Honor 8 Review: Level Up

Introduction

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Last year, I reviewed the Honor 7, which is a pretty good device with premium build, yet affordable. A few months ago, Honor launched the Honor 8, and I’ve been using the device for a few weeks. It’s time to give the device a full review treatment.

Aurora Glass Design

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Flagship smartphones nowadays have two types of designs — metal backing and glass sandwich designs. Unlike last year’s Honor 7, the Honor 8 comes with a dual-glass design for this time, which means the phone is slippery and prone to fingerprints. Thankfully, my unit is in white, won’t really notice the fingerprints on its back.

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Let’s talk about the aurora glass, shall we? The back of the phone is made of 15-layer craftsmanship, combines with glass/metal back to create brilliant light reflections. Kudos to Honor for doing that as it really makes the device unique.

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There’s a fingerprint sensor on its back, which also doubles up as a Smart Key. To use the Smart Key, all you need to do is just press on the fingerprint sensor as it does come with a tactile feedback.

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The bottom of the device houses the speaker, USB Type-C port, and a 3.5mm audio jack! The Honor 8 is the first Honor smartphone to have a USB Type-C port, which also supports fast charging as well.

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Overall, the Honor 8 is really a beautiful piece of art made by the company. The aurora glass is really something unique, now who says white or black phone is boring?

Same Display, Smaller Form Factor

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The Honor 8 sports a 5.2-inch Full HD display, similar to its predecessor. Yes, this is the third consecutive year that the company still sticks with Full HD resolution, instead of QHD. The company mentioned before that human eye can’t really notice any difference between Full HD and QHD resolutions, and Full HD display consumes less power as well, which provides a better battery life.

Anyway, its display is still pretty good, even though the black isn’t that deep. It also comes with the eye-care mode, which makes the view experience even more comfortable and safer by filtering out part of blue light to reduce eye strain.

Kirin 950 16nm FinFET SoC

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Powering the Honor 8 is Huawei’s in-house Kirin 950 processor with 4GB RAM. The Kirin 950 processor comes with 16nm architecture and FinFET technology, and the i5 co-processor works aligned with the Kirin 950 SoC chipset to increase processing speeds, response times, and battery life.

The processor isn’t new, but it is still pretty competitive. There are some reports claimed that the Kirin 950 processor is able to outperform Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor. I don’t really trust benchmark tests, but I’m pretty sure that the Kirin 950 processor is a good one as I didn’t experience any hiccups or lags while gaming or multitasking.

Improved EMUI 4.1

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The Honor 8 is running on EMUI 4.1 on top of Android Marshmallow, and it’s pretty similar to the Huawei P9. If you read about my previous reviews, you’ll know that I complained a lot about the outdated icon looks. Well, it seems that Honor has fixed it in the latest EMUI.

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The device comes with a few handy features, one of them is the IR blaster. The IR blaster made a return from its predecessor, and it’s pretty easy to use. With the IR blaster, I’m able to control most of my electronic appliances such as TV and air-conditioner.

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The knuckle gestures is not a new feature, you can use your knuckles to record screen and take different screenshots — from normal screenshot, scrolling screenshot and part of the screen. Drawing a letter using your knuckle will open a specific app you set.

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The fingerprint sensor is still one of the fastest ones I’ve ever used, and it works as a trackpad as well. You can perform different swiping gestures to pull the notification panel from the top, or scroll through the pictures in the gallery app. The trackpad works accurately with no errors, but I hope that these swiping gestures can have more functions other than triggering the notification panel and scrolling through the pictures.

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Additionally, the fingerprint sensor is integrated with Smart Key, which lets you program a total of 3 things on in. These 3 functions can be triggered by pressing, holding and double pressing. It’s a pretty good feature, I set to open the camera app by just a press, and bang, the camera app is opened.

Dual-Camera Setup

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The Honor 8 comes with a 12MP dual-camera setup — one RGB and one monochrome sensors. It seems that the Honor 8 cameras work same as the Huawei P9 cameras, but the monochrome mode is completely different. The P9 uses its RGB sensor to capture colors, whereas the other to capture monochrome picture only with more detail and contrast. Then, these two images merged together during the image processing. So, if you want to take monochrome picture, the device will only use the monochrome sensor.

Even though the Honor 8 works almost the same way as the P9 in terms of normal image capturing, its monochrome mode is different. Its monochrome mode is not from hardware, but through software. The device will take a usual colored image first, then added a monochrome filter on it. In this case, the monochrome sensor in the Honor 8 is used to capture detail and contrast, to enhance the colored image with more detail and contrast.

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Image quality generally is pretty good, its white balance works correctly most of the time, you can find out it compared with the ASUS ZenFone 3 here. The “wide aperture” mode allows you to take the photo first, then adjust the focus point and aperture later. Well, I’ll let the camera samples do the talking and you let me know in the comment section below.

Smaller Battery

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The Honor 8 has a smaller 3,000mAh battery compared to its predecessor (3,100mAh). However, its battery life is surprisingly better than the Honor 7. I was able to get more than 4 hours of screen-on-time in performance mode all the time, which means getting through a day with a single charge is not a problem. Furthermore, the device also supports fast charging with the factory-provided 9V 2A charger.

Final Words

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Pricing at RM1,699 for 32GB variant and RM1,899 for 64GB variant, the Honor 8 is one of the best sub-RM2k smartphones you can buy right now. Its aurora glass is really astonishing, slippery and fingerprint magnet though. Overall, there isn’t much negativity about the Honor 8. If you are thinking to get a good looking phone with good performance yet not so expensive, the Honor 8 is a right choice for you. Do note that the 32GB variant only available in Midnight Black and Pearl White colors, whereas the 64GB variant is available in Sapphire Blue and Sunrise Gold colors. You can get it on Lazada now with free gifts.

Yay

  • Beautifully made
  • Impressive performance
  • Not expensive

Nay

  • Slippery
  • Fingerprint magnet
  • Camera monochrome mode isn’t true monochrome mode