Huawei has steadily been releasing devices in India under its sub-brand Honor. With this strategy, the brand has managed to place one of its devices in every price segment below Rs. 30,000. The Honor 8 (Review) has been its top-of-the-line device so far, and now it looks like the Honor 8 Pro will take over that position. The Honor 8 Pro sports dual rear cameras and is priced to go up against the new kid on the block, the OnePlus 5 (Review). So does this phone have what it takes to dethrone one of the most popular models around? Let’s find out in our Honor 8 Pro review.
Honor 8 Pro design
The design of the Honor 8 Pro is slightly different when compared to its sibling, the Honor 8. The older model has a glossy glass back, whereas the Honor 8 Pro gets a metal unibody. It's available in two colours, Midnight Black and Navy Blue, and you’ll be happy with either one. The smartphone is quite sleek, measuring just 6.97mm in thickness, and has curved sides. What is surprising is that Honor has managed to cram a 4000mAh battery into this body.
At the front, there's a 5.7-inch LTPS panel, with super-slim side borders. The top and bottom are thicker, and there's an Honor logo below the screen. Above it, you'll find the 8-megapixel selfie shooter along with the earpiece and a couple of sensors. The power and volume buttons are on the right side. The power button is well within reach but you might have to stretch a little to reach the volume controls. The left side of the Honor 8 Pro only has the SIM slot. Honor has placed the USB Type-C port and the 3.5mm headphone jack at the bottom, along with the loudspeaker and the primary microphone. At the top, there's a secondary microphone and a IR emitter which lets you control household appliances.
The highlight of the Honor 8 Pro, the dual rear cameras, are placed at the back in the upper left corner, along with a dual-tone LED flash. Unlike many other phones, both cameras are fitted flush with the body of the smartphone, under a glass window which should keep the lenses from picking up scratches. The fingerprint scanner is also at the back, and we found its placement to be a little higher than what would have been comfortable. You’ll have to stretch your finger a little or shuffle the device in your palm to reach the fingerprint scanner.
Honor ships this phone with only an 18W charger and USB cable, but the party trick is that the box itself can be converted into a cardboard-style VR headset. You get all the required materials, including the lenses, in the box.
Honor 8 Pro specifications
The Honor 8 Pro has some impressive specifications. To start with, the 5.7-inch display has a Quad HD resolution, which translates to a dense 515 pixels per inch. The front panel is made of Corning Gorilla Glass for protection, with 2.5D curved edges. The display has punchy contrast and is quite vivid. Some users might not like the aggressive colour reproduction, and sadly, there is no way to tone it down. You can only tweak the colour temperature to suit your liking. You also get a night mode that claims to reduce strain on the eyes in low light. We liked watching videos on this display. The single speaker was loud enough, but we did feel that front-firing stereo speakers would have done better justice.
Huawei has used its own Kirin 960 SoC to power the Honor 8 Pro. It is an octa-core processor with four Cortex A73 cores running at 2.3GHz plus four Cortex A53 cores clocked at 1.8GHz. This seems slightly dated when compared to the Snapdragon 835 which powers the OnePlus 5. The Honor 8 Pro gets 6GB of RAM along with 128GB of storage which is expandable using a microSD card in the hybrid SIM slot. We found that the firmware occupies close to 16GB of space on the phone, but we still had over 100GB free to use.
The phone also has Bluetooth 4.2, Wi-Fi ac, and NFC. The Honor 8 Pro is a dual-SIM device with two Nano-SIM slots. There is support for 4G, VoLTE, and carrier aggregation.
Honor 8 Pro software and performance
Honor has the 8 Pro running on EMUI 5.1 which is a slightly newer version than what we saw on the Honor 8 Lite. The UI is based on Android 7.0 Nougat, and our unit also had the June security update installed. With 6GB of RAM at its disposal, the Honor 8 Pro had no issues when loading apps and games. Even when switching between apps, we found that the device would retain them in memory, reducing reload times. After a day of use we had over 3.5GB of RAM free on average, which is great.
You also get a one-handed mode which makes it easier to use this big device. Fingerprint scanner gestures let you pull down the notifications shade and dismiss notifications as well. There are a few apps from Honor that come preloaded, but you can uninstall most of the bloat.
The software has a few battery saving options baked in. There is Power Saving mode which limits background apps and disables auto-sync, as well as an Ultra Power Saving mode which switches everything off allowing connectivity only to apps you select. We also found a Screen Power Saving option, which claims to lower the resolution of the display to conserve power. We couldn’t see this taking effect as our device reported QHD as the resolution all the time.
There's a voice control feature built in which responds to the phrase ‘Dear Honor’. In case you can't find your phone, you can loudly ask the device where it is and it will respond by playing a loud tune and triggering the flashlight. You can also try using custom commands, but we found that this did not work most of the time, making the whole feature somewhat pointless.
We ran the Honor 8 Pro through a couple of benchmarks to see how it fares against the competition. The phone returned 124,151 in Antutu, as well as 1,877 and 6,222 in the single- and multi-core tests in Geekbench. It managed to push out 56 frames per second while running the T-Rex test in GFXBench. While the scores are good, devices based on the Snapdragon 835 including the OnePlus 5 performed better.
The phone lasted for 10 hours, 19 minutes in our HD video loop test, and we could get through a full day with medium use.
Honor 8 Pro camera
The highlight of the Honor 8 Pro is its dual 12-megapixel rear cameras. Unlike smartphones that have a telephoto lens on the second camera, these two are used as independent RGB and monochrome sensors. Honor claims that the monochrome sensor can absorb more light which results in better details. To leverage the hardware, Honor has built its own camera app that offers multiple modes to choose from.
While Auto mode is set by default, you can take control using the Pro mode for stills and video. You can also set it to monochrome mode which uses only the monochrome sensor to deliver a black-and-white image. We found that the phone would get warm when using the camera even though it managed to run cool at other times including when gaming.
The photos with this phone turned out really good, and details really were better than average. Colours were accurate and we did not find any chromatic aberration or purple fringing when shooting against the light. Macros were also impressive, and the phone managed a good amount of separation between subjects and backgrounds. In low light, we saw that the camera would sharpen images which improves visibility at the cost of noise and some loss of detail. Selfies were also good, and we noticed that the camera app smoothens them. By default, the camera app adds a watermark advertising the name of the phone. You can disable this, but the option is buried within the Settings menu. We hope this option isn’t turned out by default in the units that ship to the consumers.
The Honor 8 Pro can record video at 4K but the ability to continuous autofocus is lost at this resolution. You can switch to 1080p at 30 or 60fps to enable it. We found noticeable lag in the viewfinder while recording video and panning from side to side, but it does not affect the output.
Honor has built the Honor 8 Pro with the best technology it has to offer, which is at par with some of the best in the industry. The Kirin 960 processor is the most powerful silicon that Huawei currently makes, even though it falls behind the Snapdragon 835. The Honor 8 Pro also runs latest version of EMUI. Compared to the OnePlus 5, you get twice the storage and a higher resolution screen at an even lower price.
The camera performance is quite good and so is the implementation of the dual-camera functionality. The monochrome sensor does help and we were impressed with the level of detail in every picture. Overall, we were happy with the photos we took with the Honor 8 Pro.
It does seem as though the Honor 8 Pro is a good all-rounder. It might not be the leader of the pack but it isn’t far behind, and definitely looks like a much better deal than the slightly less expensive Samsung Galaxy C7 Pro (Review) and Moto Z2 Play (Review). For Rs 29,999, it is considerably more affordable than the OnePlus 5, potentially making it just as much of a flagship killer.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this review incorrectly stated that the Honor 8 Pro has an AMOLED display.