Honor 8 review (hands-on): There’s something special about Honor’s new flagship
Like most smartphone manufacturers, Honor updates its flagship phone once a year, and that time is now. Its latest top-end offering is the Honor 8, and it’s the firm’s most attractive, desirable handset to date.
Moving on from the curved brushed-metal rear panel of last year’s Honor 7, the 5.2in Honor 8 is now clad in glass on the front and rear in a design that’s reminiscent of the Samsung Galaxy S7. The glass is subtly curved around the edges, and 15 layers of material beneath create what Honor is calling, rather awkwardly, a “3D grating texture”. It looks much nicer than it sounds, shimmering attractively as it catches the light.
With diamond-cut chamfered edges surrounding the screen and glass rear, and a slim profile of only 7.5mm, the Honor 8 really is a fantastic-looking phone, and it doesn’t skimp on the specifications either.
Honor 8: Features
As with all recent Honor handsets, there’s a fingerprint reader on the rear of the phone in the centre, but the Honor 8 boasts an upgrade or two. It gets a speed boost, with fingerprints recognised in a claimed 0.4 seconds, and it’s also now a fully clickable button, allowing you to assign app shortcuts to a single and double click as well as a long press.[gallery:1]
The Honor 8 offers dual-SIM support, and just like its cousin, the Huawei P9, it comes with a dual-camera setup. One camera is dedicated to full colour images, and the other to capturing black-and-white images. It’s not identical to the Huawei phone as it lacks the Leica branding and phase-detect autofocus, but the specifications are similar otherwise, both cameras capturing 12-megapixel images, with an f/2.2 aperture, a dual-LED flash, and laser-assisted autofocus.
As with the P9, the black-and-white camera can either be used to snap monochrome images or add extra information to your colour snaps. Honor says this improves detail capture and performance in low light.[gallery:6]
In fact, if you were being unkind, you could view the Honor 8 as a repackaged Huawei P9, but there are just enough subtle differences to set the two apart from each other. The processor isn’t the same, for instance. The Honor 8 employs an octa-core, 2.3GHz Kirin 950 chip where the P9 uses the more powerful Kirin 955. The Honor 8 also has an infrared transmitter, so you can use it as a universal remote control for your TV and set-top box; the P9 doesn’t have this feature.
It uses a different LCD screen technology for its 5.2in, 1080p display – LTPS versus IPS “Neo”; and although the battery is the same size as the P9 at 3,000mAh, Honor claims it charges fractionally faster, reaching 47% capacity in 30 minutes compared with 44% for the Huawei P9. There’s also a Fast Charge-compatible charger supplied in the box with the phone.[gallery:3]
Honor 8: Price and verdict
The biggest difference between the two phones, however, is the price. Where the Huawei P9 sells for £449 from Huawei’s Vmall.eu website, the Honor 8 is a much more reasonable £370. That’s quite a step up in price over the Honor 7, which sold for £250 at launch, and even makes more expensive than the superb OnePlus 3.
That makes the Honor 8 somewhat of a difficult sell, even at this early stage, but we’ll update you when we get our hands on a review sample, and have had the chance to properly test it.