Honor 8C review: Does the device forerun 2019’s latest lineup of charming budget phones?

In a bid to ably penetrate the Pakistani market, Honor’s been launching phones that befit all sort of pockets out there, and I’d say that’s a smart move.

Successor to Honor’s 7C device, the 8C holds the brand’s widely celebrated design aesthetic at a pretty affordable price point: Rs26,499.

Now does the kind price tag play host to its fair share of compromises? Let’s discuss the phone in detail to figure that out.

The nubs: first impressions and highlights

I feel most devices that have so far come out of Honor’s 8-series take pride in their good looks, befitting prices and AI-enabled cams.

Here’s quick list of spoilers giving away the gist of what this review says in detail about the 8C device:

Key specs

6.26 inch display, 19:9 aspect ratio

4000mAh battery

13+2MP Dual AI camera

Dedicated micro SD slot

Snapdragon™ 632 octa-core processor, running on Android 8.1 by default

3GB RAM, 32GB internal storage

Build and design

In an age where phones are all about glass backs and metal frames, Honor decides to unabashedly dress its 8C in a charming but all-plastic body. The finish, however, appears to hold a glossy-but-muted matte feel, and checks most marks on the good-looks test.

Design elements on the back of the phone, exclusive to my blue variant, compose a rather vignette colour gradient that the brand calls the ‘cat eye’ effect; made out of 3D printing techniques and nano-level patterns.

I feel most design traits are borrowed straight off the brand’s celebrated 8x device, and they’re all pleasing to the eye.

Also read: Honor 8x review: Does the device pack enough bang for the buck?

Notch and bezels on the device are slim; however, the chin of the phone has the brand’s name etched on it.

One-hand operation on the device is a bit of a problem as the body, being a little too quick to befriend finger prints and grease, is somewhat slippery. But that, I feel, can almost instantly be fixed with the ready-to-use silicon case that accompanies the device in the package.

Following its 8-series code, Honor stacks its back shooters and flash vertically on the top left corner of the back with the brand name mentioned on the bottom left.

Display
The 8C gets an IPS capacitive screen.
The 8C gets an IPS capacitive screen.

The 8C holds an immersive 6.26-inch HD display on a 19:9 aspect ratio on a resolution of 720 x 1520 pixels.

I feel these specs might not woo a certain crowd of people given how competitor brands are thriving to enhance display experience these days.

To the saturation and brightness end, I feel the device does justice to most features it employs; colours are vivid, viewing angles are pleasing and brightness works well under most low light conditions.

The device, however, shows significant struggle in this department under direct sunlight.

Camera

At Rs26,499, I didn’t really expect the cams on this device to sweep me off my feet. Turns out, they didn’t even try.

The shooters are somewhat underwhelming but decent for those not too particular about phone photography.

I’m discussing the little niggles in their respective sections as follows:

Front cam results

Here’s what I noticed:

  • The front cam holds a basic 8MP shooter and doesn’t do much to enhance selfie-photography.
  • The camera over-brightens the background in its attempt of picking the object and its details well; it does however allow manual tweaks for brightness to answer the issue.
  • Edges are often blurred with background details missed entirely under troublesome lighting conditions.
  • The phone does not offer AI-photography options on the front cam.
Back cam results

The back cams, each holding 13+2MP capabilities, produce shots that appear over-saturated and over-exposed but work just fine under bright, broad daylight.

Let’s discuss some samples.

Under direct sunlight:

Here are my observations:

  • The back cams fare well under direct sunlight and pick sufficient details out of the object.
  • Focus takes time to lock in place.
  • The AI option only adds vivid colours to the shots taken and makes negligible changes to the finer details.

Under low light settings:

Here’s what I noticed:

  • Under troubling light conditions, images hold significant noise and objects appear to be smudged.
  • The cameras add some grain to the image, and tend to wash out edges of objects picked.
  • The UI does not support the brand’s specialised ‘night mode’ (as seen on the 8x and 10lite devices) but the AI identifies scenes shot at night and throws in a great deal of light on objects identified in dark or low light settings.

AI and HDR photography:

I like how Honor is generous with its AI feature and almost always plugs it into most phones they release irrespective of price points. However, for the 8C device, it’s hard to please photography enthusiasts with the AI option.

Photos shot with HDR are pleasing as the saturation, exposure and brightness appear more natural comparatively, and I found myself reaching out for the option more often compared to AI and regular imaging options.

Details picked by the HDR option are also significantly true to life.

Processors and battery performance

Leaving behind the mid-ranged Kirin chipset, the 8c device surprisingly becomes one of the world’s – and Honor’s – absolute firsts to introduce the Qualcomm Snapdragon 632 chipset.

On this price tag, the device’s speedy performance reflects how good a decision that has been. Packed with an Octa-core processor, I feel the combo works best for boosting power on the device and allowing it to run videos and games relatively faster; no lags, no stutters noted.

The 4000mAh battery, which is a major update to Honor 7C’s 3000mAh capacity, takes time to fill up (because no fast charging again) but performs exceptionally well; no hiccups noted even when I tested the batteries out by running a ton of charge-draining apps together.

Also read: Honor 10 lite review: Does the device mimic flagships at a lighter price tag?

This, I feel, remains one of the major pluses this device has on offer.

The low-light face unlock feature somewhat failed to leave a lasting, positive impression on me. I feel I had to struggle around it a bit only to find myself giving up altogether in only few attempts.

The bottom line

In all honesty, the 8C is a well-rounded device that betrays its price tag in multiple ways; the batteries are great, processors speedy, and design and build quality conform to Honor’s signature precision for all of its 8-series devices.

In entirety, I feel it’s just not meant to be judged solely on the basis of its imaging capabilities; it doesn’t come across as a camera-focused phone to me.

Now, do I feel the 8C is a worthy contestant in this year’s lineup of hot-selling, good-looking budget phones?

May be, considering:

  • It runs on capable hardware.
  • The device is all plastic but adeptly conforms to Honor’s signature design aesthetic.
  • It comes with batteries that stand tall against heavy usage.
  • The device is incredibly light weight even though it holds a 6.26-inch display and 4000mAh batteries.

Not really, considering:

  • The cameras are somewhat unworthy.
  • There’s a lack of fast charging support, like most Honor phones coming out these days.
  • It’s hard to turn a blind eye to rival brands in the market; think Xiaomi and Nokia.

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