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Huawei Honor 8 Initial Review: A Much Cheaper P9?

Huawei’s P9 and P9 Plus were big sellers for the Chinese company last year, sporting dual-cameras that added another tool in the toolbox for budding mobile photographers. However, being flagship phones, they commanded flagship prices, and it’s only now that the Chinese company has officially released a dual-camera phone that cost under 20K.

But folks living outside of the Philippines has had a solid alternative to the P9 and P9 Plus for a while now, made by the same company. Huawei’s Honor 8 smartphone is basically an off-brand P9, sporting the same dual-camera setup (monochrome sensor and all) without the Leica branding for much less. While it’s been available in other countries since last year, it’s only now that we’ve managed to get our hands on one thanks to Hellotronics, which sells the Honor 8 unofficially here in the PH.

Huawei Honor 8

  • HiSilicon Kirin 950 octa-core processor, 4x Cortex A72 at 2.3Ghz + 4x Cortex A53 at 1.8Ghz
  • Mali-T880MP4 graphics processor
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 5.2-inch Full HD IPS display, 1920 x 1080 resolution
  • 64GB of expandable storage
  • 12-megapixel dual rear camera, f/2.2 aperture
  • 8-megapixel front camera, f/2.4 aperture
  • Dual SIM (Asia)
  • 4G LTE
  • WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, A-GPS
  • Fingerprint scanner, USB Type-C
  • 3000mAh battery, fast charging
  • Android 6.0 Marshmallow, EMUI 4.1

Initial impressions: Google Pixel, is that you?

We mistook the Honor 8 for the Google Pixel while other people were playing with it at the Hellotronics office yesterday. The phone has an uncanny resemblance to Google’s high-end Android offering, at least the white variant does. The phone’s back has a glass coating that’s a smudge magnet, unfortunately, with a metal frame. The two rear cameras are tucked up in the upper left corner, with the laser AF and LED flash right beside it. The fingerprint scanner is also located on the rear of the phone.

The power and volume rocker is on the right, while the hybrid microSD/SIM slot is located on the left. Both the 3.5mm jack and USB Type-C connector are located on the bottom of the phone, flanked by the speaker grille.

The twin rear cameras of the Honor 8 mirror the ones in the P9 – you’re looking at a 12-megapixel color and 12-megapixel monochrome sensor that has f/2.2 aperture, 1.25µm pixel size and 1/2.9″ sensor size. And just like the P9, the Honor 8’s camera combines images taken with the color and monochrome sensor to provide a much more detailed photo than with just the color sensor. The Honor 8 can also create artificial depth of field after the shot is taken if that’s more your style.

The Honor 8 has a 5.2-inch, full HD IPS display that mirrors the one on the P9. Colors are pretty oversaturated, which is surprising for a phone with an LCD display. Viewing angles are generous, and the phone sports 2.5D glass that makes the panel pleasant to look at. Bezels are thin enough for us, plus the phone doesn’t have that big of a chin since it uses on-screen Android navigation keys.

Powering the Honor 8 is a Kirin 950 octa-core processor, a step down from the P9’s Kirin 955. Despite that slightly slower processor, the Honor 8 still felt fast and fluid as we navigated through the phone. While the device is on Android Marshmallow and is using the EMUI 4.1 overlay, the version that Hellotronics sells is bereft of the Google Play Store and Google Play Services, since it’s a China device. You’ll have to either install Google Play Store yourself if you know how, flash the phone and install the Global ROM of the device (since this phone is sold in the US) or be content on sideloading apps yourself. These are all things that not everybody is prepared to do – just keep this in mind if you’re looking to buy this particular phone from Hellotronics or from anybody that sells the Chinese version of the phone.

That’s pretty much it for this hands-on of the Honor 8. Hellotronics is pricing the white version of this particular phone with the specs above at Php 19,990, which is far lower than the official SRP of the P9 being sold by Huawei.

John Nieves

John is a veteran technology and gadget journalist with more than 10 years of experience both in print and online. When not writing about technology, he frequently gets lost in the boonies playing soldier.

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