Honor 8X review: The almost perfect budget smartphone

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The budget segment of the Indian smartphone market has seen some good additions this year like Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro and smartphones from Oppo’s Realme sub-brand. Joining them, is Huawei’s sub-brand’s Honor 8X smartphone that comes with AI photography and is powered by Huawei’s latest octa-core HiSilicon Kirin 710 processor. And according to Honor, it is the world’s first Rheinland certified eye protection mobile phone. We spent a few days with it to know if these features are really as attractive as they sound. Read the rest of our review to know if the device is worth a buy or not?

Honor 8X Design and Display

The Honor 8X smartphone comes with a glossy dual tone design and has a glass back panel that looks premium. The company has said that it has achieved the look by using multiple layers of glass and calls its the ‘visual grating effect’. We should say that it was totally worth it. Going just by the looks, Honor 8X hardly looks like a smartphone that is priced under Rs 15,000.

We should mention that the smartphone is available in Black, Blue and Red colour variants and the unit that we got for review was dressed in Blue.

 

Although it looks great, like other smartphones that come with a glass back panel, it is prone to getting fingerprint smudges. But, since it is a issue that is common in all glass back smartphones, we are not counting it as a minus. However, be careful, as the device can get scratches rather quickly. Putting a case is an option to keep it safe, but then you’ll be missing out on its good looks. So you will have to make a choice between the two.

The back panel of the smartphone is where the fingerprint scanner also lies. The dual rear cameras of the device are also housed on the back panel, but unlike most other smartphones’ primary cameras, they are not in a module. The Honor branding and AI camera logos are also present, but you can only read them if you hold the smartphone in landscape mode.

While the right edge of Honor 8X has the power and volume buttons on it, the left edge sandwiches the SIM tray that can hold two SIM cards as well a microSD card.

A microUSB port, a speaker grille and a 3.5mm jack are present at the bottom and the top houses the secondary microphone. The build quality was reasonable, but it would have been better if the glass back panel would have been protected.

On flipping the device, you will see its 6.5-inch fullView display that comes with 2.5D Glass on it. The screen has an aspect ratio of 19.5:9 and a screen-to-body ratio of 91%. In order to achieve this, Honor has made the notch on the top of display as small as it could. There were times when we felt that the smartphone is too big for one-handed usage. But, many people may not consider this a hindrance as most of us are used to having phones with big screens.

Speaking about the display of the smartphone, we really adored it. The colours were accurate and vibrant, and we really liked watching videos on YouTube because of the crisp quality if images. During our time with the smartphone, we found the images depicted and to be very clear. The viewing angles were good and sunlight readability was also decent. The company has touted the presence of Eye Comfort mode on the device. On enabling it, we observed a slightly warmer tint on the screen. According to Honor, the Eye Comfort mode filters out the blue light to relieve the users’ visual fatigue. You can also schedule the Eye Comfort mode to get enabled on its own.

To conclude, we would say that we really liked the design and display of the smartphone. The build could have been better and we would have really appreciated it if the back panel of the device would have been protected by glass. One can put on a case to avoid scratches but that would mean hiding the Honor 8X’s stunning looks.

Honor 8X Performance

Honor 8X is powered by HiSilicon Kirin 710 SoC, which is the latest processor by its parent company Huawei. The device is available in 4GB RAM/64GB storage, 6GB RAM/64GB storage and 6GB RAM/128GB storage options. It can also hold a microSD card of up to 400GB. We got the base model of the smartphone for review. The smartphone houses a 3,750mAh battery, which has support for 5V/2A (10W) charging and for imaging duties, it sports dual rear cameras with 20MP and 2MP sensors.  There is also a 16MP fixed focus camera on the front panel for selfies. Honor 8X runs EMUI 8.2 based on Android 8.1 Oreo, and the company has promised an Android Pie update for the device.

There was some bloatware on the device, but not too much of it. And we didn’t even feel the need of deleting most apps. Besides the usual suite of Google apps, there was Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Netflix, Camera360, an SOS app and a gaming app called Lords Mobile. There is a Phone Manager app on the device that can be used to optimize its performance. It frees up RAM, keeps a track on data usage, checks the smartphone for any viruses and stops battery from draining. If you use some particular functions of the app too often, you can also create short cuts for them.

One can also use various gestures to perform tasks on the device like swiping inward from left or right of the screen to go back to the previous screen, swiping up from the bottom of the screen to go up, accessing Google Assistant by swiping up from the lower corners. Honor 8X mobile comes with Face recognition that worked accurately during our time with the smartphone, even during night.

We found Honor 8X’s software to be responsive and using it was a smooth experience. We faced no lag and multitasking was a cakewalk. We used a number of apps at the same time and there was no delay in either launching or switching between them. Call quality was mostly okay, but we sometimes did feel a problem in listening to what the person was saying. Maybe it’s because the small size of the earpiece. But then, we even managed to make calls from basement, so there is no problem with the reception of the device.

One aspect of the smartphone that was only decent was gaming. Like most other smartphones with glass body, Honor 8X warms up when it is used for gaming. Lightest of the games like Temple Run 2 and Odyssey ran very smoothly, but the smartphone could have performed better with games like Asphalt 9: Legends. The battery of the smartphone also drains quickly while playing games. In fact, the smartphone also warms up when used for navigation. But its negligible. It cannot be called as a heating issue.

Coming to the 20MP and 2MP dual rear cameras of Honor 8X, it left us with a bag of mixed emotions. The camera app of the smartphone comes with Aperture, Night, Portrait, Photo, and Video modes. It can also be used to make slo-mo and timelapse videos, take panorama shots, put watermarks on the photos, filters. There is also an AR lens that has some backgrounds and effects that Snapchat fans may like.

Most photographs were good in quality. The images were sharp. The colours were accurate. At least in well-lit conditions, mostly everything was good. Usual shots were just fine, although the clarity could have been a little more. But zoom in a bit and the problem begins there and then. We also took some shots using AI photography that the company spoke about so much during the launch. We thought that most pictures taken with the mode made pictures a little oversaturated.

The shots taken at night could be much better than what it was. The photos taken were not as clear as the ones taken during the day, and AI photography mode doesn’t help much in it.

The 16MP selfie camera was better than the rear cameras of the device. We were happy with the shots we took in well-lit conditions, but the ones in lowly lit areas were no better than primary cameras’.

jumping to the battery life of the smartphone, we were really impressed by it. With one single charge, the smartphone lasted an entire day with heavy usage and more than a day with moderate usage.

We ran some benchmark tests on the device. It scored 1,608 and 5,612 in single and multi-core scores of Geekbench and 1,40,714 in Antutu.

Verdict

Honor 8X does have the looks. And its display is amongst its best features. The battery life is also impressive. The Face Unlock and fingerprint sensor work well, too. So, in a nutshell, it can be termed as a good option that you can consider if you are buying a smartphone in the budget segment. But, we would have liked the phone so much better had the camera experience been better. You can go for the smartphone, but you can also consider Nokia 6.1 Plus, which is also a good budget smartphone.

Pros

Vibrant display, beautiful design, lasting battery

Cons

Average cameras, mediocre gaming experience, warms up with heavy usage.

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