Honor might be seeking to make a big Huawei-sized splash in the premium smartphone market with the Honor Magic 4 Pro (from £950), but the Honor X8 stays true to the brand’s budget heritage.
The Honor X8 is a sleek, balanced smartphone retailing for £200. These are increasingly shark-infested waters, though, with Xiaomi’s Poco and Redmi brands bombarding us with numerous similarly priced (and specced) options in recent years. Oppo, Realme and of course Motorola are also competitive in the field.
So, what does Honor have to offer to the savvy smartphone customer looking to maximize their bangs per buck?
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Honor X8 review: What you need to know
Honor has focused on producing an extremely slim, screen-dominated handset, which marks the X8 out from most of its rivals. It has a large 6.7in 120Hz display, and the screen is surrounded by relatively slim bezels.
With such a slim body, there is only room for a fairly small 4,000mAh battery. This lessens the impact of a slightly weak 22.5W charger bundled into the box. Similarly modest is the Honor X8’s Snapdragon 680 4G processor. As that name suggests, there’s no room for 5G connectivity here – which isn’t always a given at this price, but is sometimes a possibility.
The phone’s quad-camera system, meanwhile, is dominated by a 64MP main sensor, which is accompanied by a 5MP ultra-wide and a pair of 2MP depth and macro assistants.
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Honor X8 review: Price and competition
With a price of £200, the Honor X8 is firmly in the affordable camp, but with sufficient leeway to add one or two eye-catching features.
With this kind of pricing, it’s a direct rival to the likes of the Redmi Note 11 (£200), the Poco M4 Pro (£200), the Moto G50 (£200), and the Oppo A76 (£189).
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Honor X8 review: Design and key features
Unlike many of its rivals, the Honor X8 prioritizes a super-slim, screen-heavy design. With a skinny chassis and even skinnier bezels, there isn’t too much of a frame for that large 6.7in display.
There’s a 93.6% screen-to-body ratio here, which Honor claims to be the best in its class. It certainly looks quite impressive head on, at least for three of its four edges, although a slightly chunkier chin gives the game away that this is a cheaper phone than most.
This is an extremely thin device at just 7.5mm, and it doesn’t weigh all that much either at 177g. Part of that, at least, comes down to the phone’s all-plastic build. The X8 feels a little cheap in the hand, and I wasn’t a fan of the huge greasy fingerprints that I left behind on the slippery rear cover – especially on the black model.
Speaking of which, my time with the Honor X8 was split fairly evenly between the Midnight Black and Ocean Blue models, but there’s also a Titanium Silver option on offer, too.
There’s a responsive fingerprint sensor on the right-hand edge, and Honor has managed to squeeze a 3.5mm headphone jack onto the bottom, right next to the USB-C port and mono speaker. That’s right: no stereo sound, unlike the Poco M4 Pro.
On the software side, Magic UI 4.2 is a fairly charmless Android 11 skin, with gaudy, faintly childish icons. But it’s also reasonably clean and easy to parse. Crucially, Honor has full access to Google Play services, unlike former parent Huawei, so you can access all of the apps that Android has to offer without any restrictions.
Honor X8 review: Display
As already mentioned, the Honor X8 uses a large 6.7in, 2,388 x 1,080 (FHD+) display. It’s only an IPS LCD, however, so it lacks the vibrant colors and deep black of OLED rivals like the Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 or the Poco M4 Pro.
Nor does the X8 trade that cheaper panel technology off with a super-snappy 120Hz refresh rate. You’ll have to make do with a maximum of 90Hz here, although in truth, that’s perfectly sufficient for a smooth navigation experience and it isn’t powerful enough to push games at high frame rates anyway.
With those caveats out of the way, this is a very good example of an LCD panel. It’ll never hit those deep OLED looks, of course, but I recorded a very good sRGB gamut coverage of 95.4% and a total volume of 98.9%, with an excellent Delta E value of 1.11.
As well as being nice and accurate, I recorded the display hitting a respectable maximum measured luminance of 490cd/m2 with auto-brightness deactivated.
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Honor X8 review: Performance and battery life
The Honor X8 might have tried something a little different from its £200 rivals so far, but it offers a very familiar Snapdragon 680 4G processor at its heart, backed by 6GB of RAM. This is the same chip that powers the Xiaomi Redmi Note 11, the Realme 9 4G and many others.
It’s never been a particularly impressive component in my experience, doing just enough to keep the phone moving along in general navigation, and nothing more. Hop between multiple apps and you’ll notice some pauses in the action, but it’s generally up to light everyday tasks.
An average Geekbench 5 single-core score of 376 is pretty meagre, as is a multi-core score of 1,540. The former is a few hundred points short of the Moto G50 with its Snapdragon 480, while the latter is a few hundred points lower than the aforementioned Redmi Note 11, which runs the same chip as the Honor X8.
When it comes to the GFXBench GPU benchmarks, the Honor X8 scores a point or two lower than the Redmi Note 11 managed, and falls way behind the Moto G50.
The Honor X8’s battery falls similarly short of its peers, at least on paper. While most other £200 phones these days go with a 5,000mAh cell, the Honor X8 opts for a significantly smaller 4,000mAh unit. That’s the true price you’ll pay for that skinny body.
With that said, I was able to get through a full day with four hours of screen-on time with around half a tankful left. That’s not bad at all, and surely speaks to Honor’s strong efficiency-maximizing software. It’ll automatically adjust the screen resolution according to the needs of your current task, for example.
There’s no hiding the physical limits of that smaller battery when it comes to more intensive tasks, however. In the standard Expert Reviews looping video test, the Honor X8 lasted 12hrs 56mins. That’s almost eight hours less than the Redmi Note 11 managed, and it falls a massive 13 hours short of the Moto G50.
You only get a 22.5W charger with the Honor X8, too, which is inferior to the 33W chargers of the Poco and Redmi tribe, but better than the 15W charger of the Moto G50. Given the more compact battery, however, 30 minutes of charging will still get you from empty to over half-full.
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Honor X8 review: Cameras
The Honor X8 opts for a nominal quad-camera system, but only two of those are ‘real’ cameras. There’s a 64MP wide sensor and a 5MP ultra-wide, which are accompanied by redundant 2MP macro and 2MP depth sensors.
The main camera captures generally decent images in good lighting, with bright, vibrant, but not overly garish colors. I did notice that the phone could struggle with highlights on particularly sunny days, where I also picked up on some grain in some of the blue sky backgrounds.
Indeed, the Honor X8 does not seem to be the most consistent of cameras. The few night shots I took with my first test unit were a complete write-off, with such a high degree of grain it must surely have been a glitch. With the second handset, that weird static effect disappeared, but an extended five-second shutter time in conjunction with a lack of optical image stabilization (OIS) led to soft, smudgey images.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, ultra-wide shots fall well short of the main sensor. They lack detail, and have a much duller, flatter tone than the main sensor. Indeed, 2x zoomed shots are far more convincing, despite there being no dedicated telephoto lens. Thanks to the high number of pixels, these look okay.
On the other hand, I was moderately impressed with the 16MP selfie camera, which produced nicely balanced colors and decent sharpness.
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Honor X8 review: Verdict
The Honor X8 is a merely adequate affordable phone. It deserves credit for pursuing a slightly different course to some of its £200 rivals, most notably with its super-skinny design and minimal bezels.
But neither its performance nor its camera system are any great shakes, and the choice of using a smaller battery in order to hit that slinky form factor means that intensive use brings the X8 short compared to the competition.
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