Honor 8 review (hands-on): There's something special about Honor's new flagship


Like most smartphone manufacturers, Honor updates its flagship phone once a year, and that time is now. Its latest top-end offering is the Honor 8, and it’s the firm’s most attractive, desirable handset to date.

Moving on from the curved brushed-metal rear panel of last year’s Honor 7, the 5.2in Honor 8 is now clad in glass on the front and rear in a design that’s reminiscent of the Samsung Galaxy S7. The glass is subtly curved around the edges, and 15 layers of material beneath create what Honor is calling, rather awkwardly, a “3D grating texture”. It looks much nicer than it sounds, shimmering attractively as it catches the light.

With diamond-cut chamfered edges surrounding the screen and glass rear, and a slim profile of only 7.5mm, the Honor 8 really is a fantastic-looking phone, and it doesn’t skimp on the specifications either.

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Honor 8: Features

As with all recent Honor handsets, there’s a fingerprint reader on the rear of the phone in the centre, but the Honor 8 boasts an upgrade or two. It gets a speed boost, with fingerprints recognised in a claimed 0.4 seconds, and it’s also now a fully clickable button, allowing you to assign app shortcuts to a single and double click as well as a long press.

The Honor 8 offers dual-SIM support, and just like its cousin, the Huawei P9, it comes with a dual-camera setup. One camera is dedicated to full colour images, and the other to capturing black-and-white images. It’s not identical to the Huawei phone as it lacks the Leica branding and phase-detect autofocus, but the specifications are similar otherwise, both cameras capturing 12-megapixel images, with an f/2.2 aperture, a dual-LED flash, and laser-assisted autofocus.

As with the P9, the black-and-white camera can either be used to snap monochrome images or add extra information to your colour snaps. Honor says this improves detail capture and performance in low light.

In fact, if you were being unkind, you could view the Honor 8 as a repackaged Huawei P9, but there are just enough subtle differences to set the two apart from each other. The processor isn’t the same, for instance. The Honor 8 employs an octa-core, 2.3GHz Kirin 950 chip where the P9 uses the more powerful Kirin 955. The Honor 8 also has an infrared transmitter, so you can use it as a universal remote control for your TV and set-top box; the P9 doesn’t have this feature.

It uses a different LCD screen technology for its 5.2in, 1080p display – LTPS versus IPS “Neo”; and although the battery is the same size as the P9 at 3,000mAh, Honor claims it charges fractionally faster, reaching 47% capacity in 30 minutes compared with 44% for the Huawei P9. There’s also a Fast Charge-compatible charger supplied in the box with the phone.

Honor 8: Price and verdict

The biggest difference between the two phones, however, is the price. Where the Huawei P9 sells for £449 from Huawei’s Vmall.eu website, the Honor 8 is a much more reasonable £370. That’s quite a step up in price over the Honor 7, which sold for £250 at launch, and even makes more expensive than the superb OnePlus 3.

That makes the Honor 8 somewhat of a difficult sell, even at this early stage, but we’ll update you when we get our hands on a review sample, and have had the chance to properly test it.

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