Huawei’s Mate 9 and the P10’s have set the scene nicely for a variety of sequels and – doing what everybody else does – Huawei is looking to maximize the flagship impact wide across the field. It’s a well-practiced routine and the Honor 8 Pro looks fit to play.
Yes, the sequel is very different from the original. In fact, it shares a lot more features with the P10 Plus flagship than with the preceding Honor 8.
For starters, there is a bigger IPS display of 1440p resolution, while the latest Kirin 960 chip with 6 gigs of RAM is trusted to handle anything that may come its way. The design is all metal, P10-like, with some subtle curves in the right places.
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What the Honor 8 Pro inherits from the Honor 8 is Huawei’s first-generation Dual Camera, which lacks Leica’s film modes, but still offers native monochrome photography. There is also the rear-mounted fingerprint scanner, which is comfortably familiar if not as special as the multipurpose home button on the P10.
Honor 8 Pro key features:
- Body: Aluminum unibody, 2.5D Gorilla Glass 3;
- Screen: 5.7″ LTPS-IPS LCD of 1,440 x 2,560px resolution (515ppi)
- Camera: Dual 12MP camera with hybrid AF, RGB and monochrome sensors, f/2.2 aperture; dual-tone flash; 2160p and 1080p @ 30/60fps video capture; EIS in the 1080p videos
- Selfie cam: 8MP f/2.0; 1080p @ 30fps video capture
- Chipset: Kirin 960, octa-core CPU (4xCortex-A73@2.4GHz + 4xCortex-A53@1.8GHz), i6 co-processor, octa-core Mali-G71 GPU
- Memory: 6GB of RAM, 64GB of storage; microSD slot (hybrid)
- OS: Android 7.0 Nougat with Huawei EMUI 5.1
- Battery: 4,000mAh Li-Po (sealed); 18W fast charging
- Connectivity: Dual-SIM; LTE-A (Cat.6 200/50Mbps); USB-C; Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac; GPS/GLONASS/Beidou; Bluetooth 4.2; NFC; Infrared port
- Misc: Rear-mounted fingerprint reader
- Non-removable battery
- No FM radio
- The older USB 2.0 standard on a Type-C connector
- No water proofing
It’s probably out of line to expect flagship toppings such as water proofing or full-blown USB 3.0 support from an upper-midranger when the flagship itself didn’t quite deliver the goods either.
The Honor 8 Pro is indeed an interesting mix of new and old hardware, without the latter compromising the entire package. Huawei’s first Dual Camera for one – it’s already been upgraded but the original is still more than relevant.
The Honor 8 Pro is capable of more than it reveals at first glance, so get ready for some nice surprises, as we go. The first one is hiding right inside the retail box, so hit the next page to find out.
The Honor 8 Pro comes in a simple-looking box, which contains the charger and the USB Type-C cable. The phone supports quick charging and Huawei provides an appropriate 18W adapter, but you shouldn’t mistake this regular-sized one for the chunky Super Charger bundled with the P10 series.
The small paper compartment, which holds the SIM ejection pin, also houses two lenses. The box houses a cardboard-style VR headset – you have to take everything out to get to it.
The whole VR set is quite easy to assemble, but there are directions if you are struggling with the DIY stuff.
We’ll get back to the VR capabilities later on in the review.
Honor 8 Pro 360-degree spin
The Honor 8 Pro measures 157 x 77.5 x 7mm, which is about right for a 5.7″ smartphone, though Huawei could have tried reducing those top and bottom bezels. The phone is 3mm wider and taller than the 5.5″ P10 Plus and weighs 184g, 19g up from the P10 Plus.
We tried to find a relation between the Honor 8 Pro and some previous models by Huawei, but it turned out a near impossible task. Instead, we can see the phone has borrowed small design cues from a number of other devices, most of which are not even Huawei-made. But that’s fine, as the final result is quite attractive and the phone is very solidly built, too.
We have the Navy Blue version of the Honor 8 Pro – it is a somewhat darker and stronger shade of the signature Dazzling Blue option for the Huawei P10. The paint keeps a solid, uniform color across the all-metal back, the side hardware keys, the fingerprint scanner, all the way to the screen bezels under the front Gorilla Glass.
Huawei decided to use the antenna lines as decoration instead of masking them within the frame. Painted in deeper, darker blue they serve as nice design accents. The top one emphasizes the dual-camera setup, a premium feature even without the Leica branding.
Unlike some cheaper midrange devices, the Honor 8 Pro has the seamless design of a single piece of metal, even though the antenna strips might suggest otherwise. The chassis of the Honor excels in both sturdiness and looks.
The Honor 8 Pro feels thinner than the P10 although both share the same impressive 7mm thickness. Its unibody is in fact slimmer and sharper, because the screen is attached on top of the body, while the P10 has its display embedded and flush with the frame.
The frame’s sharper top chamfer and bottom edge make for an excellent grip. Immune to fingerprints, the matte finish also improves the overall experience and aesthetics. The Honor is big, sure, but it’s one of the best-handling phablets we have used lately.
The Honor 8 Pro’s layout of controls is by the book. Above the screen is the earpiece, the integrated status LED radiates underneath its grille. The 8MP selfie cam is around, as are a couple of sensors.
The bottom bezel features no controls, the 5.7″ screen, the phone relies on on-screen Android navigation keys.
The 5.7-inch LTPS IPS LCD panel used on the Honor 8 Pro has a resolution of 1440 x 2560 pixels, which is way sharper, at 515ppi, than the Honor 8’s 1080p screen. The flipside to a higher resolution display, of course, is bigger strain on the GPU and lower battery endurance.
The Honor 8 Pro screen offers an excellent maximum brightness of 560 nits while managing very decent black levels at the same time. These great stats provided for top-notch contrast, and equally impressive sunlight legibility ratio (for an LCD display).
|Display test||100% brightness|
|Black, cd/m2||White, cd/m2||Contrast ratio|
|Honor 8 Pro||0.399||560||1404|
|Huawei P10 Plus||0.335||547||1633|
|Huawei P9 Plus||0.00||400||∞|
|Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus||0.44||637||1448|
|Samsung Galaxy S8||0||440||∞|
|Huawei Mate 9||0.41||665||1622|
|Huawei Mate 9 Pro||0.011||366||33273|
|Samsung Galaxy S7 edge||0.00||392||∞|
|Sony Xperia XZs||0.461||564||1223|
The Honor 8 Pro’s screen isn’t class-leading in terms of color reproduction, but we liked what we got. While our tools detected a blue tint on the white color, the screen looked quite good to a naked eye. We measured an average deltaE of 5.5 and a maximum of 10 in the default color mode. Switching over to the Warm preset does yield better accuracy – an average deltaE of 4.5 and a maximum of 7.5.
There are manual settings available which may further improve the color accuracy. However, you won’t be able to do much better without a colorimeter.
The Honor 8 Pro is powered by a sealed 4,000mAh battery. It supports quick charging with a 9V/2A charger, which charges to about 35% in 30 minutes and 100% in 1 h and 50 min (exactly as promised). The phone ships with a proper 9V/2A plug for this type of fast charging, which is nice.
The battery testing procedure is described in detail in case you’re interested in the nitty-gritties. You can also check out our complete battery test table, where you can see how all of the smartphones we’ve tested will compare under your own typical use.
The Honor 8 Pro is well-heeled in terms of connectivity. Its LTE-Advanced modem supports 3-carrier aggregation and is rated at Cat.12, for theoretical peaks of up to 600Mbps of download and 150Mbps of upload speed.
For local connectivity, you get a dual-band Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac module. Also, Bluetooth v4.2, NFC, and a versatile GPS receiver, with support for A-GPS, GLONASS, Beidou. There is also an IR blaster for controlling home appliances.
The USB Type-C port at the bottom isn’t matched on the inside as Huawei still hasn’t moved to USB 3.0 or 3.1 and the Type-C interface supports only the older USB 2.0 standard. OTG is supported, though.
Last, but not least, you also get a good old 3.5mm audio jack on the bottom of the Honor 8 Pro.