Product Reviews

Honor 8 Pro hands on review

The Honor 8 Pro is a smartphone that reckons it can take on the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S8, LG G6 and iPhone 7 Plus while not setting you back a fortune. 

Honor says the 8 Pro is “born for speed” and ushers in “a new era of phone design”, which are some bold claims, while also highlighting the performance, camera and gaming credentials of its new flagship smartphone.

It’s got a strong spec sheet, with a 5.7-inch display with a QHD resolution – the first time Honor has packed this many pixels into a phone – an octa-core Kirin 960 chipset, 6GB of RAM, 64GB of internal storage, microSD slot, dual 12MP rear cameras, 8MP front snapper and a sizable 4000mAh battery.

On paper then, the Honor 8 Pro is off to a strong start, but can it really mix it with the big boys of the flagship smartphone arena? We’ve been hands-on to find out.

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Honor 8 Pro price and release date

The Honor 8 Pro price is £474.99 (around $590, AU$770), making it comfortably cheaper than the flagships from the established names.

The Honor 8 Pro release date is April 20 for the UK and Europe, with the phone going on sale online in Huawei’s vMall and on Amazon. 

There’s currently no word on a Honor 8 Pro release date for the US and Australia, so there’s no guarantee the phone will make it to these markets.

Honor 8 Pro design and display

The Honor 8 Pro is a good-looking smartphone. The metal unibody is more than a little reminiscent of iPhone and HTC One A9 design, but that means it’s also premium and stylish. 

It sits nicely in the hand, and the cool metal against your palm reinforces the premium appeal. We reviewed the Navy Blue Honor 8 Pro, which is a striking finish; it’s also available in Platinum Gold and Midnight Black. 

The power/lock and volume keys fall nicely under finger or thumb on the right of the handset, while the base of the phone houses the single speaker, USB-C port and headphone jack. 

The handset is just 6.97mm thick, making it thinner than the similarly sized iPhone 7 Plus. Unsurprisingly the 8 Pro is taller and wider than the firm’s mainstream phone – the Honor 8 – measuring 157 x 77.5mm, but it’s not unwieldy in the hand.

Round the back a centralized fingerprint scanner is joined by dual 12MP cameras in the top-left corner, while two slender and color-coded antenna bands run along the top and bottom of the body. 

Returning to the front, and hitting the power key or fingerprint scanner wakes the crisp, bright 5.7-inch display. 

With an impressive QHD resolution the Honor 8 Pro screen is right up there with the top phones on the market, and this coupled with its size means it’s great for movies and gaming.

The high pixel density also makes the Honor 8 Pro a solid virtual reality device – which is handy, as the box the Honor 8 Pro arrives in converts into a Google Cardboard-style VR headset, and the phone comes preinstalled with the Jaunt VR app to get you up and running quicker.

Honor 8 Pro power and interface

The Honor 8 Pro packs a whole heap of power under the hood, with a Hauwei-made Kirin 960 octa-core processor and meaty 6GB of RAM running the show.  

That makes the Honor 8 Pro more powerful than the more expensive, flagship Huawei P10 and P10 Plus (and equally as powerful as the 128GB P10 Plus), which is an impressive feat in itself. 

All that power is in charge of running Android 7 Nougat – the latest version of Google’s operating system – which is finished with parent-company Huawei’s Emotion UI. 

Emotion UI has significantly improved over the years, and the current incarnation – version 5.1 – is cleaner and less clunky than previous iterations, although it still lacks the sheen and simplicity of stock Android. 

Honor told us it has optimized its interface so it opens your favorite apps quicker, based on the time of day you use them, and that the 8 Pro won’t suffer the same slow-down issues which blight other Android devices within their first 500 days of ownership. 

While you’ll have to wait for our in-depth Honor 8 Pro review to find out if these claims ring true, we did find it to be speedy under finger during our hands-on time.

You’ll also find 64GB of storage here, plus a microSD tray allowing you to build on that by another 128GB – in short, you won’t run out of space for your apps, games, music and movies any time soon.

Honor 8 Pro camera and battery

The Honor 8 Pro packs the same 12MP rear dual-camera setup that you’ll find on the smaller Honor 8, with one RGB lens and one monochrome (black and white) lens. 

This setup improves low-light shows, with the mono lens able to draw in more light than its color counterpart, and also allows you to blur backgrounds in images with a nice DSLR-style bokeh. 

Round the front an 8MP snapper will service all your selfie needs with relative ease.

We only had a quick play with the camera on the Honor 8 Pro, but it looks to be a solid snapper capable of capturing detailed images. You can see a selection of our shots below.

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A standard close up short captures a good level of deal, although colors aren’t as true to life as they could be

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Cranking up the aperture setting a little sees a more blurred finish applied to the background

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Set it to maximum and you’ll see the background become extra blurry, although the effect bleeds onto the can

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The Honor 8 Pro can pick out a good level of detail up close

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Detail again is well catered for, but the colors aren’t as vibrant as they could be

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Outdoors in good light the Honor 8 Pro does well, although the sky is overexposed

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The auto HDR mode brightens up areas in shadow, allowing you to more easily see the brickwork here

There’s potentially very good news in the battery department, with the Honor 8 Pro packing a whopping 4,000mAh power pack.

Honor reckons that’s good for two days of regular usage on a single charge, or 1.44 days if you’re a heavy user. 

There are only a handful of phones that can claim that sort of battery life these days, and we’ll be sure to put those numbers to the test in our in-depth Honor 8 Pro review soon.

Early verdict

The Honor 8 Pro looks like an exciting handset that takes the fight to parent-company Huawei’s new P10 and P10 Plus by offering more power at a lower price.  

There aren’t any revolutionary features on show, but the solid spec sheet is likely to satisfy most users.

At this price you’ll also want to consider the cheaper OnePlus 3T, but the Honor has a slicker design and a larger, higher-resolution screen. 

Keep an eye out for our full and in-depth Honor 8 Pro review to see if it can live up to this promising start.

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