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April 9, 2019

The HONOR 8X: Testing the Limits

HONOR hosted a forum at the HUAWEI Xi'an Research Center on March 29th, inviting the media and fans of HONOR phones to learn more about the technology, development and testing process behind the best-selling HONOR 8X model. Founded in 2013 as a sub-brand of telecommunications and consumer technology giant HUAWEI, HONOR has grown into one of the most popular smartphone brands in the world, known for its affordable and intricate devices, jam-packed with proprietary technology. The event marked the first time that the Xi'an center had opened its doors to the public to showcase core technology, the reliability testing process for the HONOR 8X, and details on the sleek lower bezel design.

Xiong Junmin, Vice President of HONOR Mobile Phone Products, spoke at the forum, sharing his thoughts on the HONOR 8X. He noted that the widespread pursuit of "cost-effective" smartphone models has harmed the industry, and become an outdated strategy in 2019. The unique advantage of the HONOR 8X is that it has integrated cutting-edge technology with excellent quality, and in so doing, been a game changer in the mobile phone market.

Technology + Quality: The Recipe for a Best Seller

Mr. Xiong has been interacting a lot with netizens on China's social media platform Weibo, to discuss a range of important topics related to smartphone technology. His presentation at the event addressed the state of the industry, and detailed HONOR's unique niche, as a high-end but affordable brand. In contrast, many smartphone brands have pursued profitability at the expense of technological innovation in recent years, resulting in a plethora of low-cost and low-quality models on the market. The trend has hurt both users and brands, with slowed sales growth as a consequence. But Mr. Xiong believes that the mobile phone industry is on the verge of entering a new quality-driven era. The millions of shipments of HONOR 8X phones are proof of his contention that users have begun to demand quality above all else.

A product's quality lies not only in its durability, or its rating according to various physical metrics, but also in its comprehensive design — how well the overall structure works in coordination. This encompasses communications, endurance, external appearance, as well as its important features. Therefore, the HONOR 8X's hardcore quality comes across in its impact-resistant structure and unmatched durability, but also through the intelligent communications functions, GPU Turbo graphics processing technology, flagship-quality design, and 91% screen-to-body ratio. These attributes, and others, have made the HONOR 8X the standard for excellence in its field.

HONOR 8X sales have now exceeded 10 million, which, Mr. Xiong noted, could only have been achieved with pioneering technology and premium quality. Overall mobile phone sales growth has slowed in recent years, as the industry transitions from its boom period into a developed market. HONOR is well aware that consumers have many choices, and has strived to differentiate itself from competitors by committing whole-heartedly to quality and technological progress.

The HONOR 8X: Testing the Limits

The purpose of opening the HUAWEI Xi'an Research Center to the public was to showcase the technological achievements and unrelenting pursuit of excellence behind HONOR mobile phones, that helped make the HONOR 8X possible.

Proprietary Technology: Leading Network Infrastructure Embedded in a Phone

HUAWEI, which started in the telecommunications industry, has been deeply engaged in related technical fields for 30 years, and now ranks as one of the largest global providers of telecommunications equipment. The HONOR 8X utilizes HUAWEI's powerful reach and comes equipped with state-of-the-art signal reception. At the Xi'an Research Center, researchers were able to simulate the network environment of carriers in more than 240 countries and regions, and exercise an unprecedented degree of control over communications quality. Mr. Xiong pointed out that HUAWEI is the only company with this capability, offering a crucial advantage for HONOR over other smartphone manufacturers.

The unique equipment at the Center allowed R&D personnel to conduct exclusive tests on the HONOR 8X, in which the phone and network were fine-tuned to optimize mobile signal access. The HONOR 8X also underwent extensive stability testing, including continuous 7 day, 24 hour use, and even 14 day, 24 hour use, to ensure that users have a stable signal when accessing the Internet or making calls, in every conceivable scenario. Researchers initiated more than 400 tests, simulating thousands of network signals, and transmitting them to the test screening box through radio frequency lines. These were intended to simulate the diverse settings encountered by users in everyday life: bullet trains, basements, crowded urban centers, and other challenging environments.

Furthermore, in order to better carry out weak signal testing, HONOR invested millions of dollars to introduce professional equipment, including a specially built OTA laboratory for measuring signal intensity and range. The HONOR 8X team used these tests for continuous optimizations until the optimal quality was achieved.

Worth mentioning is that the HONOR 8X's proprietary AI communications technology is also derived from rigorous testing. The anti-pseudo base station function intelligently intercepts signals from pseudo-base stations, thereby protecting user information security. The AI elevator mode automatically detects the environment, and quickly restores the 4G signal after the user exits an elevator.

Stringent R&D: Test till You Drop

Researchers revealed that they conducted a wide range of reliability tests, including those related to touchscreen durability, weight pressure and dropping. According to official reports, the HONOR 8X underwent 10,000 times of power-on/off cycles, 10,000 times of USB plugging/unplugging, 800,000 touchscreen presses, 2,000 times of weight pressure tests, long-term high temperature and humidity (55°C, humidity 95%) and temperature cycling between –40°C and +7°C.

As if that weren't sufficient, researchers also initiated tumble testing, a special procedure in which the phone was continually bounced around until it broke. The researchers then determined which specific components or functions broke first, and used this knowledge to improve the phone's structural integrity. According to the HONOR 8X team, throughout the entire R&D process, reliability testing alone consumed more than 3,000 prototypes. Only the final version of HONOR 8X passed, and could still be used normally after being subjected to the grueling tumble tests.

The Best "Chin" Money Can Buy

HONOR invested a reported 200 million Chinese Yuan (approximately 30 million USD) on R&D related to the narrow lower bezel design. A flagship-quality COF screen technology was used to reduce the "chin" area to the maximum extent, and narrowing its height to an astounding 4.25mm. Not only does the HONOR 8X contain a 91% screen-to-body ratio, it also includes a 6.5-inch display, with a strengthened, balanced grip reminiscent of a traditional 5.5-inch smartphone.

To reduce space to accommodate the bottom antennas, engineers experimented with more than 10 different layouts, before settling on the final design. The new split-design approach drew from a proprietary vertical-horizontal model, in which the antennas are arranged horizontally as well, vastly improving space utilization, radiation efficiency and bandwidth. After exhaustive testing, the research team successful reduced the bottom antenna area on the HONOR 8X by 50%. The inventive solution demonstrates the lengths HONOR will go to, sparing no cost or effort, to ensure that the final product design maximizes performance.

An Interactive Global User Base

During the final testing stage, HONOR launched a new project in which top students from universities across China and fans of HONOR products were invited to provide constructive feedback on user experience. R&D personnel took the mountain of information garnered from real world use to further improve the HONOR 8X.

The user feedback process was not restricted to the Chinese market. For the HONOR 8X alone, thousands of users from more than 10 countries participated in internal testing. HONOR utilized this diverse user base to develop an increasingly globalized product. The tests examined thousands of APKs in depth, covered a variety of complex network environments around the world, verified the compatibility of hundreds of peripherals, and collected tens of thousands of submitted questions, providing invaluable assistance during product development.

Attendees in Xi'an expressed wonder at the progress HONOR has made in developing technologically-innovative, high-quality, and affordable smartphones. The HONOR 8X exemplifies an unmatched commitment to rigorous, uncompromising R&D, in the interests of user convenience. As the smartphone industry enters a new stage of development, characterized by incremental technological improvement through empirical testing, users and competitors should take note of HONOR's unrelenting, goal-oriented approach.

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