The Honor 8 that was launched last year was easily one of my favorite smartphones when it comes to the design and it did offer everything that you would have wanted in a smartphone that doesn’t compromise design for internal hardware and vice-versa. Now, the Honor series sees an upgrade with not a successor to the Honor 8 but with a Pro variant that speaks a lot in terms of what is offered.
Having enough power, capabilities with the camera, and a superb build, the Honor 8 Pro has enough to show that it can offer what flagships in the market can do, but the price is much lesser but it is in a segment where it has to prove its prowess with the homegrown chipset that powers the device. Safe to say that Huawei has this time taken a lot of things from the flagship P10 and not from the Honor 8 itself and thus, the Honor 8 Pro does seem like a superb piece in every way. But how well does it fare really? Let’s check out in the review.
Let’s begin with the specifications.
- 5.7-inch Quad HD display, 2560 x 1440 pixels, 515 PPI, 2.5D Gorilla Glass 3
- Kirin 960 octa-core CPU, Mali-G71 GPU
- 6GB of RAM, 64GB internal storage, MicroSD storage expansion
- Android 7.0 Nougat with EMUI 5.1
- Dual 12MP camera with hybrid AF, RGB + Monochrome sensors, 4K video recording
- 8MP front-facing camera, F/2.0, 1080p video recording
- 4,000mAh Li-Po battery, 18W fast charging support
- 4G LTE with VoLTE, Dual-band Wi-Fi 2.4GHz + 5GHz, USB Type-C
As said above, a lot is changed with the design but we wouldn’t mind. We would have liked it better if it had an IP rating for the water resistance. Mind you, this is a 5.7-inch display on the front so the size of the phone is a little larger than what’s become more common in the market with the 5.5-inch ones. Now, the question is whether the phone looks and feels good.
It very well does as the Honor 8 Pro is solidly made with the Aluminum body giving it that premium feel and the sturdiness at the same time. Unlike some other offerings, this phone has the same color on everything except the display. This includes the buttons, the fingerprint sensor area, and there is no section set aside with a different color for the camera area as well. Only the antenna bands on the top and bottom have prominent thick lines running horizontally.
The phone sits well in the hand and might feel a little hard to get a grip on because of the size, but it all depends on the size of the phone you are regularly using. If it is a 5.5-inch one, the Honor 8 Pro won’t feel a lot bigger and won’t pose much of an issue while holding. Unlike how the Huawei’s flagship series is, the displays here are placed on the top and are not embedded, and the 2.5D glass curve is evident in this case. One major advantage of this change while it aesthetically is much different, is the fact that the metal back won’t attract fingerprints.
The back has the dual-lens camera setup with the dual-LED flash, both bisecting the antenna line on the top, and while towards the center, though a little uppish is the fingerprint sensor that works great, as usual. Also, the camera doesn’t pop up even a bit as it is flushed to match the thickness of the frame. On the front, even though the side bezels are kept at a minimal, it seems that the Honor branding on the bottom is taking up some space that could’ve been reduced but the phones are not designed with only the external hardware in mind.
Overall, for a 5.7-inch device if the phone was any thicker, that would have made it hard for the users to hold it. The corner curves and the overall build makes it a very well-made premium device.
The Honor 8 Pro comes with the 5.7-inch Quad HD display. This is an area where the company didn’t want to compromise and wanted to offer something that matches the demand of the latest innovation in tech – the Virtual reality. Just to take it further, the box packaging of the Honor 8 Pro has a VR cardboard unit offered so that you can take advantage of the sharp display and enjoy any VR content.
Giving it a high pixel density of 515 PPI, the display also has the maximum brightness set to be higher than some of the flagships including OnePlus 5, Samsung Galaxy S8, and the LG G6. For the naked eye, the colors put out on the display looked great. Though you can set the display to get into eye comfort mode while reading and also change the color temperature to your comfort, it doesn’t offer you an option to change the resolution altogether like how the Galaxy S8 does. The only downside of this would be the unnecessary consumption of the battery and load on GPU when you are gaming and would’ve been fine with a lesser resolution just to get some more time of usage before the battery drains out.
The question about liking or not liking an interface is always personal but just like MIUI, I like what is being offered on the EMUI. This is the latest version available, i.e. EMUI 5.1 based on Android Nougat. The interface is a lot different from the stock Android UI but if it did that without offering any special features, that would’ve been a disappointment. But here, the EMUI offers gestures, assistance and some features that other custom ROMs don’t offer.
To begin with, it doesn’t restrict you to have all the apps on the home screen itself, as the home screen style can be changed and you can have an app drawer. Then, the motion control features include Flip to mute, Pick up to reduce ring volume, raise to ear to make or answer calls, smart screenshot, draw to open an app, and also a split-screen gesture. An option called App Twin makes it possible to use two accounts for the same app at one time. Some external apps helps you do the same but when the interface itself gives you an option, you can be sure that it would work well.
To take the customization ahead, since the navigation keys are a part of the display, you can change their positions and add a button to pull down the notification panel. Talking about that panel, the fingerprint scanner isn’t only for the unlocking of the phone. It has some swipe gestures where swiping down on the scanner helps in dragging the notification panel down, swiping in Gallery helps scroll through the photos and the scanner can also help take photos, answer calls, and stop alarms.
A lot can be talked about the processor that powers the phone and this would be a point of interest for many because it doesn’t have the Snapdragon chipset that most of the flagship smartphones of the current year offer. But then, why would you want to judge a smartphone based on its chipset’s name and not its performance? To prove itself, the Honor 8 Pro with its Kirin 960 chip and the octa-core Mali-G71 GPU have been able to render the graphics on intensive games quite well and that is worth noticing because it has to do that for a 2K resolution display.
The phone has been smooth with the interface, and multitasking has been a breeze. The chip used here is the same on the flagship P10. Even though I could talk about the specifics of the CPU and cores, let’s keep it to the experience. The benchmark scores won’t do a lot of justice and with the recent news flowing around about the benchmark manipulation, we better not give the performance a rating based on the benchmarks. The phone has been quite a performer with no issues whatsoever while gaming or using it heavily.
Camera – As usual, the highlight
The camera cannot go wrong here. It never did and the company hasn’t done anything to change the combination that has been doing so well already, so that makes us completely positive towards the dual-lens setup that comprises of a 12MP RGB sensor and a 12MP monochrome sensor. As was the case with the earlier phones from Huawei and Honor, the two sensors work together and with the software optimization, a perfect picture comes out.
The camera samples should give you an idea of what I’m trying to express in terms of the colors, exposure, and no under- or over-saturation of any picture in almost every condition. Even though the company has packed pretty much everything into the device, its camera will still be a major highlight. The noise levels were acceptable and the dynamic range was perfect. Even the pictures taken on monochrome mode had almost negligible noise and a perfect detail. Not just the colors and quality of pictures, the dual-lens camera setup also helps in getting the blur effect in the shots, but wait, there is no other smartphone that is capable of creating the same background bokeh effect even in videos. The Honor 8 Pro is able to do that and it does it quite well.
The following pics are scaled down. Click on the link at the end of the samples for full-resolution pictures.
Check Camera Samples: Click here
The Leica partnership that Huawei had done for the Huawei P9 isn’t available here because Honor series is well off with what the company’s own R&D team does in enhancing the camera capabilities and there is a lot to explore apart from the regular capturing of photos and videos. Also, even though the Leica features aren’t here, the camera app gives you an option of Monochrome mode and that takes advantage of the monochrome sensor directly to take beautiful black and white photos.
Although to be fair to what is offered, we for sure know that the camera has enough to offer the best experience for those who just take pictures without fiddling around with any settings. But then, for any power users of the camera, the manual mode offers RAW shooting, focus, shutter speed, and ISO adjustment to help you take pictures the way you want.
The Honor 8 Pro has an 8-megapixel camera on the front for selfies and video calling. We took quite a few selfies and also tried the video calling. While the pictures seemed satisfactory with the quality, the colors were not well retained in every capture taken with the front camera.
The battery life is another plus even though it is a known fact that the Honor 8 Pro’s 2K display is going to drain battery faster. To add to the good battery life, there is a support for fast charging, which wasn’t the usual case with Honor devices earlier. The 9V/2A charger with the phone is capable of giving it a full charge from zero in less than two hours. Not anywhere close to the Dash Charge from OnePlus but it can easily take on the Adaptive fast charging of the Galaxy S8 and beat it with a higher capacity.
The battery lasted for over a day on the usual days with occasional browsing, chatting and about an hour of calls during the day. For most of the time, I had used the the phone with two SIM cards, the Jio VoLTE being the primary one and Idea on the secondary slot. This is another plus with the connectivity when compared to the company’s previous phones that had lacked the support for two SIM cards. The second slot is a hybrid one where you can either have a SIM or a MicroSD card for the storage expansion.
For the other connectivity options, there is support for Dual-band Wi-Fi and the phone also has an IR blaster. Also, the other inclusions are Bluetooth 4.2, GPS, GLONASS, and NFC as well.
Honor’s best so far. But nothing to take away from it, it is one of the best of the year so far. 2017 has already seen quite a lot of phones including the flagships from LG, Samsung, OnePlus, and Xiaomi (whose Mi 6 is yet to enter the Indian market). There was a time last year when every flagship that was launched got compared with the OnePlus 3 and later the 3T but things are evidently different here. Add up all the factors and you would end up seeing what is offered by the Honor 8 Pro is quite better than the other flagships. What makes it a better deal is the price.
The design and build are excellent, so is the performance. But the cherry on the top of the cake is the camera combination with the company retaining the duo that powered the Honor 8 and there is so much you could do with the cameras here. I could rather say that even with a few shortcomings, this is not just a Pro version of the Honor 8 but much more than that. For a budget of Rs. 30,000, you could rather choose this than the OnePlus 3T and while you might look at spending some more on the OnePlus 5, wait for the comparison between the Honor 8 Pro and OnePlus 5 to see what we suggest.