“A phone made for the millenial.” That was how honor described its new flagship smartphone, the honor 8. While I’m not quite sure what that exactly means, the honor 8 is undoubtedly a strong entry from Huawei’s sub-brand into an increasingly competitive mid-range market.
In terms of hardware, the honor 8 is very similar to Huawei’s own P9 smartphone, though there are some important differences. The Kirin 950 chip on the honor 8 is largely similar to the Kirin 955 on the P9, as the 955 only has higher clock speeds on four of its Cortex-A72 cores. The honor 8 actually has more RAM, at 4GB (for the Malaysian model).
And yes, while the dual-camera setup may presumably be exactly the same as the P9 (RGB + monochrome), Huawei’s Leica-certified smartphone maintains exclusivity to the monochrome mode.
That said, the honor 8 appears to be designed with a very different market in mind. Where the metal unibody of the P9 oozes premium class, the honor 8 is distinctively more lively. The “Aurora Glass” back is made from 15 layers of glass, manufactured in such a way that they refract light in a very unique way – it’s a design feature that honor is constantly trying to highlight, from the product photos to even in our hands-on demo.
Without any light source, the honor 8’s back is actually rather ordinary. It’s a slab of 2.5D glass that complements a similar 2.5D glass display, and in between them is a metal frame. Coupled with the 5.2-inch Full HD display, it makes for a very comfortable phone to hold and use with one hand. It’s also solid – which is to be expected for devices with glass backs – and the Sapphire Blue colourway is delightful in the light refraction, lending a youthful feel to the phone.
honor representatives at the launch event were also quick to highlight the new features found on the honor 8’s fingerprint sensor. Essentially, the physical Smart Key found on previous models like the honor 7 has been integrated into the fingerprint sensor; the sensor now also acts sort of like a button.
In the phone’s settings, you can find the Smart Key functions that allow users to create specific actions, or open any app. The fingerprint sensor supports tap, double tap, and tap-and-hold gestures. For instance, a double tap of the fingerprint sensor can be toggled to turn on the torch, while a tap and hold will open Pokemon Go, if you wish.
As the Huawei P9’s unofficial little brother, the honor 8 also sports a 12MP dual camera setup, where one is a colour sensor and the other is a monochrome unit. Both work in tandem to absorb more light, resulting in a final image that has greater colour reproduction and contrast due to the higher amount of data captured per image.
My initial impressions using the honor 8 camera at the experience zone left me quite impressed. At its price range, the camera is quick to launch and quick to focus – though there is noticeable white balance adjustments as well as shutter lag. Photos taken were slightly underexposed, though we’ll reserve final judgment during our review, in various light conditions.
For a starting price of RM1,699, the honor 8 is an attractive proposition, and a welcome contender in what is arguably the most cutthroat segment. Similarly powerful products like the Asus ZenFone 3 and the OnePlus 3 are priced in the same range, and offer similar theoretical performance. We’ll be taking a closer look at the honor 8 when it arrives.