Huawei Honor 8 Review: A Stylish, Affordable Android Smartphone

Honor 8 Design and Build Quality

Before we go any further, it is imperative that we mention you should GET A CASE if buying this phone. Without one, the Honor 8 is going to dishonor your dexterity by squirting out of your hand at some point, and then do it again and again until you either break it or break down and buy a protective cover. Huawei is running a promotion on its website where it will include a clear TPU case (and hybrid earphones) for no extra cost and you should use it. More on this in a moment.

Huawei Honor 8 Main

We see some of you out there with long faces lamenting the 5.2-inch display with just a 1080p resolution. We understand why. It's difficult to get all that psyched about a 1080p screen when phones with much higher resolutions are shipping. Fair enough. But to Huawei's credit, the Honor 8 isn't toting a crummy panel that saves the company a few bucks. The display on the Honor 8 is a high quality one that boasts 96 percent coverage of the NTSC color space. It's actually a really nice looking screen with accurate color reproduction and it can get pretty bright, too.

The panel also makes efficient use of the available real estate. Huawei isn't advertising the Honor 8 as having an edge-to-edge display, though it does promote an "ultra-narrow bezel" on both sides. That's a fair assessment, and according to Huawei, the almost borderless design somehow makes for a stronger body. There's probably some kind of engineering explanation behind that claim, but since none of us build or design smartphones, we'll have to take Huawei's word for it. We can say it feels solid, though.

There aren't any physical buttons on the front of the Honor 8, not even a home button—Huawei replaced it with a fingerprint sensor on the back of the phone. Of course, there are the standard touch-sensitive controls that appear when the display is active.

Huawei Honor 8 Back

While difficult to fully capture in photos, the Honor 8 has one of the most brilliant bodies we've ever seen. Premium built smartphones aren't exactly rare, but what separates this one from the competition is the glass back's 15-layer construction. It catches light, which then bounces around all those layers to ultimately reflect an assortment of different patterns. The effect is absolutely gorgeous and really has to be seen in person to be appreciated. Having said that, we've only examined the Sapphire Blue model—we don't know if the Pearl White and Midnight Black bodies would look as slick.

The back is also where the aforementioned fingerprint sensor sits. Huawei claims you can unlock the Honor 8 in just 0.4 seconds. Not only that, but it continues to learn your fingerprint after you've set it up so that it can improve recognition over time. We didn't have any issue getting it to consistently recognize our fingerprint from the get-go, and while we didn't measure the precise time it takes to unlock, it felt virtually instantaneous to us.

 Huawei Honor 8 Fingerprint Sensor

Here is a closer look at the fingerprint sensor and 12-megapixel dual-lens camera, the latter of which sits behind the glass back to maintain a smooth (and slippery) finish. The only part that isn't covered by the glass backing is the LED—it sits exposed with a metallic border that you can feel if you run your finger across it.

The cool thing about the fingerprint scanner is that it does more than unlock the phone and verify your identity for mobile payment systems using NFC. It also serves as a programmable button, or "Smart key" as Huawei calls it. The default setting is to turn on the LED flashlight when pressing the button, and that sure beats having to hunt down a shortcut. You can also program functions for double presses and long presses, the defaults of which are to take a screen shot and summon Google search.

We have to admit, having the fingerprint sensor on the back feels natural, especially if you take advantage of frequently used shortcuts. Not everyone will agree though, as it comes down to personal preference.

Huawei Honor 8 Side Huawei Honor 8 Bottom

Huawei didn't go wild with any design curveballs, choosing instead to stick with the tried and true template of using rounded edges, a common trait among today's smartphones. To add a bit of style, chamfered edges border the front and back of the phone.

There are just a few areas of note on the sides of the Honor 8. A physical volume rocker sits on the right side, and below that is the power button. Over on the left is the SIM card/microSD combo slot, and the bottom is home to a 3.5mm headphone jack, USB Type-C port, and speaker grill.

Huawei Honor 8 Backside

Here's one more look at the back of the Honor 8 before we move on, taken with indoor lighting. She's gorgeous, isn't she?

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