With the Honor 8, Huawei shows once again that a top-class smartphone does not have to cost more than 400 euros. The 5.2 ″ smartphone impresses with its beautiful design and very, very fast hardware. You can find out in this review whether everything is as great as it is shiny and how the Honor 8 performs in everyday life.

If I had to name a certain manufacturer whose smartphones I can recommend practically unreservedly, then my choice would almost certainly fall on Honor (not Huawei, even if it is the parent company). Because practically every Honor smartphone has a very good price-performance ratio and the processing of the hardware and the quality of the software are just right for all devices.

This is also the case with the Honor 8, which with a recommended retail price of 399 euros is not exactly cheap (the Amazon price of the Honor 8 is currently 369 euros), but has a lot to offer and just looks super chic.

love at first sight

In the past 5 years I had Android users over 400 smartphones in my fingers and only a few managed to trigger a real wow factor. The first WOW smartphones included, for example, the Galaxy S with its AMOLED display, the first HTC One with the boom speakers or the Nexus 4 with the glass back. Of course, the Galaxy S6 edge should not be missing here either. Thanks to the double glass coating (front and back), the Honor 8, which I got from the Honor press office in blue as a loan for a few weeks, leaves a similar positive first impression. It really looks very nice, feels very, very high quality and is extremely enjoyable even with daily use. However, the same applies here: it is best to put the Honor 8 in a protective cover, because glass is a sensitive material and tends to become independent on slightly sloping surfaces. I’ve been using the Honor 8 for three weeks without a protective case and it’s still scratch-free. However, it would have slipped a hair out of my hand twice: once when I wanted to operate it with my smartphone-compatible gloves, another time when I put it on a shelf, the angle of which I underestimated …

The scope of delivery of the dual SIM smartphone includes a quick charger including a USB Type-C cable, a white headset and the typical tool to open the SIM / MicroSD slot. A short instruction manual is also available.

In addition to the version I tested with 32 GB of memory, the Honor 8 is also available in the premium version with 64 GB of memory for EUR 449 RRP in gold, blue and pink. The remaining parameters are identical to the Honor 8, so that this article can also be read as a review of the Honor 8.

The Honor 8 has a dual camera on the back as a special feature. In contrast to the LG G5, the Honor 8 comes with two identical camera modules, so there is no special wide-angle function as with LG. There is a special mode in the camera app for this purpose, so that the two modules can be used to take multiple shots with different depths of field. If you take photos in this mode, you can change the focus later or focus on another subject. It actually doesn’t work that badly. Nevertheless, I see the practical utility as rather low. But even without this plus feature, the built-in 12 MP camera takes very nice photos and doesn’t take too much time to focus. However, the Honor 8 cannot take snapshots in poor lighting conditions. There is also no optical image stabilizer.

In addition to the dual camera with flash, there is also the fingerprint sensor on the back. As usual, Huawei beats the competition by far. Unlocking not only works 99 percent of the time, but also significantly faster than with other manufacturers. In direct comparison with the Nubia Z11 mini, which I used before testing the Honor 8, it is really worlds that separate the two manufacturers / FAS.

On the top of the device, Huawei has placed a microphone and an IR blaster on the Honor 8. The Honor 8 is therefore also suitable as a universal remote control, which is quite practical and also worked well in my tests.

The headphone output is on the bottom of the Honor 8, along with the USB Type-C port (USB 2.0 only) and the mono speaker.

Fast Kirin 950, hybrid slot, good camera

Now to the actual highlights of the Honor 8: This definitely includes the built-in processor. The Kirin 950 not only achieves maximum values ​​in our benchmarks AnTuTu and Vellamo (almost 95,000 counters for AnTuTu, 6760 points for the HTML 5 benchmark from Vellamo), but also performs brilliantly in daily use without consuming too much power. Some apps can be installed from the Play Store in less than a second, and the Honor 8 can easily switch from one app to another without any stuttering. In contrast to the Honor 5X, which has a significantly slower chipset, the Honor 8 also delivers its performance over 4G, not only in the home Wi-Fi. Downloading apps via LTE was just as quick in my tests as via WiFi.

Speaking of LTE: As with most current dual SIM smartphones, the Honor 8 is also a cell phone with a hybrid slot. You can use the Huawei smartphone either with two SIM cards or with a SIM card and a microSD card as memory expansion. In the case of two SIM cards, only one slot is LTE-capable. With the second slot you have to get by with 2G (only calls and SMS). If you are looking for a smartphone with two LTE SIM slots, there is currently no way around OnePlus (OnePlus 2, OnePlus 3). After all: which slot is LTE-capable can be controlled by software. For example, if you often travel between Germany and Austria and therefore have two SIM cards in your Honor 8, you can simply set the Austrian SIM as the LTE card at the border crossing. You don’t have to swap the cards in the slot to do this.

As mentioned above, the built-in camera can take quite good photos, but the Honor 8 cannot keep up with the top cameras from Samsung in the S7 and from LG in the G4 / 5. This also applies to the 8 MP front camera, which takes solid selfies, but does not stand out from the rest of the usable front cameras.

Emotion UI 4.1 with update to EMUI 5.x

There are things that cannot really be tested with an ordinary rapid test. These are small things such as the volume of the alarm clock or the reliability of the vibration motor. There are also various such subtleties in the software, and here the Honor 8 clearly scores very well thanks to Huawei’s Emotion UI 4.1.

It is clear that manufacturer attachments always have an unpleasant aftertaste, but I think the Emotion UI is very successful. I don’t mean the actual launcher, which I replaced with the Nova Launcher Prime, but the many small practical functions that Huawei smartphones still offer. This includes, for example, the mute control when you decrease the volume. As with other Android versions, the Honor 8 switches to vibration mode after pressing the volume down button several times, but not to silent. There is a separate slider for this. This is useful because otherwise you tend to get into the wrong mode.

In addition, the navigation buttons on the lower bar can be adjusted, there is a special widget for one-hand operation and many other functions. For everyone who likes to test new things, Huawei also offers a beta test of the Emotion UI 5.0 or Android 7.x “Nougat” on the Honor 8. So you are not buying a pig in a poke, but with the Honor 8 you will surely get the next Android version or EMUI 5.0.

The pre-installed apps include a file manager, a weather app, the compass and the dictation machine, as well as a few game demos from Gameloft, as well as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. However, these apps can easily be uninstalled or at least deactivated.

Good to know: the Honor 8’s alarm clock also works if you switch off your smartphone the evening before. The device then switches on in good time.

Solid battery life

On its German homepage, Honor states that the Honor 8 lasts 1.77 days with moderate use and still 1.22 days with intensive use. The Huawei smartphone can even surpass these values ​​thanks to the built-in 3000 mAh battery and the energy-saving Kirin 950 chipset. In my tests, I regularly got 48 hours of runtime with moderate use and the night in flight mode, on the weekend the Honor 8 even lasted from Friday to Sunday evening, with many hours in standby being added here.

The good thing about the runtime: It refers to the regular mode without special battery saving measures. If you want to get even more runtime out of the Honor 8, you can, for example, reduce the resolution of the display from the native 1920 * 1080 pixels to 1280 * 720 pixels or switch to the ultra-power-saving mode. Freezing apps that you don’t use regularly anyway and that would otherwise consume electricity in the background is also very beneficial. With the latter function, however, you should proceed cautiously so as not to miss any chat messages.

Thanks to the included quick charger, you don’t have to worry if the battery suddenly comes to an end: the Honor 8 charges from 10 to 50 percent in around 30 minutes, with which you should easily get through the day.

Criticisms

What I noticed negatively in the tests was that the Huawei calendar app only saves appointments in the phone by default. This may even be a feature for some people, but I’m used to entering appointments on my mobile phone while I’m out and about to be reminded of them at work via the Google calendar.

Once correctly set (select the appropriate Gmail account via the calendar settings) or via the Google calendar app, this little problem can be solved.

The built-in mono loudspeaker is unfortunately a small sound miracle, but it cannot be shielded too easily, as is the case with the Coolpad Modena 2. Nevertheless, music lovers will definitely not get their money’s worth with the loudspeaker. However, I really liked the dynamics of ring tones or the alarm clock. The volume can be adjusted very well.

The fact that the back made of glass magically attracts fingerprints does not need to be mentioned explicitly, but that it is very slippery, however, every buyer who likes to use his smartphone without a protective cover should be aware. So be careful with that!

Conclusion: practically perfect

Anyone looking for an affordable top smartphone with a 5 ″ display can confidently access the Honor 8. Compared to the Honor 7, the new model not only brings significantly more steam under the hood, the chic design with a glass back is also pleasing. With the exception of the camera, the Honor 8 can also compete with smartphones beyond the 500 euro mark, and all of this for the Internet price of currently 369 euros (on Amazon). As an alternative without dual SIM but with the better camera, the LG G5, for example, is available, some of which is available for well below 400 euros. The Samsung Galaxy A5 (Amazon price 300 euros) is somewhat cheaper, also without dual SIM but with a comparable performance and Android 5.1. And of course, it is also worth taking a look at the Huawei P9 lite for bargain hunters, which already changes buyers for 249 euros and, apart from CPU and RAM, has similarly good features as the Honor 8. However, the Honor 8 feels different from all the smartphones mentioned the highest quality.

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