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Posts tagged ‘Huawei’


Is the Huawei Honor 8 the midrange champion? (Review)

2016 is the year of the midrange phone. This year we’ve seen amazing offerings in the $400 range that push the limits of what we can expect from midrangers. It’s left a lot of us here at AndroidGuys wondering if it’s worth buying a flagship anymore. The OnePlus 3, ZTE Axon 7, Lenovo Moto Z Play, Alcatel Idol 4s, and Huawei Honor 8 represent the best of the best in terms of quality, but who takes the cake? We’ve spent a few weeks with the Honor 8 and it makes a pretty compelling case.

What’s the best $400 phone you can buy?


  • Display: 5.2″, 1080p LCD
  • Processor: Kirin 950 Octa-core processor
  • Storage: 32GB (expandable)
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Camera: Dual 12 MP, f/2.2 aperture (rear), 8 MP, f/2.4 aperture (front)
  • Battery: 3000mAh non-removable
  • Software: Android 6.0 with custom EMUI skin
  • Connectivity: Dual-Sim

    • 2G: 850/900/1800/1900
    • 3G: 850/1700 (AWS)/1900/2100
    • LTE Bands: 1/2/3/4/5/7/8/12/17/20

Read More: Reference guide to US carrier bands and networks


If I were to tell you that you could get almost the exact same build quality of the Samsung Galaxy S7 while paying about half as much, would that interest you? Would you ask yourself how that was even possible? Well, I was certainly left wondering how Huawei pulled it off after I removed the Honor 8 from its packaging for the first time. I used the phone for about three weeks and was still constantly amazed at how well Huawei sandwiched glass and metal together to make this phone. It’s simply brilliant.



The front of our blue review unit is simple, just the display, small bezels, a standard speaker earpiece/camera and proximity sensor up top with an Honor branding on the bottom. If the Samsung logo on the S7 and Note 7 bother you, the Honor branding might too, but I thought it looked nice without being too eye-catching or distracting.

The back of the phone is equally understated with just a fingerprint sensor, dual-camera setup, flash and honor branding at the bottom. You can see Samsung and Apple’s influence in the design for the Honor 8. It’s simple and doesn’t try to impress with a modular design, large front-facing speakers, or tactile buttons. Huawei kept it simple and let the materials impress those who are lucky enough to see it in person. The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 is the most visually stunning phone I’ve ever seen in person, but the Honor 8 is right behind it.



With the premium build materials do come compromises, namely, fragility and slickness. The phone will absolutely slide off anything with an incline and any kind of fall onto bumpy surfaces will blemish the devices. At the end of a long drive, I sat the Honor 8 on the top of my car along with my keys and a few other things. I thought it was on a flat enough surface, but I was wrong and it slid onto our blacktop parking spot. Luckily the display was spared, but the corners took the brunt of the blow. No more nice beautiful phone, but it could have been worse. If you’re worried about dropping your phone, get a nice case or choose a different phone because it’s easy to scuff this one up.


The display on the Honor 8 is a 5.2″ 1080p LCD display. Hardly the highest resolution display on the planet, but ask yourself if you truly need a 2560 x 1440p display at 5.2″. The Samsung Galaxy S7 has a 5.1″ QHD display and it truly is a thing to behold, but it’s more due to the AMOLED technology, deep blacks, and wonderful peak brightness rather than the pixel density. Huawei made the right call with “only” a 1080p display on the Honor 8.

The colors are vibrant and the blacks look great. Peak brightness won’t approach those in the upper echelon of devices- that’s one of the tradeoff’s you’ll make in this $400 device, but it does do well enough on cloudy days. Sunny days are another story. You’ll be covering the phone with your hand or running under cover to get a good grasp of what’s on your display.


Auto brightness is better on the Honor 8 than most phones, but it does keep the display a bit dark. I kept my display at roughly 50% for the duration of the review period and was very happy. However, reading in bed was a bit of a pain. The display floor is pretty high and made for some squinting and eye strain in bed. If you like to read in bed you’ll probably need to download a third-party application from the app store to artificially lower the brightness.

Viewing angles are wonderful. If you often share your display with another while watching YouTube or Netflix on the couch at home or the train, you’ll be pleased with the Honor 8. I noticed no color shifting or distortion when viewed at even the most extreme angles.


Software is the biggest area of difference between the Honor 8 and any other widely available Android device in the US market. The Honor 8 runs a heavily customized skin known as EMUI- or Emotion UI. These heavy skins are usually confined to the eastern markets of South Korea, Japan, China and others while we generally get lighter skins here in the States. EMUI takes a lot of what is great about Android and builds on it, but still has some head scratching decisions.

The biggest issue for me is the lack of app drawer. It’s 2016 and some companies, namely LG, have experimented with ditching the app drawer, but EMUI takes that step. I have used my fair share of iPhones and I love them for what they are, but part of the reason I use Android is for software functions like the app drawer. I don’t want three home screens full of folders that I have to search through for an app. Luckily you can swipe down on an empty space of the launcher to pull down a search bar that you can open apps from, much like on the iPhone.

Icons everywhere!Icons everywhere!

One of the smart improvements that the Honor 8 has is in the notification tray. A swipe down reveals all of your alerts, neatly tucked organized by what time they came in. It reminds me a lot of the timeline layout that Pebble uses in its smartwatches. A swipe to the right opens up your quick toggles. Unfortunately, you can’t customize what quick toggles you have or in which order they show up, but there are some smart toggles like Screenshot and WiFi hotspot toggles.


The app suite included with the Honor isn’t by any means bloated, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t some bloatware here. You do get Huawei’s messaging app, gallery, theme store, music player, video player, calendar, clock, file browser, phone manager and email client. You’ll also see two folders named Tools and Top apps. The Tools folder has some of the usual suspects like a calculator, notepad, sound recorder and flashlight. Nothing too revolutionary. Top apps are all of the added bloatware like Facebook, Twitter, and Shazam. Luckily, these are uninstallable. I’ve said this before but if including these apps are what help companies keep the cost of phones down, I’m fine with it (as long as they are uninstallable).

During the review period, I did receive the September security update, so Huawei is doing a good job of staying on top of those. I would like to see when the Honor 8 receives Nougat, though, and what it looks like when it finally hits the phone. When a phone is heavily skinned like the Honor 8, updates tend to take a while because there are a lot of features to incorporate into a new operating system. That’s a lot of testing to make sure nothing is broken once those features are incorporated. If you care about the latest software updates you probably already own a Nexus device. If you care about cool features and aesthetics, the Honor 8 might scratch that itch.


The Honor 8 is powered by Huawei’s in-house Kirin 950 chip and represents the first phone in the US powered by it. The Kirin 950 is an octa-core chip with four 2.3GHz cores and four 1.8GHz cores. In real world usage, the chip feels comparable to the Snapdragon 820. Obviously, there are a lot of factors that go into how a phone feels but I’m basing my opinion on usage of the Samsung Galaxy S7, OnePlus3, LG G5, Motorola Z Force Droid, and Samsung Galaxy Note7 (which thankfully didn’t explode).

While I did experience minor hiccups, they were just that- minor and infrequent. Daily tasks like browsing Reddit, scrolling through my agenda in the calendar, checking social media apps, taking pictures, and watching videos on YouTube were frustration free. After turning the phone on, it did need time to “wind up”. I’ve seen this issue in Samsung phones as well where they’re difficult to use in the first couple of minutes after a reboot as processes get started. The Honor 8 wasn’t nearly as bad as some Samsung phones that I used, but the issue did exist.

Battery life was a big standout with the Honor 8. The smallish 5.2″ 1080p display combined with a power-efficient processor meant I was able to get through the day, even on heavy usage days, with battery left over. The only day I was reaching for a charger to top off was the first day I received the Honor 8 and that was due to the phone not having 100% battery out of the box and setting up all of my apps. If you have a charger in your car capable of quick charging or a charger at your desk, it’s very possible to not charge your phone at night and just continue topping off as needed. To say I was impressed with the battery life would be an understatement.


We’re starting to see more and more companies put dual cameras on the rear of phones to maximize mobile photography opportunities. Huawei was one of the first to do this with the Honor 8. The rear of the phone houses dual 12MP cameras, one lens to capture color and one monochrome. This design intends to let more light into photographs in low-light situations. While you will see some grain in these low-light situations, I was impressed at how well the Honor 8 was able to let in as much light as possible. When you’re able to use the flash, you will notice a huge difference. In the sample below, you would be forgiven if you though the brighter picture was taken during the day rather than at 7:30 at night in a dark room with only a television for light.


The cameras do even better in well-lit situations. A day at the ballpark and the beach left us with some truly excellent pictures. Here are some camera samples from my time with the Honor 8

Honor 8 camera samples

The camera app gives you more than just the bare-bones, too. I was impressed that a quick swipe to the left from the viewfinder found 16 different modes including pro and beauty modes for both photo and video, Good Food, Panorama, HDR, Night Shot, Light Painting, Time-lapse, Slow-mo, Watermark, Audio note, and document scan. While most of the modes will probably go completely untouched, it is nice to have them built-in to the camera app instead of needing to download third party applications if you ever do decide to use them.



As lovers of technology, the writers here at AndroidGuys often engage in conversation about phones like the Honor 8, ZTE Axon 7, OnePlus 3, Moto Z Play, and the Idol 4S. It’s hard to pick which would be the “best” $400 phone since they all have their own strengths and weaknesses. But, the fact that we’re able to consider these phones over flagships like the Samsung Galaxy S7, LG V20, and HTC 10 means that the state of midrange phones has never been better.


I really enjoyed my time with the Honor 8. I’ve used a lot of the phones released this year, and while it isn’t my favorite phone released in 2016 (Moto Z Play, in case you’re wondering) I would have no trouble recommending it to anyone. Huawei proves that they pay attention to detail and put a lot of work not only into the physical design of the phone but the software too.

The software may not be everyone’s idea of what they’d like to see on an Android device, but much like Samsung devices, Huawei was able to pack in a ton of features without making the device feel bloated. It feels sleek and cool like a cutting edge product no-one else has gotten their hands on yet. The Honor 8 is something completely different than what’s on the market right now and that’s a huge plus.

You can pick up the Honor 8 from Amazon, B&H Photo, or Newegg.


Huawei reportedly turned down Google’s new phone strategy

You may be wondering why Google appears to be going with HTC for this year’s Pixel phones instead of Huawei. Wasn’t the Nexus 6P a rousing success? Apparently, Huawei and Google aren’t getting along quite as well as you might think. An Android Police source understands that Huawei bristled at Google’s plan to take more control over its Android hardware, which included erasing any mentions of the phone builder’s name. Huawei wanted a larger footprint in the US, and it wasn’t going to get that by being reduced to a contract manufacturer.

The decision to back out wasn’t helped by trouble with the Nexus 6P launch, according to the tipster. Google had originally promised deals with all four big US carriers, but that never happened. Talks broke down, and the grand launch (which would have included a “multi-hundred-million dollar” ad strategy) was reduced to sales through Google and Huawei stores. Neither this nor the Pixel problem appears to have permanently soured the relationship between the companies (there may even be a Huawei-made Google phone in 2017), but Huawei would undoubtedly be frustrated.

The incidents may be hints of a broader problem with Huawei’s US division. Reportedly, the only device to get any significant traction is the cheap-but-capable Honor 5X. The GX8 (which shares ties with the Honor phone) has seen virtually no sales, while the MateBook is an “absolute flop.” There are hints that Huawei ousted most of its American leadership and has otherwise gone through major management changes in a bid to turn things around.

We’ve asked Huawei for comment on the report. Whether or not the Google stories are accurate, though, it’s no secret that Huawei hasn’t had the best time in the US. Outside of the Nexus 6P and Huawei Watch, the company doesn’t have much stateside recognition or a fiercely competitive lineup. Unlocked phones (beyond Google’s lineup) don’t garner nearly as much attention as their carrier-bound counterparts, and it’s hard to argue for the MateBook when the Surface Pro 4 is both better-known and better-built. In short, it’s not enough to show up — Huawei has to demonstrate that it compete with its biggest rivals on their home turf.

Source: Android Police


Honor 8 feature focus – Camera

While popular smartphone manufacturers like LG and Apple have just recently adopted dual camera configurations, Huawei has largely led the way, beginning with the Huawei P9. While the P9 never made its way to the United States, the Honor brand is now bringing its own dual camera tech to the US with the Honor 8.

More Huawei Coverage:

  • Honor 8 review
  • Huawei P9 feature focus – Camera

As we highlighted in our comprehensive review, the Honor 8 offers two factors that are often mutually exclusive: a high-end dual camera experience and an affordable price. Let’s take a closer look at what exactly the Honor 8’s camera is packing with our Honor 8 camera feature focus!

Buy Honor 8 now!

Technical Details

Before we jump into our image analysis, it’s worth reviewing the technical details of the Honor 8’s cameras. The primary configuration is composed of two lenses with f/2.2 apertures. Thanks to Honor’s unique technology, when you go to take a picture, the first lens captures a color image while the second lens captures a monochrome image.

This in itself may seem a bit futile, but when combined with some clever software processing, the Honor 8 is able to produce better, more vivid 12 MP images with crispier details. This can be primarily attributed to a greater availability of light ― up to three times more than a single lens, according to Honor.

This dual lens configuration, in addition to the fast aperture and larger 1.25 μm pixel size, are remarkably functional in lower-light conditions as well, which we’ll analyze below.

The cameras are accompanied by a dual-tone LED flash, which helps balance skin tones when using the flash. There’s also a laser module for laser autofocus, which is utilized in synchrony with contrast detection. Honor says that this improves the Honor 8’s autofocus speed, which is obviously very important when capturing time sensitive subjects.

Of course, we can’t forget about the 8 MP front-facing camera. It has an f/2.4 aperture, and you can view a couple sample images below.


Normal mode
Beauty mode

Generally speaking, the front-facing camera produces great results. Yes, Honor’s Beauty mode is alive and well in the Honor 8’s camera software, but there’s now a slider to control the amount of skin softening. It’s fair to say that the results can still look slightly unnatural, but this effect can always be toned down from the default setting or turned off completely.

Honor 8 Camera Samples FF-33

The camera app also offers a myriad of primary camera modes, including but not limited to manual, panorama, HDR, time-lapse, and slow-mo. Each of these modes works as you would expect. In the panoramic image above, the Honor 8 did an excellent job with stitching each piece of the photo together.

Honor 8 Camera Samples FF-32

In this panoramic image, there are some areas where the stitching wasn’t perfect, but it’s still a great image overall.


As we have seen with previous Honor smartphones, the Honor 8 includes a wide aperture mode which enables artificial background blur, up to f/0.95. The effect can be very fun to play around with and certainly gives otherwise plain looking images artistic looks.

This effect is still artificial though, and can stumble a bit in lower contrast scenes like the one on the left. Mainly, the processing software seems to have trouble isolating the banner from the cloudy sky in the background. Regardless of the sometimes disappointing results, this mode can really take your smartphone photography to a more creative level.


Although there is an HDR mode which can be manually selected from the modes view, the normal auto mode often provides more than enough dynamic range, making many of the HDR photos virtually indistinguishable from the normal photos.


Taking a closer look at those “normal photos,” you can see just how well the Honor 8 balances the highlights and shadows. In the left image, this can be seen especially when looking at the properly exposed sky and detailed darker areas. On the right, the sky is just a tad overexposed, but the statue in the center is surprisingly well detailed.


Contrast is quite good across the board, actually, as can be seen in the images above. The Honor 8 also seems to do well with color saturation; images don’t come out oversaturated like they often do with the Samsung Galaxy S7, but they’re also still fairly punchy.


Overall, the Honor 8’s camera captures great stills in good lighting. Sadly, video recording isn’t up to par with competing options. In addition to maxing out at 1080P/60p when most others go up to 4K/30p, the actual video quality is a bit under what you might expect. Colors appear muted in comparison to how they do in still images, and the software processing sometimes mixes up the correct white balance mid-shot.

There’s also no optical image stabilization, so it can be tricky to get a steady shot at times. It’s hard to recommend the Honor 8 for video because many competing options simply offer superior quality.


In low-light conditions, the Honor 8’s camera offers surprisingly strong performance when compared to other affordable flagships. Granted, images do still appear noticeably noisy in dim conditions.


Colors also appear less punchy and more muted, although there’s still a good amount of contrast overall. Detail can be a mixed bag and primarily depends on how steady you hold the phone when taking the shot. In order to compensate for the lack of light, the Honor 8 lowers the shutter speed, meaning that the sensor is exposed for a longer period of time.


If you have shaky hands, this can be problematic when trying to capture the details of a low-light scene. Once you minimize camera shake, you’ll get noticeably better results. While the Honor 8’s camera isn’t as impressive in low-light when compared to phones like the Galaxy S7, it’s important to consider Honor’s competitive pricing.

In fact, perhaps the most impressing aspect here is how Honor was able to defy our expectations. One of the most pressing compromises with the vast majority of affordable smartphones is camera performance, yet the Honor 8 still manages to impress in this department.

That concludes our Honor 8 camera feature focus. How do you feel about the Honor 8’s camera? Is it enough to make you go out and purchase the Honor 8? Please do let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!

Buy Honor 8 now!


Huawei nova and nova plus review

HUAWEI recently announced two new mid-range Android smartphones: the nova and the nova plus. The nova is a 5.0 inch device with 3GB of RAM, 32GB of storage and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor. The nova plus is a 5.5 inch variant with the same basic internals. Following our hands-on first look at these two device, here is our full review.

Also check out:

  • HUAWEI P9 review
  • HUAWEI Mate 8 review
  • Nexus 6P review


On the inside these two phones are almost identical, however on the outside they are quite different. The norm until now has been that the “plus” variant of a smartphone was essentially a carbon copy of its smaller sibling except with a bigger screen (and maybe a few extras), however that certainly isn’t the case here.

Both smartphones feature full metal unibody constructions, which makes them very sturdy, and allows for a nice and solid feel in the hand. The chamfered edges and the rounded corners give both phones a premium feel. Beyond that, the Nova looks a lot like a mini Nexus 6P, while the Nova Plus borrows its design language from the HUAWEI Mate series.

Although the design language is different on each device, the overall layout is the same on both. On the front is the 5.0/5.5 inch display along with the front facing camera and HUAWEI logo. Neither have capacitive keys as the navigation controls are on screen. On the left is the dual SIM tray which also doubles as the micro SD card tray (replacing one of the SIM cards). On the right is the volume rocker and then power button. On the top is the 3.5mm headphone jack along with a microphone. On the bottom is the USB Type-C port and the speaker grill. The nova plus has two grills, but there is only one speaker on each handset. Flip the phone over and you find the rear-facing camera, the fingerprint reader, a LED flash and another HUAWEI logo.


It is from the back that the two phones look most different. The fingerprint reader is round on the nova but more square on the nova plus. The camera is central (with a bump) on the plus, but flush and more to one side on the nova.



On paper the displays for the phones are very similar (except the size). They are both IPS LCD panels and both have a Full HD resolution (i.e. 1920 x 1080). Both displays can be configured in the settings to alter the color temperature and both displays have the same level of brightness (450 nits). Obviously the screen on the nova plus is bigger (at 5.5 inches compared to 5.0 inches) and that means it has a lower pixel density (401 ppi compared to 443 ppi). When placed side-by-side the displays look very similar, however it I had to choose I would say that the nova plus has the better screen, but not by much.

Overall, both screens are crisp with good color reproduction that will provide a good experience regardless of what you’re doing on the screen. My only word of caution is that in very bright, direct sunlight you might find the displays a little hard to read.


Hardware and performance

The HUAWEI nova and nova plus both feature a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 built using a 14nm process. This is certainly a mid-range processing package. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since today’s mid-range phones offer greater performance than some of the high-end devices of only a few years ago. In the CPU side you get eight 64-bit Cortex-A53 cores, clocked upto 2.0GHz. On the GPU side you get the Adreno 506, which supports OpenGL ES 3.1.

In terms of every day use you will find the Snapdragon 625 more than capable. The UI response was good, apps open and close quickly and with 3GB of RAM the multi-tasking capabilities are more than sufficient. If you are a power user then you will struggle with the Snapdragon 625, but for most users will handle just about everything you ask of it. Plus there is the added bonus that the Cortex-A53 core is one of the most power efficient 64-bit cores from ARM, which helps with battery life!


Since the internals of both phones are very similar, both score the same in the popular benchmarks. For AnTuTu you can expect scores of 64969, while for GeekBench 4 the devices scored an average of 840 for the single core tests and 3112 for the multi-core tests. As for Epic Citadel you will get around 60 frames per second in High Quality mode, which is great. However when you bump the details up to Ultra High Quality mode then the GPU starts to struggle a little, scoring just 50 fps.

What that means in real world terms is that the nova and nova plus can handle normal productivity tasks (email, social media, web browsing) without any problems. It will also play 3D games reasonably well, but don’t expect the same level of performance as you would from a leading flagship device. I played Asphalt 8: Airborne and Riptide GP without any problems.

The fingerprint readers HUAWEI’s recent phones (including the Mate 8 and the P9) have been exceptional and I have come to expect nothing less from HUAWEI. The fingerprint readers on the nova and nova plus are equally as good. Since the fingerprint reader is on the back, you can wake and unlock your phone just by putting your finger on the reader. You can also use the fingerprint reader to trigger the shutter while taking photos, to swipe left and right when viewing photos in the gallery, or to answer a call.

Both phones feature a single speaker on the bottom edge, next to the Type-C USB port. The speakers are quite loud and the sound is reasonable considering that they aren’t front facing speakers. Like many smartphones, music can lack bass and sound a bit thin. I found that at full volume some tracks tended to distort and that the sound quality improved when the volume was actually turned down a notch or two. Comparing the nova with the nova plus, the sound quality is approximately the same, however the nova plus is the better of the two.

The nova has a 3020 mAh battery, which is impressive when you consider that the Samsung Galaxy S7 and the LG G5 both have smaller battery capacities. I ran a 3D test to measure the battery life while playing 3D games. According to my calculations you will be able to play 3D games for over 5 hours from a single charge. As for simpler tasks like browsing the web and watching video you should be able to get about 11 hours.


The nova plus has a 3340 mAh battery, even bigger than the nova, mainly to compensate for the larger 5.5 inch display. I ran the same 3D test to measure the battery life while playing 3D games. According to my calculations you will be able to play 3D games for over 5 hours from a single charge. As for simpler tasks like browsing the web and watching video you should be able to get 11 hours.

Overall you will easily be able to get through a full day on either phone, maybe even two. My tests show that you should be able to get around 7 to 9 hours of screen-on time for both devices during a 24 hour period, of course depending on your usage.



The software experience is identical on the nova and the nova plus, with both running Android 6.0 Marshmallow, with HUAWEI’s Emotion UI 4.1 on top. If you have used a HUAWEI phone before, you will know what to expect here, and once again, you get a very iOS-like user interface, with no app drawer, transparency effects, and home pages filled with colorful icons. For some people the lack of a stock Android experience will be a stumbling block, especially the lack of an app drawer.

If you lack the EMUI launcher then it is also possible to replace it with an alternative like the Google Now Launcher. The trick is to make the Google Now Launcher the default under Settings -> Apps -> Advanced -> Default app settings -> Launcher.

However besides the cosmetic UI changes there are lots of additional features that you don’t get with stock Android including a floating dock, motion gestures, voice wake-up, a one-handed mode and HUAWEI’s own take on a “do not disturb” mode.

Under motion gestures you can enable motions like flip to mute, raise to ear to answer calls, and a tilt motion to move icons and widgets. The tilt motion feature works from the home screen editing mode. If you touch and hold an icon or widget you can move it to another screen by tilting the phone to the left or right. There is also the Knuckle gestures which allow you to take a screenshot by double tapping the screen with your knuckle, or drawing a letter to open an app. Both types of knuckle gesture can be disabled if you find they misfire.

Since the nova and nova plus both use on-screen keys, HUAWEI as added the ability to customize the order of the navigation buttons. By default the recent apps is on the right and the back button is on the left. However this can be reversed. It is also possible to add a fourth button for opening the notification panel. Tapping the icon is the equivalent to dragging the notification shade down from the top.


HUAWEI has included a battery manager which gives you a high level of control over battery related features. For example you can set a power plan which will tweak the CPU according to your usage (and so save battery when possible). Other battery related options include a whitelist function to ensure that certain apps keep running after the screen is turned off and a power usage firewall which warns you about power hungry apps.

There is also an ultra power saving mode which will disable everything except calls and messages plus activate a simply monochrome UI. When running low on battery power this mode can add several more hours of usage.



The camera is one area where the nova and nova plus differ significantly. The nova comes with a 12MP rear facing camera that can record video at 4K, plus an 8MP front facing camera. The nova plus has the better setup with a 16MP rear facing camera that includes OIS and 4K video, plus the same 8MP front facing camera.

The camera app is quite nice and includes some interesting features. As well HDR, panorama and the seemingly obligatory beauty mode, there is also a light painting mode, for long exposure shots. The built-in filters include car light trails, for capturing the trails of lights made by moving cars at night; light graffiti, for capturing trails of light in a dark environment; silky water, for silky smooth effects from running water; and star track, to capture the trails of stars and galaxies in the night! However you will need a very steady hand (or better still a tripod) to get the best results.


There is also a super night mode, with a long exposure time for night time photos, a slow-motion mode, plus a special Good Food mode for taking close-up shots of your food! Two other interesting modes are the All-focus mode and the full manual (professional mode). The former allows you to refocus pictures post capture and change which object is in focus. The latter gives you control over the metering mode, the ISO speed, the shutter speed, plus the white balance. It also gives you full manual focusing control.

While the camera app is very capable, the actual pictures produced by these devices leave a lot to be desired. Pictures taken in ideal conditions come out quite nice, meaning the cameras are good for outdoor use in good light. However once you move indoors and the lighting is artificial then lots of noise creeps into the pictures.


Both handsets are capable of videoing at 4K in 16:9 from both the rear camera and Full HD using the front facing camera. While the nova doesn’t include Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) it does have a software based image stabilization option when recording video.

Here are some sample shots from the nova so you can see for yourself:

And here are some sample shots from the nova plus:


Display 5.0 inch IPS panel
1920×1080 resolution
5.5-inch IPS panel
1920×1080 resolution
SoC Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 Qualcomm Snapdragon 625
CPU 8x ARM Cortex A53, upto 2.0 GHz 8x ARM Cortex A53, upto 2.0 GHz
GPU Adreno 506 GPU with support for
OpenGL ES 3.1
Adreno 506 GPU with support for
OpenGL ES 3.1
Storage 32GB + microSD 32GB + microSD
Cameras 12MP rear facing camera with 4K video, 8MP front facing camera 16MP rear facing camera with OIS & 4K video, 8MP front facing camera
Battery 3020mAh 3340mAh
Features Fingerprint scanner, USB Type C, Bluetooth 4.1 Fingerprint scanner, USB Type C, Bluetooth 4.1
OS Android 6.0 Marshmallow with EMUI 4.1 Android 6.0 Marshmallow with EMUI 4.1
Dimensions 141.2mm x 69.1mm x 7.1mm. 151.8 x 75.7 x 7.3mm
Weight 146g 160g


Wrapping up

With 3GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage, 4K video recording and Full HD displays then the nova and nova plus certainly have the hallmarks of a couple of upper mid-range devices. That is even more so for the nova plus with its built-in OIS and larger display. When I look at the specifications for the Qualcomm processor I myself wanting more, octa-core Cortex-A53 is very yesteryear, however the Snapdragon 625 is built using the latest 14nm fabrication process and as such it is more efficient than octa-core Cortex-A53 processors built on 28nm. I was hoping for a better Snapdragon processor from the 600 series, however after using the nova and nova plus for several days I must admit that the processor package works just fine. It isn’t the fastest and the GPU could be better, but for those looking to buy a phone in the mid-range (and not a flagship), it is more than adequate.

What do you think of the HUAWEI nova and nova plus? Do you plan to buy one, if so which one? Let us know your views in the comments below!


Huawei MediaPad M3 review

Huawei is best known for making smartphones at a variety of different price points from entry to high-end, but over the last few years the company has also worked to build itself a name in the tablet space with its MediaPad range. The MediaPad M2 may have been an arguably forgettable device but the company is hoping its new MediaPad M3 has a very different fate.

The Huawei MediaPad M3 offers a somewhat familiar design, updated specs, and, at least on-paper, seems to offer impressive performance and audio. But the big question is whether or not Huawei’s latest tablet truly delivers.

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With fewer Android tablets being released each year, can Huawei stake a claim for the best Android tablet with the MediaPad M3? Let’s find out in this, our Huawei MediaPad M3 review.


At first glance, the Huawei MediaPad M3 could be mistaken for a product from another manufacturer as, Huawei logo in the top left corner aside, the design is rather generic with no core identifying features. Huawei traditionally have added a few design elements to make their devices stand out – the MediaPad M2 offered a luxurious body after all – but the MediaPad M3 drops this to focus on the core experience.

The front is of course dominated by the large 8.4-inch WQHD+ display with a fingerprint sensor below and a front facing camera up top. Alongside the display are the bezels and it’s clear that the MediaPad M3 isn’t meant to win any design awards as the bezels are large and somewhat clunky.

The fingerprint sensor itself proves to be somewhat confusing as it doesn’t act like a home button, rather it supports a multitude of gestures. A single tap takes you back a step while touch and holding takes you to your homescreen, sliding left or right opens recent tasks and sliding up opens Huawei’s HiVoice assistant. To navigate the OS, Huawei has adopted on-screen keys which can be customised but confuse the overall experience, not unlike the Moto Z Force’s fingerprint sensor.


On the bottom, the MediaPad M3 sports a microUSB port – with Quick Charging built in – alongside one of the speakers and a SIM card slot. Yes, the MediaPad M3 lets you use a SIM card and comes equipped with Huawei’s phone application but, without an earpiece, you’ll need to use the speakerphone or a Bluetooth headset.

Up top, the Huawei MediaPad M3 sports the secondary speaker alongside a headphone jack. Audio through headphones is acceptable but the MediaPad M3’s audio really comes into its own when the speakers kick in (more on this below). On the left, Huawei has opted to keep the experience bare while on the right, there’s the power and volume keys which are metal, not quite recessed and provide fantastic tactile feedback.


On the back, the MediaPad M3 sports a camera along with a brushed metal finish emblazoned with the Huawei logo (and at the bottom, the Harman Kardon logo). There’s also a single antenna line beneath the Harman Kardon logo, while the camera is placed within a small plastic trim at the top.

Measuring 215.5mm tall, 124.2mm wide and 7.3mm thin, the Huawei MediaPad M3 is surprisingly comfortable in the hand, no doubt thanks to its chamfered edges which improve the ergonomics of the tablet and make it surprisingly comfortable to hold. At a weight of 310 grams, it’s relatively light considering its form factor and, for those who feel inclined to do so, I can confirm that the MediaPad M3 fit comfortably in the back pocket of my jeans, making it easy to carry as well.


Display & Sound

Most people who buy a tablet are interested in the media experience and this is where the Huawei MediaPad M3 starts to shine. The display is an 8.4-inch IPS panel with a 2560×1600 resolution, which offers a pixel density of 359 pixels per inch.

Running the display through a display profiler reveals the MediaPad M3 has an average color temperature of 8666 Kelvin (versus a target of 6500 Kelvin), which means a white screen appears to have a bluish hue. However, Huawei does give you the option to tweak the display colors in the settings and setting the display to normal colors, as opposed to the vivid default setting, also improves the color accuracy, with a secondary test resulting in an average color temperature of 7563.


Either way, the display itself is vibrant, colors are punchy and blacks are quite deep, although maybe not quite as rich as you’d find with AMOLED displays. At its lowest brightness, the MediaPad M3 display is just 4-nits so it won’t blind you when you use it in bed, while a blue light filter is also onboard, which will reduce the effect of harmful blue light just before bed.

The display is certainly on par, if not better, than other tablets in this category but, while using it has been a joy, it’s worth noting that the viewing angles are average, although this won’t affect you unless you plan to share the screen with other people. The audio experience is where the MediaPad M3 truly stands out, however as the dual 1-watt speaker system co-engineered with Harman Kardon offers rich, immersive audio. If a great audio experience is crucial to you, the Huawei MediaPad M3 definitely doesn’t disappoint.

Huawei also says the tablet is able to intelligently recognise whether it is being used in portrait or landscape mode and adjust the audio profile experience and, based on our experience, this certainly seems to be the case. Built in support for 192KHz 24-bit files, thanks to a dedicated ESP, means even the most hardened audiophile should be satisfied by the Huawei MediaPad M3 and from my not-so-expert experience, the audio definitely doesn’t disappoint.


Performance & Hardware

Under the hood, the MediaPad M3 comes powered by Huawei’s own Kirin 950 processor coupled with 4GB RAM and either 32GB or 64GB storage, which can be expanded by up to 128GB using a microSD card. Like smartphones running the Kirin 950, there are no signs of lag and performance is a breeze.

For everyday tasks, the MediaPad M3 is capable of keeping up with most devices on the market and as we’ve found, the Kirin 950 is certainly no slouch, with performance on par with the latest processors from both Qualcomm and Samsung. Given that we’re testing pre-production hardware and software, we expected a few glitches but there have been none and – the inability to install AnTuTu and GeekBench aside, which was fixed in the latest update – you’ll find no performance concerns here.


How does the Huawei MediaPad M3 stack up to the competition in the benchmark stakes? Putting it through AnTuTu reveals a score of 90393, while running GeekBench reveals a single core score of 1751 and a multi-core score of 4755. Meanwhile, the 3DMark score of 759 reveals a couple of typical issues we’ve come across with Huawei processors in smartphones, and this is in regards to gaming.

One of the things I use a tablet for more than anything is gaming, as the large screen real estate makes it the perfect gaming device. With the MediaPad M3, Huawei’s chipset comes equipped with a Mali-T880 GPU, which is certainly more than capable of playing most games but does lag compared to the Adreno GPU used in the Snapdragon series of processors.

Running both Asphalt 8 and Need for Speed No Limits as tests, reveals that while the MediaPad M3 is more than capable of playing these games, there are a few dropped frames and gameplay is limited to 30 frames per second or less, especially for the latter title.


Looking past the GPU, the overall gaming experience is actually pretty solid, in large part thanks to the snappy performance of the Kirin chip inside. In fact, we noticed that it is around a second faster at launching Need for Speed than the Snapdragon 820-powered Galaxy Note 7, which is certainly no slouch either.

Processor aside, the MediaPad M3 hardware isn’t quite as extensive as we’ve come to expect from Huawei smartphones, but that’s unsurprising considering this is a tablet. There’s no NFC but the presence of a SIM card slot means the MediaPad M3 is LTE enabled with a theoretical max download speed of 150Mbps on the go. Overall, the Huawei MediaPad M3 delivers everything you could expect from tablet hardware and the addition of a SIM card that lets you make calls is a nice bonus.


Battery Life

One of the benefits of a large screen device is a large battery to go with it and the Huawei MediaPad M3 doesn’t disappoint, with a 5100mAh unit that’s rated as offering more than 2 days’ worth of battery life. In actual usage, it’s more than capable of doing so but with heavy usage such as gaming, it does drain considerably faster than you might not expect.

With light usage such as browsing, using apps such as Slack, Skype or more, the battery lasts around 2-3 days with approximately 8 to 9 hours of screen on time. However, with gaming, this can drop to just over a day with around 4 hours of screen on time and while this isn’t overly surprising, we’d still liked it to have lasted a little longer.


At its max brightness, the Huawei MediaPad M3 display measures 400 nits while at its lowest, it is just 4 nits and we’ve found that reducing the display brightness and/or the screen resolution (to 1080p) in the settings can improve the battery life even further. Dropping to 1080p resolution helped us achieve another 45-90 minutes of screen on time depending on the tasks involved and it’s certainly worth considering if you’re on a long flight where you won’t necessarily want or need the higher resolution or brightness.

Putting the Huawei MediaPad M3 through our quick custom battery benchmark tool with the display set to full resolution, reveals an expected screen on time of 9 hours with a combination of web browsing, video playback and gaming. While this is only indicative of screen on time, as it’s a quick test that runs for 90 minutes and extrapolates the final result, it’s accurate enough to suggest that you can expect between 8 and 10 hours of screen on time, depending upon your actual usage.

Both of these figures show you should have no issues with the battery life on the Huawei MediaPad M3, which should be good enough to get you through most journeys where you might want to watch a movie and/or game a little. Of course, there are other tablets with better battery life but considering the overall package on offer, the battery life on the MediaPad M3 is more than satisfactory.



Before we get into the Huawei MediaPad M3’s camera, let’s just put this out there; tablets were not designed with picture-taking in mind. That being said, there are a few use cases for using cameras on tablets, so are the MediaPad’s cameras any good?

On both the front and the back, the MediaPad M3 has an 8MP sensor with very little else to offer. There’s no stabilisation, no flash and no fancy gimmicks, but the camera app does have a lot of the software features you can find on other Huawei phones. The pictures produced leave a lot to the imagination and like most tablet cameras, you’ll probably be left wanting something more. There’s a fair amount of noise in the images and, whether it’s the front camera or the rear, you can expect images to be lacking in detail and clarity.

For video calls and/or quick snaps, either camera is more than acceptable but if you want anything more, we’d highly recommend you use a smartphone camera, especially if you want to share these memories with other people.



The Huawei MediaPad M3 runs on Android 6.0 Marshmallow with Huawei’s EMUI 4.1 running on top and the software experience is very similar to that found on other recent Huawei devices such as the Honor 8 and Huawei P9. EMUI has certainly improved in the past couple of years but with EMUI 4.1, there’s still nothing to differentiate the tablet experience from a phone. In fact, with the ability to make phone calls, the MediaPad M3 does somewhat feel like an oversized handset.

While EMUI doesn’t offer an app drawer, it’s not so much of an issue with the MediaPad M3 although you may find having tons of apps across various home screens makes it difficult to find the app you’re looking for. At times like this, Huawei’s various gestures throughout the interface come to the forte and swiping down from any home screen opens up the universal search menu, which lets you search through your contacts, files, apps and more.


As we mentioned earlier, the fingerprint sensor beneath the display supports gestures, and while the swiping to accept recent apps or tapping to go back a step work fine, the others aren’t quite as smooth. Tapping and holding to go back to the home screen only works occasionally, while the swiping up to access HiVoice actually launches Google Now on Tap. Given that this is a pre-production unit, we’ll give Huawei the benefit of the doubt especially as the company’s fingerprint and gestures implementation is usually flawless.

Overall, EMUI is certainly an interesting interface and while it’s not everyone’s favourite interface, it’s certainly more than usable. Huawei has made some major improvements to EMUI in the past 12 months and it is really starting to show. It’s also nice to see that the Huawei MediaPad M3 comes with a relatively clean software experience that’s free of any significant bloatware and this is a welcome change, one that is hopefully an indication of where Huawei devices are going in the future.



When it comes to tablets, the factors that determine whether it’s a success are different to say, a flagship smartphone. While the latter focuses on the overall experience being excellent, a tablet is arguably focused on fewer key areas such as the design, display, audio, performance and battery life.

Considering these factors, the Huawei MediaPad M3 definitely delivers, but we can’t help but think that it’s indicative of the tablet industry as a whole that we’re not overly excited by an Android tablet. On paper and in person, the Huawei MediaPad M3 definitely delivers on what Huawei set out to do: create an affordable tablet with few compromises.

If you’re in the market for an Android tablet, there’s not a lot of choices and with the MediaPad M3, Huawei has certainly shown it’s a force to be reckoned with as far as Android tablets go. Should you buy the Huawei MediaPad M3? If you’re looking for a no-compromise tablet that delivers on the key areas its meant to, you can look no further, as the MediaPad M3 is one of the best Android tablets currently on the market.

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What do you think of the Huawei MediaPad M3 and do you plan to buy one? Do you use an Android tablet or any tablet for that matter? What do Android tablets need to offer to be able to truly compete against the Apple iPad? Let us know your views in the comments below!!


Huawei returns to the mid-range with the Nova and Nova Plus

By its own admission, Huawei has been concentrating on releasing the best smartphones it possibly can so far this year. First with the big-screened Mate 8, and more recently the flagship P9 (and variants). That’s why, at this year’s IFA, Huawei is turning its attention to the slightly more affordable end of the smartphone spectrum, today announcing the new mid-range Nova and Nova Plus handsets.

While neither device has any killer, standout feature to boast about, there aren’t any ugly blemishes jumping off the spec sheets. The Nova features a 5-inch, 1080p display, beneath which hides an octa-core 2GHz Snapdragon 625 chip, 3GB of RAM and 32GB of expandable storage (up to 128GB microSD cards supported). You’re looking at a 12-megapixel primary camera with f/2.2 aperture, and an 8MP, f/2.0 shooter up front for selfies and such. A decent-sized 3,020mAh battery powers all that, with Huawei claiming it’s good for two days of consistent use.

Other notable elements include the Cat 6 LTE radio, fingerprint sensor, USB Type-C charging/data transfer port and dual-SIM support — though you’ll have to sacrifice the microSD expansion for a second SIM. Emotion UI (EMUI) 4.1, based on Android 6.0 Marshmallow, runs the show, bringing with it Huawei’s familiar gamut of camera tricks such as light painting, time-lapse and slow motion modes, as well as the recent edition of a night display feature that filters blue light from the screen.


The Nova Plus, as you’ve probably concluded already, is the bigger of the pair and is basically the global version of the G9 Plus. Its 5.5-inch 1080p display is joined by a 16MP camera with optical image stabilization, and the larger form factor has also allowed Huawei to increase the size of the battery to 3,340mAh (keeping you going for 2.2 days, apparently). Otherwise, it’s identical to the Nova, at least on the inside.

Despite being mid-tier handsets, the Nova and Nova Plus — both available in silver, gray or gold — are built from aluminum like Huawei’s pricier devices. The bigger of the two isn’t the sexiest of handsets. The protruding, square camera hump with beady lens looks a little dated and unrefined. Also, though there isn’t an excess of bezel on either size of the display, the larger phone feels a bit unwieldy in comparison to the neat, compact 5-inch Nova.


In fact, the Nova is a pretty good-looking device — better designed, even, than Huawei’s flagship P9. The two are strikingly similar, but the Nova’s Nexus 6P-like design has slightly softer rounded corners and a circular fingerprint sensor that’s a bit more aesthetically pleasing than the sharper, square version. It’s thin, light, easy on the hands and all things considered, feels more polished and ‘premium’ in spite of it sitting below the P9 in Huawei’s smartphone hierarchy.

The Nova and Nova Plus will be available from early October for €399 and €429, respectively.

We’re live all week from Berlin, Germany, for IFA 2016. Click here to catch up on all the news from the show.


Huawei’s MediaPad M3 features an 8.4-inch high-res display

Huawei didn’t make the trip to IFA with just a couple of new smartphones in hand, but a new slate too. Following the company’s overly ambitious attempt at a Surface-like device in the MateBook, we’re back to more standard tablet fare with the MediaPad M3 announced today. As the name suggests, the hardware is particularly geared towards media consumption, boasting an 8.4-inch, 2,560 x 1,600 display, Harman Kardon-certified stereo speakers and hi-res audio support.

The MediaPad M3 is driven by one of Huawei’s own Kirin 950 octa-core processors (four 2.3GHz cores plus four 1.8GHz cores), paired with 4GB of RAM and either 32 or 64 gigs of expandable storage (up to 128GB microSD cards supported). A 5,100mAh battery keeps the Netflix binge going, and a pair of 8-megapixel cameras are on hand when you absolutely must take a picture with a tablet.

The OS of choice is Android 6.0 Marshmallow with Huawei’s Emotion UI (EMUI) 4.1 on top, and in addition to all the standard connectivity options, there are cellular options with a nano-SIM card slot and LTE radio for getting data on the move.

Launching first on September 26th in several European countries (including the UK), as well as in parts of Asia and the Middle East, the base 32GB WiFi model will cost €349. The 64GB WiFi and 32GB LTE versions are priced at a slightly more expensive €399, with the €449 64GB LTE model rounding out the options.

We’re live all week from Berlin, Germany, for IFA 2016. Click here to catch up on all the news from the show.


Honor 8 Review

Earlier this year, Honor released the Honor 5X, which we proclaimed to be one of the best sub-$200 smartphones available in the United States. Huawei is now looking to further build up their Honor brand with the Honor 8, Honor’s take on the “affordable flagship.”

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At $400, does the Honor 8 have what it takes to go up against segment leaders ZTE and OnePlus? Let’s find out in our written review of the Honor 8!

Buy the Honor 8 now!


The Honor 8 is an absolutely gorgeous smartphone. Even before digging into the details, it’s difficult to associate the Honor 8’s design with its price; its level of premium appeal is comparable to that of the more expensive Samsung Galaxy S7.

The dual glass panel design is admittedly reminiscent of the Galaxy S7 and even more so of the Xiaomi Mi 4S. It is still quite remarkable, however, with the rear’s 15-panel light-refracting glass composition. This composition primarily enables some very enthralling light patterns.

Both glass panels curve down to meet with the chamfered aluminum band, which gives an impression of cohesion. The tactile power and volume buttons can both be found on the right edge of the phone. There is a nice texture on the power button, but I wish it was less subtle.

There is an IR blaster at the top of the device which can be used to control TVs and other household appliances. It worked quite well in my testing, and I think it’s a valuable addition.

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Despite the metal band, handling can be a bit challenging due to the device’s slippery glass profile. You’ll want to be especially careful when setting the Honor 8 down, especially on uneven surfaces. The glass has what could be described as an “ice cube effect,” where it slips and slides very easily.

The build quality seems strong enough to resist most damage

During my five days with the device, it fell a total of three times. Thankfully, the build quality seems strong enough to resist most damage, but you’ll probably still want to consider adding a case. That’d also help cover up any fingerprints, which can collect surprisingly easily. Huawei has designed a few cases that compliment the 8’s beauty, which should be available soon.

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I would have preferred capacitive keys in place of the “honor” chin branding, but the on-screen navigation keys are still very pleasant to use. I also really appreciate the added software option to change the key layout as well.


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The Honor 8 is sporting a 5.2″ 1080P LTPS display, which looks great with a good amount of sharpness and saturated and punchy colors. Color reproduction could have been more accurate, however. Mainly, the display’s color temperature is very cool. Thankfully, you can make adjustments in the settings to compensate for this, but it’s a shame that the device didn’t ship with a better calibrated display.

Honor 8 Color Gamut

The smaller display size does make handling easier in comparison to larger devices on the market. In fact, the Honor 8’s smaller size may seal the deal for some, as we rarely see this, especially at this price. The display brightness maxes out at 455 nits, which is about average. Sunlight readability is consequently good, especially for the price.


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It should come as no surprise that the Honor 8 is powered by one of Huawei’s own in-house processors, a HiSilicon Kirin 950. The Kirin 950 offers comparable performance to that of the high-end Qualcomm Snapdragon 820

Kirin-950-video-thumbSee Also: In-depth look at the Kirin 9508

As expected, performance was absolutely excellent. Everything is very smooth and responsive, which is what you’d usually expect from a more expensive device. Thankfully, there is 4 GB of RAM in both US models, so you can expect a smooth multitasking experience as well.

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In my experience, the Honor 8’s Mali-T880 MP4 GPU performed very well when playing mobile games. Do keep in mind, however, that it may not be as future proof as the high-end Adreno GPUs. For example, in a 3Dmark test, the ZTE Axon 7 with the Adreno 530 scored a 2580 whereas the Honor 8 with the Mali-T880 MP4 scored a 964.


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As is the case with many Chinese smartphones, the Honor 8 is unlocked and includes dual-SIM card support, meaning that you can use up to two different lines with this single phone. In the US, carrier support includes AT&T, T-Mobile, and their respective MVNOs. The phone also supports Band 12 LTE, so you’ll receive T-Mobile’s extended range coverage.

If you’re willing to give up one of the SIM card slots, you can expand the phone’s base 32 GB of storage via microSD card, up to 128 GB. This is always a great option to have, even if you don’t think you’ll need it.

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The USB Type-C charging port is accompanied by the headphone jack on the left and a single speaker on the right. The speaker is decent; it gets the job done, but sounds hollow and distorted. I would say that it performs slightly below average overall.

The fingerprint reader on the back of the Honor 8 is quite good: it’s fast while still being accurate. It’s comparable to the one found on the Axon 7, but that’s before considering the unique functionality that Huawei has implemented.

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Since the reader also doubles as a tactile button, or what Huawei calls a “smart key,” you can program different shortcuts including flashlight, screenshot, or voice recording to tap, double tap, and hold. You can also have it open an app instead, if you find that useful. It’s a pretty nifty idea, and I’ve found my settings for double tap for flashlight and hold for Google Now to be quite handy.

Battery Life

Huawei provides three battery profiles out of the box: performance, smart, and ultra. While the default smart mode does seem to marginally improve battery life, I noticed that it prevented many of my apps from sending notifications. This made me miss a few important messages in Slack and a couple of Snapchats within the first few hours of using the phone, so I had to switch to the less power-conservative performance mode in order to continue with my review.

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Heavy users may need to charge up more than once per day

In my testing, the 3000mAh battery delivered lackluster results. Battery life is long enough to get most light to moderate users through a full day of use, but heavy users may need to charge up more than once per day. While three and a half hours of screen on time isn’t terrible, it’s not nearly as much as what some competing options offer.

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Thankfully, the Honor 8 supports 9V/2A fast charging with the factory supplied charger. You can charge the phone from 0 to about 42% in 30 minutes, which is almost as good as competing options. I do wish that the phone supported fast charging with third party 9V/2A chargers, but Honor has informed us that they will be selling compatible chargers directly to US consumers in the future.


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The Honor 8 includes a 12 MP dual-camera configuration with an f/2.2 aperture and hybrid autofocus (laser assisted). One of the lens captures color, while the other is monochrome; Huawei states that this setup helps the phone capture better, crispier looking images.

It’s a great shooter overall

And for the most part, the Honor 8 takes great, contrasty images with a good amount of sharpness and excellent dynamic range. I was surprised at how well it handled balancing the highlights and shadows in many of the images I took.

Honor 8 camera samples:

It’s a great shooter overall, and you’ll likely be very pleased with the images it takes. It’s not going to outperform the Samsung Galaxy S7, but that’s okay considering the Honor 8’s price. The 8 MP front-facing camera is also good.

Low-light performance was surprisingly strong, unlike many other affordable smartphones. Images don’t turn out excellent, but they’re more acceptable than those taken by the Axon 7 and even the OnePlus 3.

One of the perks of having the dual camera setup is the wide aperture mode, which allows you to set an aperture from f/0.95 to f/16 when taking a photo. Once you take the image, you can go back and change the aperture or focus point. This worked pretty well in my testing overall, although the widest of apertures weren’t as convincing.

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Unfortunately, there’s no 4K video recording, and you’re limited to 1080P/60p. That’d be acceptable on its own given the phone’s price, but the video quality itself is poor as well with disappointing colors. You can see a sample clip in our video review, featured above.

The camera app is fairly nice, and offers some very useful manual controls. Unfortunately, they don’t rotate when switching to landscape mode, which is quite annoying. The myriad of camera modes can be overwhelming too, and many of them feel half-baked.


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For software, the Honor 8 is running Huawei’s Emotion UI 4.1 over Android 6.0 Marshmallow. Overall, the software is very different from stock Android: there’s no app drawer, the UI is iOS-like, and there are a great number of additions. Some users will enjoy this experience, but it may not be for everyone.

Some users will enjoy this experience, but it may not be for everyone

Some of Huawei’s additions are certainly appreciated, but a lot of them can come across as gimmicky. For example, the knuckle gestures are cool in theory, but don’t always work in practice. There’s also a good number of bloatware apps, which I quite frankly wasn’t expecting.

EMUI also has an entirely different scrolling mechanic than stock Android, which is smoother but slower. It looks pretty nice, but you have to wait for the inertia scrolling to completely stop in order to select something. This is incredibly frustrating in day-to-day use, as you’ll find yourself having to repeatedly tap on something until the phone finally responds.

It’s not all bad, however, as the lock screen view is refreshing, the timeline notifications are kind of cool, and the power management tools are quite useful. I just wish that Huawei would have approached software wholeheartedly and made more refinements instead of including a bunch of features that few people will actually use.

On a positive note, Honor has committed to updating the Honor 8 with new features every three months for the first year, and then providing security and bug fix updates for an additional year. With this phone, the question is not whether you will receive the Android 7.0 Nougat update, but rather, when it will arrive. It’s great to see this kind of software support, especially at this price.

There’s also the recently announced partnership with XDA-Developers that aims to create developer interest in the Honor 8. While it’s difficult to say just how many custom ROMs will be available for the phone in the future, this is certainly a step in the right direction.



The Honor 8 is now available for pre-order from Amazon, Best Buy, Newegg, and HiHonor starting at $399.99 for the 32 GB storage option or $449.99 for the 64 GB storage option. There are several promotional offers available, including a $50 gift card, which can certainly sweeten the deal. The color options include blue, black, and white.

If you accidentally crack the Honor 8 within the first three months of owning it, Huawei will repair it for free. This is a great protection to have, although I wish it covered the phone for a bit longer.

Buy the Honor 8 now!


Huawei honor 8-20

Huawei has brought what many have wanted from an affordable flagship for a while now: a gorgeous design, a smaller size, and a great camera. In addition, the Honor 8’s excellent performance and IR blaster are not always common on an affordable smartphone.

While the Honor 8 is indeed a great value for the money, it is important to recognize that this is a very competitive price segment so you have many options to chose from. It would be wise to consider what you value most in a smartphone and base your final decision off of that.

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We want to know: what are your thoughts on Honor’s affordable flagship? What do you value most in your smartphone? Let us know in the comment section below!


Huawei P9 Plus review

Following the release of the 5.2 inch Huawei P9, Huawei has followed up with a larger 5.5 inch version, the Huawei P9 Plus. Along with a bigger display, the P9 Plus comes with an auto-focus front facing camera and an IR blaster.

Also check out:

  • Huawei P9 review
  • Huawei Mate 8 review
  • Nexus 6P review

Like the standard P9, the P9 Plus comes with a dual-sensor camera from Leica, a fingerprint reader and more. But how does it fair overall? Does it have enough to challenge today’s flagships like the Galaxy S7, Galaxy S7 Edge, HTC 10 and LG G5? Let’s find out, in this in-depth review of the Huawei P9 Plus.


The design language of the P9 Plus is identical to the P9, which is in itself very similar to that of the P8. The Huawei P9 Plus has a full metal unibody along with chamfered edges and is basically a larger version of the P9. The P9 Plus has a slightly smoother brushed metal than that found on the Huawei P8 or the Nexus 6P and at just 6.98 mm it’s quite thin for a 5.5 inch device, yet while still managing to avoid any camera bump at all.

On the front you get a 5.5-inch display along with a discrete Huawei logo. There is no physical home button as all the navigation keys are on-screen. Going around the rest of the phone, the volume rocker and textured power button are on the right, while the SIM tray is on the left. At the bottom you will find the speaker grill, the headphone jack and the USB Type-C charging port for the fast-charging 3,400 mAh battery.

On the back is the dual-sensor rear facing Leica camera along with the flash and the fingerprint reader. The camera setup is contained within a black band including the extra sensor and the Leica logo.

Based on its looks alone, the Huawei P9 Plus is clearly targeted at the upper end of the market and it’s hard to deny that it’s quite a good looking handset. The P9 Plus comes in three colors: ceramic white, quartz grey, and haze gold. In the hand, the Huawei P9 Plus is definitely one of the nicest on the market and Huawei has done well to pack a flagship specs list in a profile so ergonomic and svelte.



The Huawei P9 Plus comes with a Full HD 5.5-inch display and 2.5D glass. Although the screen size has been bumped up from the 5.2 inches found on the standard P9, the resolution remains the same at 1920×1080, this means the P9 Plus has a pixel density of 401 pixels per inch. However the P9 Plus does have one ace up its sleeve, it uses an AMOLED display and not an LCD display. The result is a display with the vibrant colors and deep blacks that we associate with AMOLED technology.

The display also includes “Press Touch”, which is built on Huawei’s screen pressure recognition tech. Using it you can preview images, magnify image details and access shortcut menus for some of the standard apps. For example, in the gallery you can press harder on the screen to activate a magnifying glass. On the home screen if you force press on the camera icon you will get access to a shortcut menu. These menus also appear for the dialer, contacts and messaging apps, among others. The pressure sensitivity is configurable in the settings, which also provides a test area so you can gauge how much pressure is needed at the different levels.


The display is bright, and works well indoors and outdoors. The screen is vivid and saturated with some great contrast, it also has good viewing angles. You can change the color temperature of the display in the Settings menu to a little warmer or colder to better suit your tastes, but for me the default settings were good enough. Overall, the P9 Plus comes with a great display that will provide a good experience regardless of what you’re doing on the screen.


Hardware and performance

The Huawei P9 Plus features an in-house Kirin 955 SoC build on 16nm FinFET. It is a slightly beefed up version of the Kirin 950 that featured in the Mate 8. The chip boasts an octa-core CPU configuration built from four Cortex-A72 cores, clocked at 2.5GHz, and four Cortex-A53 cores, clocked at 1.8GHz. The chip also features a Mali-T880 MP4 GPU, one of the most powerful graphics processors in Huawei’s armory. The P9 Plus comes with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage, along with possible expansion via the microSD slot.

In terms of every day use the P9 Plus is fast, fluid and great to use. The UI animations are smooth, apps open and close quickly, and multi-tasking being a breeze. Games also work well on this device and while there are handsets out there with more powerful GPU configurations, the Mali T880 is a fantastic GPU, even in this 4 core variant. Although the benchmarks show that the GPU has a lower performance than say the GPU in the Exynos 8890, for most users the 3D gaming experience on this device will be excellent.


The Cortex-A72 core is the latest, and highest performing, 64-bit core design from ARM. The use of a Cortex-A72 & Cortex-A53 octa-core SoC is reflected in the benchmarks. The Huawei P9 Plus scored 1829 on Geekbench’s single-core test and 6573 for the multi-core test. These are approximately the same scores achieved by the smaller Huawei P9. For some context, those scores are better than the Snapdragon 810 and the Exynos 7420. Compared to the Snapdragon 820 and Exynos 8890, the Kirin 955’s single core results are lower, however the multi-core score is higher. In other words, according to Geekbench at least, this is a leading flagship processor.

For AnTuTu the P9 Plus scored 97910, which ranks the device higher than the Samsung Galaxy Note 5, faster than the Huawei Mate 8 (as expected) and faster than the Galaxy S6. However it is slower than the latest flagships with Snapdragon 820 or Exynos 8890 processors. As for Epic Citadel the device manages a nice 59.3 frames per second in Ultra High Quality mode, you can’t really ask for more.

The fingerprint reader on the P9 Plus is very good and really I have come to expect nothing less from Huawei. The fingerprint reader on the P9 was excellent and the P9 Plus has followed suit. Since the fingerprint reader is on the back, you can wake and unlock your phone just by putting your finger on the reader. You can also use the fingerprint reader to trigger the shutter while taking photos, to swipe left and right when viewing photos in the gallery, or to answer a call.


The Huawei P9 Plus features a single speaker on the bottom edge, next to the Type-C USB port. The speaker is quite loud and the sound is reasonable considering it isn’t a front facing speaker. However, as with many smartphones, music can lack bass and sound a bit thin. I found that at full volume some tracks tended to distort and that the sound quality improved when the volume was actually turned down a notch or two.

The P9 Plus has a 3400 mAh battery, which is impressive when you consider how sleek Huawei have made the device. I ran Epic Citadel to test the battery life while playing 3D games. According to my calculations you will be able to play 3D games for over 4 hours from a single charge. As for simpler tasks like browsing the web, you will get around 11 hours from a full charge, or alternatively you can watch locally stored videos for at least 10 hours.

Overall you will easily be able to get through a full day without needing to reach for the charger. My tests show that you should be able to get around 6 to 7 hours of screen-on time during a 24 hour period, depending on your usage.

When it comes to battery charging, the P9 Plus supports fast charging and a fast charger is included in the box. Using the supplied charger, it takes 40 minutes to go from empty to 50% and 2 hours and 27 minutes to charge the phone from zero to 100%. The P9 Plus has a USB Type-C port for charging, however Huawei has been practical in that the charging cable has a USB Type-C plug at one end and a Type-A USB port at the other for connecting to the charger or your PC.

As you would expect the P9 Plus also includes the usual assortment of WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, and NFC connectivity options. The Huawei P9 Plus also comes with a plethora of LTE bands – just like previous Huawei devices – with support for most the major GSM bands in a single variant of the handset.

One of the extra features on the P9 Plus is the IR blaster. The bundled Smart Controller app allows you to control TVs, air conditioning units, set-top-boxes, DVD players, projectors and more. Device setup is easy enough, you just need to pick the type and make of device and follow the on-screen instructions. Overall the IR blasted worked as expect and in my opinion is a good addition.



The Huawei P9 Plus runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow out of the box, complete with Huawei’s Emotion UI 4.1. For some people the lack of a stock Android experience will be a stumbling block, especially since EMUI doesn’t include an app drawer. If you haven’t heard of EMUI, the general look-and-feel is different to stock Android with colorful square icons, desktop folders and a re-designed settings page.

However besides the UI changes there are lots of additional features that you don’t get with stock Android including a floating dock, motion gestures, voice wake-up, a one-handed mode and Huawei’s own take on a “do not disturb” mode.

Under motion gestures you can enable motions like flip to mute, raise to ear to answer calls, and a tilt motion to move icons and widgets. The tilt motion feature works from the home screen editing mode. If you touch and hold an icon or widget you can move it to another screen by tilting the phone to the left or right. There is also the Knuckle gestures which allow you to take a screenshot by double tapping the screen with your knuckle, or drawing a letter to open an app. Both types of knuckle gesture can be disabled if you find they misfire.

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With the built-in voice wakeup you can talk to your phone when it is nearby. Its usage is limited to placing a call or locating your device, but it works quite well. The default phrase is “Okay Emy,” but can be changed to anything you like. A similar feature is “Quick calling” which allows you to initiate calls when the screen is turned off. However you need to press and hold the volume down button until you hear an alert tone, then you can speak the name of the contact you want to call.

Since the P9 Plus uses on-screen keys, Huawei as added the ability to customize the order of the navigation buttons. By default the recent apps is on the right and the back button is on the left. However this can be reversed. It is also possible to add a fourth button for opening the notification panel. Tapping the icon is the equivalent to dragging the notification shade down from the top.

There is also a theme engine that lets you easily change the look and feel of the UI to something that better suits your tastes. The theme store has dozens of free themes arrange in several different categories including Creative, Cool, Lovely, Cartoon and Sophisticated. Switching to a new theme is easy, you just need to download it and apply it, however you will need to register for a free Huawei ID.


Huawei has included a battery manager which gives you a high level of control over battery related features. For example you can set a power plan which will tweak the CPU according to your usage (and so save battery when possible). One interesting feature which I haven’t seen before is the ability to change the screen resolution from Full HD to 720p. According to the battery manager app this can help save power! Other battery related options include a whitelist function to ensure that certain apps keep running after the screen is turned off and a power usage firewall which warns you about power hungry apps.

There is also an ultra power saving mode which will disable everything except calls and messages plus activate a simply monochrome UI. When running low on battery power this mode can add several more hours of usage.



One of the key features on the Huawei P9 Plus is the camera. As with the smaller P9, Huawei has partnered with legendary German camera-maker Leica and included the same dual-sensor camera from the P9.

The P9 Plus has a 12 MP dual-lens setup on the back, one with an RGB sensor specifically for color reproduction and the other purely for capturing black and white detail. The camera setup was co-engineered with Leica as part of a long-term partnership that was announced back in February. As a result the f/2.2 dual lenses carry the Leica seal of approval.

The idea behind the dual-lenses is the ability to deliver greater verisimilitude and better light sensitivity. The built-in monochrome sensor promises a 200% sensitivity increase compared to regular sensors and a 50% bump in contrast. There are three different focus modes on board too: laser focus, depth focus and contrast focus as well as a dedicated depth measurement chip. This means that both lenses can focus individually and the P9 Plus’ image processor will automatically choose the best result.


Apart from the more standard modes like HDR and Panorama there are lots of camera modes available including a full manual mode (which offers greater control over ISO, exposure and shutter speed) and a special shallow depth-of-field mode. When using the shallow depth-of-field mode you get the added ability of being able to refocus pictures post capture. From the gallery you can enter the refocusing mode and change which object is in focus and the depth-of-field, i.e. how far away (in terms of depth) another object needs to be before it goes out of focus.

Other modes include night shot, time-lapse, slow-motion, and watermark. There is also a series of live filters available if you want to get a little fancy with your picture taking. Huawei also added a light painting mode, that lets you capture light trails created by things like moving cars, or the stars in the sky. The effect can be really interesting, but you will need a pair of steady hands, or a tripod mount, to get the perfect shots.


When in PRO mode you also get some extra options on the settings page, namely the ability to save images in both RAW and JPEG formats, plus an option to enable/disable the AF auxiliary light feature (which basically shines the flash LED like a torch while focusing in low-light conditions).

There are two things that detract from the overall camera experience. One is the lack of Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) and the other is the lack of 4K video recording. The good news is that there is a software based image stabilization option when recording video.

The 8 MP front-facing camera adds auto-focus, something missing from many smartphones including the standard P9. The auto-focus is a nice feature and should make selfie junkies happy. You will find the standard beautification mode available, plus the Perfect Selfie mode. This mode allows you to dial in a number of beauty presets that automatically get applied each and every time you take a selfie, making for a consistent look across all your self portraits, thus creating the perfect selfie!

My biggest complaint with the P9 Plus’ camera app is that it doesn’t rotate all the UI elements when you move from portrait to landscape. Although some elements do move, the settings page remains in portrait as do the “PRO” settings.

Here are some sample photos to help you judge the camera for yourself:

Plus a few low-light shots:

I also took some monochrome images (one of the modes in the camera app) which I guess/hope uses the monochrome sensor:

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Display 5.5-inch AMOLED panel
1920×1080 resolution
Press touch tech
SoC HiSilicon Kirin 955
CPU 4x 2.5GHz Cortex-A72
4x 1.8GHz Cortex-A53
GPU Mali-T880 MP4
Storage 64GB + microSD
Cameras Dual-sensor 12 megapixel rear camera co-engineered with Leica.
8 megapixel front facing camera with auto-focus.
Battery 3,400mAh
Features Fingerprint scanner, USB Type C, NFC, IR Blaster
OS Android 6.0 Marshmallow with EMUI 4.1
Dimensions 152.3 x 75.3 x 6.98mm
Weight 162g


Wrapping up

The Huawei P9 Plus certainly offers a lot. It’s thin, has a great battery, there is good performance, the dual-sensor camera and the nice 5.5 inch display. The only wrinkle I can foresee that could slow its wide spread adoption is EMUI.

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Our reviews of previous Huawei devices, like the Huawei P8 and the Mate 8, have highlighted flaws with EMUI. One concern has always been that with so many flagship devices on the market, EMUI may prove to be a stumbling block to some users, particularly in the west. However, I am not sure that I feel the same way about the software on the Huawei P9 Plus. I certainly liked the software on the P9 and the software on the P9 Plus is almost identical.

Like the P9 and the Mate 8, the Huawei P9 Plus has excellent hardware, but I also like the software. It isn’t stock Android and if you want stock Android then you aren’t going to be happy with EMUI. True the UI is different, but it is still Android and you still get access to Google’s services, you can install the myriad of apps from the Play Store, and so on. What isn’t there to like?

Having said that, it is also possible to replace the launcher with an alternative like the Google Now Launcher. The trick is to make the Google Now Launcher the default under Settings -> Apps -> Advanced -> Default app settings -> Launcher.

Huawei’s partnership with Leica means this is a great phone for photography enthusiasts, but also a great device for tech lovers, with a range of features that are befitting of any flagship device.

What do you think of the Huawei P9 Plus and do you plan to buy one? Let us know your views in the comments below!


Honor’s latest dual-camera smartphone comes to Europe

After Asia, Europe is typically the next destination for new devices from Huawei’s Honor brand. Though the new Honor 8 was recently announced for the US market (read our full hands-on here), the smartphone is actually launching first in Europe, where it’s available today for €399, or £370 if you hail from the UK. The handset may look significantly different to Huawei’s flagship P9, but there are more than a few similarities on the spec sheet. A 5.2-inch, 1080p display, for example, as well as a dual 12-megapixel camera arrangement (one RGB sensor, one monochrome) and 8MP front-facer.

The dual camera setup might not be endorsed by Leica this time around, but it affords many of the same features. These include being able to play around with focal point and background blur in post-processing, as well as take native black and white shots. Like the P9, the Honor 8 also runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow with Huawei’s Emotion UI on top, and hosts a fingerprint sensor on its back.

The Honor 8 is another play for those who have high expectations and mid-range budgets. Clad primarily in glass with an aluminum rim holding everything together, it features a Huawei-made, octa-core Kirin 950 chip (four 2.3GHz cores plus four 1.8GHz cores), paired with 4GB of RAM and 32 gigs of expandable storage (microSD cards of up to 128GB supported). The 3,000mAh battery supports fast-charging through the Honor 8’s USB-C port, too, reportedly taking you from 0 to 50 percent in half an hour.

Available in blue, black and white, the handset can now be purchased through Honor’s vMall online store. In the UK specifically, it’ll also land at Amazon and other retailers including Clove, Ebuyer and Expansys in due course. Exclusive UK carrier partner Three will also begin offering the Honor 8 on contracts in the coming weeks.

Source: Honor

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