Update: after Google suspended Huawei's future access to Android Play Store and security updates, there are serious question marks over the future of Huawei and Honor phones.
While Google and Huawei have promised to support phones currently on the market, it's not clear how long they'll receive Android updates or access to the Google Play Store, which would severely curtail their usefulness compared to the competition.
Since spinning out from the shadow of parent company Huawei, Honor has been about simple power in eye-catching form.
Its phones have packed a punch, just without upper-cutting your bank balance. The Honor 8 Pro, however, is something different.
The Honor 8 Pro is 5.7-inch phablet that pairs plenty of grunt and high-end features with a sleek, high-end finish, it’s a phone that sees Honor graduating from new kid on the block to a serious contender.
On paper, it’s an instant win. Paper doesn’t tell the whole story though. This is a great phone, but it’s not faultless.
Yes, its screen is all sorts of beautiful and there’s a decent dual-lens camera on the rear, but despite steps in the right direction, some of the company’s trademark shortcomings still shine through.
Honor 8 Pro price and release date
- Set for April 20 UK release
- Costs £474.99 (around $590, AU$770)
- No word on a US or Australian release
Honor’s most expensive phone to date, the Honor 8 Pro mixes it with the flagship challengers on asking price as well as spec, landing for a penny shy of £475 (around $590, AU$770).
While that’s a significant sum by anyone’s standards, compared to the phones it’s lining up against - the £679.99 (around $870, AU$1,160) Huawei P10 Plus and the £719 ($769, AU$1,229) iPhone 7 Plus for example - it’s reasonably affordable.
Not cheap, sure, but certainly closer to posing decent value for money than much of the competition. It, like most other devices, can’t quite match the £399/$439 (around AU$580) OnePlus 3T on the power to cost front though.
You also might not be able to buy the Honor 8 Pro where you are, as there’s currently no word on if or when it’s launching in the US or Australia.
A coming of age for Honor
- Lightning quick fingerprint scanner
- Huge 4,000mAh battery
- Whopping 6GB of RAM
Despite its asking price and the slightly less established brand logo that proudly sits on the front and rear of the device, the Honor 8 Pro is a veritable checklist of what’s what for high-end flagship phones.
It’s a device that cuts no corners, instead weaving together a collection of components to match far more expensive handsets.
For those who demand plenty of power, the 8 Pro has you covered. And then some. It runs the same Huawei-made Kirin 960 octa-core chipset as the Mate 9 and P10 Plus, pairing four 2.4GHz A73 cores with a further four 1.8GHz A53 cores. This is backed up by a massive 6GB of RAM.
All this power’s noticeable too. Combined with an admittedly heavily skinned take on Google’s latest Android 7.0 Nougat operating system, the Honor 8 Pro cruises through whatever you can throw at it.
This is a phone that’s about more than just core grunt though, there are plenty of features that earn it fun factor points too.
For example, there’s not one but two 12MP cameras squeezed onto the rear, each with an f/2.2 lens, and an 8MP camera up front for the selfie addicts out there. On paper this puts the phone on par with the likes of the iPhone 7 Plus. Like we’ve said though, that bit of paper doesn’t tell the whole story.
Unlike Apple’s phone, which features a wide-angle and a telephoto lens, the Honor 8 Pro pairs a standard lens with a monochrome offering. The result is impactful black and white snaps, but a camera that will take you no closer to the action.
Elsewhere, while the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S8 are upping the security stakes by moving into the realms of iris scanners and facial recognition, the Honor 8 Pro has stuck with an integrated fingerprint scanner. Here it’s slotted centrally on the phone’s rear, not awkwardly off to the side like on the S8, but perfectly, accessibly centred.
This is one of the best fingerprint scanners we’ve used on a phone. It’s not just responsive, it’s lightning quick. Your finger barely grazes the sensor before the phone is springing to life. It’s sensationally rapid and unlike many of its rivals rarely suffers from misreads. There is something missing though, namely Smart Key functionality.
Unlike on the standard Honor 8, the Pro’s fingerprint scanner doesn’t offer button functionality. There’s no assignable single or double tap functionality. You can turn on the option to swipe down to pull down the phone’s notifications window - key on such a big phone - but that’s it.
Design and display
- Stunning 5.7-inch QHD display
- Blue, black, and gold colour options
- Large, at times cumbersome design
Guess what? The Honor 8 Pro looks like an enlarged Honor 8. Shocking, right? Don’t let these design similarities put you off though. Whatever negatives we might have about the phone’s abilities elsewhere, its design is hard to fault. This really is a stunning bit of kit.
It’s not a total design doppelganger though, trading in a glass back for a finish that’s all brushed metal and flowing curves. The result is a phone with a luxurious design, and one that truly mixes it with the big names in the smartphone space.
At just 7.0mm thick, it’s beautifully slim, and while its 184g form is weighty, it’s well spread out across the phone’s 5.7-inch body, creating a device that’s well balanced.
It’s a big phone though and it certainly feels like it. Unlike the Samsung Galaxy S8 or LG G6 that pair minimalist bezels with expansive, near edge-to-edge screens, the Honor 8 Pro wears its size proudly.
Yes, the framing around the side of the screen is pretty minimalist, but there’s plenty of top and bottom bordering that gives the device a sizeable footprint. It manages to fit a marginally larger screen into a footprint almost identical to the iPhone 7 Plus, but that’s not the biggest achievement.
Ultimately, it will be too big for some users and you’ll definitely feel it in your pocket, but as average sized men with average size man hands, we found it manageable. Reaching up to pull down the notifications panel is a two-handed job, but other than that, most of the screen is reachable with one hand.
And what a screen. The phone’s 5.7-inch panel is a 2560 x 1440 pixel QHD offering, and it’s stunning. Offering a beautifully sharp 515 pixels per inch image density, it won't leave you wanting on detail.
This is a panel that’s about more than an impressive pixel count too. Its brightness levels are hugely impressive, ensuring the screen is perfectly visible, even in direct sunlight. You can change the warmth of the screen to suit your tastes too, although its standard setting is pretty much on-point for our eyes.
The phone might be as good looking on the back as it is up front, but although the brushed aluminium body is easy on the eye, it’s not the grippiest, with the phone’s smooth back and rounded edges making it slightly slick to hold. There’s another problem too, it’s missing the latest must-have design feature - water resistance.
Unlike many modern flagship phones, the Honor 8 Pro is lacking in the splash proof department. While it would be nice if the phone was waterproof, when it looks this good, it’s not a killer blow, unless you’re near a body of water that is.