The 6.5in Honor 8X is a big phone at a low price and it's actually pretty darned good, too
- Impressive performance
- Full HD+ display
- Good battery life
- Mediocre camera quality
- Design attracts fingerprints
In a world where the 6.5in iPhone Xs Max starts at £1,099 and the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 will set you back £899, you could be forgiven for thinking that plus-sized smartphones are only for the super rich, or those prepared to sell a kidney. Thankfully, there are a few companies such as Chinese manufacturer Honor, that aim to bring flagship-like performance to their large phones, but for a fraction of the price.
Honor 8X review: What you need to know
The Honor 8X is a budget smartphone that sports a 6.5in Full HD+ notched display. It features dual rear cameras, houses the impressive Kirin 710 octa-core processor and has a large 3,750mAh battery for long-lasting action.
As with Honor’s other devices, the 8X has the same signature Blue colour, but for the first time comes with a two-toned design.
Honor 8X review: Price and competition
The Honor 8X costs £230, which at the time of writing puts it up some tough competition. Last year’s model, the Honor 7X costs £180 – it has a lower specced processor, cameras and a smaller Full HD+ display.
Sticking with the brand, there’s the Honor 9 Lite, too. This marvel costs just £140, and features a dual-front facing camera; though, again it has the same shortfalls as the Honor 7X.
It’s also worth considering the impressive Honor Play, which has a slightly smaller display, an even faster and more capable Kirin 970 processor and a similar camera configuration to the 8X. It is, however, more expensive at £280.
Moving away from Honor’s menagerie of smartphones, its chief competitor Motorola has a number of attractive handsets. The Moto G6 Play at £150 and the Moto G6 at £220, both offer incredible value for money, particularly with their camera performance, which punch well above their low prices. These, however, don’t have the large 6.5in display; instead you have a 720p and 1080p 5.7in display, respectively.
Honor 8X review: Design and features
Honor maintains a beautiful design throughout its smartphone range, and the Honor 8X is no exception. Available in Black or Blue, for the first time the company has adopted an 80/20 split in its design, with two-tone colour. It looks good, but the glass attracts a lot of fingerprints. Worse, it’s the first time I’ve found a phone that slides like a bar of soap on my desk. I’d advise putting on the bundled silicone case on quickly to avoid it slipping out of your hands.
The phone is definitely a plus-sized beast: it’s 160.4mm tall, 76.6mm wide and 7.8mm thick. Despite its large size and the big non-removable 3,750mAh battery that’s housed inside its shell, the phone only weighs 175g.
Around the back of the phone, you’ll find protruding dual-lens cameras, and a fingerprint sensor. The positioning of the sensor could have been a little lower, as I often found myself hopelessly searching for it when trying to unlock the phone.
For ports, Honor opts for a 3.5mm jack and a microUSB port. It’s a shame that’s not USB-C port, as competitors such as Motorola opt for the more modern port on the Moto G6, which enables fast-charging.
As for storage, there’s a useful 3-in-1 tray that allows you to simultaneously expand the 64GB internal storage to 400GB and use a second SIM card, too.
Honor 8X review: Display
The Honor 8X’s large 6.5in IPS display runs at a resolution of 1,080 x 2,340 (FHD+), which results in a 396 ppi density. Its notched display means the phone has an aspect ratio of 19.5:9 – you can visually hide the notch through the phone’s display settings, which is a nice touch as the notifications still appear there, as if they’re part of the bezel.
With a 91.6% sRGB gamut coverage and a contrast ratio of 1273:1, the phone’s display is vivid, full of colour, and thanks to the use of an IPS panel, there’s no visible colour shift when viewing the phone at extreme angles. At a peak brightness of 400cd/m², this isn’t the most blinding smartphone display around, though, which means you may struggle to read your emails on particularly sunny days.
Neither is it the most colour accurate display; with an average Delta E of 4.17 and a maximum of 12.62, it’s less accurate than the Moto G6 Play, which achieves an average Delta E of 2.4 and a maximum of 6.82. Neither display is perfect, but they’re both acceptable.
Honor 8X review: Performance
A 2.2GHz octa-core Kirin 710 processor and 4GB of RAM are housed inside, and the inclusion of a mid/high-tier processor is impressive at this price point. As you’ll see from the table below, it far outclasses anything in its field and even comes close to matching the ultra-fast Kirin 970 housed inside the Honor Play.
^ Honor 8X Geekbench 4 benchmark
The same couldn’t be said about its gaming performance, sadly, although it’s a cut above the rest of its sub-£250 compatriots. Here, the Honor Play’s Kirin 970 far outclasses anything around it. In real-world scenarios, you’ll be fine playing PUBG, but don’t expect the smoothness that you’d achieve by getting a more capable phone.
^ Honor 8X GFXBench benchmark
At 12hrs 56mins in the Expert Reviews video rundown benchmark, its 3,750mAh battery performs admirably; it’s on-par with the Honor Play, completely outlasts its predecessor and the Honor 9 Lite, and lasts a little longer than the Motorola Moto G6.
^ Honor 8X battery life
As for software, Honor uses an Android overlay called EMUI. It’s not as nice and clean as a fresh install of Android 8 Oreo, but I don’t have any complaints with the user interface. The phone does, however, come with a set of apps (such as games) pre-installed, which is a little presumptuous of Honor, though these can be removed.
Honor 8X review: Camera
Camera wise, around the back, the Honor 8X has dual f/1.8 20- and 2-megapixel rear-facing cameras, the latter serves as a depth sensor. In my tests, I found the results distinctly average.
Under bright ambient light conditions, the rear sensors capture just about enough light, but fail to bring out finer details. In the image below, taken without HDR there’s missing outlines around the brown building that’s sticking out in the background. By comparison, Motorola’s Moto G6 produces sublime photography, giving phone cameras that cost near double the price a run for their money.
^ Honor 8X HDR disabled
Turn on HDR and there’s barely any difference, with only marginally more brightness uniformity across the image. Again, rival manufacturers do a far better job in highlighting detail with HDR enabled.
^ Honor 8X HDR enabled
It’s also worth pointing out that toggling the HDR option on the Honor 8X is a bit of a faff. You need to go into the ‘More’ tab in order to enable it, whereas most manufacturers have it integrated within the camera’s main interface, which makes it easier to toggle on or off.
^ Honor 8X camera app
As for AI mode, I found the results to oversaturate the image, making the scene look artificial. Still, if you’re taking pictures of scenery it might be good for sharing on the Gram.
^ Honor 8X AI mode
The Honor 8X has a dedicated Night mode, which aims to reduce image noise and improve low light shots. Unfortunately, in my tests I found the results rather disappointing – in the image below that’s been cropped by around 250% you’ll see there is plenty of image noise to the right of the plant vase and a lot of shadows around the fake plant.
^ Honor 8X in low light with Night mode
I’d argue that without Night mode enabled, results are a little better – although there’s still image noise and slightly blurry text behind the teddy bear.
^ Honor 8X in low light
Finally, onto the front-facing camera. Honor has stuck a 16-megapixel lens that has an aperture of f/2.0. The camera captures plenty of detail and produces vibrant shots.
^ Honor 8X selfie
Still, the Honor 8X isn’t as good as the dual-camera set up found on the Honor 9 Lite, particularly if you use portrait mode. Here, the 8X struggles with depth, and from the image below you’ll see that the camera’s software has even cropped a part of my cheek.
^ Honor 8X selfie in portrait mode
Honor 8X review: Verdict
On the whole, the Honor 8X is a great budget device – especially so as it manages to pack in a large 6.5in Full HD+ display. It has an impressive battery life, a fantastic design, and features a fast Kirin 710 processor with 4GB of RAM that makes it one of the fastest phones under £250.
I’d have just wished the Chinese manufacturer had improved the quality of the front- and rear-facing cameras; it simply can’t compete with the likes of the Motorola Moto G6, G6 Play or the front-facing performance of the Honor 9 Lite. So, if you’re big on photography or selfies, I’d pick one of the other devices, instead.
For the above reasons, the phone receives the Expert Reviews Recommended award, but due to its camera limitations misses out on the Best Buy award; close but no cigar.
|Octa-core 2.2GHz Kirin 710
|1,080 x 2,340
|Memory card slot (supplied)
|160.4 x 76.6 x 7.8mm
|1 year RTB
|Price SIM-free (inc VAT)