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Battle of flagship phones: Google Pixel vs Moto Z vs Honor 8

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If you’re looking for an Android smartphone with a great camera, you’re spoiled for choice: the Pixel is the first “phone by Google”. It runs Nougat and packs in quality optics. Then, there’s the Moto Z, a modular smartphone that trans forms into a point-and-shoot. And finally , the Honor 8, a smartphone that comes with dual rear snappers. All three devices are equipped with top-end chips, high-res scratch-resistant screens, day-long battery life and the USB Type-C interface for fast charging and OTG pen drive support.Read on to find out which one is for you…
HONOR 8
Build: The Honor 8 is the new device from Huawei’s spin off brand that builds smartphones for online sales. In keeping with its flagship status, it is fabricated out of aluminium alloy , which is then encased under multiple layers of glass to give it a shimmery look. Its screen is fronted by toughened Gorilla Glass that’s scratch resistant and protects against accidental nicks and bumps.
The Full HD display renders crisp text and punchy colours with deep blacks and excellent contrast. You also get the option to tweak the colour profile according to your viewing preferences, as well as a reading mode that filters out blue light to reduce eye strain. Overall, the Honor 8 looks plush and feels solid, but with so much glass in its fabrication, we would be extremely nervous if it slipped or fell.
User Interface: The handset’s customised user interface comes packed with a lot of accessibility settings for improved handling. For instance, you can enable a floating dock that lets you navigate the screen without reaching for the touch controls at the bottom; you can clear background tasks and even lock the display with a tap. Its fingerprint sensor, which also responds as a clickable button, can be used to unlock the handset, answer a call, silence the alarm, and recognise gestures for direct access to the Honor 8’s notification panel and photo gallery. You can also assign this “smart key” to launch an app or utility, take a screenshot, etc with a few quick presses.
The Honor 8 is equipped with motion recognition that allows you to mute an incoming call by flipping the device over, answer a call by raising the phone to the ear, and more. Plus, you get an infrared port and a companion app to control your television, cable TV box and Bluray player from the handset itself.
Performance: The Honor 8 works without any hiccups despite the heavy customisation over the Android Marshmallow OS. In fact, its processor is almost on a par – in terms of synthetic benchmarks – with the chips on the Moto Z and Google Pixel. This means, it runs high definition content and intensive 3D games very smoothly . Call quality and network handling is easily one of the best in smartphones, and audio playback with earphones sounds balanced, complete with low bass lines, crisp mid ranges and pronounced highs. On the downside, the music player doesn’t include any presets or a graphic equalizer to fine-tune the output.Cameras: The dual rear cameras – one is equipped with a monochrome sensor for detail while the other captures colour – on this handset are quick to focus and take photos that are sharp, and rendered with neutral colours and contain a considerable amount of detail.
A depth of field effect lets you decide on the subject you want to focus on even after taking a snapshot. That said, this software optimisation is not perfect, but works well in most cases to give you snapshots that are comparable to those you would shoot on a point and shoot camera.
Pictures taken in low light are impressive, retaining detail with minimal image softening.Results can be further improved with the Honor 8’s manual mode. You even get presets for scanning documents, photographing food, capturing light trails, shooting slow motion clips, and more.The front snapper takes selfies with neutral colours and slightly muted skin tone, which are still pretty good for sharing online.
Battery: Despite its bright, high-res display and processing muscle, the Honor 8 manages to provide well over a day’s worth of battery with mixed usage. Plus, you get three power management modes and the ability to lower the screen resolution to save juice.
As far as flagship devices go, the Honor 8 ticks all the right boxes. If you’re looking for a premium handset that sports eye-catching design, promises consistent top-of-the line performance, great set of cameras (with customisation modes) and battery life, this is worth your consideration.
MOTO Z
Build: The Moto Z’s biggest differentiator is its modular design. Depending on your need, you can opt for a camera mod with 10x optical zoom, a dual 3-watt speaker mod, a 50-lumens projector mod, and a 2220m Ah battery attachment (all sold separately).These add-ons snap onto the device magnetically and connect to it via 16 gold contacts on its back.
The smartphone is fabricated out of aluminium, stainless steel and toughened glass. You get a textured back cover in the box for when you use the device without its add-ons, and a hard plastic bumper case to protect the edges in case of accidental falls.
Like most other Motos, the Z is treated with a water-repellent “nano coating” to guard against accidental spills. Its Quad HD display renders bright colours, crisp text and is usable even under sunlight.
The handset feels solid, but we recommend careful handling when used with its accessories – especially the camera mod – as a fall could lead to both components separating, and even damage to the add on.
User Interface: For most part, you get a stock Android Marshmallow interface with subtle additions like Active Display , where sensors detect a wave of your hand to display the date, time and notifications. You can also twist your wrist twice to activate the camera, or shake the handset to activate its rear flash for torch like illumination. A fingerprint sensor adds a layer of security to your device. All in all, the lack of bloatware makes the handset responsive and spiffy .
Performance: The Moto Z pairs with the mods seamlessly. Also, you don’t need to turn the device off before attaching the mods. The handset posted high scores in synthetic benchmarks, and this processing muscle is reflected in day-to-day use. It handles Full HD movies, as well as 3D games like Modern Combat 5 and War Robots without a problem.
Notably , the Moto Z lacks a 3.5mm headphone jack. Instead, you will have to use a wireless headset, or invest in a pair of USB Type-C earphones, or use the included converter to use the Moto Z’s standard hands-free kit. Considering this is a top-end phone, the included earphones are underwhelming performers with muted highs and dull lows. Calls are clear, crisp, and the Moto Z’s handling of networks is comparable to some of the best smartphones that exist.
Camera: The rear shooter captures quality stills in well-lit environments. It uses a laser to focus on subjects quickly and the results appear evenly lit with adequate detail and sharpness. Grain begins to appear in photos – and there is also some softening of details – as soon as there is a drop in lighting. Shooting pictures in HDR poses quite another problem: There is a noticeable lag after you press the shutter release button, and moving subjects end up looking blurry because the camera takes a split second to process the shot. The front shooter is quite average; skin tones look pale and washed out. Here, the strong front-facing flash adds some warmth to the frame.
Snap on the Hasselblad True Zoom mod (`19,999) and the phone becomes a full-fledged camera – with a 12MP sensor, flash and 10x optical zoom. Photo captures, without magnification, are mostly on a par with the Z’s stock camera, except that it achieves better depth of field. Use the zoom lens, and framing a shot requires steady hands. Even though the mod includes optical image stabilisation, shooting at full zoom results in shots with mixed results. For instance, we managed to take some very good shots of birds under a canopy of leaves, which is not usually possible with a smartphone, but only after a few frustrating tries.
Battery: The True Zoom mod draws power from the phone’s battery , so long sessions with it will dent the Moto Z’s battery life to much less than a day . Thankfully, the JBL Sound Boost Speaker (`6,999) and the Moto Insta-Share Projector (`19,999) mods – which were not available to us for tests – include a 1000mAh and 1100mAh battery , respectively. By itself, you can expect to get a day’s worth of work done with a single charge of the Moto Z’s battery . Add the battery mod (`5,999), and you can expect almost two days.
The Moto Z’s modular design will require some tweaking before it becomes truly viable. At present, it is an expensive proposition with each mod costing almost as much as an entire smartphone.Buy if you are an `early adopter’ of tech and want bragging rights to owning a phone that can shape shift into a camera, speaker and projector.
GOOGLE PIXEL
Build: Google’s flagship smartphone keeps things simple with a smooth anodised aluminium body and a dual-tone finish on the back panel. You get a bright Quad HD oleophobic toughened display that’s responsive and works wonderfully when in the bright outdoors. Colours appear vibrant with excellent contrast. The Pixel will not win any awards for original design, but you will find no reason to complain about its build, which feels solid and well balanced in the hand. Still, for its asking price, we would have preferred if it came with some form of water resistance.
User Interface: The Pixel comes with the latest version of Android, called `Nougat’. There’s Google Assistant, a personal voice-activated helper, which is an augmented version of Google Now, where you can expect to get some amusing answers for cheeky questions like “What do you like to eat?”, ” Are you married?”.The Assistant was able to understand myriad thick accents we used and it did a fair job of finding answers too. That said, it is unable to extract info locally from the phone as easily as it reveals web results for nearby restaurants and world trivia.
You can now preview notifications and perform basic actions (archive an email, reply to an SMS) without unlocking the screen. The notification panel is also redesigned to make it easier to access quick settings, which can be reorganized to your preferences.Visually , icons and text look smaller and crisper. However, Nougat lets you adjust their size as well. Pressing and holding an app icon now displays a contextual menu with quick-action options for that app. For instance, press and hold the Contacts icon to quickly add a new contact; do the same with the Gmail icon to choose Compose, and the Camera icon to choose between “Take a video” or “Take a selfie”.
With Nougat, you get native support for faster switching between apps: Double tap the Recents button (extreme right control in the navigation panel) to switch between two recently-used apps. This is equivalent to the Alt+Tab shortcut on a Windows machine. And if you long press this control, it enables a multi-window mode. However, this works only with supported apps, which as of now is restricted to Google services like Gmail, Chrome, Maps, etc. You also get unlimited online storage for photos and videos at their original resolution – so you don’t have to worry about running out of memory .
Performance: The Google Pixel notched the highest scores in synthetic benchmarks, thanks to the current gen processor purring under the hood. The handset worked fluidly; switching quickly between apps, working across two apps in split-screen mode without freezing up, and playing stutter-free HD games. Simply put, this is one of the most powerful smartphones in the market right now.
Camera: Ever since the Pixel’s launch, everyone has been talking about its cameras. Well, it’s true: this handset is equipped with the best set of smartphone cameras. Portraits taken with the rear camera are sharp with lots of detail and vibrant colours. Low light shots are also impressive; noise is kept under control with little loss of detail. Here, the Pixel uses electronic image stabilisation (EIS) and shots tend to take on a slight yellow tinge. Selfies taken with the front camera are much better than what the Honor 8 and Moto Z were able to manage. There was just the right amount of exposure and warm skin tones. So if you want a good Android handset primarily for a good camera, put your money on the Pixel.
Battery: Now with all its processing muscle and sterling hardware, the Pixel XL still manages to eke out almost two days of service before requiring a recharge. This can vary if the device is used for watching movies and mobile photography .
The Google Pixel comes at a premium price tag, but it comes with one of the best cameras, the absolute current and fastest mobile processor, and runs the latest version of Android. You also get a Type-C-to-USB cable to connect pen drives for direct file transfers. If budget is not a constraint, get this phone for its hardware, display, battery life and fantastic cameras. It’s an all-round winner alright.

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