CPU: MediaTek MT8786
Screen: 10in, 1920 x 1200
OS: MagicUI 6.1 (Android 12)
Rear camera: 5MP
Front camera: 2MP
Connectivity: Wi-Fi 5, Bluetooth 5.1, USB-C
Dimensions: 240mm x 159mm x 7.5mm
The Honor Pad X8 looks rather like a big phone, in fact we wouldn’t put it past some manufacturers to actually make a 10in phone, and look forward to watching people try to put one up to their ears. The Pad X8 is definitely a tablet, however, and a nice-looking one at that. It’s impressively thin, though not as light as you think it’s going to be when you pick it up, and the position of the front-facing camera along the wide edge, plus the speaker on each end, means it’s set up nicely for streaming and video calls.
But is it good enough to make it onto our list of the best budget tablets on the market? I received a sample to test and use over a number of weeks to find out.
There's little to say about the broad strokes of the Pad X8’s design. It’s a black slate with rounded corners, a blue plastic back (no other colours seem to be available, at least in the UK) broken by a camera lens in the corner and a discreet Honor logo, plus the usual volume rocker, lock button, and USB-C port (10W charging, not super-fast, there's a charger in the box) around the edges. It’s the same as hundreds of tablets before it, and countless yet to come.
There's a reason for that, of course: the layout works and we’re used to it. Here, there's a fairly wide bezel (you need somewhere to put your fingers when you’re holding it) surrounding a really nice HD IPS screen. There's what looks like a SIM tray, but it’s for Micro SD cards to expand the tablet's storage by up to 512GB rather than mobile data, a USB-C port for charging and connecting to things, but no headphone socket. Happily, it has Bluetooth 5.1 on board for hooking up wireless headphones if you need to.
The slender profile of the tablet means it’s a cinch to slide into a bag or even a large inside pocket, though the weight may make itself known if you try that - it’s heavier than an iPad mini but weighs less than a Galaxy Tab S8. The Honor Pad X8 packs in a large battery for a smaller tablet, and this means you’ll be able to use the tablet all day without reaching for the charger.
The screen resolution of 1920x1200 means HD content looks nice and sharp, and as an IPS panel, it deals with colours well. It’s great for displaying video and still images. There are ebook and eye care modes in the Settings app, the former of which changes the display to greyscale to make reading text easier on the eye. It’s a very reflective screen, however, and detail in dark areas can be lost.
As an entry-level model, there's very little in terms of stand-out features. The front of the tablet is so symmetrical, with the camera on the long edge, that it’s easy to pick it up in the wrong orientation. There's no fingerprint reader, and both face recognition and raise/tap-to-wake are off by default, though a moment spent in the Settings app fixes that. We could not get raise-to-wake to work, sadly, despite the presence of an accelerometer in the device.
Honor’s MagicUI 6.1, which is based on Android 12, is a nice place to do your browsing from, with a macOS-like dock at the bottom of the screen to hold recent apps. As there's no home button, you’re limited to using touchscreen gestures to return to the home screen and bring up the app switcher, but this is something you soon get used to. There’s Smart View too, a multitasking mode that allows three apps to share the screen at the same time, though the screen isn’t really big enough to exploit this to its best.
The rear camera is only a 5MP model, and there's no built-in flash. It’s unlikely anyone will be using the tablet as their main photography tool, but it’s just about good enough to use for a quick aide memoir or unexpected silly moment. The front camera is a 2MP model, and is positioned halfway down the long edge of the device. This makes a lot of sense from a Zoom point of view, but does mean you’re likely to cover it with your hand when you pick the tablet up, hindering the face recognition somewhat.
Inside the Honor Pad X8 there's a MediaTek MT8786 chipset attached to 4GB of RAM. This is an eight-core chip, but only two of those cores are high-performance, with the other six a bank of ‘efficiency’ cores designed to use less power. To compound this, the performance cores are only clocked at 2GHz, against 1.8GHz for the efficiency cores. It’s not a particularly speedy package, but it does OK.
There's 64GB of internal storage, which means about 45GB is available to the user, though the hybrid SIM tray means you can add a Micro SD card. This matters much less than it might, as the Pad X8 is aimed at streaming and cloud work, and the 5MP main camera isn’t going to produce large files, though it is capable of shooting 1080p/30 video, which might fill your storage up a bit. Start downloading large numbers of apps and games, however, and the internal storage is going to fill up quickly.
Speaking of games, that MediaTek chipset doesn’t have the grunt required to play fast-moving, graphically intensive titles, but can manage some shooters - particularly those that allow you to tailor the graphics mode. Apps like Google Docs run perfectly well on it, and you can hook up a Bluetooth keyboard to make typing easier, but the screen size is a little small for this kind of work.
Sound quality is surprisingly decent from the two built-in speakers, possibly down to the intelligent decision to place them on opposite edges. They’re about as good as you’d expect from a budget tablet, so don’t go expecting room-filling bass, but they’re perfectly acceptable if you’ve not got your Bluetooth cans handy.
Should I buy the Honor Pad X8?
Something that costs less than £200 will always come with tempered expectations. For its purpose - light computing tasks and the consumption of streaming media - you get something capable and easy to use, though it can’t be pushed too far by 3D games.
The Honor Pad X8 makes a very good general-purpose, go-anywhere tablet, with a long battery life if you’re taking it on the road. Its main selling points are its slim and sleek appearance and low price. A 10in screen is fine for reading articles or books, and the IPS panel in the Pad X8 is decent for watching movies if you’ve got no alternative. There's not a lot of onboard storage though, unless you add a large Micro SD card, so you’ll need an internet connection to stream from.