Review by Sunetra Chakravati,9/14/2016 5:04:01 PM
Look and feel
Ease of use
Fantastic build quality | dual primary camera | sound battery
Fingerprint prone | no optical image stabilisation on camera
If looks were the only parameter for recommending the Honor 8, I would whole-heartedly do so. The phone is stunning. Seemingly made entirely out of glass, even the metal sides are coated in 2.5D glass! The back and front are a lustrous glass body which took 15 layers to achieve the 3D prism effect that the Honor 8 design is all about. And the phone shines- there is no angle the Honor 8 will not catch the sun/ light from. The 153grams weight puts the phone firmly in the Goldilocks category of neither too heavy nor too light and the dimensions make it a very thin and sleek number.
The fingerprint sensor is on the back and the only drawback to quite so much glass is the same you will have with the Samsung Galaxy S7- muddy paw prints. The Honor 8 picks up fingerprints like a pro and if you are seriously considering buying the phone, here is a pro tip: get a case! The fingerprint sensor doubles up as a quick access control and so a press, a double press or a long press can open up an app of choice, programmable via the settings area on the phone. Phones have come a long way since the first iPhone launched and even though the 5.2-inch would have seemed a bit much even three years back but now it seems absolutely fine. Easy to hold one handed, the fingerprint sensor (and its added functionality) on the back increases its ergonomic heft.
Huawei have pared back their EMUI Android overlay although it is still little jarring if you have used pure Android. If this is your first Android phone or if you are switching between manufacturers, you will be pleasantly surprised because the thin overlay eats up less of your native memory while giving a more refined, better mobile experience. On-board is a home grown HiSilicon Kirin 950 octa-core processor (4*Cortex A72 2.3GHz + 4*Cortex A53 1.8GHz) paired with 4GB RAM.
Its arch nemesis, the OnePlus 3 comes with 6GB RAM and although we think that might render the phone’s performance unstable, it is a one up from the Honor 8. However, with other flagships like Samsung’s Galaxy S7 and Note 7 ranges sporting 4GB RAM, I think Honor is in very safe territory. During usage, apps loaded fine, switching between windows was okay and I could play a variety of games without issues. Although, to use the Honor 8 to the best of its abilities, you need to make sure the phone is on ‘Performance’ mode rather than ‘Smart’ for battery prowess because otherwise it throttles the CPU.
There is a 3000mAH battery on the Honor 8 and it took me through awhole day and a bit of work and play. There is fast charge included so you can charge it almost to the halfway mark in half an hour. Honor have taken out adverts saying how the battery on the 8 is almost twice that of the iPhone 7 and it is! There are power-saving features in abundance and the quick juice-up option further seals the case for it.
Huawei have gone down the Samsung route and you will have to look for the bezels on the Honor 8 to find them. The manufacturer promises a 96% high colour gamut for detailed and pin-sharp imagery and they are… almost there. Although the Full HD panel (1920 x 1080 pixels, 423ppi) means it is nowhere near the Samsung AMOLEDs, it is fine for day to day work.
There is also an auto brightness feature which is meant to protect your eyes and help you read etc but in reality, its working is a bit hit or miss. However, given that the Honor 8 is in direct competition with the likes of OnePlus 3 and Alcatel Idol 4S, I had hoped it would have been better. While streaming videos off Youtube, images were clear and crisp and although, obviously, not as immersive as the Samsung range, they were a B+ rather than an A.
Like on Huawei’s P9, there is a dual 12-MP camera on the Honor 8 and it is a very good point and shoot device. However, it is not endorsed by Leica and although it does work along the same principal of one monochromatic and one RGB lens, results aren't exactly the same. There are a range of controls available via the pro mode but the one that Honor shout about the most- the night mode is super fiddly to use and can only work if you also happen to have a tripod to fix the phone on.
Ultimately, there is no optical image stabilisation, and for me that is one of the most important features for a camera phone to have. Would I recommend the camera? Yes I would. Because most of us use them as point and shoot devices and it is fine for that purpose, and even a bit of arty photography- but don't expect photos of the likes of the Huawei P9 or the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge.
Should I buy the Honor 8?
The premium budget market is strewn with the carcasses of good smartphones. There are so many stunning options out there including the Alcatel Idol 4S, OnePlus 3 and others. The undisputed king of this range is the OnePlus 3 and with a budget of <£400, it is ultimately entirely dependant on what you need the phone for. The Honor 8, especially in sapphire blue, tops in build quality and looks. It is also very very capable with the 4GB RAM and dual primary cameras.
With EMUI sculpted to be really user-friendly, recommending the phone comes very easy.
Vodafone Smart platinum 7
Stunning build quality alongside the frankly, fantastic specs places it in pole position in a very very competitive premium budget segment
Operating System: Android™ 6.0 (EMUI 4.1)
Dimensions:145.5mm x 71mm x 7.45mm
Weight: 153 g
Display: 5.2-inch Full HD
Processor: HiSilicon Kirin 950 (4*Cortex A72 2.3GHz + 4*Cortex A53 1.8GHz); 4GB RAM
Camera: 12-MPx2 camera main dual camera with separate RGB and monochrome sensor, 1080p video; 8-MP selfie camera
Memory: 32GB; 4GB RAM Micro SD (up to 200GB)
Battery: 3000 mAh
Fingerprint sensor: Yes
Misc: USB 2.0; Quick charge; ambient light sensor; NFC