In San Francisco, Honor has launched the Honor 8 for the US market. The handset was first unveiled in China a little over a month ago. The device mirrors the same dual-12MP camera setup first introduced with the Huawei P9.

The Honor 5X marked the Chinese maker’s first entry into the US market back in February targeted at consumers who prefer value over flashy and overpriced hardware. Honor continues to cater to the value segment in the US by offering the Honor 8. A decently priced handset with a large set of flagship features.

The Honor 8 features a 5.2 inch 1080p screen with a « double glass » display. Powered by the same CPU as the Huawei Mate 8, the Honor 8 will pack a fast and efficient HiSilicon Kirin 950 processor. The Honor 8 is expandable up to 128GB of storage via microSD card and comes in 32GB and 64GB configuration. The microSD card tray also houses a second nanoSIM, so you’ll have to choose between using two lines and using a single line with expanded storage.

The design of the Honor 8 is reminiscent of the Galaxy S6 era, that which involves beautiful phones, crafted from mostly reflective glass except for the screen. The Honor 8 is no exception, it reflects light so gracefully, and it would be an injustice to not see the phone in person.

Unboxing and hardware

The Honor 8’s packaging alone is representative of Honor’s departure from more industrial metal builds towards a beautifully crafted glass construction. The packaging is unlike any that I’ve seen before. Rather than opening the box and seeing the phone sitting right on top, it has been inserted into the middle of the box. So let’s slide it out and see what’s inside.

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Honor 8 unboxing - Honor 8 Hands-on Honor 8 unboxing - Honor 8 Hands-on Honor 8 unboxing - Honor 8 Hands-on Honor 8 unboxing - Honor 8 Hands-on
Honor 8 unboxing

Once you slide the smaller compartmented box out of the larger box, you can empty the rest of it.

Slide out sections - Honor 8 Hands-on Contents of box - Honor 8 Hands-on Quick charger rating - Honor 8 Hands-on
Slide out sections • Contents of box • Quick charger rating

The phone slide out of its compartment and we can finally get our hands on the unit. The Honor 8 will come in 3 different colors for the US: Pearl White, Midnight Black, and Sapphire Blue. We received a Sapphire blue unit.

The Honor 8’s slightly tapered glass slabs help with the ergonomics of the phone. Even though the handset is made of 2.5D glass on the front and the rear, the edges don’t feel sharp at all. Honor’s decision to use a 5.2 inch screen seems backwards, but at the same time, there aren’t many other current smartphones in this price range that offer a 5.2 inch screen (at least in the States). Many phones have been aiming for 5.5 inch displays while many still may prefer a size around a more comfortable 5.2 inch screen.

Honor 8 in the hand: Left - Honor 8 Hands-on Honor 8 in the hand: Top - Honor 8 Hands-on Honor 8 in the hand: Front - Honor 8 Hands-on Honor 8 in the hand: Bottom - Honor 8 Hands-on
Honor 8 in the hand: Left • Top • Front • Bottom

The left side of the phone houses a hybrid-SIM tray which can accept either: two nanoSIMs, or a nanoSIM and microSD card. The right side has the power and volume rocker keys. The bottom side features the loudspeaker (with speaker holes reminiscent of the iPhone) and mic for phonecalls. Next to that is the USB-C port, and opposite the speaker is the 3.5mm headphone jack.

The top of the device brings an IR blaster, an underrated feature which a few other OEMs seemed to have forgotten about.

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Right side - Honor 8 Hands-on Dual cameras and fingerprint setup - Honor 8 Hands-on
Right side • Dual cameras and fingerprint setup

Bringing it around to the back, there’s a bunch going on. We’ll start with the camera, the same dual-12MP camera setup that is found on the Huawei P9 has made its way to the Honor 8. There’s a laser focus sensor which combines with the dual-focus system that the Honor 8 has. The company says the dual cameras can focus on objects like two human eyes focus on a subject. There’s also a dual-tone LED flash. It’s also worth noting that the camera does not protrude at all, the cameras have been placed behind the rear glass to be perfectly flush with the rest of the body.

Under the camera setup there’s a rear-mounted finger-print scanner which also doubles as a function key to perform general functions or you can use it to instantly launch an app. There are three slots for functions: single press, double press, press and hold.

First impressions

The Honor brand is totally redefining itself with new and welcome design changes. Although, the Honor 8 could benefit from a slightly more aggressive price, say $350 for 32GB or $400 for the 64GB. Granted, that’s the currently net price if you decide to preorder the device.

Yeah, the Honor 8 is quite reminiscent of the Galaxy S6’s design when it was first launched. Regardless, it is a beautiful device which reflects light like crazy. Under the correct lighting, the Honor 8 shines beautifully and photos don’t do it justice.

Honor 8 Hands-on

The Honor 8 is now open for pre-orders in the US at Amazon, Best Buy, B&H, Newegg, and HiHonor’s own online store. Those who pre-order the Honor 8 from participating retailers will receive a $50 rebate in the form of a gift card.

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We are excited to see Honor’s future in the US. The Honor 5X did quite well with its flagship features in a $200 smartphone. Based on the price-point alone, we can’t predict the Honor 8 will have similar success to the Honor 5X, but we are excited to review the phone and see what this baby can do.