Honor Pad 8: Can a £229 tablet rival the iPad?

Tablet computers may have existed before the iPad, but Apple was the company to make it a blockbuster piece of tech. 

Since it launched in 2010, with the recognisable touch screen and black mirror, it has sold hundreds of millions and become an iconic design.

But it doesn’t come cheap, and if you want to get one new then the cheapest tenth generation iPad starts from £499 and the cheapest ninth generation from £369 – unless you manage to find an incredible deal or buy one refurbished. 

Step in the Honor Pad 8 tablet. You might not have heard of it, but it offers a remarkably similar experience for significantly less (it’s currently on offer for £229.99, with an RRP of £269.99).

The tablet, launched in August 2022 and, running Android 11, positions itself as a cheaper alternative to the iPad, while still keeping the functionality.

On first glance it does not seem revolutionary, as the experience feels very like buying an Apple product. It comes in a white cardboard box, with the parts inside packaged similarly.

Once you set it up, if you are used to the settings menu of Apple, the app store and the general controls, you should get the idea pretty easily. It’s intuitive enough for even a tech amateur to be able to set it up without having to call in reinforcements. 

Like the iPad, it works via touchscreen where you swipe to find different apps, has a camera at the back and is fairly light to carry around (it could easily fit in a backpack or medium-sized handbag). 

The most obvious difference is the dimensions, as the 12-inch display tablet is slightly longer and flatter than an iPad. Honor says this means that it offers one third higher visible area than that of typical 10.4-inch tablets, giving more of a wide-screen experience. 

Secondly, I found that the tablet was slightly less responsive when I tried waking it up, with it often taking several taps on the screen, or even pressing the side button, to get it to realise I was trying to use it and light up. Once the screen was unlocked, however, there was no lag in opening apps or in swiping across the screen.

If you just want something to watch films and play simple games with – as I mainly use my iPad for – then you could save yourself several hundred pounds and be quite happy. 

The basic tablet comes with 128GB of storage – twice as much as the basic level for an iPad – and has an impressive battery life, with the company promising it can manage 14 hours of listening to audiobooks with a bright screen, or 10 hours of more intensive use with online classes.

To see whether the tablet can stand up to these classic tasks of streaming content and playing mobile games, I first downloaded the heavy-hitting apps BBC iPlayer and Cooking Craze. 

I watched BBC News side-by-side on a fourth generation iPad Air and an Honor 8 tablet, and honestly there wasn’t much to tell between them when it came to picture quality. The iPad may have looked slightly sharper, but the 2K resolution Honor tablet also had clear HD picture quality. 

What drove me to finally update my old iPad to a new one earlier this year was the fact the elderly device was no longer up to job of running Cooking Craze and it constantly crashed when trying to play any level.

Thankfully for those looking to cook cuisine from around the globe to a catchy soundtrack, the game runs without issue on the Honor Pad 8. The processor is more likely to struggle with more complicated games than this 2D experience, but for those who enjoy a bit of Candy Crush while keeping half an eye on the TV, it is perfectly sufficient. 

The 5-megapixel main camera is where the tablet loses points. The photos it takes using the camera on the back are in a lower resolution than on an iPad, so if you often use your tablet to snap pictures then this may not be the best choice. Many of us, though, would be much more likely to reach for a phone or a specialist camera to take pictures, so this may not be a dealbreaker. 

Taking photos on your tablet may not be that much of a concern, but you may well want to use your tablet to video call friends or family. Of course, you can’t FaceTime on a device that is not designed by Apple, but you can use other apps such as Facebook Messenger using the front-facing camera to make calls. 

This selfie camera is also 5-megapixel, but you’re probably not expecting as perfect a picture when chatting over a video call. When I tried ringing someone, they said the picture was fine and it was not clear that I was using a different device than normal. 

Honor was previously part of the Chinese company Huawei, a tech giant that has been scrutinised in the the UK and US over its links to the Chinese state, and the alleged possibility that its infrastructure could be used for surveillance.

Google no longer supports phones made by the business, so Huawei phones use their own app store where some key downloads are not available, such as iPlayer and Google Maps. Consequently, market share in the UK is declining. 

In November 2020, the Honor brand, making both phones and tablets, was sold to Shenzhen Zhixin New Information Technology.

And you can breathe a sigh of relief that Google is available on the tablets, including staples like Google Maps, Google Translate and the Play Store itself.

Of course, there are other tablets on the market aside from only those sold by Apple and Honor.  The Amazon Fire 7 tablet is a more budget option, currently selling for only £64.99.

If you’re a dedicated Apple fan who likes to link in all their devices from iPhone to Mac to your watch, then you probably won’t want to step away from your well-worn groove. Even if not quite that die hard, to me there’s still something that’s just smoother and easier about an iPad.

But if you’re open to trying another brand, then the Honor Pad 8 doesn’t at all feel like a cheap and cheerful option. It’s definitely a competitor and and you can get a very similar experience for much less. 

Honor Pad 8 tablet: The details

The Honor Pad 8 works as a good iPad alternative (Picture: Honor)

Name: Honor Pad 8

Price: £229.99

What’s good:

  • Premium feel for a cheaper price
  • Sharp video quality for watching TV on the go
  • Good amount of storage and battery life

What’s bad:

  • Camera can be tricky to focus and images are less crisp
  • Sometimes takes a while to respond when waking up and unlocking the screen
  • Not the tablet for you if you want to play complicated 3D games

Where can I buy it? The product is available now in the UK, and can be bought from the Honor website or other retailers including Amazon and Curry’s.

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