Huawei Honor 8 Pro not only offers top-notch specs for much less, a-la-OnePlus pricing, but has turned around its user interface, that surprisingly, aces ahead of the likes of Galaxy S8. The package is more than just complete with a sharp Quad HD display, nice battery backup and dual cameras. Its giant form factor could be the only reason of buying the OnePlus 5 instead.

Huawei’s Honor smartphones are usually priced in conjunction with Samsung and Apple flagships, probably because of the hardware they pack and the fact that the company has always wanted to capture the premium segment. But unlike Samsung, who has dragged its Android based TouchWiz a long way to make it much more fluid, simultaneously throwing in water resistance and one of the fastest cameras on the Galaxy S7, Honor remained stuck to offering just top end hardware in a slim, good looking phone (read Honor P9). Not that the cameras were bad, but they were not enough to compete a wholly fortified flagship experience that Samsung offers.

The reason could be what Huawei calls artificial intelligence to predict which apps you open and how frequently to optimizes the phone’s memory for the same. But we have found its new interface, EMUI 5.1, made over the Android 7.0 Nougat OS,to be built from scratch. There are elements of the previous interface but only for carrying forward the looks. Useless apps, features and embellishments that take up processing power have been either eliminated or buried somewhere in the settings.

The Honor 8 Pro is immensely fast. It is one of the fastest phones we have seen in the 2017, let alone in this price range. Forget the Galaxy S8, forget the iPhone 7, forget the OnePlus 5. Honor 8 Pro beats them all when it comes to speed at which the apps open or switch, which is something you will enjoy every day about the phone, unlike that fact that it can run any game available on the Play Store smoothly.

Come 2017, Honor has been baptized it seems. Not only does it offer its top-notch specs for much less now, a-la-OnePlus pricing, but has turned around its user interface, that surprisingly, aces ahead of even the Galaxy S8.

Though when playing games or charging, it does get warm, like every other metal unibody phone. Prolonged gaming would lead to heat up. If the phone wasn’t made this slim, it probably would not heat this much. But then again, its design is quite elegant, with a matte finish to the solid metal body that can bear deep sratches, falls and hard impact.

 

On its 5.7-inch display, Honor 8 Pro sports a Corning Gorilla Glass 3. The touch screen is smooth but the phone is big enough that one hand use is not very comfortable. Moreover the back is flat which doesn’t give an ergonomic feel to the device, like the OnePlus 5. The Honor 8 had a perfect size, but the 8 Pro is big.

A probable reason could be the phone is made to appeal more to gaming and VR enthusiasts who would require big and high resolution display. In comparison, the AMOLED display on OnePlus 5 or Galaxy S8 is much brighter for comfortable outdoor viewing. The Honor 8 Pro manages alright but would need a shade in bright sunlight.

Big size also allows for a big battery. Honor 8 Pro packs a Quad HD display that OnePlus shies away from and Samsung doesn’t want you to use (you need to enable it in settings), because it sucks out a major part of the battery juice. With a 4000mAh battery, we found it was easy for Honor 8 Pro to run like normal phones. Like an SUV with a big engine and an enormous fuel tank at its disposal, the Honor 8 Pro just keeps running throughout the day, and sometimes beyond.

 

For audio, the Honor 8 Pro has an audio jack and a loud but single speaker. There is Dolby enhancement on board (DTS) that enhances the output on both. There is also a dual mic array for noise cancellation during calls of sound recording. The call quality is also great on the phone. It supports dual SIM on a hybrid card slot with 4G, VoLTE network support.

Expandable storage on Honor 8 Pro is a big advantage. But probably not. The phone comes with a 128 GB built in storage which is more than enough for a smartphone even if you are fond of scarcely available 4K content.On the chipset there is also a 6GB RAM and a Kirin 965 processor.

Camera samples (Please note the images have been resized)

Apart from price, specs, display, battery and audio, there is one big area Honor 8 beats OnePlus 5 – the camera. The dual cameras on the back have two 12MP sensors with f/2.2 lens. They aren’t from Leica as were on the Honor P9, but the sensor combination is the same.

While OnePlus 5 has a zoom lens, the Honor 8 Pro uses a black and white sensor to gather more light. So there won’t be lossless zoom but the low light photos will be much sharper.

Forget low light performance, the details and colours captured by the 8 Pro are also better. You can zoom into the photo and get a 2x crop of the photo which ends up looking better than phones with a zoom camera lens.

It may not be able to compete with the Galaxy S8 that has a buttery smooth autofocus and the fastest and most accurate we have seen on phones by now. But the Honor 8 Pro comes very close. Its macro focus is same, the shutter speed and lag is almost same (also in HDR), the bokeh effects are also comparable and the noise performance in low light is much better. Similar is the case with the front camera that comes with an 8MP sensor and can record Full HD videos. The rear can record 4K.

Verdict

Unlike the Galaxy S8 that is meant for a bezel less, one hand experience or the OnePlus 5 that is pure Android and is also not very difficult to hold and use, the Honor 8 Pro is a usual smartphone that isn’t a delight to hold and use as such. But then it is meant for people who want more for the bucks spent; for those who want every bit of the latest technology available out there in terms of the performing hardware and still be able to pay much less. At Rs 30,000, it is more than a complete package that will turn out to be the best phone Huawei has made in its entire smartphone history.