SAN FRANCISCO—Huawei's budget smartphone division, Honor, has launched its new Honor 8 premium phone, marking the company's first flagship phone specifically aimed at U.S. consumers.
The unlocked handset, which is encased in glass, front and rear, and surrounded by an alloy frame, is built to take on Honor's target U.S. market—millennials—with a wide array of high-quality features, including a 5.2 inch Full-HD touch-screen display (1,920x1,080 resolution), the company's own octa-core Kirin 950 processor, 4GB of LPDDR 4 memory, 32GB or 64GB of on-board storage and a microSD slot for expandable storage cards up to 128GB. Also highlighting the Honor 8 are dual 12-megapixel rear-facing cameras and an 8-megapixel front-facing camera, which both feature a wide range of automatic and manual photographic capabilities, as well as an assortment of creativity tools.
The Honor 8 is priced at $399.99 for the 32GB model or $449.99 for the 64GB version, and is available for preorder immediately through Sept. 3. The handsets were unveiled in a glitzy media event here at the California Academy of Sciences just steps away from exhibits of a living coral reef and skeletons of dinosaurs and prehistoric humans.
"I'm very excited to bring the Honor 8 to the U.S. market," George Zhao, president of Honor, said at the event. Zhao said the company, launched in December 2013, is "like a little baby" that has been slowly taking small steps to go after U.S. consumers. The company differentiates itself from competitors and is able to sell its premium phones for less money by eschewing traditional expensive advertising campaigns and relying instead on word of mouth from buyers who are attracted by the company's "young-at-heart" products and designs, said Zhao.
Honor, which mostly sells its phones to consumers directly through the internet, also uses social media and targeted events -- including the co-sponsorship of an event with Amazon Prime Music at SXSW -- to connect with millennials, who are its primary target audience. Some 80 percent of Honor's more than 100 million global "fans" on social media networks are between the ages of 18 and 34, according to the company.
The Honor 8, which aims to help the company compete directly with Samsung's Galaxy smartphones and Apple's iPhones, was first unveiled in China in July and will also soon be launched in Europe. When it was launched in China, 280,000 of the phones were sold in the first four hours after its announcement, said Zhao.
The handset, which runs on Android 6.0 Marshmallow, is available in the United States in Pearl White, Sapphire Blue or Midnight Black, and is 5.72 inches long, 2.79 inches wide and 0.29 inches thick. The phone weighs 5.4 ounces.
The handset's cameras offer a wide range of creative capabilities. The dual main rear cameras can capture images in color or black and white, while featuring a broad assortment of shooting modes, including night shot, professional mode, beauty mode, food mode, panorama, watermark, light painting and time-lapse. The front-facing camera includes delayed shooting and panoramic selfie support.
Also featured in the Honor 8 is a biometric 3D fingerprint scanner for data and user security, a one-touch smart key that allows users to quickly access frequently used apps and features, a USB-C port and a 3000mAh lithium-polymer battery with quick charging capabilities.
The phone, which works on WCDMA and GSM networks, also includes WiFi, Bluetooth 4.2, Near Field Communication, VoLTE and mobile hotspot connectivity capabilities.
Preorders for the Honor 8 are being taken through Sept. 3 through Amazon, Best Buy, B&H Photo Video, Newegg and Honor's own Website, HiHonor.com/us/. Preorder buyers will be eligible to receive a $50 gift card from participating retailers, while Honor's Website will offer a $50 rebate, according to the company.
In January, Huawei announced that its Honor brand would be coming to the United States. The midrange Honor 5X smartphone was the company's first device in the United States when it launched in January for $199.99.