power saving mode and Ultra mode inside Settings.

As for our PC Mark’s Battery bench, the Honor 8 was rated at 10 hours and 43 minutes (Work 1.0) (8 hours and 35 minutes in Work 2.0) which is good. In our standard video loop test (involves playing a 1080p video on loop in Airplane mode at 50% brightness and volume with headset plugged in) the result is 11 hours worth of playback.

Conclusion

The Honor 8 is one of those smartphones that punches above its weight class. It’s smaller than most devices out there but it has a powerful CPU, large RAM, and has a dual camera setup which can produce good images. It also runs Android Nougat now, however, it has a Chinese ROM so you will need to tinker with. If you know what you’re doing, you can try to get your hands on a Global ROM and give it some flashing.

The Huawei Honor 8 is not officially released in the Philippines but being sold at Lazada with a retail price of Php18,900 for the 32GB model (see listing here).

Honor 8 specs:
5.2-inch full HD IPS display @ 1920×1080 pixels, 423ppi
HiSilicon Kirin 950 2.3GHz octa-core CPU
Mali-T880MP4 GPU
4GB LPDDR4 RAM
32GB storage
Expandable via microSD (Uses SIM 2)
Dual-12MP (monochrome + color) rear camera, f/2.2, 1/25-micron pixel
8MP front camera, f/2.4
4G LTE
Dual-SIM (Asian variant)
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
Bluetooth 4.2
GPS, A-GPS support
Infrared port
Fingerprint scanner
Gyroscope sensor
Android 6.0 Marshmallow w/ EMUI (Chinese ROM), upgradeable to Nougat
3,000mAh non-removable Li-Po battery
145.5 x 71 x 7.5 mm (dimensions)
153 grams (weight)

Pros:
* Premium build and design
* Good display
* Good performance
* Great camera
* Upgradeable to Android Nougat

Cons:
* Uses Chinese ROM
* Google services not built-in



This article was written by Louie Diangson, Managing Editor of YugaTech. You can follow him at @John_Louie.

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