This well-crafted, midprice handset takes good photos with its double cameras, while saving you big bucks.
Huawei's Honor 8 is an Android 6.0 phone with extras good enough to make you notice, and a build that's comfortable to hold and use in one hand. The extras in question? Two cameras on the back and a customizable button right below them that doubles as the fingerprint reader.
The Honor 8's glossy, reflective coating channels Samsung's Galaxy S7 phone design (and smudges easily with finger grease), but at heart it's essentially a rebranded Huawei P9 that costs less than the original, and well under two premium dual-camera phones: the LG V20 and iPhone 7 Plus.
In the US, you can pick up the 32GB variant for $400 and the 64GB version for $450. Australian prices are still to come, but the US prices convert to roughly AU$525 and AU$590. In the UK, only the 32GB version is available, for £370 direct from Huawei, or from Amazon, where it's bundled with a free Amazon Fire TV Stick worth £30. If you want to buy it as part of a phone contract, Three has the exclusive.
The fast, accurate fingerprint reader may seem a little small if you're used to a larger target like the Huawei-made Nexus 6P, but since more of my finger covers a smaller scanner than a larger one, I felt like I got more hits than misses. This reader also doubles as a customizable button, which I programmed to launch the camera; I liked it a lot. Less successful are knuckle gestures. I guess Huawei figures sometimes your fingers aren't free, but your knuckles are? Anyway, you can customize it so making gestures on your screen with your knuckles act as a shortcut. Draw a "C" to launch the camera, for instance. However, this felt gimmicky and unnatural.
Two 12-megapixel cameras on the back -- one monochrome, one RBG -- create the dual-camera system that LG and Apple also use. But that doesn't mean photos come out the same, and a lot of that has to do with each phones' software. While we have a shootout planned for when we have all three phones side-by-side (still waiting on the V20), what I can say now is that the Honor 8 takes good pictures in a variety of scenarios: Indoor, outdoor, low-light, selfies (with beauty mode if you like).
You can get sharper and more consistent photos on more expensive phones, but this is the only one at this price that promises any sort of depth-of-field. To some extent, this depth-of-field promise (which artfully blurs the background) is a little flawed because the software doesn't always blur out sharp edges when you're standing in front of a more complex background. Stand in front of the sky, however, and your chances of getting the photo you want shoots up.
You may not recognize the Huawei-made processor, but in day-to-day use, it felt snappy. At times, it did lag when stressed with too many tasks, though it's certainly not the only phone to temporarily slow under strain. Battery life was the weakest link, with an average of about 8.5 hours in three looping video tests. That's 2 hours shy of the similarly priced Alcatel Idol 4S and 3 hours less than the ZTE Axon 7. Our current favorite phone for the price, the OnePlus 3, lasted 6 hours longer than the Honor 8.
That's too bad, because battery life really is the only major flub in a phone that otherwise gives you terrific value for the price. It's a phone you can live with, as long as you can live with charging up more often.
|Huawei Honor 8||OnePlus 3||Alcatel Idol 4S||ZTE Axon 7|
|Display size, resolution||5.2-inch; 1,920x1080 pixels||5.5-inch; 1,920x1080 pixels||5.5-inch; 2,560x1,440 pixels AMOLED||5.5-inch; 2,560x1,440 pixels|
|Pixel density||423 ppi||401ppi||534 ppi||538ppi|
|Dimensions (Inches)||5.7x 2.8x0.29 in||6.01x2.94x0.29 in||6.06x2.97x0.28 in||6x3x0.34 in|
|Dimensions (Millimeters)||145x71x7.5 mm||152.7x74.7x7.35 mm||153.9x75.4x6.99 mm||151.8x75x8.7 mm|
|Weight (Ounces, Grams)||5.4 oz; 153 g||5.57 oz; 158 g||5.26 oz; 149 g||6.53 oz; 185 g|
|Mobile software||Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow||Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow||Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow||Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow|
|Processor||2.3GHz octa-core HiSilicon Kirin 950 processor||2.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820||1.8GHz + 1.4GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 652||2.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 820|
|Storage||32GB/64GB||64GB||32GB||64GB, 128GB (varies by region)|
|Expandable storage||Up to 128GB||None||Up to 200GB||Up to 128GB|
|Battery||3,000 mAh (nonremovable)||3,000mAh (nonremovable)||3,000mAh||3,000mAh (nonremovable)|
|Fingerprint sensor||Back cover||Home button||Back cover||Back cover|
|Special features||Dual-cameras, customizable rear button||Notifications toggle, dual-SIM, Dash Charging||Boom Key (programable key), Dual 3.6-watt JBL speakers, Quick Charge 2.0, NFC, Reversible OS, Dual-SIM option||Dual-SIM option|
|Price off-contract (USD)||$400 (32GB), $450 (64GB)||$399||$400||$400|
|Price (GBP)||£370 (32GB only)||£329||£385||Converts to £345|
|Price (AUD)||Converts to AU$525 (32GB), AU$590 (64GB)||Converts to AU$530||AU$470||Converts to AU$605|