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November 14, 2016

Unboxing & Review: honor 8 - Beauty & The Beast


After the successful launch of Huawei's P9 and P9 Plus with the Leica endorsed dual camera, a quarter later, Huawei's sub-brand announced the availability of the honor 8, successor of the highly appraised honor 7. The announcement while focuses mainly on the awesome design, honor also emphasises the great pair of camera as well.

Does the phone stands up to the expectations? Or it's just a pretty face? Read on to find out more.

Retails for RM1699 (Standard variant 32GB storage) & RM1899 (Premium variant 64GB storage).

Specifications Overview

General

  • Dimension: 145.5  x  71  x  7.5 mm (5.73  x  2.80  x  0.30 in)
  • Weight: 153 g (5.4oz)
  • SIM: Dual SIM (Nano & Micro / Micro SD)
  • Connectivity:
    • GSM / HSPA / LTE
    • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
    • Bluetooth 4.2, A2DP, EDR, LE
    • GPS with A-GPS, GLONASS/BDS
    • NFC
    • Infrared Port
    • USB Type-C 1.0

Display

  • Size: 5.2 inches
  • Resolution: 1080  x  1920 pixels (~423 PPI) LTPS

Under the hood

  • CPU: HiSilicon Kirin 950, Octa-core, 4x 2.3 GHz Cortex-A72 & 4x 1.8 GHz Cortex-A53
  • GPU: Mali-T880MP4
  • RAM: 4 GB
  • Storage: 32/64 GB, supporting MicroSD up to 256 GB
  • Battery: Non-removable 3000 mAh Li-Po

Camera

  • Rear:
    • Dual 12.0 MP
    • f/2.2
    • Laser AF
    • Dual-LED, Dual Tone flash
    • 1.25 µm pixel size
    • 1080p@60fps video
  • Front:
    • 8.0 MP
    • f/2.4
    • 1.4 µm pixel size

Software

  • OS: Android 6.0 Marshmallow
  • UI: Emotion UI 4.1

Unboxing


The box looks slight off and there's a reason to it.


Device serial numbers and certifications at the back of the box.


Sliding out the inner box shows the creative packaging design.

Instead of lying flat in the box, the phone is slotted in sideways.


That looks absolutely beautiful.


Even more slide-out boxes for the accessories.


Included in box:

  • Quick Charge adapter
  • USB-A to USB-C cable
  • Sim ejector tool
  • Documentation paperwork

Build Quality


While the design of having metal body sandwiched in between 2 pieces of glass is not exactly new, but honor is trying to make this design cool again with a slight twist in the build process.


The build quality of the honor 8 is stunning. The body is constructed with diamond-cut aluminium alloy with sand-blasted curve edges to create an ultra smooth body which is extremely comfortable to hold in hands. While both front and back glass panels are having 2.5D design for that seamless hands-on feel, the real star is the back glass panel where 15 layer of glass is stacked with create that amazing aurora reflection pattern.


The 2.5D glass is applied to both front and rear glass.


Combined to the curved sides, the phone is extremely comfortable to hold in the hands.


8MP front facing camera, proximity & ambient light sensors, and the earpiece.


At the top is the secondary microphone for noise cancelling during calls, then the infrared blaster for remote controls.


Power button and volume button at the right side.


SIM slot at the left side. The phone supports hybrid dual nano SIM, where the second SIM slot supports MicroSD card.


3.5mm audio jack, USB Type C port and speaker holes at the bottom.


Dual camera setup just like the Huawei P9, sans Leica's endorsement.

No protruding camera module at the back, thank you very much, honor.


Round fingerprint scanner at the back.


As beautiful the phone could be, however, it has a major potential drawback. While it may look extremely beautiful, but due to its glass construction, the phone is annoyingly slippery. It would drift off even if the surface is slightly not even. I guess, sometimes good looking means you need to take extra precaution in handling it.

Display

The honor 8 comes with a OK-good 5.2-inch 1080p LTPS LCD display. Why OK-Good? Well, it is just mediocre. Not to say the best, but not the worst either.

As expected from an IPS panel, the viewing angle is great. However it is not something I would brag about this phone as there's plenty of other phones that comes with similar or better displays.

Screen brightness is sufficient even for outdoor usage, but not something that would surprise me.

Camera


The camera on the honor 8 is great. Despite it has lower pixel count compared to honor 7, however let me explain that why the numbers are irrelevant here.

Focusing

Focusing is quick and spot-on thanks to the laser autofocusing system. That is quite a relief where I could always be confident that my phone would actually nail the focus every time I release the shutter.


White balance:

While the colours appear to be washed out and less saturated at most of the time, but the camera app's auto white balance is surprisingly accurate most of the time. The outcome of the colour temperature closely resembles to what we see in real life.


Quick:

This shot was taken immediately with the ultra-snapshot feature whereby double clicking the volume down button, the phone launches the camera app and takes a photo immediately.

Although it is slightly blurred if you pixel peep, but just look at that effectiveness in taking a *cough*creep*cough* quick snapshot.


Camera App:

Then the honor's feature filled camera app has made a comeback. The Pro camera and video functions are still one of the most useful feature that comes with the app. They might not be the best consider that the camera being not as powerful as dedicated cameras, but allowing users to adjust the ISO, shutter speed, white balance, focus mode and exposure compensation value could make wonders.



Dual camera:

The dual camera at the back is not just there for the sake of being there, they're actually used for adding details to the photos by combining the colour sensor's image and monochrome sensor's details to create the best image.

Other than that, thanks to the software's magic, the dual camera, is capable of "taking" wide aperture photographs. Or should I say simulate wide aperture photographs.

Every time you press the shutter button, the dual camera sensors at the back would simultaneously take two photographs - one RGB and one monochrome, then the software would combine both photos into one. Other than allowing you to change the aperture effect, it also allows you to adjust the focus point after the photo has been taken.

Personally I find it quite nice to use if the simulated aperture is around the range of f/4.0~f/11. Anything between the f/0.95~f3.5 usually results a fake looking image which tries hard to be cool.


Low light:

While this camera still has long way to go before it reaches the standard of those low light monsters, yet it doesn't mean that you can't take reasonably well low light photographs.

Above photo was taken sometime around dusk, in a poorly lit environment. Hey, it still looks alright.


Solid performer:

All in all, the camera is a real deal and I don't have much to complain about. It would be great if they manage to include optical stabilisation because that would reduce the chances of getting blurred photos due to shaky hands.

While some may think this is the exact same camera as the Huawei P9, but in fact they're not for the following reasons:

  1. Difference in optics - The Huawei P9 comes with a wider  f/2.2, 27mm lens, meanwhile the honor 8 comes with a tighter f/2.2, 35mm lens.
  2. Difference in software - The Huawei P9 camera app is able to use the monochrome sensor on its own, capturing the actual monochrome image instead of simulating through software.

While the software is obviously a handicap on the honor 8 side, but the optics is the key difference here that actually set them apart.

Bonus selfie, or wefie:

Performance


The honor 8 comes with Android 6.0 Marshmallow with Huawei-developed user interface, Emotion UI (EMUI) 4.1.




Came equipped with one of the high-end SoC - Kirin 950, no doubt we're getting great performance results.

Numbers aside, my experience in using the phone has been great because the phone delivers smooth and responsive feedback to each user interaction.

The gaming experience on the honor 8 is great, considering that the powerful Mali-T880 MPU is only driving a 1080p panel. I'd say there's nothing need to worry even if you play graphic demanding games such as Asphalt 8: Airborne and N.O.V.A 3 Freedom Edition.

One thing to take note is the EMUI's implementation of the application optimisation. There are some apps being denied of running in the background, by default, to preserve precious battery life. However, that might cause a certain level of inconvenience if you're reliant to the app's notification.

Battery Life



Then the battery life, thanks to the 16nm FinFET plus fabrication process, it has been a real joy for having a phone that is so capable yet sips power. The increased efficiency means you're getting more work done from the same amount of power input, which literally means better battery life.

The 3000mAh battery is rather standard when there are more and more phones comes with batteries that have much larger capacities. Despite so, the phone would easily rack up 5~6 hours of screen-on-time.



From the above screenshot, it clearly shows that how I unplug my phone in the morning, go to the office, having not to worry about the battery throughout the day with 3 hours of screen-on-time and still left 50% juice for the night.

While honor 8 does support quick charging with the included 9V/2A charger, but it seems to be a proprietary one as the quick charge doesn't work with industry standard QuickCharge 2.0 or 3.0 chargers. What a bummer.

Final Thoughts

The honor 8 is an extremely capable phone and looks great at the same time. I'd say this is how you would combine raw processing power with beautiful design.

I can definitely understand if someone would purchase the device just for the looks. However, if you're not that kind of cautious user, then this might not be the phone for you due to its design nature of utilising glass for the back panel as well.

Best of all, you get to own all above mentioned strengths at reasonable RM1699 and RM1899 for 32GB and 64GB configurations.

The standard 32GB variant comes in only Black and White colour, while the premium 64GB variant comes in Blue and Gold.

Pros:
  • Unique packaging
  • Solid build quality
  • Fast fingerprint scanner
  • Great camera
  • Great battery life
  • Great performance
  • Price

Cons:
  • Slippery
  • Rough and sharp connection port edges
  • Proprietary quick charge


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