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Honor 8 unboxing & hands-on review

Honor 8 unboxing: We joined Huawei subsidiary, Honor in Paris for the European launch of its latest flagship, the Honor 8, which packs a dual-lens 12-megapixel camera and a stunning new glass-backed design.

In truth, we’d already heard about Honor’s 2016 flagship. The phone already launched in China earlier in the year and made it to the US just the other week, so we were hopeful that it would in touch down in Europe (and the UK too) soon after.

Honor 8: Specs at a glance

Screen size 5.2-inches
Screen resolution Full HD (1920×1080)
Weight  153 grams
OS Android 6.0 Marshmallow w/ EMUI 4.1
Rear camera Dual 12-megapixels (RGB+Monochrome)
Front camera 8-megapixels
Processor 2.3GHz/1.8GHz octa-core Kirin 950
Memory 4GB RAM
Storage 32GB/64GB. Expandable via microSD up to 256GB.
Battery 3000mAh

Honor 8: Unboxing & hands-on review

From the off, you can see that the Honor 8 isn’t messing around, with a newly designed box that opens vertically. It feels reminiscent of the Huawei P8’s unboxing experience and an equally premium step up for the brand. Inside the phone is wrapped in protective plastic outlining its SIM tray design and the fabric tab next to it pulls the whole arrangement out of the main box. Tucked lengthways against the phone sit two additional card containers, one with the SIM tray removal tool, Honor branded stickers, warranty card, and quick start guide, with the other containing the power adapter, USB Type-C cable (in white) and earphones featuring an inline microphone/remote.

The Honor 8 is arguably the best-looking Honor phone to date, but we’d go as far as to say that it trumps the likes of the Huawei P9 family too, provided you’re a fan of glass-backed, metal-framed handsets akin to the Galaxy S7 and Sony’s Xperia Z family. The 2.5D glass has apparently undergone a 15-layer process which grants it its distinctive finish and against the light it is very attractive (especially in Sapphire Blue), however as with all glass-heavy phone designs, expect fingerprints to accumulate fairly quickly.

Versus its predecessor, the 8 opts for more natural forms (apparently ‘inspired by light’), heavier rounding along its edges and corners and a circular fingerprint sensor on its back, in place of a squared one. As well as boasting a 0.3-second response time and improved security, the company’s also granted it a secondary role as a ‘smart key’, but there doesn’t appear to be any dramatically new functionality on offer, with the ability to quick-launch applications after a specified number of taps.

The 8 is also the first Honor phone to join the growing number of reversible Type-C USB-laden handsets and boasts fast charging (47 per cent charge in 30 minutes) from its 3000mAh battery. Honor’s upped the ante with the internal hardware too, giving the 8 the same Kirin 950 octa-core processor found on last year’s Huawei Mate 8, backing it up with a sizeable 4GB of RAM.

As with the majority of the company’s other handsets, to supplement the phone’s 32GB (or 64GB, depending on market) internal space, you also get dual-SIM functionality with the option for microSD expandability in place of the second SIM card by up to a whopping 256GB.

Unsurprisingly the headline feature has to be the phone’s rear dual-lens camera array, which appears to be remarkably similar to the Huawei P9’s Leica camera setup and indeed uses the same IMX286 Sony sensor. However there’s no brand partnership here, so whilst the sensor is the same the camera’s UI is more traditionally Honor in its styling. You still have access to a wealth of features including manual still and video control and in truth, the only feature that appears to be lacking versus the P9’s experience is RAW image support.

It looks as though the Honor 8 is a serious power play from the Chinese phone maker, but with a price tag of (€399) £369.99 (for the 32GB model and €449 for the 64GB model), it’s notably pricier than previous Honor flagships, placing it in the same camp as the likes of the Moto G4 Plus, OnePlus 3 and even last year’s Samsung flagship the Galaxy S6 Edge.

Honor already shifted 280,000 units in the first four hours of availability in China, but it has bigger competitors to square up against in the US and Europe when it launches the phone on September 9th.

You can watch the full unboxing of the Honor 8, here:

Read next: Honor 8 in a nutshell: UK price, release date, specs and more


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