2019 is far from ending, yet phone manufacturers keep producing budget smartphones that cater to the needs of most users. If you can still remember, the Honor 8S was announced in the Philippines in July 2019.
In this digital age, a lot of people are looking for smartphones that do not have a hefty price tag. There are consumers who just want a basic phone regardless of the design. Honor went the other way around with the 8S as they did not compromise the overall look of the phone despite its price.
A refreshing design
The design on the back of the Honor 8S is something you barely see on smartphones today. It has dual-texture with a smooth finish on the upper part, while the bottom has the line texture for grip.
There are two color options: Blue and black. I like black in general but not with phones as it looks basic throughout the years. The blue option is also nothing special; kudos though as the layered design makes the color flow in different directions.
Looking at it even felt nostalgic as I remember the Lenovo Vibe Shot and some old Sony Cyber-shot digital cameras that have the same design language.
Long live, headphone jack!
In this country, a lot of people are still using wired earphones (or headphones). No one really likes dongles but people invest on them anyway just to use 3.5mm-powered audio peripherals properly. Unlike Samsung who started ditching the audio jack, Honor giving 8S a headphone jack is a relief.
If I would wish any New Year’s Resolution for phone manufacturers, that would all be about using USB-C for budget smartphones instead of the old-school micro USB. It’s 2019, USB-C is the standard: faster data and charging speeds, less cable clutter.
The front design will not disappoint you
Although notches do not look cool anymore (as if they ever were), budget smartphones with tiny ones still look better than having thick top and bottom bezels.
This budget smartphone is packed with a 5.71″ FullView DewDrop Display. The screen is not as crisp or bright as any other IPS-LCD smartphones out there, but it gets the job done. It’s enough for indoor usage and visible when the sunlight is not too harsh outside. Just remember to untick Auto-Brightness in Settings and maximize the brightness slider to its full potential when you are using it outside.
You can still hide its DewDrop notch
This feature is common among Huawei and Honor devices but I still like how you can hide the notch as it may bother some (or most) people. After all, activating the feature will make the phone look symmetrical in design because of the equal distribution on the screen’s upper and lower part.
It feels basic, but in a good way
Unlike other smartphones with a glass back, the Honor 8S feels lightweight due to its polycarbonate back. For people with small hands, this phone is grippy enough.
One-handed usage, anyone?
If you previously read my Xiaomi Mi 9T review, I told everyone how I like big phones because I have big hands. This time, the Honor 8S is nowhere near that category. Technically, its fullscreen display sounds big on paper but based on my experience, most people would enjoy holding it even with a single hand — more ideal when you watch videos on YouTube or Netflix.
Your Social Media phone on-the-go
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, you name them. The phone performs just right when it comes to social media apps. Posting, tweeting, sharing Instagram stories, they all work just fine.
Performance is just right for its price
Just a refresher, this phone packs a MT6761 Helio A22 chipset by Mediatek. This is the base model so it is equipped with just 2GB RAM and 32GB of onboard storage. Worrying about more storage for your photos and videos? It still supports microSD expandability of up to 1TB.
Performance-wise, there’s nothing astonishing. To be blatant, I have experienced hiccups while using the phone, from scrolling through home screen pages, dragging down the notification menu, and even playing with games such as the not-so-graphics-intensive Alto’s Odyssey. I was not expecting anything grand. It’s just that, other budget smartphones are still capable of performing well. Too bad the Honor 8S is not one of them.
You have no choice
This phone doesn’t have a fingerprint scanner, but the Face Unlock does the trick. It works well under dark lighting conditions, just like how it was advertised. I guess having this “security” measure is better than just typing your PIN every single time.
The design doesn’t speak for its cameras
The Honor 8S’ camera-centric back design doesn’t speak well for its 13-megapixel rear camera (with a wide aperture of f/1.8).
I understand that this is a budget smartphone, but I think camera quality should not be an exception as several budget phones proved that they can still shoot good photos despite the price range they belong to.
I would not give this phone a hard time as some photos look decent enough, but after much observation, some photos would start looking grainy once you get to shoot indoors, even if natural light is present.
It was also surprising to see a “Pro” camera mode. Too bad trying it does not give justice to the photo itself. Night shots are nothing different. Even the selfie camera is lackluster.
The Honor 8S only packs a 3,020mAh battery. Although the phone’s performance is sluggish because of the chipset, it is power-efficient enough to make the phone last.
Forget the numbers! With normal usage, it survives for a day. In times when you want to detoxify out of social media by not using your phone and just let it standby, it would last you two to three days. With those extra power-saving modes, the phone could even last for almost a week.
Charging time is not in any way fast as it would take two hours (utmost) to fill it up — I mean what should we even expect from a micro USB-equipped phone?
Is the Honor 8S your BudgetMatch?
The Honor 8S currently retails for PhP 5,490 (US$ 105). There are other selections when it comes to budget smartphones, and this phone is a runner-up in that list.
If you are the kind of user who just wants a smartphone that looks good regardless of the overall performance, the Honor 8S is right for you. This is specifically recommendable for parents (or grandparents) and kids alike — basic phone functionality without minding additional bells and whistles.
Nokia 3.2 Hands-On: Basic but classy
Nothing fancy but really speedy
Nokia has been stepping up its lineup of budget smartphones. Early in 2019, the brand launched a plethora of budget smartphones that are under the Android One program. One of the budget-friendly smartphones introduced was Nokia 3.2. Eager to have that Nokia experience, I took the phone out for a spin.
It’s cheap… but classy
I had high hopes when I first got the Nokia 3.2 in its box. Seeing it earlier in MWC 2019 made me appreciate its look and vibe. Compared to other budget smartphones, it’s classier and sexier. However, the phone feels a little bit downgraded when compared to its predecessor.
Nokia the 3.1 with an aluminum frame, a plastic back, and corning gorilla glass while the 3.2 used only a polycarbonate unibody design. Its plastic back is smudgy and slippery, but the phone has a tighter grip, thanks to its subtle curved edges towards the front.
Even its buttons are subtly protruding on its sides. On the left is a dedicated Google Assistant button, and on the right are its power buttons and volume keys.
Found on its back are the 13-megapixel main camera, LED Flash, and fingerprint scanner. On the other hand, its top side features a headphone jack, while the micro USB port and speaker grilles are found on the bottom.
It also features a 6.2 inches LCD panel on its front display, with a tall 19:9 ratio. It might be disrupting, but the Nokia 3.2 still sports a small notch, housing its 5-megapixel selfie camera capable of AI face unlock. Even though it might be bigger and taller this time, the Nokia 3.2 is definitely a joy to hold.
Stock Android on a budget
The saving grace for Nokia’s disappointing build (at least for me) is its clean version of Android One. That means there’s no bloatware to take up your limited memory and storage.
Additionally, the Nokia 3.2 comes with Android 9 Pie out of the box. This makes it feel faster than its competitors in the budget segment despite having a 3GB RAM and 32GB of internal storage. Fortunately, it provides a microSD card slot up to up to 400GB of storage.
An entry-level performance
Powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 429 processor, the Nokia 3.2 performs better compared to its predecessor which carried a MediaTek chipset. In addition, its GPU runs on Adreno 504.
This made the Nokia 3.2 handle graphic-intensive games like Mobile Legends even if it was set on the highest graphics setting possible. There were no delay and lag spikes, ensuring smooth gameplay all throughout.
Decent cameras for your everyday needs
Featuring a 13-megapixel main camera with an f/2.2 aperture, and a 5-megapixel selfie camera with an f/2.0 aperture, the Nokia 3.2 takes decent photos. Depending on the lighting, both of its cameras can either take a vibrant, lively reproduced color during daylight or a slightly desaturated photo on indoor and low-light conditions.
Of course, we can’t really expect budget smartphones to have flagship-like cameras. It won’t have quick auto-focus or any fancy features like blurring your background, but it’s the compromise we’re getting when we follow our tight budget. At the very least, make use of natural light and other camera tricks to improve your photos.
Lasts longer than your partner
If there’s one thing I enjoyed with this smartphone, it’s the humongous battery. Packing a 4000mAh battery, the Nokia 3.2 can definitely last a day on a single charge. It can handle your multimedia use and everyday tasks throughout the day, yet it will still have enough juice left to carry you through the night.
However, for a phone carrying a huge battery, it charges slowly at 10W. This phone might just be good for those who love to charge their phones overnight.
Is this your GadgetMatch?
The Nokia 3.2 is a contender in the budget segment. It might have a disappointing build and design, but the phone packs with power, performance, and speed, thanks to Google’s Android One program.
With a starting price of PhP 7,990 (US$ 154) for the 3GB/32GB model, Nokia loyalists will find this a real treat. For people looking for a secondary phone, or a primary phone with no frills and just functions to handle your everyday needs, the Nokia 3.2 could be your GadgetMatch.
However, there are still far better options in the budget category, like the Redmi Note 7 and Realme 3. If Nokia wants to come back in its former glory and capture people looking for an affordable powerhouse, they need to join the battle and beat Realme and Redmi in their game, just like Samsung bending over to compete in the tough budget battlefield.
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