It has been one of the most feisty battles in the Indian smartphone market for a while, with both devices targeting the consumer who wants a flagship level smartphone at a relatively affordable price. And it is a confrontation that has not been restricted to the markets – even cyberspace has been hit with hashtags that take digs at the competition. We are talking of course of the battle between the Honor 8 Pro and the OnePlus 5, for the mantle of “best value for money Android flagship.”
Both devices claim to offer the consumers a lot of smartphone goodness for not too many bucks, one committed to “Never Settling” while the other declares that it is “Time to Settle.” But which of these two devices is best suited to you? Here’s our attempt to resolve matters (for those seeking more detail on different topics, you can read our detailed review of Honor 8 Pro and the OnePlus 5)
Appearance and design: Familiar vs Routine
Beauty, for all its alleged skin-deepness, gets this confrontation off. And well, it is a confrontation between the familiar and the routine. Let’s get one thing clear – neither of these phones is bad-looking, by any stretch of the imagination. They are both very handsome devices, but that said, neither is going to revolutionize phone design. It’s a bit like being very good looking members of two different families. Although the Honor 8 Pro is marginally thinner (about 7 mm against 7.3 mm of the OnePlus 5) and the OnePlus 5 stands accused of copying the iPhone 7 Plus to an extent, we are going to hand this round to the OnePlus 5.
The reasons? It does look a little more striking and compact and has managed to hide those antenna bands more successfully than the Honor 8 Pro, which has them right on the back. We also feel that having the fingerprint scanner in front lets the OnePlus 5 get a smooth, flat back, which looks slightly better than the Honor 8 Pro (although the dual cameras on the 8 Pro are flush on the back while those on the OnePlus 5 jut out). It is really going to be a matter of taste, we think – we can see some people liking the slightly larger frame of the Honor 8 Pro. But we are going to go with the OnePlus 5 for this one.
Winner: OnePlus 5
Hardware: Strong basics or high-end wizardry?
This is a terrific tussle. On the surface, many would think that having a top of the line Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor paired with 6 GB/ 8 GB of RAM would have pretty much settled matters in favor of the OnePlus 5. But here comes the interesting part – while the geeks would love the new processor and the RAM overdose, there are many users who would pay for a better display and battery. And this is where the quad HD 5.7-inch display and 4000 mAh battery of the Honor 8 Pro come to the fore against the 5.5-inch full HD display and 3300 mAh battery of the OnePlus 5. And the Honor 8 Pro’s HiSilicon Kirin 960 processor, while not being the sort of benchmark buster that the Snapdragon 835 is, is no mug – it worked brilliantly on the Huawei P10 and Mate 9.
The OnePlus 5 also seems to have the better dual camera in megapixel tonnage – a 16.0-megapixel main camera and a 20.0-megapixel one with a 2x lossless zoom and also a 16.0-megapixel front facing camera against the dual 12.0-megapixel snappers (one of which is monochrome) and an 8.0-megapixel front facing camera on the Honor 8 Pro. But then, the 8 Pro comes with 128 GB onboard storage AND expandable memory (something that the OnePlus 5 lacks, although it has a 128 GB variant too). On the connectivity front, the devices are pretty much tied, although we can see some people liking the presence of the infrared port on the Honor 8 Pro. We are going to shock some folks (especially those who worship at the altar of chips and benchmarks) by calling this a tie. The OnePlus 5 scores on the chip and camera specs front, but the 8 Pro comes right back on display, battery, and expandable memory. Geeks will love the OnePlus 5; mainstream users will see good-old-fashioned virtue in the Honor 8 Pro
Software: Stock or Skin?
Yet another close round where there is so little that separates the two rivals, that personal preference comes into the equation. And once again, it is a battle between the geek brigade, which will love the near-stock Android-like Oxygen OS on the OnePlus 5, against the more mainstream users who will like the feature-laden EMUI interface on the Honor 8 Pro.
There will be some who will point out that the OnePlus 5 runs on Android 7.1, while the Honor 8 Pro runs on Android 7.0, but then the latter compensates with a truckload of special features and add ons, ranging from rapping on the display to take a screenshot to calling out to the phone and getting it to answer when you cannot find it, to a much richer camera interface (more on that later). Yes, from what we have seen, OnePlus has a much better track record of delivering software updates to its devices as compared to Honor, but right out of the box, there can be little denying that the mainstream user can do much more on the 8 Pro as compared to the OnePlus 5. Purity does come at the cost of being a trifle plain, which is why we are going to vote for the 8 Pro in this round.
Winner: Honor 8 Pro
Camera: The dual camera face off
On paper, this should have been a massacre. The OnePlus 5 has twin cameras of 16.0-megapixel and 20.0-megapixels, one providing 2X optical zoom as against the dual 12.0-megapixel shooters on the Honor 8 Pro, one of which is monochrome. The main camera (16.0-megapixel) of the OnePlus 5 also has a larger aperture (f/1.7) as compared to the f/2.2 on both Honor cameras. And yet, if there ever was a case of software compensating for hardware, it is this. For while, at its best, the OnePlus 5’s cameras easily outgun those of the Honor 8 Pro, the latter simply are more consistent. Yes, we got some great shots off the OnePlus 5, but we also ended up with some very odd ones as well. The OnePlus 5 scored on detail, but the Honor 8 Pro gave us slightly more realistic colors.
And we really think that the EMUI camera app lets us do far more with the on-paper-inferior cameras of the Honor 8 Pro with more than a dozen shooting modes as compared to the rather barebones camera app on the OnePlus 5. Even the bokeh mode of the Honor 8 Pro was simply more consistent and more flexible than the “portrait mode” of the OnePlus 5. Yes, we do not doubt that potentially the OnePlus 5 has the better camera, but we are calling this a tie simply because the 8 Pro lets us do more and is at the time of writing more consistent. In fact, one could even do more with the 8.0-megapixel front facing shooter of the Honor 8 Pro as compared to the 16.0-megapixel selfie snapper on the OnePlus 5. Ignore software at your peril is what the tied score in this round screams!
Multimedia and gaming: Play on, open apps and don’t shut!
This is a really fiesta fight, with both devices packing in some seriously powerful hardware. In the ultimate analysis, it turns out to be – oh yes, yet again – a matter of what you consider to be important. Let’s get one thing out of the way: if you are expecting militantly different performances in this department from the two devices, well, forget it! For both devices are very good at handling high-end games and running multiple apps without breaking into a sweat. The OnePlus 5, however, does have a very slight edge in that it seems to load games marginally faster (not always noticeable though) and notches up higher benchmark scores. A point that some – not us, though – might hold against the Honor 8 Pro is also its penchant for heating up slightly when put under a lot of gaming and photography pressure. On the flip side, however, there is little doubting that the larger, higher resolution display of the Honor 8 Pro makes it much more fun to play games and watch films on.
In the sound department, both phones pretty much match each other, but we are inclined to favor the 8 Pro just a little in volume terms. We are going to be blunt: high-end gaming lovers can go for the OnePlus 5, film lovers will prefer the Honor 8 Pro. We are giving this one ever so slightly to the OnePlus 5 for its ability to handle the heat better and also for being marginally faster on the gaming front. Of course, its having a 8 GB RAM variant helps the cause too, although we honestly could not see any difference in the 6 GB and 8 GB RAM variants of the device in terms of sheer performance.
Winner: OnePlus 5
General performance: Calls and a matter of battery life and death!
All of which leads us to the final lap of this neck and neck race. Put all the smartness aside, just how do these two worthies play when it comes to being routine, daily phones? Once again, this is a close call, and yet again, personal preference will come into play. There are those who will prefer the much more compact frame of OnePlus 5 to the slightly larger Honor 8 Pro, which is closer to phablet territory. That said, we found the Honor 8 Pro handling calls much better than the OnePlus 5 – call quality and reception seemed clearly superior, although the OnePlus 5 was very good too. For us the real killer, however, was the battery life – the 4000 mAh battery ensures the Honor 8 Pro sees out more than a day of heavy use easily while the 3300 mAh one on the OnePlus 5 will struggle to get through a day of heavy usage. This makes it one for the Honor 8 Plus, although we must add that if you are all right with charging your phone once a day (and so many are), the OnePlus 5 is a good weapon of choice.
Winner: Honor 8 Pro
Value for Money: How much for how many bucks?
And this is perhaps the only round which has a close to clear winner. Yes, the OnePlus 5 does offer staggeringly good value for money with its 6 GB/ 64 GB variant coming at Rs 32,999 and its 8 GB /128 GB edition coming at Rs 37,999, but the Honor 8 Pro undercuts them both very comfortably with its price tag of Rs 29,999. Yes, in terms of the spec sheet, the OnePlus 5 does offer a more powerful processor and better cameras, but they do not translate into a massively superior performance in real life performance – the Honor 8 Pro keeps pace with the OnePlus 5 white comfortably most of the time. And as we pointed out, there are those who will value the larger, quad HD display, larger battery and expandable memory on the Honor 8 Pro as well.
Winner: Honor 8 Pro
Verdict: To be Honorable or One(Plus) Up?
At the end of seven rounds, we have the Honor 8 Pro leading three rounds to two with two rounds having been split evenly between the two. Noticeably, however, barring the value for money round, none of the others were clear cut, and could have gone either way depending on the personal preferences of users – we can see people scoring it 6-1 for the OnePlus 5 as well as 7-0 for the Honor 8 Pro, depending on their own inclinations. We would go so far as to say that this is one of the closest face-offs we have seen on TechPP for a while, and forget the scoreboard: there is no clear cut winner, really.
The best we can say is that those wanting the latest and greatest hardware might get swayed by the Never Settle phone, while those looking for the best possible performance on a relatively tight budget will prefer to Settle down with the Honor 8 Pro. The geeks will love the OnePlus 5 with its benchmark busting processor, stock Android, and innovative camera setup; the more mainstream users will go for the Honor 8 Pro for the display, battery, expandable memory, more feature rich UI and well, the price tag!
So is it #TimeToSettle or would it be better to #NeverSettle?
Only you and what you prefer can really settle that debate. The good news is that we finally have a contest in the budget flagship segment.
In our first cut of the Honor 8 Pro, we had resorted to (mis)quoting Hamlet when it came to choosing between the Honor 8 pro and the OnePlus 5:
To Settle or not to Settle
That is the question
Whether it is nobler
To opt for the One that has a Plus
Or by taking an Honor-able option
We are not sure we have an answer to that query by the Prince of Denmark yet.
But you might.