Huawei Honor 8 User Review

*This is a review of a loaned product unit from Honor Malaysia*

My personal device was an Honor 7 and I’ve had it for a year now, and love it. When I found out about the launch of the Honor 8 some time back, I was excited. I was already happy with my Honor 7, so any improvement would be more than welcomed.

See Also : Huawei Honor 7 User Review

The Honor 8 was launched in September 2016 in Malaysia. Due to work commitments, I was going through some downtime on the blog here and have not been able to cover much news or reviews or be as actively blogging as I want to be.

When I got the invitation to review the Honor 8, even after almost 2 months has passed since the availability of the device, I said yes.

 

Before we get to it, let’s take a look at the Honor 8 specs overview :-

  • 5.2″ Full HD display (1920 x 1080)(423 PPI)
  • 2.3 GHz octa-core Hisilicon Kirin 950 CPU
  • 32 / 64 GB internal storage (up to 128 GB expandable microSD) + 4 GB RAM
  • Powered by Android 6.0 “Marshmallow” OS + EMUI 4.1
  • 12 megapixel dual-lens rear camera; 8 megapixel front-facing camera
  • 7.45 mm thin, weighing only 153 grams
  • 3,000 mAH non-removable battery (up to 1.77 days standby time in normal usage)
  • Connectivity : Dual SIM (Nano SIM & Hybrid slot – Micro SIM/ microSD), WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, 3D Fingerprint Scanner, USB Type C (Fast Charging)
  • Available in 4 colours : (Standard 32 GB) Pearl White and Midnight Black; (Premium 64 GB) Sapphire Blue, Sunrise Gold

For more information and specifications, check out the Honor 8 Malaysian product page at https://www.vmall.my/honor-8 

And now, I have used the phone for about 2 weeks now. Here’s my review.

 

Design & Build Quality

First, let’s talk about the exterior outlook of the Honor 8.

I got myself the Premium variant, which comes in 64 GB storage space, in Sunrise Gold colour. I had a choice between this or the Sapphire Blue version, and of course I picked the Gold!

And yes – the Gold looks real sexy.

Front & Back of the Honor 8
Front & Back of the Honor 8

The phone has a nice glass front and back, which I like. Somehow, glass makes the device looks premium and expensive. It looks sexy and glossy and well, oohhh shiny.

The downside though is that the glass back attracts fingerprints like mad. To keep it pristine, you really have to constantly be wiping the back, or just put on a case. Now, I’m a crazy phone case lady, but somehow, with this phone, a case would just be masking the beautiful design.

Also, it’s very scratch prone. I fear every day, that I might’ve scratched it. And yeah, it’s slippery, too.

Ports and buttons
Ports and buttons

The Honor 8 is way thinner at 7.45 mm (compared to Honor 7 at 8.5 mm) and slightly lighter, too.

Minimal buttons and ports here, nothing out of the ordinary. The nano SIM and microSD slot on the left, Power On/Off button and volume toggle on the left and headphone jack and USB Type C port at the bottom.

Yes, USB Type C, or USB-C port.

Fast charging USB-C cable
Fast charging USB-C cable

In case you’re unfamiliar, announced some time in 2014 – 2015, this is the standard of USB ports that Intel’s trying to standardize globally, for all devices that uses USB – from phone to tablets to laptops. Like the iPhone Lightning cable, the USB-C port can be inserted both ways. And it’s faster, too.

Unfortunately, not every device manufacturer has come on board with this yet, although almost all of them have signed on to be a part of this standard. So, it’s tougher to buy 3rd party, nameless, cheap USB-C cables in shops. Although, it has improved quite a bit.

Honor 8 in hand
Honor 8 in hand

In my hand, the 5.2″ screen is just nice for me. Not too big, not too small. Fully usable with a single hand, but if you have small(er) hands, there are settings for you to optimise for single hand interface.

HONOR 8: Intricate design with flawless craftsmanship

Huawei prides itself in the design of the Honor 8 and I must say, I couldn’t agree more. The Honor 8 is one sexy phone.

 

Latest Android 6.0 OS

Honor 8 on Android 6.0 “Marshmallow” OS with EMUI 4.1

The Honor 8 is running on the latest Android 6.0 OS (as if you’d expect any less) with Huawei Honor’s proprietary EMUI 4.1 skin / theme on top.

It’s functional, usable and easy to navigate. I’ve been so used to it, I can’t get used to anything else.

 

Fast and Speedy Processor

Phone Manager app helps you optimise the phone to perform better, faster
Phone Manager app helps you optimise the phone to perform better, faster

It swipes and moves fast between screens and has a Phone Manager app, that’s pre-installed and turned on by default to help you optimise your phone’s speed and performance. Every now and then, if you want, you can go into the app, press some giant buttons on screen to cleanup the phone and make it perform faster.

As far as pre-installed bloatware is concerned, there are a few apps that I really didn’t need – Health, HiGame, Shazam, Booking.com – but nothing that bothered me too much.

Scratch that – Health, that app bothered me a whole lot, coz it’s turned on by default and keeps showing up in my Notification shade, telling me how many steps I did that day. The health conscious of you might appreciate that, but not me.

See Also : Huawei Mate 8 Review Conclusion

 

3D Fingerprint Scanner & Smart Key

3D Fingerprint Scanner & Smart Key button
3D Fingerprint Scanner & Smart Key button

3D Fingerprint Scanner at the back of the device is in the perfect ergonomic position, where you can simply swipe to unlock in a single hand use. As I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again – fingerprint scanners should always be at the back of the device. Always.

Huawei made it better this time, the sensitivity is awesome – just like with my Honor 7. You can scan to unlock in just 0.4 seconds, that’s 0.1 seconds faster than its predecessor. Seriously, still one of the fastest fingerprint scanners I’ve used on smartphones.

Fingerprint scanner & Smart Key setting
Fingerprint scanner & Smart Key setting

This fingerprint scanner is also a button. It’s what Huawei calls their Smart Key button. It was placed on the left side of the Honor 7, which is basically a configurable button for shortcuts to launch apps or actions. With the upgraded Honor 8, it’s not a standalone button, but built into the fingerprint scanner.

I used and love this button feature a whole lot. I configured this to turn on the Camera app in a flash, so I don’t miss those fleeting moments of my baby’s milestones. And turning on the Torch, when I walk in a dark room and needed some light. There are many more shortcuts and actions you can configure, and boy – this Smart Key is super handy.

Oh – There’s also NFC embedded in the back of the phone, which wasn’t present in the previous Honor 7. Nice to have, but to be honest, in Malaysia there’s really no real compelling use for NFC on our phones yet.

 

Dual Lens Camera & Picture Quality

One of the biggest selling point of the Honor 8 is its 12 megapixel dual-lens camera setup.

12 megapixel dual-lens camera
12 megapixel dual-lens camera

Just like with the Honor 6 Plus (read my review here), Huawei brought back this dual-lens feature to their Honor flagship, instead of just on their Mate series smartphones.

Rear Camera settings
Rear Camera settings

The camera settings are easy enough for the beginners, but also has professional toggles should you want to play around with its manual settings. There are preset modes and filters, but if you’re like me – you normally would just stick to the Auto mode and let the phone do it’s job.

And it doesn’t disappoint, the rear camera, even at 12 megapixel (remember it’s not about the megapixel count anymore these days), takes and processes the images incredibly well.

Baby stealing remote. Great picture quality, taken with Honor 8. #babyHEAD #1yearold #honor8 #nofilter

A photo posted by Winnie Chen-Head (@winniekepala) on

It’s a breeze and pleasure to shoot pictures and videos with the Honor 8.

See Also : Huawei P9 Is THE Smartphone To Buy Right Now

The reason for the dual lens setup is the ability to play around with the Wide Aperture settings, to adjust and toggle your image depth of field. In English, that basically means you adjust how blurred the background can be.

Wide aperture between F0.95 to F16 for beautiful depth of field shots, ie blurred background.

This is about focus on subject. When you’re taking a landscape shot, you want the whole image clear and in focus. When you’re taking a portrait shot, or an object that you want to highlight and emphasise, you might want a blurred background so your subject stands out.

You can simply just tap to focus, slide the toggle on the right to see how blurred you want your background to be, and snap!

8 megapixel front-facing camera setting
8 megapixel front-facing camera setting

The front facing camera is an 8 megapixel shooter, that comes with a screen brightness adjustment for when you’re taking low light selfies.

There’s also a Perfect Selfie Mode with, what I feel is, an over-aggressive Beauty Mode filter that’s set at 5 (out of 10) and it can sometimes make your skin a little too flawless and overly “airbrushed”. You can turn this Beauty mode off, of course, but I usually stick to somewhere around 2 or 3 (out of 10) to smoothen out that occasional blemish.

So here are some sample images taken with the Honor 8 throughout my review period. Images are somewhat resized, but not edited in anyway. Click to view enlarged version.

Overall, the wide aperture is amazing! Macro pictures (close up) and low light pictures, however, are not great. Flash in low light, as usual are harsh, but tolerable in this instance. The great news – front camera takes super clear pictures, truly impressive in my opinion.

All in all – that dual lens camera at the back is a killer feature for the Honor 8 indeed. Loves it!

 

2-day Battery Life & Fast Charging

OK. No kidding with this one.

Excellent battery life
Excellent battery life

In my use of the Honor 8 in the last 2 weeks, I have been super impressed. Huawei has outdone themselves again, in the league of Sony 2-day battery life promises.

Give me long battery life any day and I will sing praise to your device! And Honor 8 has consistently delivered more than 1 day battery life, regardless of light or heavy usage. And I LOVE IT!

I have been able to keep my Honor 8 powered up, without compromising to downgrading to battery-saving mode, allowing my phone to last me 2 full days on many occasions.

On days where it’s heavy usage, the Honor 8 lasts me a good 1.5 days and only require a quick charge to get enough juice for the rest of Day 2. Thanks to it’s Fast Charging USB Type C cable.

Power Plan to manage the most out of your battery life
Power Plan to manage the most out of your battery life

If you are a super heavy user, you can always toggle around the Battery’s Power Plan, to get the most out of the (already amazing) battery life.

And yes, that USB-C cable and power adapter – they’re Fast Charging – like most flagship smartphones are these days. According to Huawei, you can get a two-hour phone call or six hours of offline music from a mere 10-minute charge with the Honor 8.

Now, ain’t that impressive?

 

Pricing & Availability

Honor 8 - Press Images

The Honor 8 have been on sale since September 2016, and is available in 2 variants:-

  • Standard (32 GB storage) : Pearl White / Midnight Black – at a Recommended Retail Price (RRP) of RM 1,699
  • Premium (64 GB storage) : Sapphire Blue / Sunrise Gold – at a Recommended Retail Price (RRP) of RM 1,899

You can purchase the Honor 8 either online or through their authorised retailers:-

While the pricing is still under RM 2000, Honor was once the inexpensive / affordable mid to high-end smartphone series from Huawei, has now encroached in the flagship big brother Huawei series price range. With the Premium variant at RM 1,899 which still sits in the mid-range pricing but no longer the super affordable millennial phone.

Unfortunately, there’s a lot of other great choices out there today in this price range.

 

Conclusion

Honor 8 User Review

Just like the Honor 7 that I still treasure, my wallet is crying coz I’m so tempted to get this Honor 8. As amazing as this phone is, there are some likes and dislikes I want to list down.

What I Like

  • Glass Front and Back – Such a premium finish that I adore
  • Dual Lens Camera – love that it’s back from the Honor 6 Plus, missing in Honor 7 and back in Honor 8
  • Battery Life – 2 full days! Need I say more?

What I Dislike

  • Fingerprint magnet – Also potentially scratch prone, and slippery, too
  • Not waterproof – I don’t know why, but this is important to me. And should come standard in flagships, I think
  • Pricing – No longer <RM1500 affordable, but more on a higher end pricing range with a lot more choices for your buck

OK. I’m truly scraping the end of the barrel here to come up with Cons for this phone. I can’t tell you how much I love it. I didn’t even point out my love for the fast Fingerprint scanner, the great picture quality on the front camera, and Fast Charging capability and more. Coz I only had to pick 3 likes!

I am super tempted to get the Honor 8 for myself after I return this review unit. I absolutely love too much about this phone – from the camera to the battery to the finishing. Love. Love. Love.

Singing enough praises for this phone, I feel that with phones like these in the market, at the mid-pricing range of sub RM 2000, there really is no need for one to spring over RM 3000 for a smartphone these days.

So, go ahead and buy the Honor 8. NOW!

 

For more information, check out the Huawei Honor 8 Malaysia product page at https://www.vmall.my/honor-8 or follow the Honor Malaysia Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/HuaweiHonorMY