Let me start off by saying, this device is one sexy beast. I’m not one to refer to a device as sexy. Nor am I one to get overly sentimental about a device. The Honor 8 changes that. I’ll tell you up front the device isn’t perfect. I will also tell you that if I could change just a few things about the Emotion UI (EMUI) this would be my primary device. There’s a good chance it may even pull me away from my decade-long subscription to Sprint.
I’ve been using the Honor 8 for almost four days now. I can say without reservation that I really, really like this device. It is a good-looking, solid performing, well-balanced device. For those of you who don’t like to read the full review and just want to know if I would recommend it, I’ll throw you a bone. GO GET IT NOW!!!
The Honor 8 is quite possibly my favorite phone that I have ever used. There are a few things about it that I don’t like, but you’ll have to read the review for that. Hint: check out UI section for the few dislikes.
The Honor 8 is not available until September 3rd but it is available for pre-order on Amazon.com. If you pre-order the Honor 8, you are also eligible for a $50 gift card and a phone case! It comes in at the super low price of $399.99 for the 32GB and $449.99 for the 64GB.
The Body Since I’ve already said the device is sexy, we’ll dive right in with the body. It is a mostly glass device with a metal trim that goes around the body of the phone. There are four decorative plastic dividers in the metal, on the top left and right and then on the bottom on both sides. The back of the device is where the device gets a huge piece of sexy cred. It consists of 15 layers of milled glass that give the Honor 8 a reflective surface that shows a variety of patterns based on the lighting and viewing angle.
The back also features a fingerprint scanner that doubles as a “smart key.” You can program the smart key with a variety of functions. The smart key can open apps, turn on the flashlight, take a screenshot and more!
The Honor 8 features two cameras on the back, which we’ll cover later, but their placement on the phone is flush with the rest of the casing. The back of the phone is completely flat! The one downside to this is that the phone is super slick and prone to sliding around. If you aren’t careful it could slide off a slight incline.
There are two speakers, one in the earpiece and then another at the base of the device next to the USB-C charging port. To the left of the charging port is a 3.5mm headphone jack. The front-facing speaker also hides the notification light. On the right side of the device, you have both the volume and the power buttons. Rather than using the same style as the Nexus 6P they flipped them so the volume rocker is on top and the power button is below it. Switching between the two devices got me confused and now I can’t hit the right button on either phone.
The Screen Honor didn’t stop there though. The front of the device is also very good-looking. It has one of the most vivid and sharpest screens I’ve ever seen! The screen comes in at 5.2 inches of full HD (FHD) and has a default resolution of 1080×1920. There is also an option to reduce the resolution to 720×1280 with the built-in ROG battery saving mode.
The Honor 8 also comes with a built-in 3D color temperature adjustment, similar to the apps Twilight and f.lux. It allows the device more control over the colors being used to cut the strain on your eyes. I played with it long enough to see how it could work but it drove me nuts that my whole screen appeared yellow. It felt like I was sacrificing the beauty of the screen in its natural state and I just couldn’t take it. I can see how it could be beneficial to some but I probably won’t be using it very much.
The UI This is the one piece of the Honor 8 that I can’t make a decision on. I really don’t like that Honor chose to stick with their Emotion UI (EMUI) styling. EMUI looks like an iPhone interface and it does a great job of that. I understand that in Honor’s homeland of China this a great selling point for the Honor 8 but I couldn’t adjust to it. The lack of an app drawer and the automatic theming of many of the icons drove me crazy. After using it for a few days I’ve started to adjust but it was not an easy adjustment, and if I could change one thing about the device it would be the EMUI look.
Now, I’m not saying EMUI is all bad. Much like Samsung’s TouchWiz, EMUI adds a lot more to the Honor 8 than just the looks. EMUI brings with it a lot of great features beyond the standard Android 6.0 experience. The Honor 8 comes with two themes, Standard and Simple. Neither one is overly appealing but the theme engine is there and better themes could be added relatively easily. Some of the additions are minor things but like my momma used to say, “it’s the little things that count.”
In the settings, you can find toggles that allow you to turn on the display of the network speed, a feature generally only found on custom ROM’s. You can also change the warmth of the screen to give it a different color and hue (similar to the 3D color temperature adjustment but with more fine tuning).
There’s also the new “knuckle gestures.” Yes, I laughed when they announced this functionality but don’t knock it until you try it! There are many functions you can use your knuckle for but the best one is the screenshot. You can knock on the screen twice to take a full screenshot, or you can hold your knuckle to the screen and then draw a shape around a section you want to screenshot. Once you’ve set the shape of the screenshot you can then adjust the size of it or apply various filters.
There are several other motion control functions that allow you to answer the phone, mute the audio, open applications and more. You also have voice control options that you can customize to turn on the phone or make a phone call.
The Specs The Honor 8 isn’t shy and comes with some pretty decent specs. It comes with a Kirin 950 processor clocked in at 2.3GHz, 4GB of LPDDR4 memory, 32GB of storage (with a 64GB option available), the battery is 3,000mAh and supports fast charge technologies and out of the box comes with Android 6.0 Marshmallow (with the previously mentioned EMUI overlay). It supports nano-SIM and has expandable storage with microSD support.
My Favorite Feature: The Camera Another thing my momma taught me was, “Save the best for very last.” At the time she was referring to me eating my veggies first and getting them out-of-the-way so that I wasn’t dreading them while I was eating. In this case, it means the camera. Or I should say cameras?
The Honor 8 comes with not one rear-facing camera, but two. Why would you need two? I asked myself the same question. Honor had a great answer! It always pained me to say it, but when someone asked me what the best phone was for pictures, I always had to say the iPhone. Now I can say that there is an Android device that does it better!
The two 12 megapixel cameras have separate functions but work together to create some of the best pictures I have ever seen. The Honor 8 does this by using the one camera to take a black and white version of the picture and the second camera to take a color photo. It then takes the two pictures and combines them into one to give it greater contrast, depth, and quality.
But it doesn’t stop there. The Honor 8 camera app comes with several features and filters that make photography easier than ever. For those who don’t want it easy or are a little pickier about their shots, there is the Pro Photo mode. Pro Photo mode allows you to set your ISO, white balance, exposure value, S curve, and just about everything else you can think of.
Summary So in summary? The Honor 8 is a sexy beast. It looks good, it works great, and the camera is insanely awesome. Do I recommend the device? Completely! Is there room for improvement? Only where EMUI is concerned. But don’t worry, rumor has it there are some updates coming to EMUI that will fix some of my biggest pet peeves with it. And in the meantime, I’m working on some videos that should help fix some of the pet peeves for now.
If I’ve convinced you to get the Honor 8 then I have done my job. No, I am not getting paid for this. I have taken it upon myself to help convince you that you need the Honor 8 because it is really that great of a phone. I am excited to keep using it and can’t wait to see what else Huawei and Honor have in store for us!
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Roy likes to dabble in all things Android and contributes everywhere he can. He owns the site rwilco12.com and its accompanying forum, he develops his own apps and ROM’s, is a Moderator and Recognized Developer on XDA-Developers.com and is the VP of Public Relations for AndroidFileHost.com.