Honor 8 Pro Review – The best value smartphone

It’s no secret, the Honor 8 is easily one of my favourite devices of all time and upon hearing of the launch of the Honor 8 Pro I could hardly contain myself. The Honor 8 is a device I have given to both my wife and daughter as I feel it is the perfect balance between value and elegance. Both have used iPhones in the past, however, has spent the last year with an HTC Eye and Huawei Mate 8 respectively. Moving to the Honor 8 they have expressed deep contentment as the device is sitting close to the good looking iPhone with Huawei elegant EMUI interface, sitting on top of the latest, strongest version of Android. The were both very happy.

Fast forward nine months and I am a little jealous of how in sync they are with their phone. Their cameras have produced some of the best memories we have captured as a family. They rarely complain of battery woes and they can actually solve little phone problems themselves as the interface, whilst not without its learning curve, is easy and intuitive, at least for them. Now the temptation is at an all time high as the Honor 8 Pro promises the same sort of experience in a bigger form, more suited to my large mainly hands. And for £475 on Amazon, and Honor’s vMall website, this is a serious contender for my next upgrade and you should really take a look too.

Looking around the device, on the top we have an Inverted blaster for remotely controlling your television and a tiny hole for a microphone. Including an IR blaster really isn’t for everyone, however, once folks flirt with it and for those who are already entrenched in Amazon, Roku or Chromecast entertainment then an IR Blaster will have very obvious benefits, adjusting be volume and power on and off the TV being the biggest.

On the left side to the screen has a little hole for the SIM card tray, the tray is suitable for two SIMs, nano and mini. The Mini SIM tray also caters to the MicroSD card, expandable up to 128gb.

The right side to the screen has a volume rocker and a power button. The power button is nicely textured whereas the volume rocker is nicely smooth to help differential between when in use.

The bottom of the device has a 3.5mm headphone jack, a small hole of a microphone, a USB Type-C connector and a Mono speaker. The Mono speaker is perfectly passable for voice calls, ringtones sound okay, however, I wouldn’t rely on this for listening to music. Honor tells us the USB delivers 38% battery from a 30-minute charge.

To the rear is the dual camera array. These cameras remain unchanged from the Honor 8, 12-megapixel with a laser autofocus. As with the Honor 8, there is no Optical Image Stabilisation. Beside this as a Dual LED flash. Not quite Xenon, however a lot better than single LED. Below this is the fingerprint scanner. I have found this is to 100% accurate, and very fast to respond. Compared to my Nexus 6p, it’s a lovely experience.

The original Honor 8 featured 15 layers of glass that gave a unique effect to the rear, the Pro has lost this in favour of a matte finish, not unlike the iPhone or the P10. This certainly has it’s plus points however whilst the Honor 8 was brittle to the rear there was an elegance the Pro is missing.

On the front, above the 5.7” 1440 x 2560 screen, this is an LCD IPS display capable of displaying 16 million colours and covered by Corning Gorilla Glass 3. The screen size and resolution mean there is a PPI of 515. This really makes for some pin sharp images and looks incredibly beautiful.

The Pro is quite heavy, at 184g there is quite a bit of bulk, probably from the battery. At 4000mAh I can’t imagine too many complaining at the idea of a battery that will see even the heaviest users making through the day with a little left. It does, however, generate a small problem. The device is quite difficult to pick up, especially after you have cut your nails. On a desk, without a cover and with short nails the Pro is a pain in the ass to pick up. The slippery chamfered sides make it quite difficult to grip. This won’t be a problem with a case.

At 6.97mm from front to back, the Honor 8 Pro is slimmer than the iPhone 7 Plus but still a little fatter than the Moto Z. The lack of a camera protrusion makes is usually a winning feature however it does actually contribute to the problems mentioned above when the Pro is lying flat on any surface.

As mentioned above the fingerprint scanner is responsive, to add to this the doubles up as a customisable button. You can assign a couple of tasks to the button, and the user can still swipe your finger left, right, up and down to carry out various operations, however, you cannot customise the button as a shortcut launcher as on the Honor 8.

The Honor 8 Pro arrived to me with Android 7 Nougat and EMUI 5.1 on board. Some are not fans of EMUI, however, I have found it to be a very mature overlay, easily preferable to Samsung’s attempt.  EMUI does seem to be quite heavy on system resources with 4gb of the 6gb RAM used at any point. Of course, Linux users will state this doesn’t matter however EMUI 5.1 includes RAM and processor optimisations to help with responsiveness during your day.

Honor have added that EMUI 5.1 features “RAM defragmentation, advanced memory compression and a faster kernel for memory recycling”, to increase the lifespan of the device as Android can suffer from fragmented data building up in the RAM over the course of it’s life cycle. Whilst EMUI cannot eliminate it, the process tries to clean those harder to reach corners in the RAM.

The Honor 8 Pro’s benchmark performance is impressive. Using Geekbench 4 single-core score of 1,837 and multi-core score of 6,477. On Antutu scored lower than most of the flagships at 120189, similar to the Huawei Mate 9. The Honor 8 Pro gives the more expensive flagships a real run for their money.

The Honor 8 has been the best value for money camera on the market and the Pro uses the same 12-megapixel, f/2.2 camera, laser autofocus with dual-tone LED flash setup. These two 12MP cameras, one monochrome and one colour, combine to produce richer images. Performing particularly well in very low light, the primary camera’s has an f2.2 aperture makes a real difference. In normal light, images appear realistic and detailed, if a little oversaturated

The front facing camera while the 8MP front camera has an f2.4 aperture. The emphasis here is on beauty and utilising filters the selfie camera can make even the most horrendous people look presentable.

The camera app has a plethora of settings, modes and filters and full control over main parameters in the Pro mode. You get a massive amount of flexibility and even the most inexperienced photographer will produce amazing results.

Video records up to 4K, however, they decision to loose optical image stabilisation severely affects the video quality. Ultra HD resolution is available at 30fps unlike the Honor 8 and you can also record Full HD footage at 60fps and 30fps. Slow motion is present, operating in Full HD at 120fps and 720p at 240fps.

The Honor 8 Pro is a phenomenal phone for the money. There is little to prevent anyone strongly considering a Flagship this summer. The price difference between this and the Samsung Galaxy S8, iPhone 7 and 7+ and LG G6 makes any shortcomings irrelevant. The Honor 8 Pro has a processor that compares to the S8 and the Snapdragon 835, an all-day battery, more RAM than most flagships. Ample, expandable storage, generous Quad HD display, dual-SIM capabilities and one of the best camera setups out there. All for £475, less than the Blackberry KeyOne!

This is the best value smartphone on the market.

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