The Honor 8 brings some major design changes over its predecessor, the Honor 7. It features a unibody design, metal frame with curved edges and a 2.5D curved glass on the front and back, which adds to its premium look and feel. It has a 5.2-inch full-HD screen with ultra-thin bezels on the sides to maintain a slim profile. The design looks refreshing and the device is comfortable to hold in one hand, but the smooth front and back glass makes it slippery. Another shortcoming of having a glass back is that it is always smudgy and needs to be cleaned.
The company’s latest offering, the Honor 8 ups the ante with dual rear cameras, front and back glass design and powerful hardware on-board. Priced at Rs 29,999 and available via Flipkart, the smartphone competes with the likes of popular devices such as the OnePlus 3 and the Asus Zenfone 3 (ZE552KL).
Up front, you have the selfie camera, ambient light sensor and earpiece, which also has a hidden LED light for notification alerts
The hybrid SIM-card tray is placed on the left, which lets you use either two nano-SIM cards or one nano-SIM card and a microSD card. The 3.5mm audio jack and USB Type-C port is placed at the bottom, while the top has an IR blaster which lets you use the Honor 8 as a remote to control your TV, air conditioner and Blu-Ray player, among others. After using the Honor 8 as my primary phone here’s my detailed review.
- 4 GB RAM | 32 GB ROM | Expandable Upto 128 GB
- 5.2 inch Full HD Display
- 12MP + 12MP Dual Rear Camera | 8MP Front Camera
- 3000 mAh Li-Polymer Battery
- Hisilicon Kirin 950 – ARM Cortex A72 + ARM Cortex A53 Processor
- The phone is very solidly built and put-together perfectly. It feels more expensive than it is
- The design is slim and fits in your pocket easily. Unlike my Nexus 5X with the same screen size of 5.2″, the Honor 8 fits perfectly in my car’s cupholder
- This phone runs fast! Everything seems immediate with practically no discernible lag, from web browsing to playing music (Apple Music, to be exact) to even unlocking using the fingerprint reader
- Battery life is better than my Nexus 5X. The Nexus would last me 8-9 hours on a charge through the day, the Honor 8 seems to be going at least 12 hours and more before I need to plug it in
- Speaking of charging, the fast charge feature is no joke. I’ve found the phone to go from almost empty (3%) to 100% fully charged in little more than an hour! The phone also charges fast with any regular 2.1A USB charger, such as the Anker Powerport. (The Nexus 5X will only rapid charge with its included charger)
- Forgot to mention call-quality: the phone does support VoLTE calling, which is indicated by a “HD” icon. VoLTE calls sound so clear that it is hard to believe you are on a cell phone. Non-VoLTE (or non-HD) calls aren’t as clear, but are still pretty good quality. Of course, it all depends on your network and reception (I’m on T-Mobile, and usually get their LTE or 4G HSPA network most of the time).
- The Camera takes some great NIGHT shots. Try taking a picture of the Moon using the Honor 8 and an iPhone 6; the Honor 8 will render the Moon clearly, while it appears as a white blob in the iPhone’s shot. For daytime pictures, I honestly couldn’t tell much of a difference between an iPhone 6 vs Honor 8’s shots of the same subjects. That is not to say the Honor 8 still takes impressive daylight pictures, but I’m not sure that the dual-lens function has much bearing on the quality of them. The camera app is super-fast and can be ready to take a shot in a couple seconds, unlike the Nexus who’s camera app is very slow and not good for trying to catch quick one-of-a-kind moments.
- Very simply, the software out of the box is so different from what I was used to with stock Android. I don’t like many of the tweaks and visual flair that Huawei put into their version of Android (called EMUI). It is obvious they are trying to make their version of Android look and run very much like Apple’s iOS.However, after much tweaking with the settings and installing some other applications, I’ve been able to make this phone feel a lot more like what I was used to. I’ve listed my tweaks below under “Tweaks to Consider”
- As part of my tweaks, I tried to disable or at least hide many of Huawei’s stock applications in favor of the Google apps. But one Huawei app in particular, HiVoice, keeps nagging me to give it permissions to access my content and what not. There is no way to disable that app and as much as I’ve tried to neuter it, I still get a random pop-up for it that annoys me. If any Huawei software engineers are reading this review, PLEASE give us the ability to disable or uninstall HiVoice. Or at the least, stop it from nagging constantly to gain permissions.
- The phone does heat up after several minutes of use. This is regardless of whether you are just browsing the web, listening to music or playing a game.
- Display and Resolution: On its own, the Honor 8’s screen seems brilliant and renders text and images well. But compared side-to-side with the Nexus 5X, it seems to be pale in comparison. I’ve included pictures where I show the two devices side-by-side. I set both screens to display at 75% brightness; the Nexus screen (on the left) is obviously brighter than the Honor 8 (on the right). You will also notice that the Honor 8’s screen doesn’t display as much information or screen real estate as the Nexus does.
Huawei will not win any awards for original design of the Honor 8. Just like the software, the phone itself is very much a copy of the iPhone 6/s, from the rounded edges to the glass screen to even the speaker holes. The back of the phone, however, isn’t like the iPhone as it is glass. But then, I’d say Huawei was “inspired” by the iPhone 4/s or the Galaxy S7 for this aspect of the design
Since the phone was just released, there aren’t many cases or specific accessories out yet. But I’m sure the selection will expand very soon
The biggest advantage of Android over iOS is the ability to tweak the software to your liking. If you are someone who is used to the stock Android experience from a Nexus phone, then consider the following tweaks I made to get the Honor 8 to a similar, if not the same, type of experience:
- Launcher: (GOOGLE NOW LAUNCHER) I downloaded and installed the Google Now Launcher from the Play Store. This is the exact launcher that the stock Nexus devices use
- Visual Voicemail: The Nexus supports Visual Voicemail within its Dialer app, but the Honor 8 doesn’t. The only substitute is to download your carrier’s own app for Visual Voicemail (I have T-Mobile and their app works almost seamlessly. AT&T also has an app in the Play Store)
- Remove Bloatware: Huawei does ship the Honor 8 with a few bloatware apps, such as Booking.com, Facebook, Twitter and Lyft. But you can uninstall the apps you don’t use
- Other apps downloaded: I installed the Google versions of Gmail, Calendar, Clock and Photos to replace the Huawei versions. Although, the Huawei versions are simple reskins that still run the Google apps underneath, so this isn’t a necessary tweak. I did this just for my own comfort and familiarity, simply as I am used to the Google versions.
I do recommend this phone for the power Android user and anyone else who is comfortable making tweaks, as well as someone who doesn’t care about their software experience but does want a high-quality, fast and powerful phone. I don’t believe the extra cost for the extra features of the Honor 8 will be worth it to the latter type of users.