[Review] Honor 8X – To the power of eight

[Review] Honor 8X – To the power of eight

The honor 8X is the latest phablet-sized offering from the budget-oriented brand that attempts to integrate a variety of top-shelf features common to flagship-class phones such as a large display, a dual camera and a curved design hewn from glass and metal while keeping the price low. When held, the phone felt premium indeed with slim build and an even heft that makes it easy to wield one-handed.

Externally, the honor 8X strikes a very impressive look with a design that harkens back to high-tier phones. Popping the honor 8X out of the box reveals a mirrored glass and metal chassis with rounded sides, a beautifully finished glass backplate and a tall notched 6.5-inch IPS LCD display. In keeping with contemporary design, the front of the phone is taken up almost in its entirety by the display bar the aforementioned notch on account of exceptionally slim side bezels. There’s nary a front button either with only a notch at the top that holds a 16-MP f/2.0 selfie camera up front.

The right side hosts a power button and a volume rocker while the left is bare, save for the addition of a triple card slot that lets you add two SIM cards and a microSD card at the same time to the honor 8X.

On the base of the phone are a subtle pair of antenna bands flanking an increasingly quaint micro USB port to charge the phone, a 3.5mm audio jack and a set of grilles for the sole mono speaker on the phone.

Honor’s philosophy to phone design is epitomised on the backplate, which looks exceptionally classy indeed with a mirrored finish that would not be out of place on a phone thrice its price tag. Breaking up the expanse of mirrored glass is a rounded fingerprint reader and a slightly raised vertically aligned dual camera array in the upper left quadrant of the phone. There are some subtle improvements as the backplate has better resistance to fingerprints than prior models though it will still smudge if you have greasy fingers.

Unfortunately, there’s a dearth of goodies out of the box as it only has a charging plug and the provided cable with nary a phone case or a pair of headphones. There is, however a minor concession in that they’ve thoughtfully applied a screen protector to the display out of the box.

honor 8x bottom detail
Taken as a whole, the honor 8X is a beautifully made phone with aesthetics that can make much pricier phones from other competitors in the market at a third of the price though the concessions to cost are more visible upon closer inspection such as the use of a microUSB port as opposed to a newer USB Type C port and other concessions in terms of the hardware under the hood. They are, fortunately, irrelevant seeing the price tag of the phone and its intended target market.

Honor 8X performance and camera

The honor 8X that we had the privilege of testing bore the model designation JSN-L22. It can be inferred that other variations exist with more storage, more RAM or with slightly different firmware in other regions.

The biggest draw to the honor 8x is its large display which consists of a notched 6.5-inch touchscreen with 2,340 x 1080 pixel resolution and a generous 19.5:9 aspect ratio. If the notch proves to be irksome, it can optionally be removed via the settings so that you can admire a more proper rectangular-shaped display.

In terms of specifications, it runs Android Oreo 8.1 overlaid with their EMUI 8.2 user interface on a midrange Kirin 710 octacore processor paired up with 4GB RAM and with 128GB of expandable storage. The Kirin 710 processor is built on a quartet of Cortex A73 processors running at 2.2GHz paired up with a quartet of Cortex A53 1.7GHz processors and while it isn’t exactly the fastest performer on the block, it’s more than a capable contender for most mainstream tasks along with a modicum of light gaming too, comparing favourably with midrange phone processors like the Snapdragon 600 series processors and somewhat behind the somewhat dated but still powerful Kirin 970.

This puts it in the same league as other value-oriented workhorses like the Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1 and the Zenfone 5 that we tested awhile back in terms of general performance. Where it edges out is its markedly larger yet still vibrant display.

Oddly enough, our test unit refused to allow most benchmarks to run much less even be installed. We did manage to install 3D Mark and yielded a Sling Shot Extreme OpenGL ES 3.1 score of 959 and a Sling Shot Extreme – Vulkan score of 1,137 though the likes of Antutu 3D and even GeekBench refused to install.

Under practical field conditions, It ran in a smooth fashion when undertaking most tasks though you’ll need a fair bit of housekeeping at first to deal with the bloatware preinstalled on the phone. Some additional features are immensely helpful like their Ride Mode that turns off calls while you’re on a bike to enhance safety but others like a Booking.com shortcut and a bizarre ‘Party Mode’ to pair up and play the same track with other similarly branded phones are situational at best.

Browser windows opened up swiftly and the honor 8X ran most things in a suitably swift fashion. Games like PUBG ran at medium settings and especially benefited from the large display. Having a touchscreen this large also makes the honor 8X ideal for reading e-books and enjoying movies, both of which were handled in a very competent fashion as the panel is bright and sharp with good colour rendition if somewhat on the vivid side though this can be further tweaked in settings to taste.

Legibility under sunlight was fair, more so for the low price of entry. On the performance front, the honor 8X offers seriously good value with its large display and fair hardware that give it a slight edge even its sub-RM1,000 compatriots.

honor 8x rear camera

The rear of the honor 8X comes with a dual camera array with a primary 20-MP f/2.0 with phase detection autofocus paired up with a secondary 2-MP sensor for better bokeh shots. This is further complemented by an AI mode that helps to select the appropriate settings based on the subject as well as to give it some extra aesthetic zing by selectively ramping up saturation on certain hues in the spectrum.

On offer are a range of alternate modes including a Pro mode, a HDR mode and a Night mode that stacks several shots together to create a crisper, better detailed composite shot. In general, daylight shots are good for what you pay for though you’ll need a steady hand for best results. The AI mode offers mixed outcomes and sometimes colours are blown out to unnatural levels though it’s not a major complication as you can still disable AI mode, take the shot and clean it up later with an image editor.

Low light shots in auto mode are middling at best though Night mode is capable of delivering some seriously good shots with the caveat that your subjects have to remain stationary for a good five or so seconds while it does its work. This lends it to better use taking low light scenery snaps more than portraiture.

The front of the honor 8X sports a 16-MP f/2.0 camera which also has a beautification mode that allows you to dynamically improve aesthetically challenged mugs by several notches. It lacks the unique portrait lighting modes like that seen on some comp

eting phones and results aren’t gender optimised either so male subjects can end up looking somewhat unusual if beautification is dialled to maximum.

honor 8X with auto mode and AI on

Honor 8X rear camera with night mode on

The honor 8X with Night Mode on

Honor 8X auto mode

The honor 8X with auto mode under low light levels

The honor 8X with AI on

The honor 8X on auto mode with AI on

The honor 8X on auto mode with AI on

 

Honor 8X price, battery life and conclusion

The honor 8X has a 3,750mAh battery charged via a microUSB port at the base of the phone. Battery endurance is fair but unexceptional with enough juice to last well till sundown with an average workload. We left the wifi on all day along with the GPS, used the front and rear cameras liberally and also browsed the web and checked out several YouTube videos and needed a top-up sometime in the late evening. If you’re gaming and keeping the screen on with maxed out brightness, you’ll likely enjoy less endurance.

As it stands, the honor 8X is a phablet that offers immense value for what you pay for. There are some modest but minor concessions to keep the price under RM1,000 like a mono speaker, the retention of a micro USB port and the lack of OIS but what the honor 8X has to offer exceeds these minor niggles.

For your money, you’re getting one the largest displays in its class and one that’s both crisp, vibrant and in 2,240 x 1,080 pixel resolution to boot. Add in a very reasonable array of hardware capable of handling most day to day tasks plus a decent rear camera and you have one of the best sub-RM1,000 that money can buy in Malaysia.

What we liked Large display for price of entry, decent performance, great looking design
What we didn’t Still uses a microUSB port, mono speaker
We say The honor 8X represents immense bang for the buck with one of the largest, crispest screens in its price category melded to a decent set of hardware ensconced in a classy looking design.

Specifications
Price RM949
Display 6.5-inch IPS LCD, 2,240 x 1080 pixels
Processor Kirin 710 octacore processor
OS Android 8.1
Memory 4GB RAM/128GB + microSD card
Camera 20-MP w/ F/1.8 + 2-MP & LED flash (rear) / 16-MP w/ F/2.0
Battery 3,750mAh
Size/Weight 160.4 x 76.6 x 7.8 mm / 175g
*Review unit courtesy of honor Malaysia

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