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Honor 8C Review: Tough Competition

by Duey Guison  April 17, 2019

Can the Honor 8C keep up with the competition?

The sub-10k segment is a crucial price category for all smartphone brands especially in countries like the Philippines. To make their offerings enticing to consumers, brands pack as many features as possible while keeping the price below the 10k range.

Honor’s latest budget offering—the Honor 8C—is going up against strong competition with its entry to the Philippines, phones like the Realme 3 and Redmi Note 7. With hardware like a Snapdragon 632 processor, generous 4000mAh battery, and dual rear cameras, is the Honor 8C a strong contender for this saturated segment?

A refreshing design

In a sea of glossy-backed phones, the Honor 8C’s frosted polycarbonate back is a refreshing sight. Even with a frosted finish, the back panel glimmers when light hits the surface. The only downside, however, is that the unique finish is a smudge and scratch magnet just like glossy-backed phones.

The individual camera bumps remind us of the Honor 8X, and they are thinner than typical camera bumps for this price segment. We still advise that you keep the Honor 8C in a case to protect the cameras and the frosted back panel from bumps and scratches.

We like the ergonomics on the Honor 8C. Its unibody frame seamlessly blends with the front panel, and its gentle curves make it easy to grip. You get the usual button layout with the Honor 8C, along with a dedicated MicroSD slot and a headphone jack. You only get a micro USB port with the Honor 8C. Get with the times—there’s really no excuse to use that aging connector in 2019.

Don’t mind the notch

While the Honor 8C has a rather huge notch, that is justified by the presence of an LED front flash and notification light. Like all Honor phones with a notch, you have the option of masking it with a black bar.

As far as the display is concerned, viewing angles are good and color accuracy is decent. However, auto brightness is a hit or miss affair—there are times that we would manually adjust the brightness level to suit our liking. The Honor 8C’s HD+ display makes us crave for a higher-resolution screen, especially with other budget phones using a Full HD+ panel.

Average performance for a budget phone

Powering the Honor 8C is a Snapdragon 632 processor paired with 3GB RAM and 32GB internal storage. The Snapdragon 632 is basically an updated Snapdragon 625 with higher clock speeds. Since it is almost similar to the Snapdragon 625, the Snapdragon 632 excels in power efficiency and can handle games at low to medium settings.

The Honor 8C’s gaming performance varies depending on the game. With battle royale games like PUBG Mobile, you will need to tone down graphics settings to enjoy stable gameplay. For our test, we managed to get an average FPS of 25 on 99% stability when we set the game to low graphics settings.

 

With RPG games like Marvel Future Fight, the Honor 8C can achieve high average frame rates at the expense of in-game stability in some scenes.

The Honor 8C can run racing games like Asphalt 9 smoothly even at high graphics settings. We got a median FPS of 30 with 92% stability, and only encountered frame drops when the game loads before and after a race.

Still on Oreo?

With recently-launched phones shipping with Android Pie out of the box, it is disappointing that the Honor 8C comes with Android Oreo and EMUI 8.2. While it may not be a bad thing—a number of phones are still stuck with Oreo as of this writing—we really hope Honor will roll out Android Pie and EMUI 9 to the Honor 8C soon.

While EMUI 8.2 is still good, you are missing out on a number of things. The Honor 8C does not have features like GPU Turbo, Digital Balance, and gesture-based navigation.

Cameras can only do much

With the Honor 8C, you get a 12-megapixel f/1.8 main camera and a 2-megapixel depth sensor. While photos shot in daylight are average at best, the Honor 8C’s snappers struggle at low-light—which is surprising considering it has an f/1.8 aperture. Night mode is noticeably absent on the Honor 8C, and we hope Honor adds this in a future update to improve the phone’s low-light performance.

On the other hand, the Honor 8C’s 8-megapixel front camera produces decent selfies, and its built-in softlight LED flash helps in illuminating our face in low-light situations.

Stellar battery management

The Honor 8C excels in the battery department. Aside from having a generous 4000mAh battery, the power-efficient Snapdragon 632 processor helps with the Honor 8C’s endurance. We got an impressive 14 and a half hour battery life score with PCMark, and that mirrors with real-life use.

Using the phone for social media, light gaming, and photography, we managed to coast through the day with roughly 40% juice left in the battery. Juicing up the Honor 8C’s 4000mAh cell will take a while, as it does not come with fast charging.

A hard sell against its rivals

In all honesty, Honor 8C is a tough sell with its Php 7,999 price tag. For the same price, you can get the Realme 3—which has more internal storage, a better processor, a bigger battery, and a better set of camera features. Alternatively, you can opt for the Redmi Note 7 for the same price. Xiaomi’s budget offering comes with a more powerful Snapdragon 660 processor, USB-C, a glass back, and a better set of cameras.

Despite the tough competition, the Honor 8C has its fair share of strong points. Aside from having better ergonomics than the Realme 3 and Redmi Note 7, the Honor 8C excels in the battery department. As for the cameras, we think that Honor can improve it further via an OTA—hopefully together with Android Pie and EMUI 9.

Honor 8C specs

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 632 octa-core processor
  • Adreno 506 GPU
  • 3GB RAM
  • 6.26-inch HD+ IPS display
  • 32GB, expandable via microSD up to 256GB
  • 13-megapixel f/1.8 main rear camera and 2-megapixel depth sensor; PDAF, LED flash
  • 8-megapixel f/2.0 front camera with LED flash
  • Dual SIM
  • 3G, LTE
  • WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, A-GPS, fingerprint scanner, face unlock
  • 4000mAh battery
  • Android 8.1, EMUI 8.2

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    If you are patient enough and want a Huawei, Honor 10 Lite is almost regularly on sale every payday (15/30) for the same price, better in everything than this, even more accesories included and made by the same company.

    I think the cameras on this could still be improved. I mean, I have the 8X and the 20 lite maybe I got spoiled by the cameras on those. I really like Honor, Huawei’s sub brand, most of the phones I use are Honor. I’ve used almost all the major chinese brands, Vivo, Oppo, Xiaomi and have always preferred Huawei or Honor.

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