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HONOR 8 hands on - a new stylish affordable flagship

The new honor 8 is coming to the US market but what does this stylish, premium smartphone have to offer? Let's find out in our quick honor 8 hands on!

Published onAugust 16, 2016

The HONOR 8 isn’t necessarily fresh news given that it was announced last month headed to the Chinese market. What’s new, though, is that the sub-brand of HUAWEI is making a statement by launching the HONOR 8 in the US with a competitive price point that’s tough to overlook – more so when we’ve been inundated already this year with some amazing, budget-conscious devices.

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Although it’s tough to say how the HONOR 5X from early in the year performed in terms of sales, the HONOR 8 fashions together a bevy of goodies that makes for a compelling offering. Ahead of our full review, let’s a quick look at HONOR’s latest smartphone for the US market.

See the HONOR 8 on major retailers





Wow, this phone looks utterly amazing! It’s mind-boggling to know that the phone features such a beautiful, meticulously crafted design that competes in some degree to the Galaxy S7. Dominating most of the handset is this shimmery 2.5D curved which – just like the S7 – shimmers in an amazing way to produce these cool light patterns. Mesmerizing indeed, this peculiar design characteristic definitely helps in giving the HONOR 8 some style points – especially for something priced super aggressively!

The curved glass, in particular, causes a shimmering effect at different angles. Due to its slim overall size, combined with those curved edges that seem more like a faux-metal finish, the HONOR 8 doesn’t feel like a handful to operate with one hand. And best of all, too, the HONOR 8’s construction feels a ton more solid than that of the HONOR 5X – the two are just night and day from each other.

Whereas the HONOR 5X was a cheap phone with a design that matched its pricing, the HONOR 8 has a design that matches its higher, more-premium price tag. The design is without a doubt something noteworthy to applaud and helps the HONOR 8 to stand out from the crowd at this price tag.


At first glance, the 5.2-inch 1080p display slapped onto the HONOR 8 exhibits qualities that indicate it’s an AMOLED panel of some type – partly due to the subtle saturation we’re seeing. In reality, however, it’s actually an IPS LCD screen that looks extremely vibrant to the eye. Details are naturally good, but we’re enamored by how iridescent it looks from all angles.

Indoors, it seems to be more than potent enough with its brightness output, so we’re eager to see its performance under outdoor settings. All in all, the specs are favorable for its caliber, which yet again adds some credible value to the phone.

Performance and Hardware

Reading into its specs sheet, the HONOR 8 draws many comparisons to the HUAWEI P9. Most of the specs are in fact identical, but one of the main differences though relates to the processor that’s under the hood. Rather than being fashioned with the top-tiered Kirin 955 that’s powering the P9, the HONOR 8 is instead relying on a slightly less powerful Kirin 950 chip. To tell you the truth, we’re not shocked by this revelation given who’s being targeted by the HONOR 8; millennials.

What makes the HONOR 8 truly surprising, is that it is the first ever smartphone to ship with a Kirin processor in the USA; previously the HONOR 5X and HUAWEI P9 Lite both used a Snapdragon processor despite their global counterparts being powered by HUAWEI’s own chipset. Whether future HUAWEI devices will be powered by the Kirin stateside remains to be seen but given this move, it’s probably worth banking on.

Quickly checking out the HONOR 8’s performance, we can assure you that it can handle all the basic stuff. Whether that’s checking out your social networking accounts, or surfing the web, the HONOR 8’s performance is more than acceptable. One area where we’ll probably run into a wall is gaming, just because it’s just more taxing on the processing hardware. Nevertheless, the HONOR 8 will get you by when it comes to trivial things.

Two variants of the HONOR 8 will be made available, one with 32GB of internal storage and another with 64GB. Another thing worth pointing, those two storage options will be accompanied by 3GB and 4GB of RAM respectively.

Fingerprint sensors used to be reserved for high-end phones, but as we’ve seen over the course of the past year, most mid-range smartphones have gained one; the HONOR 8 follows that trend as well, as one is positioned on the rear. Of course, it acts as another form of unlocking the phone, but we’re impressed that its recognition and accuracy are super speedy – so fast that even gently placing your finger over the sensor causes it to unlock.

Interestingly enough, its functions more than just an unlocking mechanism for the phone, as it also doubles as a tactile button as well. You can program it to do specific things, like a single press to launch the camera, long press to launch Google search, or a double tap to take a screen shot for example. This might not see like a big feature, but it helps to streamline some processes, and as we found on the HONOR 7 and HUAWEI Mate S, it’s a nice feature to have.

Don’t let that svelte body fool you, just because there’s a 3000 mAh battery somehow stuffed inside there. Needless to say, it’s impossible to gauge its battery life in our short look at the handset, but more importantly, the company says that the battery can reach a 50% capacity by charging it for approximately 30 minutes using its USB Type-C connection.


Another notable change here that differentiates it from the HUAWEI P9 is the camera on the back. Yes, it’s still a dual-camera configuration at 12 megapixels a piece, but the Leica branding/attachment is not to be found anywhere on the phone. This particular dual setup allows the phone to not only capture standard photos, but it also allows us to readjust the focus level/amount of bokeh post shot. It works just like the P9’s implementation, giving photos a unique perspective.

Offering a wealth of shooting modes, as well as the always-useful manual one on hand, the HONOR 8 is a promising prospect – for its category – when it comes to taking snapshots. The design is already showing that the gap can be breached between high-end flagships as well a entry-level priced ones, so it’s quite plausible that we might be able to find the same here with the camera.


Love or hate it, the HONOR 8 is running the same EMUI 4.1 experience on top of Android Marshmallow – much like HUAWEI’s batch of smartphones. Not everyone will be a fan of its implementation, but for those willing to give it a shot, the experience has a tangible level of utility that should suffice most users. One of its standout design traits include the fact that it tries to streamline the interface, by eliminating the apps panel and placing everything on the homescreen.

Functionally, it’s clearly within the levels of what we expect to get out of most Android experiences, but still doesn’t have the totality that more powerful, productivity centric experience offer. For the masses, however, EMUI 4.1 is strapped with all the necessary tools, but like we said, it’s an acquired taste.

Wrap up

Phones have always gotten cheaper, even for new phones that are just coming to market – we’ve been seeing this trend for the last couple of years now, with no end in sight. What’s new, though, is that these new budget-conscious devices are becoming more attentive with their qualities. Usually, their performance reflects their price, sub-par qualities that might be good enough for those who don’t care, but absolutely not for those who prize value.

Combining a specs sheet worthy of a flagship, with a beautifully crafted design, the HONOR 8 is making quite the convincing statement needed for consumers to look at it and forgetting about the rest
And that’s exactly what comprises the honor 8, a smartphone that’s going to help the brand become more recognizable in the US market. Combining a specs sheet worthy of a flagship, with a beautifully crafted design, the honor 8 is making quite the convincing statement needed for consumers to look at it and forgetting about the rest.




How much does this all cost you, we hear you ask? HONOR has revealed it’ll cost $400 unlocked in the USA, which is pricey by HONOR’s standards and unfortunately, could be the reason this handset somewhat struggles. From an initial glance, it would have been a really great smartphone, if it were released last year, but this year, it doesn’t quite stand up the competition, namely the ZTE Axon 7 and OnePlus 3.

What do you think of the HONOR 8 and its new design? Let us know your views in the comments below!

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