The Honor 8 launches in the US with Kirin 950 SoC, 4GB RAM, and dual rear cameras for $399

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2016 could well go down as the year that Huawei, and it’s budget e-brand, Honor, become household names in the west. With last year’s Nexus 6P putting Huawei’s name down as a serious player in the world’s smartphone market, the subsequent launch of the Honor 5X in the US and Europe at the turn of the year, followed by the launch of the Huawei P9 in Europe, and today’s splash down of the Honor 8 in the US, it seems that the trend will continue. It’s great that the Honor 8 is coming to the US after its initial launch in China last month, but what does it bring to the table? Join us after the break to find out.

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You wouldn’t be wrong in thinking that the Honor 8 shares a lot of DNA with the Huawei P9, it’s the same size, almost the same weight, carries many of the same components and even sports the same Lecia-certified dual camera setup. But there are a few subtle differences, one of which is that instead of the P9’s full metal body, the Honor 8 uses glass and metal construction materials, with a 2.5D glass panel present front and rear. Weighing in at 153 grams, the Honor 8 has dimensions of 145.5 x 71 x 7.45mm.

The Honor 8 will be available to purchase in the US from early September in two variants; the 32GB model carries a $399 tag, and the 64GB version will sell for $449.  The display itself is the same 5.2-inch IPS display seen on the P9 that showed vibrant colors and had great viewing angles.

This is where the Honor 8 strays a little from the Huawei P9’s underpinnings. Where the P9 is powered by Huawei’s own HiSilicon 955 octa-core processor, the Honor 8 makes do with the slightly slower 950 chip. It shouldn’t make too much of a difference in the performance stakes, with Huawei choosing to bolster performance by increasing the RAM to 4GB, instead of 3GB. There’s MicroSD card support present, so it’s possible to add further storage if necessary. The handset takes both a nano- and a micro-SIM card, offering dual-SIM connectivity.

There’s the same dual 12MP camera setup (one color (RGB), one monochrome) as the P9 on the rear panel, along with dual-LED flash and Hybrid Focus. Both sensors have f/2.2 apertures and 1.25µm pixel size. If my experience with the P9 is anything to go by, it should be as easy as pie to create images with the bokeh effect, with the camera app offering a host of useful features. On the front, there’s an 8MP camera on duty for those selfie pics.

Also on the rear is the ubiquitous fingerprint scanner that we would expect to see on a Huawei or Honor handset. Historically, Huawei’s fingerprint scanners have been well received, proving to be both super accurate and super fast on both the P9 and the Honor 5X. As with the 5X, the Honor 8’s scanner boasts added functionality, with the user being able to quick launch favorite apps, open the camera app, scroll through images on the gallery app, or even take a screenshot. Naturally, it also serves to unlock the phone as well.

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As with the Honor 5X and the P9, there is a non-removable 3,000mAh battery hidden within the Honor 8. The USB Type-C charging port is next to the 3.5mm audio jack on the bottom of the handset. Charging for just 30mins on a USB Type-C charger is said to bring the battery up to 50%.

For the moment, the Honor 8 is running Huawei’s EMUI 4.1 software on top of Android 6.0 Marshmallow. If it isn’t to your taste, don’t forget, you can always change the launcher to something else. As for updates, if the Android 7.0 Nougat beta firmware for the P9 is anything to go by, the next iteration of EMUI is more coherent, and much less garish, with the option of an app drawer featured as an option. So that’s something to look forward to.

Something to consider if you are on the fence is that Honor is offering a service similar to HTC’s UH-OH promotion. This means you can register your Honor 8 on Honor’s website and get a one-off repair for accidental damage to either the screen or the glass back panel, free of charge for a limited period.

So, the Honor 8 launches in the US in early September, and can be had in Pearl White or Midnight Black, with Best Buy offering a Sapphire Blue option exclusively for 2 months. Pre-orders are live, and you can register at Best Buy, Amazon, Newegg, B&H Photo Video, or from HiHonor.com. If you place an order before August 31st, you can snag a $50 gift card to sweeten the deal.

What are your thoughts about the Honor 8? Is the $399 price tag low enough to draw your attention away from the OnePlus 3 and the Axon 7? One thing for sure is that the Honor 8 looks gorgeous in Sapphire Blue. Another is that because it borrows so much from the P9, the Honor 8 has a solid base. The only question point for me would be that price. At $299 or even $350, I think the Honor 8 could take the US by storm. At $400 for the 32GB model, though, it’s running into some stiff competition.

The Honor 8 launches in Europe next week, and it will be interesting to see how aggressively it is priced. We’ll be there providing coverage of the event in Paris on August 24th, so stay tuned.


About the Author: Peter Holden

He's been an Android fan ever since owning an HTC Hero, with the Dell Streak being his first phablet. He currently carries a Pixel 2 XL, Huawei P20 Pro, and a Huawei MediaPad M5 (8.4) around in his pockets. When not immersed in the world of Android and gadgets, he's an avid sports fan, and like all South Africans, he loves a good Braai (BBQ).