The one thing that we can always attribute towards Huawei is providing value for money. Their habit of providing more value for money than what other manufacturers are providing is what propelled them into popularity in Asian and other developing countries. Huawei is keeping this tradition alive with their latest midrange flagship phone: Honor 8X. What this phone does well, where does it fall behind other phones, and what could have been done to improve this latest offering by Huawei: let’s get through the review to answer these questions.
At the time of writing, Honor 8X is retailing for around 37,000 PKR for the 4 GB RAM variant while the asking price for 6GB RAM variant is around 43,000 PKR.
Here is what Huawei is offering for the asking price of Honor 8X:
6.5 inches FullHD+ (2,340 x 1,080 pixels) display with 19.5:9 notched display
4 GB RAM with 64 GB internal storage or 6 GB RAM with 128 GB internal storage variants
HiSilicon Kirin 710 chipset with Mali-G51 MP4 GPU
Rear dual cameras with 20MP (f/1.8 aperture) and 2 MP sensors
Single front camera with 16MP (f/2.0 aperture) sensor
3,750 mAh non-removable Li-Ion battery
For all those non-technical people out there, the specifications are well within what is expected from a good mid-range in 2018. On paper, the display, RAM, storage, and battery capacity seem like a very generous offering in a phone of this price point. However, let’s dig in a little deeper to how this phone actually performs in real life to gauge if these numbers translate into actual scenarios.
Pros and Cons
Like all good mid-rangers, Huawei Honor 8X comes with an impressive list of pros to justify its purchase:
Great screen with good color reproduction
A Distinctive look and eye-catching design
Some of the cons of this phone which can put people off while buying this phone are:
Huawei is still using Micro-USB in 2018
No IP rating to protect against accidental splashes of water
Design and build quality
Huawei is really creating a unique design language for its phones. Every manufacturer does have its own design language, but most aren’t so pronounced that they stand way out of the crowd. Lumia phones by Nokia were such a class of phones and Huawei is, in a different and modern way, following those footsteps in creating a unique and hip design language. You can easily identify most Huawei phones in a sea of other Android devices. Huawei Honor 8X is keeping true to this tradition and sports a colored glass shell with unique, subtle horizontal gradients which give the device a very unique look. The red unit that I received was especially eye-catching with a very glossy back and large footprint due to its massive screen.
Due to Huawei’s extensive use of glass on both sides of the phone, it feels very premium in the hand. The shiny and glossy back does pick up fingerprints pretty easily, but that’s the price you gotta pay for that premium and colorful look. The back of the glass isn’t a scratch resistant gorilla glass though, so you have to be careful to make sure your new and shiny Honor 8X isn’t covered in scratches after a few days worth of use. I’d advise you to make use of the silicone case that Huawei is providing in the box to protect it against accidental nudges and drops.
The sides of the Honor 8X are covered with a solid metal frame whose matte finish improves upon the grip of the phone to a sufficient amount. The bottom of the device houses the micro-USB (yep, Huawei is still going with micro-USB ports: Sigh), the loudspeaker grill and the 3.5 mm headphone jack (which I must admit that I was very happy to see after going through a jack-less life with Mate 20 Pro). The right side has the volume rocker along with the power button, while the left side is home to the awesome triple threat card slot — 2 Nano-SIM cards and a micro-SD card slot.
Picking up the phone and looking at it for a few seconds is enough for anyone to extrapolate that one of its most prominent features is its massive 6.5 inches screen — and rightly so. The screen that Huawei has used in Honor 8X is not only bordering on phablet size, its also very sharp and vibrant. Coming at a FullHD+ resolution and 396 PPI, it is a pretty sharp screen and does justice to its huge size with excellent color reproduction and viewing angles.
Huawei, like so so many other manufacturers now, is totally succumbing to the notch fad. Honor 8X is also supporting a massive notch at the top middle of its screen. It’s not as large as Mate 20 Pro, Huawei’s latest flagship phone, but it is still large enough to be visibly noticeable for anyone coming from a regular screen. It does fade into the background pretty soon though, with EMUI skin making sure that you don’t miss the screen real estate taken over by that notch in the middle. Also, it’s becoming more of a fashion trend now, so who am I to complain about something which people seem to like (or in worse cases, don’t mind and get used to pretty soon), and which gives the manufacturers the ability to slim down bezels to almost non-existence.
Overall, it is a great display and is definitely one of the highlights of this phone.
Performance and battery life
Huawei Honor 8X is packing enough performance to provide a really smooth Android experience, but it is probably not meant for really demanding users who expect to play top of the line games at really high graphics quality. Huawei is using their mid-range HiSilicon Kirin 710 chipset in Honor 8X with 4 or 6 GB of RAM, depending on the storage variant that you decide to go with. The performance of Kirin 710 is in no way something to complain about, but combined with Mali-G51 MP4 GPU, it fails to provide enough oomph to play games like Asphalt Nitro at really high graphics quality. For that purpose, you should probably look at Honor Play or any other high-end Huawei device with Kirin 9XX series chipset.
However, if you looking for an all-around performance in other day to day tasks, Honor 8X performs admirably in all respects without giving any indications of slowing down. I didn’t notice any sluggishness during my use of the phone and it cruised through every task that I threw at it.
Using an efficient mid-range chipset and a large 3,750 mAh battery means the Honor 8X should get exceptional battery life — and it does! To really no one’s surprise, I was easily able to last a whole day with heavy use on Honor 8X, with about 10-20 percent left when I set the phone at the side table for the night.
Software experience and miscellaneous
Huawei, as is the custom of this cruel world, is still using its own skin on top of Android 8.1 Oreo. It is not a bad thing per se, but it would be very good to see amazing hardware like Huawei running a pure version of Android. Anyways, coming back from the fantasy land where everything is nice and perfect, Honor 8X is running EMUI 8.2, which is not exactly the latest and greatest by Huawei (latest is EMUI 9 which is expected to come to Honor 8X too in a few months), but is still latest and current enough to not let users feel if they are missing any new or critical features.
The user experience isn’t bad by any measure of the word, but it is a little bit incoherent due to the mixing of Huawei’s design language with Android’s Material design language (same is true for nearly all other manufacturers who are still shipping heavily customized skins with Android). Leaving aside the visual and aesthetic choices, the software experience is very smooth on Honor 8X and I didn’t have any major complains while navigating through different apps or sifting through tasks which required quick window switching. Everything flows almost flawlessly with lesser hiccups than ever before.
To put it simply, if you are using a Huawei phone currently and enjoy EMUI, you are going to love the experience on Honor 8X. However, if you are not a fan of EMUI, well… you’ll learn to live with it pretty soon enough. Otherwise, the Play Store is brimming with third-party launchers to customize the experience to your liking.
Moving away from the software experience, Huawei has also introduced a facial unlock feature in Honor 8X which uses the front camera to create a basic facial profile and use some AI magic to help users quickly log in their devices. It’s a decent mechanism to replace the tedious pattern or password-based authentication, but it still lags behind the rear-mounted fingerprint sensor that Huawei has also provided in Honor 8X, both in speed and security. Huawei is aware of its less secure nature too, and won’t allow you to use facial unlock for anything else than unlocking your device. So for tasks like authenticating before a Play Store payment, you are left with other, more secure authentication options such as fingerprint or password.
Another section where Huawei has really been hitting all the right spots is their cameras. With the highest scoring phone on the DxO mark chart, expectations from Huawei cameras have skyrocketed in the past few generations. So, naturally, Honor 8X carries a lot of responsibility on its shoulders right from the start. How does it perform? Well, that’s a difficult question indeed. Let’s break it down.
Honor 8X isn’t the quickest to take pictures, it takes few microseconds longer to take pictures than what’s considered fast these days. The pictures that it churns out have good color reproduction and it captures the dynamic range quite well, but the amount of detail that it captures leaves a little to be desired. Turning on the AI features in the camera does help a bit in improving the sharpness (mainly because it downsamples the images to a 12 MP), but quality could have been better in my opinion.
Talking about the AI features, Honor 8X can recognize over 50 different objects and can adjust its picture quality to suit the particular shot being taken. For example, it can detect when you are taking pictures of a food item and thus adjust its picture quality to present a shot which is more enticing and saliva-inducing to the viewer. It works well most of the time, doesn’t seem like too much of a gimmick and can be useful in certain scenarios — so, good job Huawei.
If we have to judge the camera only on the basis on its picture quality and forget everything else about the phone (which is usually what is supposed to be done while judging picture quality of a phone), it performs reasonably well in most of the scenarios but falls a bit short of expectations. But if we take into account the price point of the phone and what it is intending to do (which is, per my observation, be an all-around phone for the average consumer), it is a pretty good offering and its target audience should be pretty content with it.
So now that we have looked at Honor 8X from (nearly) every angle, what’s the final verdict? The final verdict, the ultimate one, is still in your hands. It’s your 37,000 (or 43,000) hard-earned rupees that have to be shelled out to buy this phone. If you want a phone that performs reasonably well in all departments and has a very nice, big screen; you are looking at the right device. However, if you want a mobile that specializes in some certain area such as playing latest and greatest games or has an absolute beast of a camera, you should probably look at some other device which is catered more towards that need. This phone, in my opinion, is built keeping an average smartphone user in mind who wants a piece of everything but isn’t looking to complain if that piece isn’t bigger and better than every other smartphone in existence. Now it’s up to you to decide if that description fits well with you or not.