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HONOR joins the 'flagship killer' fray with the US-bound HONOR 8

The HONOR 8 is headed to the US with specs competitive with 2016's flagships but with a price tag that's hundreds of dollars lower.

Published onAugust 16, 2016

It used to be easier to pick out a premium smartphone. After all, each year only saw the big dogs like Samsung, Apple, HTC, and LG dropping their latest and greatest on the market. Now, however, we’re starting to see diminishing returns on investing in absolute top-shelf specs, and the HONOR 8 is here to prove you don’t have to drop $700 to $900 on a smartphone to avoid compromising on performance.


See the HONOR 8 on major retailers




Indeed, the mid-range of today has reached the point where even power users can get what they’re looking for without breaking the bank. More and more brands are offering smartphones that nearly snag flagship-level specs for hundreds of dollars less than what you would fork over to Samsung or LG. So what makes this offering from HUAWEI stand out?

Let’s take a close look at the HONOR 8 and decide if this new “flagship killer” has the teeth to take down the competition.

Sleek and elegant design

Right off the bat, the HONOR 8 has that premium feel you’re looking for. The build quality is truly exceptional with a rugged metal unibody design, a large and crisp display with narrow bezels, and an elegant set of curves. The device fits comfortably in the hand with ergonomic precision, and the body is made of diamond-cut aluminum with a sleek glass surface. It weighs just 5.3 ounces. The 5.2-inch FHD display boasts impressive dynamic contrast, and holding the device places the rear-mounted fingertip scanner within easy reach.

One of the most responsive fingerprint scanners around


While we’re on the topic of fingerprint scanners, this one easily competes with flagships. HUAWEI and their sub-brand HONOR have an excellent track record of delivering fast and accurate fingerprint scanners. The HONOR 8 has one that feels a lot like the Nexus 6P, which shouldn’t be a surprise since the darling of the Nexus line was also designed by HUAWEI. Scanning takes less than half a second, with both speed and accuracy equaling or exceeding what we’ve seen on 2016’s flagships so far. The fingerprint sensor is programmable so that you can assign it to a variety of functions such as mobile payment authorization or in-app user identification.

Excellent camera experience

In terms of selfie-snapping and memory making, the HONOR 8 has opted for the increasingly popular dual camera package. This setup offers an excellent experience, and it’s something that’s really hard to beat in the mid-range price point. The rear camera arrangement consists of 12MP dual cameras, one RGB and the other a monochrome sensor allowing the camera to capture up to three times as much light than a single lens. This means excellent camera quality for you, especially in low-lighting conditions. The front-facing lens is no slouch either, clocking in at 8MP.

A battery that lasts, and charges back up fast

The battery on the HONOR 8 is exactly what we’ve come to expect from modern flagship devices. The 3000mAh battery is just like what we’ve seen on the Samsung Galaxy S7, but the HONOR 8 seriously maximizes how it handles all that juice. Smart Power 4.0 protocols manage battery life in such a way that you can generally get more than a day and a half of normal use out of a full charge. To look at that from a different angle, that’s about 10 hours of playing offline videos. Pretty stout. Furthermore, when you find yourself getting low, the HONOR 8 is quick-charge ready, meaning you can achieve about half a charge in less than thirty minutes.

Flagship-level performance


Here’s where we get to the heart of the matter, because at the end of the day, what we want from a daily driver is robust specs and snappy performance. Software-wise, it runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow out of the box underneath the slick veneer of HUAWEI’s popular Emotion UI skin. While this is a very different take from stock Android, performance is still very snappy and there’s a lot of unique features available that you won’t find with many other Android skins on the market.

Under the hood is something a little unexpected. We’re seeing a Kirin 950 chip powered by 4GB of RAM with 32GB or 64GB of expandable internal storage (up to 128GB). US smartphone enthusiasts may be less familiar with the Kirin brand, which is mounting competition with the Snapdragon line on a global scale. This is the first Kirin processor we’ve seen on US soil, and it specs out similarly to the Snapdragon 810.

The HONOR 8 makes use of an i5 intelligent co-processor that manages sensors in conjunction with the SoC to maximize resource management, which is how the device is able to squeeze so much out of its battery life. These specs put the HONOR 8 within firing range of this year’s flagship models, but you’re getting it at nearly half the price.

Wrap up

The HONOR 8 will initially only be available in Sapphire Blue, but Pearl White and Midnight Black are on their way. The 32GB model begins at $399.99, and the 64GB model goes for $449.99. Pre-ordering begins August 17 and will run through September 3. Users who choose to pre-order will get a $50 gift card to boot.

In the hand, it feels a lot like the Mate 8. When you’re using it, it feels a lot like a Nexus 6P. The HONOR 8 squeezes a lot of tech into a svelte and premium-feeling package. If you’re in the market for high level specs but don’t feel like forking over between $700 and $900 to get them, look no further than the HONOR 8.

Where to buy the HONOR 5x and HONOR 8

There’s tons of places to get the new HONOR 8. Check them out below!


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