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Honor 8X review: A smartphone with a little bit of everything for everyone

It has a slick design, flexible display options, decent on-battery life; the flipside is a weak camera interface and the glass-and-plastic facade that attracts fingerprint stains

Khalid Anzar  |  New Delhi 

Honor 8X

8X, the handset from the stable of Chinese smartphone brand Honor, an online subsidiary of Huawei, is a recent addition to the company’s mid-range line-up. It is the first Honor-branded smartphone to be powered by HiSilicon Kirin 710. However, it is not only the new breed of processor that makes this device special. Successor to the 7X, the phone has a mammoth 6.5-inch notch-based screen, dual rear cameras with artificial intelligence-based automatic scene recognition capabilities and GPU Turbo technology that assures smooth gaming experience.

Priced at Rs 14,999 for the base model, with 4GB RAM and 64GB of internal storage, the Amazon-exclusive smartphone has a little bit of everything for everyone. Let’s look at the phone’s specifications before getting into review details:

Display: 6.5-inch, fullHD+ resolution, 19.5:9 aspect ratio

Camera: Rear: 20MP+2MP | Front: 16MP

Processor: HiSilicon Kirin 710

Operating system: EMUI 8.2 based on Google Android Oreo 8.1

RAM: 4GB and 6GB

Storage: 64GB and 128GB, expandable up to 400GB via microSD

Battery: 3,750 mAh

Design

The last two generation smartphones in the X-series had a run-of-the-mill design. The 8X, on the other hand, is a huge improvement. The phone has curved glass on the front, metallic chassis and plastic back with a dual gradient design that looks premium. For a phone with a massive display size, the Honor 8X feels light in the hands and isn't bulky. However, its length makes it difficult to operate using one hand.

The front is dominated by a 6.5-inch screen with a notch on the top to accommodate the front camera, earpiece and couple of sensors. However, the notch area and the bezel on the chin in the Honor 8X is relatively better – small and slim – than most of the other smartphones in the same segment.

The two-gradient design at the back of the phone looks refreshing. It is similar to the design seen in the Lenovo Vibe Shot, a camera-centric smartphone launched in 2015, but is better. Like its predecessor, the dual cameras on the back are not a part of a single module, but bulge out separately in close proximity that adds to the overall aesthetics of the back. Though the phone’s back looks symmetrical, the fingerprint sensor with rough texture on the upper middle side and ‘AI Camera’ text below the camera module diminishes the overall design. Another downside is the glass and plastic combination used to cover the front and back. Both the front and back attract fingerprints and are less resistant to scratches, and therefore, require proper care.

Overall, the Honor 8X shows that an entry-level midrange smartphone needn't be boring. The phone has a refreshing design that looks nothing less than a premium smartphone.

Display

The Honor 8X sports a 6.5-inch IPS LCD screen of fullHD+ resolution, stretched in 19.5:9 aspect ratio. The screen is bright and colourful, but sunlight legibility is questionable. The mammoth screen is tuned to render vivid colours by default. However, it can be changed to render natural colours from settings menu. There is also an option to change screen colour tone between warm and cool. The screen supports smart resolution mode, which changes the resolution fullHD+ to HD+ and vice versa automatically. If need be, there is an option in settings that also allows manually changing the resolution between HD+ and fullHD+.

The notch area on the top of screen is enabled by default. There is an option to disable the notch and reduce the overall usable screen area. The screen manages to render video content on full screen in most of the apps, including Netflix and YouTube.

However, a few video streaming services such as Amazon Prime videos and Airtel TV show thick black bars on the sides as they support content only in traditional 16:9 aspect ratio.

Camera

The Honor 8X has a dual camera module at the back, featuring a 20-megapixel primary sensor of f/1.8 aperture, mated with a depth-sensing 2MP secondary lens. In the front, there is a 16MP lens for selfie shots. Compared with the Honor 7X, the Honor 8X has an improved dual camera module on the rear with artificial intelligence support for automatic scene recognition, which makes it a suitable daily driver for regular point and shoot imaging. The rear camera also supports portrait shot, which recognises human faces and other objects and the photos come out decent with proper bokeh effect and detailing. The front camera is also a capable of taking good selfies and portrait shots. It supports beautification mode, which cleans the portraits from unwanted blemishes and other visible marks.

Though the seems satisfactory for point and shoot imaging, it is not a reliable one for video recording. In day light conditions, it manages to fix focus instantly and capture optimum details. But in low light, it shows fair amount of noise and colour mismatch that makes it less ideal for videography purpose.

Camera interface is another weak area that hampers the overall imaging potential of the Honor 8X. The interface is loaded with multiple modes and options. However, switching from one mode to another is not easy because it does not work with a regular swipe on any part of the screen. Instead, you need to manually click on the mode to enable it. To make matters worse, though all the modes remain visible while using either the front camera or the back; not all modes work for both cameras. For an example, if you are using the front camera and choose to take photo in night mode, the camera automatically switches to rear module.

Performance

The Honor 8X with its humongous screen, is primarily a multimedia powerhouse than anything else. Powered by HiSilicon Kirin 710 system-on-chip (SoC), the phone shows no weakness in handling multimedia content, including fullHD resolution videos of high bitrate. It also manages to run power-intensive gaming titles such as Asphalt 9 Legends and PUBG, but at lower graphic settings. The phone handles day-to-day operations with ease and shows no lag or slow down.

The Honor 8X boots Google Android Oreo 8.1-based EMUI 8.2 operating system, which is a heavily customised skin loaded with various add-on features. The EMUI looks, feels and works nothing like stock Android. Therefore, it takes time to get used to its capabilities. This operating system comes bundled with a lot of bloatware, which cannot be uninstalled from the system. This is one of the things that has regularly been highlighted as a downside of the EMUI user interface. It is still to be seen how long it takes for the company to address this.

The phone is powered by 3,750 mAh battery, which keeps it going for almost a day on a single charge under normal usage condition – calling, messaging, music and video streaming and casual gaming. Using the phone for power intensive tasks, such as playing graphic-intensive games and extended use of camera for photography and videography, takes a toll on overall on-battery life.

Verdict

The Honor 8X is a capable entry-level midrange smartphone with something in store for everyone. Though it is primarily a multimedia-centric smartphone, it works optimally across areas. Though the phone cuts corners on some features such as lack of USB type-C port, scratch resistant glass on the front and a plastic build on the back, it compensates these with its refreshing looks, strong build, capable camera set-up and a satisfactory battery life.

First Published: Sun, November 04 2018. 15:10 IST
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