Huawei Honor 8 first impressions: A contender for the mid-range smartphone crown

Huawei at an event announced that it would be bringing its Honor 8 smartphone to India soon. I got a chance to have a quick look at this remake of the Honor 6 Plus and these are my first impressions.


In what appears to be an industry trend this year, smartphone manufacturers seem to be slapping dual-cameras on the backs of their flagship and mid-range smartphones. This is by no means is a gimmick and surely improves the quality of the images captured, depending on the way in which the dual-camera system is utilized.

And it is so much of a trend this year that even Apple has decided to add a dual-camera system on the back of its iPhone 7 Plus. With that said, Huawei has been the pioneer of the dual-camera system on smartphones and this began with the Honor 6 Plus.

Huawei at an event announced that it would be bringing its Honor 8 smartphone to India soon.

I got a chance to have a quick look at this remake of the Honor 6 Plus and these are my first impressions.

Design and build

 Huawei Honor 8 first impressions: A contender for the mid-range smartphone crown

The Huawei Honor 8 is a big revamp and a big step ahead for the company’s Honor brand. It features an aluminium frame that is sandwiched on both sides by Corning’s Gorilla Glass. Huawei states that there is a very detailed process involved in making the glass with a 2.5D effect that sits on both the front and the back of the device. This results in a seamless design no matter how you hold the Honor 8.

Huawei Honor 8 First Impressions (8)

Below the 2.5D Gorilla Glass on the front lies the 5.2-inch Full HD display. Sitting right above it is an 8MP camera for selfies and a well-hidden notifications LED that is tucked into the receiver cavity.

Huawei Honor 8 First Impressions (5)

Flipping the phone on its back reveals two 12MP cameras stacked side-by-side. One is a monochrome sensor while the other is an RGB unit which is similar to the stuff you would find on the recently announced Huawei P9 flagship. The two camera modules work in a manner similar to the P9 as well. Also located on the back is a fingerprint reader. As on recent smartphones this one can be pressed down and custom functions can be assigned to the same.

Huawei Honor 8 First Impressions (15)

Coming to the sides, the left side of the frame features a SIM tray that can accept one nano SIM along with a microSD card. On the right we have the volume rocker and the power/unlock button located on the top half.

The top features a secondary mic and an IR blaster while the bottom features a 3.5mm headphone jack, a USB Type-C port and a speaker grille.

All-in-all the design looks impressive and feels solid.

Display

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The Huawei Honor 8 features a 5.2-inch display that neither feels too big nor too small considering its good screen-to-body ratio. It features an LTPS display at Full HD resolution and this delivers a pixel density of 423 PPI, which is pretty good for mid-range device.

Hardware

Huawei Honor 8 First Impressions (16)

The Huawei Honor 8 features a HiSilicon-designed Kirin 950 chipset. The chipset is paired with the Mali-T880 MP4 GPU and 4GB of RAM. The device features 32GB of internal storage which can be further expanded up to 256GB via the microSD card slot.

The HiSilicon chipset has been manufactured using the 16nm process, which translates to better battery life for consumers.

Performance and OS

The Honor 8 features Android 6.0 Marshmallow as the base with version 4.1 of Huawei’s Emotion UI keeping things refreshed. During my short hands-on with the device, I did not notice any lag or stutter and apps opened and closed without delay. While users may not notice anything new, Huawei’s Emotion UI is known to take good advantage of the underlying hardware in its smartphones. So I’m hoping that an in-depth review of the same will reveal more.

Camera

Huawei Honor 8 First Impressions (17)

With the Honor 8, it was expected that the company would take things further with the camera. And Huawei seems to have done just that with not one but two 12MP cameras at the rear. Add to this the laser assisted focus system and a contrast-based focus detection system, and you get a killer combination that locks focus accurately every single time. There are also plenty of shooting modes, including a Pro mode for capturing photos and recording videos. With the right pricing and a dual camera setup, could this be the one to take the mighty OnePlus 3 head on? Well, that would require some in-depth testing, so don’t forget to check out my full review of the Honor 8’s camera.

Battery and connectivity

The Honor 8 packs in a non-removable 3,000mAh battery. With a capacity that matches that of flagship smartphones. Combined with a 16nm chipset, we have some high expectations from the Honor 8. In terms of connectivity, the smartphone packs in pretty much everything under the sun. You get 4G bands, Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac (dual band), Bluetooth v4.2, GPS, NFC and an infrared port as well.

Conclusion

During my short hands on with the Huawei Honor 8 I must say that I was impressed. Impressed by the smartphone's build quality, hardware and the cameras (for now) which makes for a pretty strong contender in the mid-range space.

The mid-range space for most international brands is now threatened by lower priced flagships like the OnePlus 3, the Xiaomi Mi 5/5s and even Lenovo’s Z2 Plus that offer high-end chipsets for a really low price tag. But Huawei, with its dual-camera setup, does seem to have something special here. I just hope that the company prices it right.

Disclaimer: Our reporter was invited to Goa for the launch event and Huawei bore all expenses related to travel and stay. Every effort has however been made to keep this first impressions as unbiased as possible.

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