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Honor 8 Pro Review: A total value for money deal
Honor 8 Pro features a 5.7-inch 2K display and sports a 12MP dual-camera setup that can click some amazing pictures
Honor 8 Pro is now official in the Indian market. Known as Honor V9 in China, the sleek and super-sized premium phablet has been launched at an aggressive price-point of Rs. 29,999 making it a direct competitor of recently announced OnePlus 5.
- Crisp 2K display is great for multimedia playback and gaming
- Premium design
- Capable camera
- Swift performer
- Decent battery life
- Poor audio performance
- Camera lacks OIS
- No water-dust protection
The smartphone carries forward the company's trend of offering power packed Android devices without burning a hole in your pocket. The high-end Honor 8 Pro brings forth some amazing specs on papers.
There's a 12MP dual-camera setup, a big 2K screen, ample amount of RAM and a speedy processor to deliver on performance. Moreover it also runs the latest Android 7.0 Nougat and is backed by a big 4,000 mAh battery unit.
But as we all know, heavy numbers on a spec sheet does not always tell the real story about a product's actual performance. The real performance can only be find out by testing the handset in real world. So without any further ado, let's find out how Honor 8 Pro performs in real-life scenarios with the help of this review.
Design and Display: Premium all metal construction and a mesmerizing 5.7-inch 2K display
Honor 8 is constructed out of metal and glass and feels quite sturdy and premium. The smartphone measures 6.9 mm in thickness despite packing a big 4,000 mAh battery unit.
There's a 2.5D curved glass at front covering a 5.7-inch 2K display, which packs double the resolution of what OnePlus 5's 5.5-inch screen offers. The extra pixels mean extra sharpness, rich colours and more clarity while streaming videos, browsing web pages or playing games.
However the big screen makes Honor 8 a bit bulky when compared to OnePlus 5, which is just a delight to use with one hand because of its compact form factor. Thanks to the rounded corners and correct placement of power button, volume rockers and the fingerprint sensor, Honor 8 still manages to fit in one-hand for an ergonomic use.
And as I mentioned, the design team has done a wonderful job of keeping the weight and thickness in check even though the handset derives its power from a big 4,000 mAh battery unit.
I am quite pleased by the rear mounted fingerprint scanner of the Honor 8 Pro. It is amazingly fast and recognizes your fingerprint without a miss. Samsung could take some lessons on biometrics from Huawei.
Moreover, you get all the nifty fingerprint shortcuts on Honor 8 Pro that further enhances the user experience. Sliding down on the scanner shows the notification panel, swiping left and right can help you scroll images in gallery and touch and hold gestures let you answer a call, click pictures and stop an ongoing alarm. This is certainly the most smartest and accurate biometric sensor on a mobile device.
Overall, I am quite pleased by the design and in-hand feel of Honor 8 pro. It feels premium and come out as a robust big-screen phablet. I wish Honor had provided some sort of water-dust resistivity with the handset, as with such a capable on-board; I would really like to use the handset in non-favorable conditions. Sadly, it's not feasible with Honor 8 Pro as the smartphone is devoid of any IP certification.
Coming onto the screen, it's been a week I am using Honor 8 Pro and the 2K screen feels brilliant. It's very bright to be comfortably usable in outdoors and offers a great touch response. If you love streaming videos and playing graphical intensive games, Honor 8 Pro's 5.7-inch 2K display offering 2,560x1,440 resolution will come as a delight.
While the screen delivers top-class visuals, it skips the latest Gorilla Glass 5 and steles with the previous Gorilla Glass 3, which is good but the competition- OnePlus 5 and others are already using the latest technology standards.
The smartphone's box also offers a Google cardboard styled VR headset which let you experience some stunning visuals, making the QHD screen an absolute joy.
Camera: Dual 12MP camera setup is the highlight feature
The Leica branded 12MP dual-camera setup on Honor 8 Pro is next level. The kind of pictures it captures in daylight makes it the best camera smartphone in its price-point. The camera setup comprises of one colour sensor and one black and white, something we have seen previously in Huawei P9 and what you will see on the upcoming Huawei P10.
The two sensors come equipped with Phase Detection and Laser Autofocus. Sadly Optical Image stabilization is not in the package. The camera setup is also accompanied by dual-tone flash light.
The 12MP dual-camera setup performs a wonderful job in everyday usage. It captures well exposed colours with ample richness when light conditions are favourable. The pictures captured in daylight are amazingly sharp and even show higher contrast and saturation levels than some of the best camera smartphones in house such as Galaxy S8 and Sony Xperia XZ Premium.
And when seen on the 2K screen the images look really good displaying punchy colours. But at the same time you will feel that they are a bit unnatural and amplified in terms of colours and sharpness. You can tune the contrast and saturation levels as per your requirement from settings menu.
It is the low-light performance that falls short of expectations. The pictures captured in non-favorable lighting, especially in low-light, are full of grains and start losing detailing. Samsung galaxy S8/S8+, Sony Xperia XZ Premium and even OnePlus 5 does a better job in handling noise once evening sets.
The camera also records videos in 4k format and the output on the 2K display is quit appealing as far as colours and detailing is concerned. Sadly, Electronic Image Stabilization isn't supported while recording UHD videos and you have to be really standstill to avoid judders. EIS does a decent job while recording in 1080P format.
Besides, the highlight feature of the 12MP dual-camera setup is the bokeh effect it creates, which gives a tough competition to OnePlus 5's portrait mode and Samsung Galaxy S8's Selective focus. The wide aperture effectively highlights the subject in focus by creating some stunning background blurring. It's really hard to settle between OnePlus 5's portrait and Honor 8 Pro's bokeh effect. I believe it comes down to one's personal preference.
Coming on to 8MP front camera, it is surprisingly good and will please consumers who are fond of creating Instagram and Snapchat stories. The front snapper works on f/2.0 aperture and delivers bright and pixel packed punchy selfies.
Hardware: Class leading multitasking and gaming performance
My review unit came with 6GB of RAM that handled everything I threw at it with an ease and was a real joy to use. The company's in-house HiSilicon Kirin 960 processor is also capable to match the performance delivered by Snapdragon 835 SoC. I say this as I am also using HTC U11 side by side and both the phones feel equally responsive and swift.
The heavy games I played ran without any frame drops and Honor 8 Pro also handled video/photo editing with absolute fluidity. And while the phablet easily handles the strenuous tasks, it feels blazing fast during every day jobs.
For instance, web browsing, scrolling Facebook timeline or creating Snapchat/Instagram stories, using maps, etc. are free of any glitches and performance issues.
Overall, I didn't come across any hiccups during my time with this phablet. The real-life performance delivered by Honor 8 Pro can give pricey flagships from Samsung, HTC and others a run for their money.
If there's anything that the phablet fails to master, it is the audio performance. The audio is managed by a mono speaker unit placed alongside the charging port. It's not particularly loud and the sound it delivers feels kind of lifeless. Gaming and video streaming without a pair of headphones is not at all recommended.
Software performance: Fluid and some useful additions by Honor's custom UI
The software performance is decent on the phablet. Honor 8 Pro runs on company's customized skin EMUI 5.1 deployed on Android 7.0 Nougat. The user interface is fluid, apps fire up instantly and you can browse web, click pictures, record videos, take notes, send messages without any glitches.
The comprehensive settings menu offers a variety of customization features and nifty tweaks to improve the everyday user experience. You can switch to a standard user interface with an app drawer or can go with the iOS like skin where all the apps are scattered on various screens.
Emotion UI also features a floating dock to control a variety of phone's functions. Like iOS, this dock can be dragged to the left or right edges and expands upon a tap to offer multiple controls such as Back, Home, Screen lock, Recent tasks, etc. Display settings feature a blue light filter, gestures allow you to control your handsets in multiple useful ways and the UI also offers a lock screen steps counter.
Moreover, Huawei cloud service, a workable phone optimizer, a powerful theme engine, a universal remote controller and some other apps are provided to enhance the user experience.
Another nifty addition is Hi Care, which provides important information regarding your device's warranty status, software updates, service centers around you, manuals to use the device's features, helpline no., live chat, etc. Hi Care app also features a built-in barcode that can be scanned by the service center executive to retrieve your device's information in case of any malfunction.
This small but useful app certainly adds a lot of value and keeps you in constant touch with company's service support, which I believe is a core requirement when you purchase a handset.
Coming on to pre-installed third party apps, the number has been drastically reduced, for good, and now you have Swiftkey, UC browser and Opera Max as preloaded apps. Huawei's health app is also available to offer you valuable health statistics.
In general, Honor's EMUI 5.0 skin has received some improvements and also brings some nifty software additions. But as usual it fails to match the likes of almost stock Android skin you get on its rival OnePlus 5. The latter feels much refined and usable in everyday life.
Battery: 4,000 mAh battery unit can easily lasts a day on a single charge
The larger footprint of Honor 8 Pro allows engineers to squeeze in a big battery unit. This seems quite valid as the smartphone sports a 2K display and a dual-camera setup that needs a good firepower. The battery backup is good and the phablet can last a day on a single charge depending upon your usage pattern.
If you hammer the phone with long gaming sessions and continues video playback on 4G or Wi-Fi, you would need a charger by the end of the day. Cut the gaming and video streaming and honor 8 will easily last for 24 hours and even more on a single charge.
Make sure you keep a window of two hours before leaving home as the handset takes almost that much of time to reach 100% mark.
Storage and Connectivity: Ample in-built storage and all required connectivity features
It's quite amazing to find out that the mobile phone in your pocket has almost 115GB of free inbuilt storage. Moreover, it's even more fascinating to realize that Honor 8 Pro also has microSD card support to expand the inbuilt space to further 128GB. In short, you are not easily going to fall short of space with this smartphone anytime soon.
Honor 8's direct competitor OnePlus 5 also offers 128GB storage variant, however it fails to offer expandable storage support.
As far as connectivity is concerned, Honor 8 Pro has a hybrid SIM card slot, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, an IR blaster, GPS and Huawei Share.
Honor 8 Pro is by far the best camera device from the Huawei's online brand Honor. It's a significant upgrade over the predecessor Honor 8 and easily takes on any flagship handset in the market as far as camera, display, multitasking, gaming and everyday performance is concerned.
Honor really needs to focus on audio department as Honor 8 Pro brings nothing fascinating in the category, which is very much important to deliver a great multimedia experience. Besides, some extra protection to its flagship devices from water-dust will definitely add value to the overall package.
The software performance is good but the overdose of customized skin on the Android is not something consumers take happily. Battery performance is decent, nothing out-of-the world but then not something that is unacceptable.
Overall, at an aggressive price-point of Rs. 30,000, Honor has really stolen the limelight from OnePlus 5 this time. The smartphone is a great overall package and a delight for photography enthusiasts.