Huawei Terminal's Honor brand at its New Delhi event on Wednesday launched the Honor 8(Review) smartphone in India at Rs. 29,999. The device is now up for sale on Amazon India, Flipkart, and the Honor Online Store, apart from several major retail outlets in the country. We've reviewed the smartphone, and found that it packs some great features like the dual camera setup, the customised EMUI 4.1 OS, and a premium look and feel.
At this price tag, the Honor 8 is pegged to compete with the OnePlus 3 and the Asus ZenFone 3. While the two will give the Honor 8 a tough fight, there are a few things that make it stand out from the competition. In our review, we also found a few things that didn't impress us much as well. To narrow it down and make life easy, here are the top five things you need to know about the Honor 8 smartphone.
(Also see: Honor 8 Review)
This is possibly the biggest highlight of the smartphone. The Honor 8 sports a dual camera setup, much like the iPhone 7 Plus. However, the two 12-megapixel cameras at the back sits within the frame neatly, and do not protrude out of the shell. Both lenses sport an f/2.2 aperture, while one sensor captures monochrome images with high contrast, and the other captures an RGB photo. The smartphone then processes the image to give the best possible result, retaining maximum sharpness. In the front, there is an 8-megapixel camera with an f/2.4 aperture. In our tests, we were happy with the camera's performance, and the colours were near accurate. The shallow depth of field feature was able to produce some pretty impressive 'bokeh' photos. However, our tests did see some noise and less detail in low-light photos, but overall the camera was able to do a lot to leave us impressed.
(Also see: Honor 8 Price, Specifications, And Other Details)
2. Smart Key
Just below the camera in the centre, sits the fingerprint sensor at the back of the smartphone. Huawei claims that the sensor can read fingerprints in mere 0.4 seconds. Moreover, it also takes into account thumb ridge depth for more accurate fingerprint reading. However, the most interesting bit about the sensor is that it also has a physical press. Calling it the Smart Key, it performs various press-based and gesture-based functions. You can manually set up what functions this Smart Key performs, for example in our video review, we show how one physical press opens up the flash. Swiping left and right on the sensor while viewing the Gallery, will help you scroll through photos, and swiping up and down will open and shut the notification bar.
3. EMUI 4.1
As mentioned in our review, the other big highlight of the Honor 8 is the company's custom ROM based on Android Marshmallow, called Emotion UI or EMUI. The latest version (4.1) retains stock Android features like Now on Tap from Android but also adds a bunch of nifty customisations on top. The interface is simple, and has its own icons. Features like Link+ and Wi-Fi+ allow you to be on the best network at all times. Link+ allows you to be on the best network while travelling, and Wi-Fi+ allows you to automatically switch between Wi-Fi and mobile data to not hinder your browsing experience.
We also tested the gesture-based Knuckle Sense feature which allows you to do several function just by drawing or tapping on the screen using your knuckles. For example, drawing a circle or knocking the screen will let you take a screenshot or start screen recording automatically. We found that these gestures require too much pressure, are quite awkward, and frankly a bit gimmicky. However, EMUI 4.1 also brings along one-handed mode and the Floating Dock for shortcuts to common actions, which are quite useful.
Voice control allows you to call people, and even lets you find your phone if you misplace it. Just by saying "Where are you" loudly, the phone starts ringing, vibrating, and flashing its LEDs to grab some attention. Finally, bloatware is limited, and Honor has introduced a Smart Remote Controller as well to control appliances like television sets at home.
4. Performance and battery life
The Honor 8 houses a home-grown 1.8GHz octa-core Kirin 950 processor paired with Mali-T880 GPU and 4GB of RAM. While reviewing the smartphone, we found that it could handle multitasking pretty well. Games like Mortal Kombat X worked without heating up the smartphone, but our review device did heat up a lot when we used the camera. Honor tells us that it's most likely an isolated incident since ours was a pre-production unit, and that retail devices should work normally.
In our battery tests, we found out that the Honor 8 charged up to 45 percent in just half an hour. In a single charge, we managed to use the smartphone for the whole day without any difficulty. It lasted for 11 hours and 7 minutes in our video loop test. The ROG power saving mode also comes in handy when you're running out of battery, as this mode renders the display at 720p to save power.
5. Design and Build
The Honor 8 sports a beautiful design, with a striking finish to the metal build that's sandwiched between the 2.5D glass protection at the front and back of the smartphone. The edges retain a metal finish, giving the smartphone an overall premium feel. While the phone looks chic, especially the gold variant that we got to play with, we found that the glass back made it slippery to hold in the hand. It was also susceptible to slipping on most surfaces if you weren't too careful, and was also prone to fingerprint smudges.
At 153 grams, the Honor 8 is light to hold, and the volume and power buttons are placed at the top right edge. The navigation buttons are on the display, and you can even change them in the Settings app, according to your preference.
Connectivity may be a deal-breaker
While the Honor 8 supports 4G LTE, and has all the other basic connectivity options, it does not support 4G VoLTE and lacks FM radio support. The basic connectivity that Honor 8 offers include Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth v4.2, GPS/ A-GPS, NFC, and an infrared scanner. While the FM radio's absence could be a downer for some, VoLTE is now gaining predominance in the country's airwaves in recent times, and its absence could also prove to be a tipping point in purchase decision. The company however does note that VoLTE will be enabled with a software update in the future, but did not provide a timeline for this.