Midrange devices nowadays are starting to have features and specs that, a couple of years ago were only available in flagship smartphones, like fast charging technology, almost bezel-less display and a 100MP camera. What if we tell you that those features are now available on a sub PHP 15,000 smartphone? We did have a chance to play around HONOR’s newest addition to their pack, the HONOR X8a.
Table of Contents
Design and Construction
Right off the bat, we can say that we are a fan of the design of HONOR X8a. It kind of reminds us of flagship smartphone designs from a particular company–Not that it’s a negative thing but rather a convenient one as it feels very ergonomic in the hands especially for small to medium-sized hands, thanks to its squared-off frame.
We’re seeing more and more smartphones jumping on this trend, and we’re glad HONOR took this route with the HONOR X8a, Although the body isn’t made out of high-grade Aluminium, it feels sturdy and rigid.
At the back, we have this matte textured finish that sparkles when it hits the light. Although, we here in the office have a love and hate relationship with this kind of material; Sure, it looks cool but when rocking it naked, it’s a fingerprints magnet and is very hard to clean.
Aside from that, we can find the triple camera module along with some HONOR branding.
In front we have a the 6.7-inch display with a punch-hole cut-out for the selfie camera.
We really like the bezels on this device, which are noticeably thin from the sides to the top of the display. Although due to that slick asymmetrical bezel trend we see from smartphones nowadays, it is worth mentioning we still have a thicker chin, which isn’t really that bothersome when used for long periods of time.
For I/O, on the left side, we have the dual SIM card tray with no microSD card slot expansion.
We have the side mounted fingerprint scanner that doubles as the lock button on the right, along with the volume rocker.
We do have the ambient light sensor, and a secondary microphone up top.
While down at the bottom we have the speaker grilles, USB-C port, and the primary microphone.
Generally, we love the overall look of this device. It looks minimalist but chic and modern at the same time. The only complain that we have is the matte textured back panel as it attracts fingerprints pretty easily, and I guess since we are nitpicking, the chin on the display too.
Display and Multimedia
For display, the HONOR X8a packs a 6.7-inch IPS Panel with a resolution of 2388 x 1080 capable of producing 391ppi, and with a refresh rate of 90Hz. Since this is only an IPS panel, you won’t get the vividness and deep blacks you would get on an OLED display.
This isn’t to say that the display on the HONOR X8a isn’t any better, but obviously there are other smartphones in this price range that come with an OLED panel and even a 120Hz refresh rate.
On a positive note, we didn’t encounter any issues when using this device for media consumption, but the backlight can ruin a dark scene when watching videos. We didn’t have any trouble using this device under direct sunlight, text was very legible and sharp. You can set the display refresh rate to Standard, which is 60Hz, High, which is 90Hz all the way, or Dynamic, which juggles between 60-90Hz depending on your activity to save battery life.
For additional display settings, we have eBook mode, which turns the whole UI to black and white, color mode where you can choose between Normal or vivid, but in our case we have it set to vivid for a much more dynamic color range on the display.
Lastly, temperature, which we think the default setting is the way to go.
For the speakers. We are not a fan of the sound quality on the HONOR X8a as it sounds tiny and unbalanced, not to mention, we only have a Mono speaker setup here with no headphone jack either so it might be better to use wireless earbuds for more focused media consumption sessions.
Performance and Benchmarks
For performance, the HONOR X8a packs a Mediatek Helio G88 processor couple with a Mali-G52 MC2 GPU. The unit we have is the top of the line configuration with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage, you can also get the HONOR X8a in with 6GB of RAM instead of 8 for cheaper.
Using it as a semi daily driver, answering calls and emails, downloading large files for work, editing photos in Lightroom and even casual gaming, we are actually surprised that the HONOR X8a handled all of that pretty well.
Although, with too many apps running in the background, you may find some quick stutters here and there, considering the chipset its rocking. When it comes to playing graphically intensive games such as PUBG, Asphalt 9 and Genshin Impact; at maximum graphics settings we got an average of 38-49fps. Pretty usable but for long periods of time, we’ve experienced stutters here and there, as well a slight overheating which leads to throttling. Overall, the HONOR X8a passes as a productivity tool good enough for gaming. We recommend playing at low to medium graphics for a much more optimal gaming experience.
When it come its cameras, we have a triple camera setup that consists of a 5MP f/2.2 ultra-wide, 2MP f/2.4 macro, and finally the star of the show, a 100MP f/1.9 main sensor. Combo’d with a 16MP f/2.5 sensor for selfies.
We highly appreciate how the images came out from the HONOR X8a. To be honest, we didn’t really expect anything this good. Color reproduction looks nice, details are present, and there’s not a lot of post processing going on which we thinks is a plus. Although we did notice some images coming out a bit too cool than we like.
Ultra-wide shots on the other hand can be hit or a miss. There are shots where it produces an Okay quality image, but there are instances where the image looks very washed-out, with no details at all making it look very soft.
Same goes for the macro lens. Yeah, it is fun to see little things up-close, but it you don’t really use it that often. We would’ve wanted to have a telephoto lens here for a nicer portrait shots.
And speaking of portrait shots, we do have portrait mode here, and it does a decent job in separating the subject from the background.
For Night mode using the main camera is okay, nothing we haven’t seen before. It can slightly brighten up a dark environment, but there really isn’t a night-and-day difference compared to the default shooting mode. Same goes with the night mode using the ultra-wide lens. Some shots are okay for social media use, but some really aren’t making the cut.
Now using the full 100MP sensor, things might change a little bit for the main camera. Using the whole 100MP resolution, you can digitally reframe your compositions without sacrificing too much on quality. Just don’t expect to have absolutely better image in this mode. It is a little bit sharper compared to the normal mode.
For video, you can take up to 1080p at 30fps with no OIS nor EIS so expect shaky videos all the way. There’s also dual video mode if you want to be more creative but keep in mind that it can only record at 720p at 30fps.
OS, Apps, and IU
The HONOR X8a runs on Android 12 skinned with HONOR’s Magic UI 6.1. The UI looks very familiar if you’ve tried using a Huawei device, the only difference is that you have access to all Google apps like YouTube, Gmail, Maps, etc. Surprisingly, aside from HONOR’s tools like file manager, ride mode and mirror, there is little to no bloatware at all, making the UI really clean right out of the box.
There’s not a lot of customization options available, which in my opinion is okay, as we like to have a clean and minimalist UI. But if you want to fully personalize your device, we might suggest you to download a launcher with the likes of Nova Launcher, to take advantage of this device’s screen real estate.
For security, we do have a side mounted fingerprint scanner as well as facial recognition. We do recommend, however, using the fingerprint scanner instead as it is much more reliable and secure than the optical face unlock –at least on this device.
For battery, the HONOR X8a has a 4,500mAh capacity with 22.5W supercharge. Juicing up this device from 0-50% took us a little over 30 minutes which is typical. Using the HONOR X8a for occasional gaming and browsing under Wi-Fi, we can clearly say that this device can last even up to 1 day and a half of very light to moderate usage. But if you find yourself a heavy user, we are glad to report that the HONOR X8a can last a full day of use with mobile data turned on, and with some casual gaming and heavy multitasking.
In our proprietary video loop test, the HONOR X8a got a score of 14 hours and 12 minutes while in the PCMark’s Work 3.0 battery test, we got a score of 6 hours and 44 minutes which is a bit on the lower end.
In conclusion, the Honor X8a can be a compelling smartphone in the midrange segment. The weakest point we see is actually with its display as it falls behind some of its competitors.
But all things considered, we can recommend this device to people who want a smartphone with a decent main camera, reliable when it comes to its battery and performance without sacrificing a big budget.
With a suggested retail price of Php10,990 (for the base model 6GB+128GB), the Honor X8a is a contender in the budget mid-range market. It might not cater to power-users or gamers looking for performance and long battery life but it’s still a well-rounded phone.
HONOR X8a specs:
6.7-inch LTPS LCD @ 2388 x 1080 pixels
MediaTek Helio G88
2x ARM Cortex A75 2.0GHz + 6x ARM Cortex A55 1.8GHz
6GB, 8GB RAM
128GB internal storage
Dual nano-SIM card, 4G/LTE
WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
GPS with aGPS support
Fingerprint Sensor (side-mounted)
100MP main camera (f/1.9)
5MP ultra wide and depth camera (f/2.2)
2MP macro camera (f/2.4)
1080p @ 30fps video recording
16MP front camera (f/2.45 aperture)
4500mAh Li-Ion battery w9th 10V/2.25A (22.5W) supercharge
USB Type-C, USB 2.0
MagicUI 6.1 (based on Android 12）
The Honor X8a comes in Cyan Lake, Titanium Silver, and Midnight Black.