Honor 8 vs Huawei P9: Design
For the longest time Honor’s more affordable smartphone echoes many of the design elements of Huawei’s with metal unibodies being amongst the most prominent features. With the Honor 8, we see the company’s first major departure from that aesthetic style, with 2.5D glass on the phone’s front and back, surrounded by a metal frame. The back of the 8 is particularly distinctive, with a 15-layer process that gives it distinctive reflective lines that are unquestionably eye-catching.
The P9 is more of what we already know from Huawei, but refined to create an elegant looking smartphone that’s both thinner and lighter than its more affordable counterpart. In place of glass, you’re presented with sandblasted aluminium, whilst both phones share diamond chamfered edges and reversible Type-C USB ports at their bases.
The metal unibody also sidesteps the issue of fingerprints, unlike the Honor 8’s shiny finish and feels like a more resilient smartphone in the hand.
Honor 8 vs Huawei P9: Screens
If it’s a good display you’re after, both phones leverage great 5.2-inch Full HD IPS panels that boast strong overall brightness, accurate colours and respectable viewing angles. They lack the vibrancy of an AMOLED, but that’s more a matter of personal preference than a shortcoming, and as both phone are the same size and resolution, they both produce equally crisp imagery.
One small difference which actually gives the Honor an edge, is in its Comfort Mode blue light filter, which alters screen colour temperature in low light for more comfortable viewing, a feature absent from the supposedly superior P9.
Honor 8 vs Huawei P9: OS
Honor and Huawei usually install the same user experience across all of their comparable devices and as such, both the Honor 8 and Huawei P9 come running Android 6.0 Marshmallow with their custom Emotion UI 4.1 skin on top.
It makes for a distinctly different user experience to stock Android, but in both cases, the UX feels practically identical. There’s no apps drawer, a combined two-pane notifications drawer and dynamic lock screen wallpapers as standard. Both phones also come with a number of proprietary apps to replace the standard Google fare, which isn’t always appreciated, and there are gesture-based functions using each phone’s rear-mounted fingerprint sensor.
Honor 8 vs Huawei P9: Performance
These phones aren’t all that different on the inside either. Both come with NFC, 4G hybrid dual-SIM functionality or single SIM with microSD expandability (up to 256GB) as standard. Each phone also packs a non-removable 3000mAh battery, with fast charging from the Honor quoted at 47 per cent after 30 minutes and 10 minutes charge resulting in an impressive 5 hours talk time from the P9.
The most obvious difference falls to their respective processors. The Honor 8 uses the slightly older Kirin 950 octa-core chipset (which we first saw on the Huawei Mate 8), backed up by an impressive 4GB of RAM, whilst the P9 enjoys Huawei’s latest HiSilicon Kirin 955 processor, supported by 3GB of RAM. With the different balance of performance and memory on offer here, both phones actually perform almost identically in day to day use, so the gap isn’t as big as the companies behind these phones might make out.
Honor 8 vs Huawei P9: Cameras
The most distinctive aspect of both of these handsets has to be their dual-lens camera arrangements and indeed, both the 8 and the P9 actually employ the same IMX286 Sony camera technology underneath, which features one RGB and one monochrome sensor working in tandem.
The P9’s launch signified one of the company’s biggest brand partnership, teaming up with Leica to bring extra attention to the photographic capabilities of the P9, but for the most part, actual functionality and picture quality on these two phones is like for like.
Both handsets offer great all-round performance but the slight differences that do exist are almost entirely software based. As well as enjoying a Leica-flavoured coat of paint, the P9’s camera interface has a more readily accessible pro shooting mode and whilst both phone’s camera top out at Full HD, 60fps video recording, the P9 does trump the Honor 8 with RAW image support when shooting stills.
Both phones also leverage competent 8-megapixel front-facing cameras with a robust beauty mode that gives you control over everything from skin smoothness and tone to eye whiteness and size.
Read next: Huawei P9 Camera Review: In Depth
Honor 8 vs Huawei P9: Verdict
Whilst Honor is always marketed as Huawei’s affordable sub-brand, the Honor 8 is the team’s most expensive handset yet (at £369.99) and shares almost all of its hardware and software with the flagship Huawei P9 (£449).
Watch the full Honor 8 vs Huawei P9 comparison here:
If you like the looks of the glass-bodied Honor 8, you won’t be missing out on all that much from the P9. However, if you do go for Huawei over Honor, you land yourself a marginally more powerful processor, a couple of extra camera modes and a thinner, lighter, more resilient design. It makes for a close race and one that ultimately falls to the size of your wallet and little else.