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Honor 7 vs Honor 8: Should I upgrade?

Honor 7 vs Honor 8: Honor’s new flagship, the Honor 8, has finally made its way to Europe and it looks like a notable departure from the company’s previous handsets in some areas, but how does it stack up against last year’s top model, the Honor 7, and should you upgrade?

Honor 7 vs Honor 8: Design

The most obvious difference from last year’s Honor 7 is the aesthetic direction the company has taken its newest flagship. For the most part, the Honor 8 shrugs off the generic-looking metal cladding of its predecessor and in its place you’ll find a beautiful 2.5D glass back, created using a 15-layer process that gives it its distinctive shine.

Honor 7 vs Honor 8: Profile

The squared forms of the Honor 7 have been swapped out for softer lines on the Honor 8. Supposedly ‘inspired by light’, the newer flagship boasts a nicely rounded and chamfered metal frame and a circular fingerprint sensor on the back, that as with the 7, doubles as a ‘smart key’ to quick-launch applications.

The microUSB port has also been ditched and in its place, the 8 opts for the increasingly popular Type-C USB connection, chosen for its superior data transfer speeds and reversible design. On the whole, the Honor 8 is lighter, tighter and more interesting to look at than last year’s Honor 7.

Honor 7 vs Honor 8: Screen

Things level out when it comes to the visual experience offered up by these phones. Both the Honor 7 and 8 leverage 5.2-inch Full HD IPS displays. Whilst both are colourful and appear accurate head on, the Honor 8 does appear to push out a brighter image overall, although both phones suffer from colour distortion and brightness drop-off at more extreme viewing angles.

Honor 7 vs Honor 8: OS

Huawei and Honor have been refining and updating their Android overlay, Emotion UI for years, but more recently progress seems to have slowed. The Honor 7 ran EMUI 3.1 atop Android 5.0 Lollipop when it launch, whilst the Honor 8 offers the latest EMUI 4.1 atop Android 6.0 Marshmallow. Since launch, the 7 has been upgraded to Marshmallow too, but that’s only narrowed the gap in the user experiences Honor’s last two flagships offer, not to mention how similar they are to top handsets from parent company, Huawei.

Honor 7 vs Honor 8: screen

As a heavy skin, EMUI on both phones makes notable changes to the stock Android experience, shrugging off the apps drawer and redesigning the top pane into two distinct channels; one for quick settings and one for notifications. Beyond that, the Honor 8 offers minor tweaks to icon design and font, but the gap between the two is still narrow nonetheless.

Honor 7 vs Honor 8: Performance

Whilst we had few complaints regarding the Honor 7’s Kirin 935 processor in our review, the octa-core Kirin 950 in the Honor 8 does improve upon it in some notable ways, mainly with regards to power efficiency, with the promise of at least a day and half from the new phone’s 3000mAh. By comparison the Honor 7’s 3100mAh battery would give up the ghost after just a day of use.

Honor 7 vs Honor 8: Design

Elsewhere you can expect gains from the Honor 8 thanks to the whopping 4GB of RAM at its disposal (in place of 3GB on the Honor 7) and double the potential storage, with the base model Honor 8 boasting 32GB of space and microSD expandability up to 256GB (the entry-level Honor 7 halved both those numbers).

Honor 7 vs Honor 8: Cameras

Honor impressed us with the whopping 20-megapixel sensor it bestowed upon the Honor 7, but as ever, in practice, a high-resolution sensor does not necessarily a good camera make. That’s not to say the Honor 7’s camera is weak, but it struggles in high contrast and low light scenarios.

By comparison, the Honor 8 packs a rather unique 12-megapixel dual-lens sensors that we’ve already spent time with in the likes of the Huawei P9 and P9 Plus. Both sensors work together to alleviate issues with low light, add greater detail and depth to imagery and let you pull off smart tricks like refocusing shots after they’ve been taken.

Honor 7 vs Honor 8: Verdict

We’re so often bombarded with iterative upgrades from smartphone manufacturers from one year to the next that when a notable update does come along, it leaps out at us and for the most part, the Honor 8 feels like a significant gear change in the Honor approach to smartphones, narrowing the gap between Honor and the premium Huawei phones on the other side of the fence at the same time.

Honor 7 handheld Honor 8 handheld

So long as you’re willing to accept that the software experience hasn’t evolved or improved all that much then there are a number of reasons why the Honor 8 is still a solid successor; namely in its superior camera, more attractive design, improved storage and the promise of longer battery life.

At £369.99 it is a notable jump in price from the Honor 7, but if you’re committed to the brand, the Honor 8 will treat you well, otherwise look further afield to the likes of the OnePlus 3.

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