Honor 8 review: Huawei's premium smartphone at a budget price

Huawei’s Honor 8 is the latest in a string of well-designed smartphones – including the OnePlus 3 and the Alcatel Idol 4S – that offer a solid performance at an affordable price. So how does the Chinese firm’s latest midranger compare against such competition?

The Honor 8 is, for my money at least, Huawei’s best designed smartphone at this price. Its smooth glass back covers a nice reflective metallic finish, and has an all-round polished, premium feel.

Despite retailing for just Dh1,599, the Honor 8 has the feel of a premium smartphone, thanks to its HiSilicon Kirin 950 eight-core processor and a generous 4GB of RAM, even if it doesn’t quite have the zip of the OnePlus 3.

The rear-mounted fingerprint scanner is particularly nippy at unlocking the phone, doubling up (very usefully) as a programmable hot key, for quick camera access, Google search and other functions.

The 5.2-inch LPTS display inevitably falls short of the Amoled and Retina displays of the Galaxy S7s and iPhones of this world, with slightly more muted colours. That being said, the trailer for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story looks great, with the X-Wing action scenes rendering very smoothly.

Huawei has pinned much of its hopes for the Honor 8 on its rear camera system, which, like the LG V20 and iPhone 7, sports a two-lens rear camera. In the case of the Honor 8, this means one 12MP colour and one 12MP monochrome camera, each combining to boost low light performance.

That sounds good in theory, but the Honor 8’s lowlight camera performance is sadly nothing out of the ordinary, compared with mid-range competitors like the OnePlus 3, falling (not surprisingly) short of higher priced rivals.

Images shot in standard lighting conditions are absolutely fine though, as are the selfies taken with the 8MP front-facing camera.

The Honor 8 is a beautifully designed handset with very good features for a very attractive price. It falls a tiny bit short of the OnePlus 3, but is still a great option for those looking for a good smartphone that doesn’t cost the earth.

q&a always upwardly mobile

John Everington expands on what Huawei’s new Honor 8 has to offer:

What’s the battery life like?

Very good indeed; the 3000mAh battery easily lasts a full day on standard use and you may be able to just about squeeze out two days’ worth if you only use it lightly. Charging via USB-C is very quick, although it might mean an upgrade for all the micro-USB cables you’ve accumulated.

How about the internal memory?

The standard version comes with 32GB. You can expand that up to 256GB via Micro SD, as long as you’re willing to give up your second Sim card slot.

And the software?

The Honor 8 runs Android Marshmallow out of the box, which might disappoint those who were looking to run the more up-to-date Nougat iteration. A few reviewers have been a bit sniffy about Huawei’s Emui skin that runs on top of the Android software, but most users will be perfectly happy with it.

Does it come in pink?

Don’t you mean rose gold? Sadly not, it’s only available in pearl white, midnight black, gold and a very fetching sapphire blue.

Finally, is it true that Huawei is China’s largest mobile manufacturer and is going to take over the world?

Not quite. Huawei’s still growing for sure, but has been usurped in its home market of China by Oppo, according to research firm Counterpoint Technology Market Research.


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