Honor 8 vs Huawei P9: Which handset will come out on top in our smartphone face-off?
Huawei introduced a great handset with the P9 this year, providing us with what is easily its best phone yet. The camera’s great, it looks good, and it offers solid performance.
So, now the company as introduced the Honor 8 handset, through its spin-off firm Honor, we’re intrigued to see how it compares to the P9.
Will it become the new Huawei phone to beat, or is it not quite up to the P9 standard? Read on to find out.
The P9 is the best-looking handset Huawei has yet produced. Its unibody metal chassis with flat sides, combined with the almost bezel-free display means the phone can compete with any of the other top-end handsets released this year.
The Honor 8, in comparison, has an all-glass fascia which apparently contains 15 layers to refract light and make it change colour. And speaking of colours, you can get the handset in either white, grey, or blue. When it comes to the P9, you’ve got a choice between grey, silver, rose gold, or gold.
For connectivity, on the P9 you’ll find a USB Type-C port on the bottom, and along the right-hand side you’ll find a Nano SIM and microSD card slot. The Honor also packs a microSD card slot, along with two SIM card ports and a USB Type-C connection.
The two phones are also very similarly sized. While the Honor measures 145.5 x 71 x 7.45mm, the P9 comes it at 145 x 70.9 x 7 mm. In terms of weight however, the P9 is lighter at 153g compared to the P9’s 144g.
And the similarities continue when it comes to the displays. Both the P9 and Honor 8 come with a 5.2-inch 1080p display. The resulting 423ppi density is more than sharp enough for us.
Both are also capable of reproducing 16 million colours, and you should expect decent screen performance from both, even if they don’t have Quad HD or 4K displays (which are somewhat unnecessary for smartphones screens).
We’re yet to try out the Honor 8’s screen properly, but the P9’s impressed us with its deep blacks and colours with a good amount of pop. It also had a nice colour temperature setting which made it easy to adjust the overall display to your needs. We’re hoping the Honor manages to deliver in this department too, but we’ll have to wait until we get our hands on a review model to say for sure.
Past phones powered by Huawei’s Kirin chips have offered excellent performance, and the P9 is no exception. Performance on Huawei’s handset is suitably speedy, although we did notice things started to slow down after using the phone for a few months. Prolonged gaming also gave it some trouble.
But the octa-core Kirin 955 performed admirably all told, with the 3GB of RAM backing it up. And with a Kirin 950 and 4GB of RAM in the Honor 8, we’re expecting similarly stellar performance.
In terms of storage, the P9 comes with 32GB, as does the Honor 8. Both can use a MicroSD card to expand the memory up to 128GB however, so there should be plenty of room for all your apps and pictures.
Huawei has loaded both these phones with Android 6.0 Marshmallow. Unfortunately, it’s also added its own Android skin, Emotion UI. The skin has never been particularly good. In fact, we were moved to deem it ‘God-awful’ in our P9 review.
The addition of an Android skin in general means more bloatware, needless changes to Android’s now excellent user interface, and delays to how quickly devices can get upgraded to new versions of the OS.
Although Huawei has worked to reduce the bloatware, there’s still enough on Emotion UI to make it irritating, and the general design changes are as needless as they ever were.
Although Android Marshmallow is a great OS then, one of the biggest drawbacks with both these devices is the fact that the OS isn’t allowed to shine as it should. Everything will still work in a speedy fashion, but the overall experience will be tainted by Emotion UI.
If you haven’t been overwhelmed by any of the features mentioned thus far, this is where Huawei is aiming to win you over. The P9’s dual-lens Leica camera setup is without doubt its most interesting feature.
Both cameras have a 12-megapixel Sony IMX286 sensor, an LED flash and hybrid autofocus, but one sensor is set to capture monochrome images, while the other captures the RGB (colour) spectrum. The company says this allows for much improved low-light performance and an array of different shot types, plus a pretty impressive bokeh effect.
And we can say, having used the camera, that these claims mostly stand up. The P9’s shots are easily as good as the Galaxy S7’s or the iPhone 6S’s, though they can take on a slight reddish tinge in auto mode.
And while the Honor 8 doesn’t have the Leica branding, it does come with two 12MP lenses, and the same 1.25um pixel size as the P9. Which we’re hoping means it will produce shots of a similar quality, but we’ll have to wait until we’re able to put it through its paces to see whether it can manage to keep up.
If you’re looking for a decent selfie shooter, the two phones both come with an 8MP sensor, which is actually quite good as far as front-facing cameras go. In other words, we’re confident these devices will fulfil your selfie needs.
So how long are these things going to last you then? Well, in our experience with the P9, we found it managed to give us a day and a half with regular use, making it no worse than competing handsets such as the Galaxy S7 or HTC 10.
It seems the non-removable Li-Ion 3,000 mAh battery is perfectly adequate when it comes to keeping up with the competition then, but it’s nothing revolutionary. Seeing as the Honor 8 also comes with a 3,000 mAh cell, you can expect similar performance from that handset, too.
The inclusion of fast charging support on both phones also makes it quick and easy to top up the battery. During our entire time using the P9 it never took more than an hour to fully charge, when connected to a powerful enough plug, and we’re hoping the same can be said of the Honor 8.
Huawei says the fast-charge tech in the Honor device will allow you to charge the phone almost 47% in half an hour, which isn’t quite as fast as some other quick-charge tech out there, but is a welcome addition nonetheless.
PRICE AND AVAILABILITY
The Honor 8 is available now on Honor’s vMall for £369.99/$555, and Amazon will be throwing in an Amazon Fire TV Stick with the phone free of charge.
If you’re in the market for a P9, the handset has been available for some time now, and is currently going for around £399/$598 SIM free.
These phones are almost identical, barring some design differences and the P9’s slight spec advantage in terms of its processor.
You get the same screen, software, and likely the same performance from both the P9 and Honor 8, but the Honor is slightly cheaper.
As such, we’re tempted to give this one to the Honor 8, simply due to its more affordable price point. But, as we haven’t actually tried it out yet, we’ll hold off until we’ve got a full review in the bag. For now, things are looking very close indeed.