The Honor 8, released at the end of August, is the new flagship from the Chinese company. This one is already more cutting-edge than last year’s version, thanks to its materials and price, and is aiming to become one of the high-end devices on the market. Now it’s time to compare it to Android’s star, the Samsung Galaxy S7, to see if it really holds up. Here’s what we have to say.
In this regard, our two competitors are playing a straight game. The Honor 8 and the Samsung Galaxy S7 are two smartphones with very elegant lines, made from solid materials (aluminum and glass). For the Honor 8, the Chinese maker upped the quality of the finish and the make itself. The original Honor 8 was also a new design for this brand, and broke from the tradition of an all metal device, as was seen with the Honor 7. It was also undoubtedly influenced by the Galaxy S6; nonetheless, the Honor 8 has its own personality–evidenced in the lack of a home button on the front of the device.
The Chinese manufacturer was able to improve build quality and design with their new arrival, the Honor 8
The Chinese brand improved the quality of the finish and made an Honor 8 with a metal unibody that feels nice in your hand (thanks to the rounded corners and a slight curve in contour), the Honor 8 is all-in-all a very attractive phone. Unfortunately though, fingerprints tend to show up easily on the finish of the back, just like on the S7.
For its part, Samsung doesn’t need to take any more pointers – certainly none from Apple – on how to finish off its flagship phone. This is without question one of the best looking smartphones. Despite the 5.2-inch screen, it is more compact than the Honor 8. Unlike the Galaxy S6, the camera doesn’t protrude as noticeably (here only .46mm) and the edges that curve from front to back offer better grip, too. And, the Galaxy S7, unlike the Honor 8, gets a big bonus for being waterproof (IP68).
Personally, even though I really enjoy the Honor’s new style and can overlook the fingerprints on the back (which is, honestly, pretty minimal and even better than the S7’s solution), I have to say that the Galaxy S7 is much nicer to hold, and less slippery too.
Honor 8 vs Galaxy S7 - display
The Honor 8 has a Full-HD screen that measures 5.2-inch (1920 x 1080 pixels), giving it a density of 423 ppi. The screen is LTPS TFT-LCD. Color rendering is also pretty accurate, but the maximum screen brightness doesn’t match that of the Galaxy S7. The screen held up pretty well during our test-run, with good visibility from all angles and good brightness, even in the sun.
The Galaxy S7 has a super 5.2-inch AMOLED QHD display, giving it a pixel density of about 577. This is the quality of screen we’ve come to expect from smartphones in this category, which is to say, excellent quality. This round goes to the Galaxy S7, but the Honor 8 remains an honorable opponent.
Honor 8 vs Galaxy S7 - software
It’s difficult to decide which phone is the frontrunner in this category. Each offers a plugin that sets it apart from the standard Android interface. Neither of the two use the latest Nougat Android 7.0 version either.
The new Honor 8 uses the Android 6.0.1 version Marshmallow with the house interface EMUI 4.0. This is the same plug-in as what’s offered with the Huawei P9, which is unsurprising, as Honor is a branch of Huawei. The experience tries to mimic iOS and is very similar. Fortunately, it is possible to download and install alternative launchers to have an Android experience that more closely resembles the original. Special mention to the 'Protect your eyes' mode that gives a little yellowish tint to the screen.
Samsung is now offering its latest Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow version with the added personal TouchWiz feature. The interface is still very light, even if its design is still an acquired taste (Samsung has made a lot of progress here though!).
Even if you aren’t a fan of either of the brands’ pre-installed software, keep in mind that the fluidity is definitely not lacking for either phone.
Honor 8 vs Galaxy S7 - performance
Honor has finally surpassed 4 GB RAM with its new opus. Nonetheless, Honor does a great job of optimizing its devices, with great RAM management and multitasking. This RAM boost on the last model, paired with the Kirin 950, an octo-core processor from HiSilicon, makes the Honor 8 a high-performance smartphone, especially considering its optimization of its exploitation system.
The Galaxy S7 is also excellent in this regard. The Samsung flagship phone introduced an Exynos 8890 house processor with 4 GB of RAM. Here too, the performance is great and you shouldn’t encounter any problems. It really is difficult to decide which phone did better here. Here’s a table to give you an idea of the results for the different benchmarks:
3D Mark SS ES 3.0
3D Mark SS ES 3.1
3D Mark Ice SU ES 2.0
Geekbench 3 - single core
Geekbench 3 - multicore
PC Mark Work Performance
PC Mark Storage
Google Octane 2.0
Samsung Galaxy S7
Honor 8 vs Galaxy S7 - camera
Even though the dual 12 MP cameras on the Honor 8 (with f / 2.2) is quite good, the 12 MP camera on the Galaxy S7 sets the bar for Android smartphones in 2016. With an optical image stabilizer, double pixel technology, rapid focus, it’s difficult to measure up to the Galaxy S7.
Honor 8 vs. Galaxy S7 - battery
I used both phones regularly and didn’t notice any sizable differences. The two smartphones both seem to be fairly sturdy with 3,000 mAh capacity batteries and quick charging. Over the course of our test-runs, we were able to use the phones for more than 18 hours of intensive use (calls, messaging, internet browsing, photography…)
The Honor 8 is available in a 32 GB version (with extra available memory in the form of a microSD) for 399 Euros (around $446). The Galaxy S7 is somewhat more expensive, despite the overall price reductions on all S7 models. The 32 GB version of the S7 is officially available for 699 Euros ($780), but you can find it for around 550 Euros ($613) with a lot of online vendors.
Honor 8 vs Galaxy S7 - final verdict
Is the Honor 8 on the same level as the Galaxy S7? Not just yet, but Honor’s new smartphone is getting closer each year. Honor’s device is more elegant, more powerful, but also more expensive. Despite this rise in price and all of its attractive qualities, Honor still has to make up a lot of lost ground in catching the Galaxy S7. The Samsung classic is still a cut above the rest. It’s particularly difficult to compare when you consider that it is IP68 certified, which the Honor 8 is not.
The Galaxy S7 can certainly justify its higher cost. Its camera is one of the best I’ve ever been able to test. Its performance is excellent, its design is also still great (and its battery doesn’t blow up) and the ergonomics are a treat.