How to take better photos on the Honor 8X using AI

The Honor 8X includes the latest in Huawei's computational photography. A dual-camera system composed of a 20MP sensor paired with a 2MP depth-sensing one enables new possibilities, and with the inclusion of AI-powered camera software, it's easier than ever to take great photos. Here's how you can use all those tools to take better photos on your Honor 8X.

Products used in this guide

How to use AI for better photos on the Honor 8X

With the Honor 8X, you can use AI-assisted modes to help you take the best shot possible. Honor uses AI to automatically enhance your photos at all levels of the shooting phase, from the moment you're previewing the image through the viewfinder until after the shot when you're ready to make further edits.

AI can be used for shots taken with both the main rear cameras and the selfie camera and should be considered the Honor 8X's defacto "auto" mode. The smartphone will continuously analyze the shot and will adjust certain aspects of the image in real time. More often than not, you'll find that it doesn't attempt to get too crazy with its suggested adjustments. In fact, the effects are so subtle that you'll often question whether it's doing anything at all. (Don't worry. It is.)

But how do you ensure your AI mode is enabled? That's easy.

  1. At the top of the viewfinder, look for the AI icon. This icon is only visible in Portrait and Photo modes.
  2. A colored icon means AI mode is enabled. Tap this icon to toggle it on and off.
  3. To take a photo in AI mode, simply ensure the mode is toggled on and snap your photo as normal.

What's interesting is that the phone will save both the original shot and the AI-enhanced shot, giving you the ability to compare the two and see what sort of enhancements it made. Use the info button — always visible in the upper-right corner of the camera app — when viewing your shot to toggle a view of the camera settings used to take the shot. The histogram in this view is especially useful to see a more quantifiable difference between AI and regular shots.

What else can AI photography do on the Honor 8X?

While AI-powered post-processing doesn't appear to be groundbreaking, the Honor 8X makes use of AI in several other areas of the composition phase to achieve better results. I know for a fact that the camera uses computational photography and machine learning to identify specific parts of a face or objects in a scene.

Using the various fun AR features in the camera, you can see the camera working to track your eyes and other elements of your face to properly populate your scene with the desired effect. When enabling the "Bokeh" feature, the camera will attempt to blur the entirety of your background while keeping your subject in focus. In post editing, some features — like the face thinner — use AI to identify the most appropriate part of the image where the edit should be made, saving you the trouble and time of dealing with manual controls.

I especially like the "Capture Smiles" functionality, which will snap a photo as soon as it notices a subject is smiling. This tells us that the camera has the ability to accurately track the most important parts of any given scene or subject with some margin of error.

Speaking of scenes, Honor claims the 8X can identify 500 shooting scenarios across 22 different categories, such as sports, portraits, animals, nature, and more. Indeed, the camera will often offer visual confirmation of what it's seeing. Sitting in my house testing the camera accurately brings up the "indoors" scenario while venturing outside shows me that it knows it's seeing outdoorsy stuff.

Thus, we know that the camera can deliver proper adjustments to deliver the best shots. For instance, it's necessary to drive up the shutter speed in sports photography so as to freeze the action, so when the Honor 8X notices you filming sports ball, it'll ideally do just that, all the while managing your ISO and aperture to ensure the exposure is always correct.

Another cool thing Honor 8X's camera uses AI for is a handheld Night Mode. This mode allows you to simulate a longer shutter while allowing you to hold the phone in your hands. It works by snapping a series of shots over a five-second exposure, eventually combining those results into a usable photo. Here's a quick comparison of a low light shot taken without Night Mode (left) and one where it's enabled (right).

This shooting scenario usually requires a tripod to avoid blurry images, but Night mode celebrates the handheld photographer. You are still required to have a bit of steadiness in your hand and you'll probably still want to use a tripod whenever your scene gets a bit too dark, but it can work in a pinch.

Fine tune your settings in Pro Mode

AI makes it easier to take a vast majority of the shots you'd normally take, but if you have more particular needs then Pro Mode is where you can manually change all the settings that AI automatically adjusts. As you'd expect, this mode is meant for folks who know how to manipulate the exposure triangle — that's your shutter speed, ISO, and aperture, among other factors — to dial in the exact shot they need.

Those fundamentals don't fit the scope of this article, but it's worth pointing out that you'll need to learn this stuff on a deeper level if you're planning on getting more serious about photography. If all you're after are some quick Instagram likes, however, you should find everything you need in AI mode.

Other things you might need

Even with AI photography on the Honor 8X, the camera can't account for external factors like subject or camera movement, nor for foggy lenses. You'll want to look into using a tripod to keep your phone stable for advanced shots like one where you slow the shutter speed way down to let more light in or use advanced photo techniques to manipulate light.

You can opt for something portable like the GorillaPod for something quick and dirty, but if you already have a tripod you'll want to use then you'll need a smartphone attachment to use it with. You'll also do yourself a world of good by buying a good microfiber cloth. It'll keep those lenses clean to ensure your shots aren't affected by fingerprints, dirt, and other nasty things. (And it'll be helpful to clean all that glass the Honor 8X sports.)

Our top equipment picks

Looking to take great photos? The Honor 8X gets you there without leeching your wallet.

If you're in need of a cheap smartphone that seems way more expensive than it is and has great camera tools to boot, Honor's 8X should be on your radar. It combines a dual camera system with the power of AI to make photography easier than ever.

Additional Equipment

Add these optional pieces of gear to make your Honor 8X photography experience even stronger.

JOBY GorillaPod ($14 at Amazon)

This flexible guy props your smartphone up from all the weird angles you need it to.

Vastar Universal Smartphone Tripod Adapter ($8 at Amazon)

If you already have a tripod, this inexpensive mount will hold your smartphone to it nice and tight.

MagicFiber Microfiber Cleaning Cloths

MagicFiber Microfiber Cleaning Cloths (Image credit: Amazon)

MagicFiber Microfiber Cloths ($9 at Amazon)

Clean your lens often and avoid scratching it by using a microfiber cloth..

Quentyn Kennemer