It’s not an easy task to find the smartphone for you, especially if your budget is $400. Huawei has made the decision even tougher with the launch of the Huawei Honor 8. It’s a $400 smartphone with 4GB of RAM and a dual 12-megapixel camera sensors which might remind you of another smartphone recently introduced.
The unboxing experience is a bit unique. You stand the box upright and simply pull off the top of the box. The device is actually tucked away towards the center. I’m going to carefully take it out of the box and set it off to the side for now. The next item on the box is a little card from Huawei thanking me for attending their Honor 8 event, which I did not attend. I was unable to attend this year, unfortunately. The big compartment houses some of the accessories like a fast charging wall wart and a USB Type-C cable. The smaller compartment houses a SIM card removal tool and a bunch of literature like warranty information and there’s a piece of paper detailing the one time screen protection program. So if the screen breaks, Huawei will actually fix it for you free of charge. They’ll even pay for free two-way shipping but you do need to register within 30 days of your purchase. That’s still pretty cool.
If we peel the plastic wrap off of the Honor 8, we’ll find a very attractive smartphone. This is the Sapphire Blue color, which is actually not the most flashy color option. There are some pretty flashy color options of this guy but it still looks pretty sharp in the Sapphire Blue color configuration. There’s an aluminum frame that stretches around all four sides of the phone with glass on the front and the rear. The glass on the rear is very slippery and it appears warped so it refracts light in all different directions. It gives off this really cool, premium flashy appearance.
The Honor 8 features a 5.2-inch 1080p LTPS LCD display. It has good viewing angles and brightness. The 1080p resolution provides for a 423 ppi index. So content looks very sharp and detailed. Upon first impressions, I actually thought it was an AMOLED display as the colors are very vibrant and the blacks are very true to color. But it’s not. It’s just a high quality IPS panel.
My favorite area of this phone is with performance and with that comes software. Disclaimer: I don’t like the looks of the skin based off first impressions. There’s no app drawer, the icons are blocky, the notification panel is a visual mess. You swipe to the left to view quick settings and each notification is off center. With that said, the phone feels incredibly fluid and fast. Everything I do on this phone is almost instant. I open an app that’s been running in the background and it appears almost instantly. And it’s consistent across the board-- the animations, it’s all consistent. I think this would be a good time to introduce the specs making this all possible.
The Honor 8 features a Kirin 950 octa-core processor with 4GB of RAM so aside from the Kirin processor, it ranks among the best of the best in terms of performance. Plenty of RAM to switch between applications to your heart’s content. There is a fingerprint scanner on the rear of the phone and it does a pretty good job quickly unlocking the device. In the settings, you can also enable settings that let you answer a call using the sensor. You can stop alarms, show the notification panel by swiping down on the fingerprint scanner, double touch to clear the panel and slide up to close the panel. You can even use the fingerprint sensor to swipe through photos. The sensor also acts as a programmable button. So as you can see here, I’m performing all of these actions without actually touching the display. It’s a pretty neat feature and clearly, it’s well received because we’ve seen these re-programmable buttons on numerous smartphones lately. The only difference here is that the button is associated with the fingerprint scanner.
One of the most unusual aspects of this phone is the camera. There are actually two 12-megapixel camera sensors on the rear of the phone, both of which feature an f2.2 aperture, laser autofocus and there is one dual LED flash. Essentially what you can do with these two sensors is create a very low key depth of field effect. It’s called Boca. When a subject is in focus and there’s a fixed blur in the background of the subject, that’s what you can create with these sensors. It’s pretty darn neat. The only disappoint I see here based off first impressions is the f2.2 aperture. I’m not really expecting this phone to excel in low light photography.
There is one speaker grill on the very bottom of the device and it’s not front-facing. It’s actually a very decent bottom-facing speaker. It checks out when you’re listening to voiceovers or talk shows, it sounds great. But music? Not so much. The highs and the deep lows are missing. I recommend headphones.
There is a 3000 mAh battery under the hood with Quick Charging technology. It’s a little bit too early to tell how good or how bad the battery life is but I look forward to spending more time with it to see how it fares.
Overall, the Honor 8 has really surprised me upon first impressions. It looks beautiful and it has the power to back it all up. This phone actually feels like one of the snappiest phones I have in my inventory. It’s amazing at how buttery-smooth the UI is, even if the UI could use an aesthetics overhaul. The price of this smartphone is $400. I’m really curious to hear how you think it stacks up to the competition. The $400 smartphone market is really becoming competitive this year and we are just now entering Q4 of 2016.