HONOR’s budget-friendly X series is almost complete with the release of the new HONOR X8a.
The company is boasting about the device’s sharp camera, large edgeless display, elegant and slim design, and huge storage. But how does it actually feel to use it on a daily basis, and is it really worth the asking price of Php10,990? We’ll find out in our full review.
HONOR X8a Specs
- Android 12, Magic UI 6.1
- Dual SIM, Dual standby
- 6.7-inch FHD+ IPS display, 2388 x 1080 pixel resolution, 391ppi
- 90Hz refresh rate
- 2.0GHz MediaTek Helio G88 octa-core processor
- Mali-G52 MC2 GPU
- 6GB/8GB RAM
- 128GB internal storage, non-expandable
- 16-megapixel front camera
- 100-megapixel (AF) + 5-megapixel (ultra-wide) + 2-megapixel (macro) rear cameras, LED flash
- Side-mounted fingerprint scanner, Face unlock
- No headphone jack
- HSPA+, 4G LTE
- WIFI 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band
- Bluetooth 5.1
- GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO, BDS
- NFC (select models)
- USB Type-C
- Dimensions: 162.9 x 74.5 x 7.5mm
- Weight: 179g
- Colors: Midnight Black, Titanium Silver, Cyan Lake
- 4,500mAh non-removable battery, 22.5W fast charging
Design and Build Quality
One of the few bragging rights of the HONOR X8a is its build. It may look enormous at first look, but you’d be surprised by how light it is when you hold it as it’s only 179 grams.
At 7.5mm, it also feels really thin, making it comfortable even after hours of usage. Still, with a screen that’s 6.7-inch in size, it’s really tall and slightly wide, so using it with one hand is really hard.
On the upside, the screen and the flat edges provide great grip, so you can play games or binge-watch shows without a hassle. You can also slap the free clear case that’s super thin it doesn’t add bulk to the device, albeit it makes us question if it can actually protect the device.
The HONOR X8a is available in Midnight Black, Titanium Silver, and Cyan Lake. It has shiny glass for the camera island with four large lenses. The back panel has a plastic material with a shimmering effect.
As they say, design is quite subjective. Personally, I can’t say I like it. However, a couple of friends say that the design is actually nice as it compensates for the budget-friendly features.
Taking a tour, we have the said 6.7-inch display on the front, which boasts noticeably thin bezels at only 1.1mm resulting in an impressive 93.6% screen-to-body ratio, punch-hole for the selfie camera, and a thin cutout on the top for the earpiece.
The left side only has the SIM tray, which has a hybrid slot that can house either two nano SIMs or use the second slot for a microSD card.
On the left, you can spot the volume controls and the flat lock/power button that also works as a fingerprint scanner. All buttons feel well made and really nice to press, which gives a satisfying clicky sound.
The top only has the secondary microphone for noise isolation, while at the bottom, there’s a USB Type-C port, a primary microphone, and a single loudspeaker. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have a headphone jack or a USB-to-3.5mm adapter.
Overall, we’re satisfied with the exterior of the HONOR X8a. It has a flashy design and, more importantly, has a thin and light build that makes it comfortable to hold.
Display and Sound Quality
The HONOR X8a comes with a 6.7-inch FHD+ IPS screen with a 90Hz refresh rate and JNCD<1 color calibration.
Display quality is just fine for the price. It has enough colors, acceptable contrast, and decent brightness for outdoor use. In a perfect world, we wish the screen was more vibrant and contrasty.
We also appreciate the high refresh rate as the smoothness is noticeable on the interface and social media apps like Facebook. However, due to the underpowered processor, it’s not as fluid as other 90Hz screens we’ve seen before.
The lack of a stereo speaker setup is quite disappointing. On the upside, the single loudspeaker did give ample performance with acceptable volume and clarity.
See also: HONOR price list in the Philippines
Hardware and Performance
The HONOR X8a is powered by an entry-level MediaTek Helio G88 processor, with 8GB of RAM, 128GB of expandable storage, and a Mali-G52 MC2 GPU.
HONOR X8a benchmark scores
Right off the bat, you’d immediately feel how slow the X8a is. You can already feel it lagging from the setup process. So, to make it bearable, we enabled the Performance Mode in the settings right away.
Once the special mode was turned on, the device actually performed adequately. It’s definitely not the fastest for the price, but it’s usable.
For gaming, Call of Duty Mobile’s max settings is only Medium graphics quality and High at frame rate. Under those settings, the game was actually playable, but with occasional hiccups and frame drops. Other games like Mobile Legends, FIFA Mobile, League of Legends: Wild Rift all performed well. Unfortunately, it does start to overheat after 30 to 45 minutes of playing.
Software and User Interface
Even though it’s a 2023 release, the HONOR X8a still ships with Android 12 with Magic UI 6.1 interface on top, instead of the newer Android 13 with MagicOS 7.1.
The interface looks fine, but obviously missing the features we’re already loving with the latest Android version. You can check some of the key highlights below.
One of the key highlights that the HONOR X8a have is its sharp 100-megapixel main camera, a resolution we’re starting to see in more devices recently. While the main sensor is impressive, it’s only joined by a 5-megapixel ultra-wide lens, 2-megapixel macro, and 16-megapixels on the front for selfies.
The image quality from the 100-megapixel looks really sharp, no surprises there. The colors appear natural without noticeable oversaturation or excessive post-processing. If you want an extra splash of color, you can enable AI scene detection right from the camera app.
Unfortunately, low-light shots are disappointing. The exposure is bad and there are tons of noises everywhere. The night mode is not the best either, but it made low-light shots a little better.
As expected, the 5-megapixel camera doesn’t take good quality images, but the wide field of view can be handy when you really need it. Shots taken in daylight are actually passable, but indoor or any low-light shots are nothing to write home about.
You may never use the 2-megapixel macro camera, but at least it’s more useful than a depth sensor. Quality is not that good, but it lets you get close to your subject up to 4cm if you need to.
Now, onto the 16-megapixel front camera. Like the shooters on the back, it takes fairly realistic colors and skin tones. Sharpness and details are fine, even in low light. Just make sure you switch to the standard Photo mode as the Portrait mode with thick beautification filters is set by default when you switch to the front camera.
The HONOR X8a sure takes clean and natural-looking photos, especially with the sharp main camera. Overall, we’re satisfied with how the images turned out.
The HONOR X8a has a 4,500mAh battery, which is slightly lower than the usual 5,000mAh battery we see in most midrange phones. For charging, it supports 22.5 watts.
We ran PCMark’s battery test under Performance Mode, which was constantly enabled during our time with it due to its underwhelming performance. The test was also ran with the WiFi and Bluetooth turned off, and the brightness and volume set to 50%.
Under those circumstances, the device was able to last for 10 hours and 34 minutes before dropping to 20%. In real-world use, it could last you for an entire day of light to moderate use. But if you game a lot, you may have to plug the charger around late in the afternoon.
Speaking of charging, a 30-minute charge from 18% managed to take us to 63%. After another 20 minutes and it got to 87%. A full charge took about 1 hour and 20 minutes. Definitely not the fastest, but fast enough for the price.
The new HONOR X8a is an interesting device for the price all thanks to its comfortable design, large display, and good cameras.
However, it disappoints in one major area that a lot of people care about: performance. But if you don’t care much about that and prefer a capable shooter, this one’s a decent pick.
HONOR X8a price and availability in the Philippines
The new HONOR X80 has a price of Php10,990. It’s up for pre-order from March 13 to 24 in the Philippines with a free HONOR Earbuds worth Php1,590.
If you’re looking for other HONOR smartphones, you may also check out our review of the HONOR X9a and HONOR X7a.
- Clean, elegant design
- Large display
- Good cameras
- Underwhelming performance
- Still on Android 12
- Subpar battery life