Huawei s online-only brand Honor has turned two years in India. Though, the company doesn t enjoy a significant share in the smartphone market, but it has launched some quite decent and competitive phones in the last few months. Honor has had some decent smartphones across price segments, be it the entry-level Honor 5C and Honor 4C or the more flagship-level Honor 7, most of its smartphones have been well received. Now the company is launching its flagship smartphone for 2016, the Honor 8, which comes with quite some new features including an all-glass design and a dual-lens camera setup. I spent some time with the Honor 8 at its preview event earlier this week and here are my first impressions. Also Read - Honor phones to come with Google Mobile Services: ReportAlso Read - Honor Band 6 takes on Redmi Watch in India, gets listed on Flipkart
To begin with, the Honor 8 does not have a design that would stand out from the cluttered smartphone space. But then, who does these days? The smartphone sticks to the basics with a slim profile, metallic frames and 2.5D glass on the front and back that lends it an edgy and premium feel. It comes with a more compact 5.2-inch display, which is a welcome change in a world dominated by smartphones with large displays that neither fit the palm comfortably nor most trouser pockets. In terms of the form factor, the Honor 8 is not very different from the Asus Zenfone 3, which I used recently. Both smartphones have the 2.5D glass layers and come with a 5.2-inch display. However, the resemblance ends there. I find the Honor 8 to be a better looking smartphone, which is not a fingerprint magnet like the Zenfone 3 and feels much more compact. Also Read - Samsung takes lead from Apple in Q1 2021 smartphone shipments: Canalys
The Honor 8 has a 5.2-inch full HD (1080p) display with a pixel density of 423ppi. The display is very reflective under the sunlight, which makes it very difficult to read or watch anything on the screen, even when you crank up the display’s brightness. I also noticed that the auto-brightness setting does not kick in immediately and takes time to come into effect. However, under ordinary conditions, when the sun is not blaring down on the phone, the display does provide good viewing angles. Like many other smartphones these days, you have the option to customize the display’s color temperature. You can either choose from the presets or manually tweak it according to your liking.
The smartphone runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow-based EMUI 4.1. Fortunately, Honor has kept the interface pretty simple, making it easier for users to quickly get familiar with. You can swipe down on the screen to access the notification panel and then tap on shortcuts tab (which you can customize) or swipe to the left to get into your frequently accessed features of the phone.. The smartphone comes preloaded with a Health app, which tells you the number of steps taken, calories burnt and distance covered. You can also set goals to make most of the app. Besides the health app, the smartphone comes preloaded with a Phone Manager, which is universal dashboard to access functionalities like system optimization, battery information, app lock settings and other options. ALSO READ: Honor 8 with dual 12-megapixel cameras to launch in India in second week of October
The Honor 8 has a fingerprint sensor on the back, which the company says uses 3D fingerprint technology that is faster than regular fingerprint sensors. You can configure up to five fingerprints and during my usage I found it to be more accurate than some others. However, you can also configure the fingerprint sensor to do more than just unlock the phone. You can even answer calls or browse through a photo gallery by swiping a finger from left to right. You can even do a vertical swipe from top to bottom on the sensor to expand the drop down notification panel. You can double tap to clear all notifications or swipe from the bottom to top to close the panel. Most of these features are not activated by default and can be activated from the fingerprints settings menu.
But the highlight of the Honor 8 is its dual-camera setup. The smartphone features dual 12-megapixel rear camera lenses with f/2.2 aperture, laser auto-focus and dual-LED flash. Just like the Huawei P9, one lens on the Honor 8 has monochrome sensor while the second one has for RGB but in these case these are not Leica certified lenses. The camera UI comes with several modes like the pro mode that lets users tweak the settings, HDR, timelapse and slow motion among others. There s a dedicated mode within the camera to take photos with a shallow depth of field. I took some shots from the Honor 8, and was impressed with the initial results. From color balance to contrast levels, the Honor 8 looks like a promising camera phone. But I d like to reserve my final verdict until I have extensively used the device. The 8-megapixel front facing camera is pretty okay, and has the popular beauty mode, letting you take cleaner selfies. Check out some camera sample shots.
The Honor 8 runs on Huawei’s HiSilicon Kirin 950 octa-core processor along with 4GB of RAM. The smartphone comes with 32GB of onboard storage, and supports expandable storage up to 256GB via microSD. It comes with a hybrid SIM card slot, which means you can either use two SIM cards or have one SIM card and one microSD card. The smartphone supports nano+micro SIMs. During my brief experience with the smartphone, the Honor 8 looks like a fluid performer. The Kirin 950 SoC is based on 16nm FinFet fabrication process, which is said to deliver better performance as compared to the previous-generation 28nm chipsets. The Honor 8 is powered by a 3,000mAh battery along with fast charge support via USB Type-C.
With the right design, specification and hardware, the Honor 8 has the right ingredients to take on the popular ‘flagship killer” smartphones like the LeEco Le Max2, the Lenovo Z2 Plus, the Xiaomi Mi 5 and the Asus Zenfone 3. We don’t know the price yet, but it is expected to be priced below Rs 25,000. But will it live up to the ask? Find out in our detailed review that’s coming up soon.
Disclaimer: Huawei paid for our stay and travel for the Honor 8 preview event in Goa.