Over the years, I’ve had two Honor phones in my work: Honor 8X and Honor 9, which have the most pleasant memories. So today I’m looking at the budget model of 2023 – Honor X8a.
The terminal comes in a traditional cardboard box with a picture of a smartphone, the color of which does not match the color of the actual device. I assume that this is due to some cost savings.
The order is the same for all colors (in Ukraine, it’s Cyan Lake and Midnight Black), and then you just have to stick the appropriate sticker on it – cheaper and angrier. In my humble opinion, the color of the sample pictured is the most advantageous and impressive, which cannot be said about the Midnight Black device found in the box. The “midnight black” plastic only electrifies perfectly, collecting all imaginable and unimaginable dust particles. I suspect that this would not be so noticeable on Cyan Lake.
Package contents and appearance
In line with the global trend, the package does not shine with sophistication and variety. In addition to the smartphone itself, the box contained a 22.5W Honor SuperCharge charger, a USB-C connection cable, and paper documentation (a quick start guide and a warranty card).
At first glance, the smartphone looks painfully reminiscent of… Yes, yes! Do you too?
A clone is a clone in Africa! Be that as it may, it looks cooler than it costs, and the price is now in the range of a mid-budget “popular” flagship (around UAH 8000 or $215).
The external inspection brought the following results. The body of the smartphone is made of high-quality plastic. On the left side there is a tray for 2 nano-cards.
Here I want to digress a bit and tell you about a curiosity that happened. From previous experience, knowing about the established tradition of placing options in smartphones: either two SIM cards or one plus an additional memory card, I tried forty minutes to slip in a 128 GB microSD and thus double the amount of memory on board. However, all my efforts were in vain.
Finally, I decided to look at the manual, where it was stated in black and white that the smartphone is deprived of such a useful feature, which seems very strange. So, guys, learn your stuff! Well, the issue with memory expansion was solved with the help of OTG – I connected an external 500 GB SSD drive and did not deny myself anything.
On the top of the smartphone body there are two holes (an IR remote control sensor and an additional noise-canceling microphone). On the right side are the power on/off button and volume rocker. The on/off button is associated with the fingerprint scanner.
The power button does not protrude from the body in any way, which complicates the process of getting started. It would be more convenient to feel it if it were grooved or at least slightly extended. At the bottom is a monaural (!) speaker, a USB-C port and a microphone hole.
The smartphone does not have full protection against water and dust. By the way, the screen protector is already factory-stuck on the screen.
The selfie camera lens (16 MP) is located exactly in the middle of the front surface, while at the back there are four round lenses, one of which, upon closer inspection, turns out to be a flash window. Still, it’s pretty cool! (Too bad there’s no LED event indicator).
The designers tried to give their product a premium look, and they succeeded. However, in black, all this winning looks are somewhat blurred. For example, you can hardly see the HONOR inscription and the main feature of the smartphone – 100 MP Ultra Camera.
The size of a smartphone is dictated by its diagonal. Honor X8a has a diagonal of 6.7 inches and dimensions: 162.9 x 74.5 x 7.5 mm. Such “thinness” is impressive, as is the weight of only 182 g (although the manufacturer insists that the weight is 179 g).
After my daily workhorses weighing well over 200 g, the weight of the Honor X8a is excellent. The smartphone fits comfortably and comfortably in the hand, does not slip out during operation. There is no backlash anywhere, you can feel the “breed” of branded assembly.
In short, the appearance of the smartphone is stylish and modern, and the build quality is of a high standard. The design is simple and very attractive, and there are no complaints about it. Moreover, there is a certain pompousness to it. Because the design adds seriousness and style to the appearance, which helps the device look more expensive than it actually is.
The device is held as securely as possible in the palm of your hand, does not scroll or slip.
The body is completely plastic: both the back and the side frame (though there is metal at the base of the side frame, but the outside is plastic).
The “bow” of the smartphone is so versatile that it will fit absolutely any environment and clothes. So, in my opinion, the appearance of Honor X8a is clearly its strongest point.
How does this model differ from hundreds of its kind? First of all, I want to emphasize that there is no 5G function that is absolutely useless in the near future in our country, so there is no need to overpay and pay for a function that is absolutely useless to anyone. (Unless you are constantly on foreign business trips to countries where 5G is already quite popular).
As you know, the ancestors of modern smartphones were good old cell phones. So let’s not forget that their main purpose is to provide stable telephone communication. As the testing showed, in practice, the smartphone holds the network tightly, does not lose the signal, and quickly restores communication after forced interruptions. The smartphone also has a Wi-Fi 5 (802.11a/b/g/n/ac) and Bluetooth 5.1 wireless adapter, and NFC support in the European version.
The interlocutor’s voice is clear in the speaker, the speaker is of medium volume. The vibrating call is also average in power.
The navigation module works with GPS (A-GPS), GLONASS, BeiDou and Galileo. The fact that there is no gyroscope among the installed sensors is somewhat surprising. The smartphone is not that cheap.
Honor X8a is equipped with a 6.7-inch IPS display with a resolution of 1080×2388.
The dot density is 480 ppi. The actual width of the bezel around the screen: 2 mm on the sides and top, 4 mm on the bottom (although the manufacturer has slightly different figures: 1.1 mm on the sides and 1.5 mm on the top. Marketing?).
In the display settings, you can enable a mode with a refresh rate of up to 90 Hz, I preferred the Auto mode, which attracts with automatic frequency selection. Indeed, at 90 Hz the scrolling became noticeably smoother.
The screen has a high maximum brightness (480 cd/m²) and has excellent anti-glare properties, so the device can be used outdoors even on a sunny summer day. In complete darkness, the brightness can be reduced to a comfortable level (up to 3 cd/m²). It is also possible to use a mode with automatic brightness adjustment, which works more or less adequately. Other advantages of the display include the absence of air gaps in the screen layers and flicker, high contrast (1500:1), sRGB color gamut and acceptable color balance (when choosing the right profile).
The disadvantages include low black stability to the deviation of the gaze from the perpendicular to the screen plane and dynamic adjustment of the backlight brightness, which cannot be turned off. Nevertheless, given the importance of characteristics for this particular class of devices, the screen quality can be considered high.
Honor X8a has as many as four circles on the back, like a true flagship. A closer look reveals that there are three cameras behind the round glasses: the main non-standard 100 MP (not the usual 108 MP, but 100 MP!), a simple wide-angle module (5 MP) and a 2 MP module for macro photography. So in most cases, the smartphone will shoot with the main 100-megapixel camera with an f/1.9 lens with autofocus, but without a stabilizer.
I do not advise you to be fooled by the round number of 100 megapixels – it’s just an original marketing ploy. The main camera manages to avoid overexposure, but does not always work out the details in the darkest areas. The color reproduction is a bit unnatural, tinted, more colorful than it really is. There is enough brightness, and overall the pictures seem bright.
The macro module, in my opinion, does not live up to expectations. It would be much more effective to just shoot something with the main camera with digital zoom (up to x10).
Keeping in mind that “it’s better to see once than hear a hundred times,” I suggest you see for yourself what the photos from Honor X8a look like.
The camera can’t shoot 4K video, its limit is 1080p at 30 fps, and there’s no 60fps mode or stabilization. The picture is a bit rough in detail, but there are no complaints about brightness and sharpness. The video sequence is jerky, the processor does not cope with smooth video recording even in this mode. In general, the shooting quality is average. However, there are some cool features like simultaneous video recording from two angles.
Honor X8a uses Magic UI 6.1 based on Android 12 as a software platform.
Good news for Google fans: there is official access to Google services, including the Google Play store. Along with this, Honor’s proprietary app store is on board with a fairly rich assortment.
The interface itself is balanced and does not annoy users with pop-up ads. The curtain with notifications and quick settings is also not divided into two parts, it is single, sliding.
Honor X8a also has no… stereo speakers. The mono sound is loud enough, clear, although mostly at high frequencies. I don’t consider the lack of a 3.5 mm jack for connecting a standard wired headset mini-jack to be a drawback, since I’ve long been used to TWS headphones, and the 3.5 mm port in many ways looks like an atavism of the past audio era.
Honor X8a is powered by Mediatek Helio G88 SoC (12 nm) with eight processor cores: 2 Cortex-A75 cores at 2000 MHz and 6 Cortex-A55 cores at 1800 MHz. The role of the graphics processor is played by the Mali-G52 MP2 GPU.
The amount of RAM is 6 GB, the amount of storage is 128 GB. As I already mentioned, you can’t install a memory card in the smartphone, but it supports connecting external devices to the USB Type-C port in USB OTG mode.
To be honest, the platform is not quite fresh (it was announced in June 2021), but it is budget-friendly. It gives out a little more than 200 thousand points in AnTuTu.
Of course, this is insanely low in today’s times, which is disappointing. Against the background of top platforms that have already gained more than a million points, this is practically the entry level.
But at least here the graphics accelerator supports the Vulkan API. Although in any case, this smartphone is not the best choice for gaming. Rather, it is a workhorse for organizational needs, but not a multimedia device. This is evidenced by a rather weak processor, which does not heat up too much under load. And it copes with the smooth operation of the interface.
Surprisingly, Honor X8a received a battery with a reduced capacity of 4500 mAh by today’s standards and quite expectedly produces low – let’s call them satisfactory – results in standard tests.
In accordance with the recommendations of experts, I charged the smartphone to 80% (and I advise you to do the same!), which took less than an hour (55 minutes). This is largely due to the proprietary bundled Honor SuperCharge charger. Wireless charging is not supported.
Honor X8a is sold in the ALLO retail network at a price of 7999 UAH. And this price is relatively low and quite acceptable for a device of a well-known and beloved brand, and even in a stylish modern “iPhone-like” design and with a large IPS screen with a refresh rate of 90 Hz.
In reality, this offer looks attractive. In reality, the smartphone is at best average in all respects, and the notorious 100-megapixel camera hardly reaches even the average level, but obviously, you can’t expect much from a smartphone at this price. This is a typical workhorse for everyday organizational needs, dressed in a very attractive shell.
In my humble opinion, the 100 MP Ultra Camera is nothing more than a good marketing ploy to stand out from the crowd. But the functionality of the camera is quite good with a decent set of “bells and whistles”. In general, the photos are of normal quality.
The display gives positive emotions, thanks to the 90-hertz scan. The front panel has thin bezels. There are no complaints about the software. Let me remind you once again that Google services are supported.
The front camera with a 2.5 aperture, in my opinion, is a bit weak.
The battery could be more powerful, but it would make the device heavier and thicker.
In general, the Honor X8a smartphone can be recommended for purchase if you need a reliable device with a modern design and positive characteristics.
Main features of Honor X8a (model CRT-LX1)
- MediaTek Helio G88 SoC, 8 processor cores (2×Cortex-A75 @ 2.0 GHz + 6×Cortex-A55 @ 1.8 GHz)
- GPU Mali-G52 MC2
- Android 12 operating system, Magic UI 6.1
- IPS touchscreen display, 6.7″, 1080×2388, 20:9, 391 ppi, 90 Hz
- RAM 6 GB, internal memory 128 GB
- No microSD support
- Support for Nano-SIM (2 pcs.)
- Networks 2G GSM, 3G WCDMA, 4G
- GPS/A-GPS, Glonass, Galileo, BDS
- Wi-Fi 5 (802.11a/b/g/n/ac)
- Bluetooth 5.1
- USB Type-C, USB OTG
- Cameras: 100 MP + 5 MP (wide-angle) + 2 MP, 1080p@30 fps video
- Front camera 16 megapixels
- Proximity and light sensors, accelerometer, compass
- Fingerprint scanner (on the side)
- 4500 mAh battery, 22.5 W charging
- Dimensions 163×75×7.5 mm
- Weight 182 g