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Earlier this year, on our second backpacking trip around Japan’s Kansai Region, I noticed something peculiar. We were already Day 4 into our journey, but I was yet to take my DSLR camera out of my bag.

As a travel blogger, I had always relied on my bulky camera and even bulkier lenses wherever I go. Over the years, however, the number of times I use it has been diminishing significantly. Lately, I find myself just whipping out my smartphone whenever I need to capture a place or a moment in a photo. Sure, camera phones don’t have the same quality of a DSLR, but their photography game has been growing strong over the past several years, reaching a level of sophistication that is seriously giving DSLRs a run for their money.

We don’t consider ourselves photographers. We’re travelers who simply like to take pictures along the way, so alongside camera features, we also consider the handiness, convenience and versatility of the gadgets we own.

Huawei’s sub brand Honor sent us a unit of Honor 8X and we had been using it over the past week. So far, here are some of its key features that frequent travelers and casual photo enthusiasts might be interested in. Note that these are just our initial thoughts. We’ll update this post when we discover more as we use it.

Take advantage of its AI camera.

Of course, the first thing we did was tinker with the camera. Honor 8X has dual-lens20M + 2M, F/1.8 aperture rear camera, but the feature that gets the most attention is the AI (artificial intelligence) technology. It can detect over 500 various scenarios and adjust the camera settings accordingly so you don’t have to take too much time doing it yourself.

We’ve been playing with this feature for days, and yes, it works most of the time especially in situations wherein you want the colors to pop. You must keep a close eye on the saturation though because it can be extra at times. The good news is, if the resulting photo isn’t your cup of tea, you can easily revert to the original image, which it keeps. You just need to turn it off. It will work even after you take the image.

Here are some unedited photos with AI on and off.

Notice how the second pic is more vibrant, making this seafood paella more appetizing. When we took this photo, the AI automatically detected that we’re taking a picture of food. A food icon appeared at the bottom of the screen. It’s just one of the 22 categories and 500 scenarios that this AI can recognize.
Even when the subject is in the shade or against the light, colors still pop with AI on. As we made the frame, the phone automatically detected that I’m shooting something with blue skies. What it did is it made the sky and the pool bluer. Notice how the sky in the first pic is a bit pale, while it looks bluer and sunnier in the second pic. The details of the pool are also more visible. Even the greens are brighter.
For hazy scenes, the AI also makes the picture more alive. The colors pop and the contrast is higher, making the subject stand out. The AI can turn an otherwise gloomy photo into something more energetic.

Apply Wide Aperture for close-up shots.

One thing I find myself using more often is Wide Aperture. Camera phones by default try to keep all the elements within the frame in focus, which isn’t a good idea if you want to drive the viewer’s attention to only a particular spot. But what the Honor 8X has is an adjustable aperture effect, which you can apply even after taking the shot. This allows you to change which parts and how much of the picture is in and out of focus. Here are some unedited pics taken using the Wide Aperture effect.

In the first pic, the building in the background competes with the subject. In the second pic, the building fades, drawing your attention to the flowers alone. You can adjust how blurry you want the background to be.
Same here. The default shot puts everything in focus, even the writings on the paper place mat. The top photo makes the food pop a little bit more.

It also works for portraits. And Honor 8x takes it to another level by using the same AI technology. It has 3D portrait lighting, which enables beautification and bokeh effects for a more creative shot. It makes lighting effects that match your surroundings.

Explore other shooting modes

With other smartphones, some shooting modes can only be utilized with a third party app, but with Honor 8X, these are all built-in. The Night Mode, in particular, is fascinating. The AI technology also reduces blurring when taking pics in low-light conditions. Even when my hands were shaky, it’s still able to produce a sharp image through a multi-frame stabilization technology. But of course, just because it has that power doesn’t mean you should move while taking a photo. You still have to try to do your part and be steady for best results.

Other shooting modes include HDR, panorama, and portrait.

Use PRO Mode to adjust camera settings manually.

There is also a PRO mode. There are times when none of the pre-set modes can’t capture the right setting or effect. This feature will allow you to adjust the settings manually including the shutter speed, ISO, aperture, and white balance.

This is also ideal for those who are confident with their photog skills and are not dependent on the pre-set modes.

Other Features

Here are other non-camera features that you might also be interested in.

  • Long Battery Life. This phone takes pride in its battery with a capacity of 3750mAh, which can last for over a day on a single charge. For travelers, this is an important asset because constantly charging your phone or connecting it to a powerbank can be annoying and counterproductive. The Honor 8X is said to be equipped with an Intelligent Power Saving technology that pushes the battery life by 33% longer.
  • Large File Storage Capacity. The Honor 8X has 128GB/64GB ROM, which gives you plenty of room for thousands of travel photos. On top of that, it also supports an expandable microSD card of up to 400GB, which means it can accommodate more than ever. If you like taking videos on the road, this is worth looking into.
  • Large 6.5-inch Screen.. If you’re like me who like watching movies or TV shows (Netflix!) during idle times on the road like during transit or flight, the screen specs matter for a more immersive viewing experience. The Honor 8X boasts a 6.5-inch notch full-view display 2.0 and a 19.5:9 ratio, which is close to the cinema ratio. Having a large, clear screen also ensures you see the details of what you’re trying to capture and have a good grasp of the camera controls.

It’s only been a few days and we’re still trying to explore the other features of this phone. We’ll update this post as we discover more things that we think can be beneficial to travelers like us, so check back every now and then!

Be the first to know about Huawei’s sub-brand Honor’s newest Smartphone Honor 8X which comes out on October 10, 2018. Prices and availability will be announced soon.

For more information, please visit Honor online at or follow them on:
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

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This post is brought to you by Honor. Opinions are my own.

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Renuka Walter

Even I use my phone most of the time for photography on my travels. This is really a great camera! Seriously, editing is such an important aspect of photography these days.