Honor, the sub-brand of Huawei has recently launched the Honor 8X smartphone in India as a successor to the much popular Honor 7X. Honor's 'X' series of smartphones have been trendsetters in the industry. To recall, the Honor 5X introduced the metal body to mid-range smartphones, while the Honor 6X made the dual rear cameras a thing in the sub-Rs 15,000 price point. Last year's Honor 7X was the first handset to launch with an 18:9 display under Rs 15,000, which again followed by several manufacturers. With the Honor 8X, the company is going all guns blazing as the phone sports premium glass sandwich design, powerful processor and also has a large battery this time around.
Talking about the specifications of the Honor 8X, it flaunts a 6.5-inch Full HD+ panel on the front with a resolution of 1080x2340 pixels and 19.5:9 aspect ratio. The phone has a notch on top of the display which will be a common feature with all the Honor phones releasing in the future. Internally, it has the latest HiSilicon Kirin 710 chipset, clubbed with 4GB/6GB of RAM and 64GB/128GB of internal storage. The phone has a dedicated microSD card slot for storage expansion. As for the cameras, we get a 20MP primary sensor on the rear with a f/1.8 aperture paired with a 2MP depth sensor; Frontal, Honor has added a 16MP camera. The phone runs Android 8.1 Oreo-based EMUI 8.2 on top. Lastly, it's armed with a 3750mAh battery.
On paper, the Honor 8X seems like a solid mid-range offering from the company, but how does the device perform in real life? Read on to know more.
Honor 8X Review: Design and Display
Design wise, the Honor 8X is a stunner; The phone has a two-tone glass back and comes in three colour options- Blue, Red and Black with the Red one being my personal favourite. It kind of reminds me the Lenovo Vibe Shot which also featured a two-tone design on the back. But the Vibe Shot was priced on the higher side while the Honor 8X bears a mid-range tag. Time by time, Honor is proving that mid-range smartphones can also be built with a flagship-grade design.
There's a metal frame which sandwiches the front and back glass panels. Despite sporting a massive battery, the Honor 8X weighs 175 grams and measures 7.8mm. Honor has managed to cram in a large battery because it has a 6.5-inch big display on the front. Talking about the in-hand feel, the Honor 8X blows away the competition with ease- there's isn't a single phone under Rs 15,000 which offers such superior build quality and courtesy of Honor we might see brands focusing on design aspect in 2019.
Of course, the presence of glass back means the phone is slippery, but thankfully, Honor is bundling a clear TPU case inside the retail box which helps in adding more grip. Notably, Honor did not mention any protective layer used on the rear glass, so I would suggest making use of the TPU case.
Display wise, the Honor 8X rocks a 6.5-inch Full HD+ panel on the front which bears a resolution of 1080 x 2340 pixels. Thanks to the notch on top, Honor has achieved an insane screen-to-body ratio of 91.3%. The phone has a chin, although a very small one- it's smaller than the chin we saw on the OnePlus 6 and way smaller than the one on Redmi Note 5 Pro or Realme 2 Pro or Mi A2. The panel quality itself is really good, no complaints from my end; It gets very bright in sunlight conditions making up for an excellent reading experience. I won't rate it the best display on any smartphone under Rs 15,000 because the Realme 2 Pro has an equally good screen.
Honor 8X Review: Hardware, Performance and Software
The Honor 8X is powered by the latest HiSilicon Kirin 710 chipset and comes in three variants- 4GB+64GB, 6GB+64GB and 6GB+128GB. It's worth noting that Honor has added a dedicated microSD card on the Honor 8X to pull an advantage over the Redmi Note 5 Pro and Mi A2. For the unaware, the Kirin 710 chipset is Huawei's answer to Qualcomm's Snapdragon 636 and Snapdragon 660 chipsets. Although the Kirin 710 is a decent performer, it lags behind the competition in terms of gaming.
Day-to-day tasks on the Honor 8X are handled exceptionally well by the Kirin 710 SoC, but when you fire up the intensive games such as PUBG Mobile or Asphalt 9, it will start showing some lags. The gameplay was smooth for the most part and some credit here goes to GPU Turbo technology as well, but in some areas, the phone struggles.
For example, I play the PUBG Mobile a lot. First thing, the game isn't optimised yet for the Honor 8X, so you've to deal with the notch hiding some options of the game. The game ran well in medium settings, but the problem here is force closing. Yes, you heard it right. I faced the force close issue every single time I played PUBG Mobile on the Honor 8X. And the sad part is if you've so many apps open in the background, the game keeps on force closing. Hopefully, this an incompatibility issue with the smartphone itself and gets fixed with a future update. Asphalt 9 also ran well, but again, there are some force close issues.
Battery wise, the Honor 8X has a 3750mAh unit underneath which delivers more than a day's worth of battery life on a single charge. There's a 10W charger inside the retail box and it can be charged via the Micro USB port present at the bottom. With 100% charge, I was able to clock five hours of screen-on time on 4G, while on Wi-Fi, it was over seven hours, which isn't bad at all. For the unaware, the Kirin 710 is built on the 12nm process which could be the reason for Honor 8X's good battery life.
The loudspeaker on the Honor 8X is a bottom firing one and it gets the job done, but it doesn't get as loud as the speaker present on the Redmi Note 5 Pro. The Honor 8X has Dual 4G support which means you can use two Jio 4G SIM cards at once. The phone has Wi-Fi 5 GHz band support- a nice little addition. Call quality is fine and the phone has only Jio VoLTE support, no VoLTE support on Airtel and Vodafone Idea networks at the moment. But Honor stands first in adding VoLTE support, so expect the support being added via an OTA update very soon.
The phone runs on Android 8.1 Oreo-based EMUI 8.2 which is a heavily skinned version of Android and offers a plethora of features. Am not a huge fan of EMUI, but Honor has done a good job in optimising the software on Honor 8X. I did not see any major glitches on the software front, which is a good thing to see as new smartphones often come with various software bugs. It's good to see Honor addressing the issues before launching the phone itself.
Honor 8X Review: Cameras
Moving onto the last category, the Honor 8X sports dual cameras on the back and a single camera on the front. A 20MP shooter with f/1.8 aperture and PDAF works in tandem with a 2MP depth sensor. On the front side, it has a 16MP shooter. The Honor 8X is being marketed by Honor as Honor 8X (AI) because it packs in a slew of Artificial Intelligence-based camera features. For starters, the camera app offers an AI mode which boosts the colours in images just to appeal human eyes. But am not a fan of this AI mode as it gets aggressive in some situations and makes the image unrecognisable. For example, take a look at the images below as the AI shot has completed changed the colours of the building to make it appealing.
There's other usual stuff here- portrait mode and Honor's Aperture mode which lets you adjust the bokeh effect while capturing the image. The AI-less images came out pretty well- close to accurate colours, decent dynamic range and the HDR mode helps in capturing more details.
One thing where the Honor 8X pips other smartphones in its price range is slow-motion video recording. As I mentioned at the start, Honor's X series of phones have been trendsetters in the last couple of years, and this year, we might see Honor forcing other brands to offer slow-motion video recording with devices under Rs 15,000. The Honor 8X is capable of recording slo-mo videos at 480fps, although the video duration is capped to 10 seconds, it's present nonetheless. Like the Redmi Note 5 Pro, the Honor 8X is not capable of recording 4K videos, so you've to settle down with 1080p videos at 60fps. Thankfully, there's support for AIS (Automatic Image Stabilisation)- a slightly advanced version of EIS.
Honor 8X Review: Conclusion
Overall, the Honor 8X is yet another solid offering from the company. Generally, Honor smartphones are overshadowed by Xiaomi's Redmi range, but that has changed in the last one year or so. The Honor 9 Lite was an instant success for the brand as it's the only phone under its portfolio to have a million users. With the Honor 8X, the company has a winner on its hands; It's the best looking phone under Rs 20,000 with no competition whatsoever, offers exceptional day-to-day performance, packs capable cameras and delivers a full day worth of battery.
What would you expect from a smartphone priced under Rs 15,000? Well, Honor has covered us in almost every aspect. The phone has some downsides too- Micro USB port in 2018, can't handle intensive games (we can't blame the phone as the weak GPU is the culprit here) and the glass build is fragile.
But if you're in the market for a good-looking smartphone, then your de-facto option should be the Honor 8X. The phone is available for purchase on Amazon India. The price of the base variant with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage is Rs 14,999. The 6GB+64GB storage option can be purchased for Rs 1,6999, while the premium variant with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of onboard storage will be available for Rs 18,999.