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It’s been a long year. So long, in fact, that I can barely recall the smartphones I’ve actually used.
For the most part, devices have been dominated by notches, tall screens, and a focus on AI in some capacity. And my latest review subject happens to tick all three boxes.
The Honor 8X, for all intents and purposes, is what you get if you made a smartphone in 2018 almost entirely to trend, with a few added bonuses and novelties.
Speaking of which, after using the phone for 48 hours, here are some of the things that I immediately noticed about the Honor 8X.
- This phone is pretty darn beautiful, thanks to the two-tone sheen on its rear, and the virtual lack of visible bezels up front.
- I should mention there’s a red version of this phone. It’s not available in SA (yet), but it’s gorgeous.
- It’s 6.5 inches from corner to corner, but is somehow a smaller, lighter package than the 6.4 inch Galaxy Note 9 and Mate 20 Pro.
- For such a large phone, it’s surprisingly light and easy to handle, even with a transparent case.
- It feels a lot more premium and well-built than its price tag would suggest.
- It has a headphone jack. For someone who uses both Bluetooth and wired headphones, I can’t explain how important a headphone jack — when Bluetooth signal is bad, or when your headphones’ battery dies — really is.
- Battery drain is surprisingly good with the initial set of apps installed, with AccuBattery reporting an average drain of around 300mA while in use. Not bad for a phone with a huge LCD screen and autobrightness enabled.
- Dual SIM.
- The UI is strangely hitchy at the best of times, momentarily pausing while browsing app lists or switching apps, this with the stock launcher and Nova launcher. I can’t recall these burps on the Mate 20 Pro. Perhaps it’s the Kirin 710?
- The fingerprint reader could be better, but it could be worse. It works more often than not, but isn’t as snappy as others in its price range.
- The Honor 8X’s rear cameras offer middling performance indoors. They were slow to focus, while the results weren’t sharp. Further testing — especially using manual mode — is definitely required though.
- Reception — both WiFi and cellular — is really affected when cradling the top of the phone with your left hand. This is something I definitely need to test more acutely.
- It’s running EMUI 8.2, so that means no dark mode. Eye Comfort isn’t what I’d call a fair trade.
- Nearly five months after Google launched Android Pie, and we’re still launching phones with Android 8.1 Oreo. Disappointing.
- The default Honor launcher isn’t esoteric, but it’s by no means intuitive. There’s no option to long-press-to-uninstall apps from the homepage, while swipe gestures to open the app tray are nonexistent. It’s either have all your apps on the home page, or tap a tray button to access them.
- A host of apps just can’t be uninstalled, like Swiftkey. There’s a bit of bloatware apps too lumped in, including Booking.com, and Huawei/Honor’s other apps.
- Unless you use ADB commands, it’s impossible to disable duplicate apps like the Calendar or Music app.
- Why are we still using microUSB on mid-range smartphones in 2018?
Initial impressions are by no means final impressions, so look forward to a more detailed review of the Honor 8X coming to Gearburn in the weeks ahead.
Feature image: Andy Walker/Gearburn