Honor 8 European launch review – first impressions

honor 8 reviewEven though the Honor 8 has already been seen in Asia and the US we in Europe had our first official look at the Huawei-built handset last night.

The European reveal took place a special launch event in Paris, France. GadgetyNews was there to experience it first hand.

The things I go through for GadgetyNews.

I am currently scribbling my initial thoughts about this shiny blue smartphone whilst sipping drinks by a pool in Paris where it is currently just shy of 36 degrees.

Honor 8 the launch

You can’t have a launch without *the* moment. So, here it is.
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Honor 8 design

Let’s get the most laboured point out of the way first. The Honor 8 features a construction of no less than 15 layers of individually treated and polished glass. This treatment, including laser-etched sections, all combine to give the handset a deep, shimmering luminescence that catches the light.

Shiny and smooth

honor 8 eva wimmersEva Wimmers, President of Honor in WEU/VP of Honor Global, likes the shiny. A lot.

honor 8 edgesIt’s also quite slippery because of all that smoothness. Fingerprints are also abound on the blue one, so I’m guessing the black version will be similar.

It does feel lovely in the hand though. The finish is great and you’ll be hard pushed to detect the transition between the front and rear 2.5D curved glass panels and its aluminium frame.

The body of the Honor 8 has beautifully chamfered corners which adds to the pleasing feel of the 7.5mm thin body. The phone tips the scales at 185 grams which isn’t featherweight but does add a sense of sturdiness. It is dwarfed by my Nexus 6P (which was still showing UK time when I took these non-sober snaps).

honor 8 with Nexus 6PHonor 8 tour

The 5.2-inch LTPS LSD display is very impressive. It chucks out a peeper pleasing 1920 x 1080 full HD resolution, cramming in 424 pixels in every inch.

honor 8 designOn the back of the phone you’ll find a dual-lens 12-megapixel camera with laser autofocus and dual LED flash. The two lenses are nicely incorporated within those 15 layers of glass so no bumps, ridges or other pesky promontories here. This feature instantly brings thoughts of the very cool camera built into the Huawei P9 (constructed in collaboration with optics expert Leica). The Honor 8’s lenses work in exactly the same way too, with one capturing vibrant colours while the other snaps a monochrome photo.

Also on the back of the phone you’ll find a fingerprint sensor that can unlock the phone in just 400 milliseconds, according to Honor. This is on a par with other top-flight Android phones this year.

honor 8 selfiesUp front is an 8MP selfie snapper and LED flash. The camera software offers more beauty retouching tricks than could be healthy for all those social networking narcissists out there.

honor 8 left sideThe volume rocker and power button are on the right side. On the left side, you get a combination dual SIM tray/MicroSD Card slot.

Nothing other than a noise-canceling microphone can be found on the top edge.

honor 8 bottomWhilst along the bottom is home to a 3.5mm headphone jack, single punched-hole speaker grille, and USB Type-C port.

Honor 8 performance

Honor 8 power

Under the hood is where most of the exciting stuff is living though.

Here you’ll find the beating heart of a HiSilicon Kirin 950 octa-core processor, a chip that’s well documented in giving both Qualcomm Snapdragon and Samsung Exynos a run for their money. It has four 2.3 GHz Cortex-A72 cores and four 1.8 GHz Cortex-A53 cores.

honor 8 performanceThe Honor 8 is also loaded with 4GB LPDDR4 RAM and a Mali-T880 MP4 GPU.

I’ve only been playing with the phone for a few hours (mostly whilst whiling away the hours on the Eurostar back to London) but it does feel very zippy with zero lag on the Android interface.

The phone will come in both 32GB and 64GB storage flavours, each with microSD support up to 256GB.

Honor 8 battery

The battery is a hefty 3,000mAh setup which sounds promising.

At the presentation we were told 1.2 days stamina should be not unheard of. Honor says that 20 hours of continuous music or 11 hours of video is the going rate.

That, mated with the swift charging skills (flat to 50% in half-an-hour), should keep Honor 8 users connected.

Honor 8 camera

Even though it’s lacking the Leica branding of the Huawei P9’s snapper, it all does sound familiar on the Honor handset. Which is no bad thing, let me tell you.

You get a pair of 12MP Sony IMX286 sensors with f/2.2 apertures, super fast laser autofocus, and dual-LED flash.

As well as that it has a pair of Image Signal Processors just like the P9 with one IPS/sensor combo effectively handling monochrome while the other handles RGB colour. These are then cleverly combined for a much improved photo.

honor 8 camerasThis also allows all that fun post-capture focal point selection Bokeh behaviour.

The Honor 8 also has a bunch of software features bundled-in for post processing.

The front-facing camera can do a neat trick involving taking three-views (front, side and the typical slightly downward angled shot) and stitch them together somehow. I am afraid I will have to test this too. You have been warned.

I need to get out to take some snaps but I am expecting good things.

Honor 8 software

I’ve dabbled, but not much more than that at the moment, to be honest.

The Honor 8 is running Huawei’s Emotion User Interface which currently controls Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow.

Even though it’s not the vanilla ‘droid experience the phone is promised to receive regular patches corresponding with Google’s monthly Android security updates.

honor 8 remote controlThe Honor 8 is able to replace all of your remote controls too! Thanks to supporting all the major standards, you can use your phone as an all-in-one remote.

Honor 8 spec sheet

honor 8 spec sheet

Honor 8 first impressions review conclusion

Even though priced as a mid-range smartphone, the Honor 8 seems to pack almost everything the flagship Huawei P9 has.

Which is a pretty impressive accomplishment given that the P9 costs over £450.

The price might still seem steep for a phone from a brand that still lacks the cachet of Apple or Samsung, but could we start seeing a shift? Honor, and the slightly less easy to pronounce, Huawei are definitely gaining momentum.

I love my Huawei-built Nexus and the Honor 8 certainly looks the part. Yes it might look like an iPhone 6S that’s stolen the P9’s clever cameras, but is that a bad thing?

Stay tuned for a proper review soon!

Honor 8 price and availability

The starting price for the Honor 8, the 32GB version, is £369.90 (including an anniversary package worth £69.99 (while stocks last)). To me, this seems pretty reasonable for such a high-spec device.

honor 8 uk prices and coloursIt is available now via Honor’s online retail webstore, as well as other retailers including Clove, Ebuyer, and Expansys. When it lands on Amazon, the Honor 8 will be bundled with an Amazon Fire TV Stick free of charge (while stocks last).

It comes in Sapphire Blue (which is the one I have and it looks fantastic), as well as Sunrise Gold (to which Eva gave a shout out to “Russia and the Middle East” when she announced it), Pearl White, and Midnight Black.