[First Cut] Honor 8 Pro: Looking to Unsettle the Flagship Killer
#TimeToSettle the budget flagship battle?
If ever a hashtag was a declaration of war, Honor’s #TimeToSettle was it. Huawei’s sister brand used the hashtag to accompany its unveiling of the Honor 8 Pro, which is expected to arrive on Indian shores in July. The price of the device is not known yet, but rumor is rife that it might actually be below the Rs 32,999 tag of the OnePlus 5 (the phone is expected to be sold on Amazon India). And given that OnePlus prides itself on its “Never Settle” slogan, “Time to Settle” might be a compelling hashtag. And well, from what we have seen of the Honor 8 Pro, it is indeed a device that should cause some concern in not just that particular rival camp, but pretty much every device in its price segment.
Let us get one thing clear: the Honor 8 Pro is a very contrary beast from the Honor 8, which remains one of the most gorgeous devices we have seen with that brilliant glass back (especially in the blue edition). Yes, the 8 Pro too has the curved and smooth edges of the Honor 8, but there the similarity ends. The back is all metal for starts. For another, this is a larger device, even though it remains relatively compact. The 8 Pro comes with a 5.7-inch display, in a frame that at 157 mm, is shorter than that of the iPhone 7 Plus, and at 7 mm is impressively slim too. No, there is no bezel hacking of the level that we have seen from Messrs LG, Samsung, and Nubia, but the front of the 8 Pro looks handsome enough, with no hardware keys in front at all – it is jet black with the display switched off except for the Honor branding at the base.
There is an infrared port on the top of the device, and a dual SIM tray on the left (one of them is a hybrid slot, and can accommodate a microSD card). The volume rocker and power/display keys are on the left, and the base is left with the USB Type-C port, 3.5 mm audio jack and a speaker grille. The back is relatively bare and smooth metal, with a fingerprint scanner in the upper central area and a dual camera set up on the upper antenna band (there is nothing on the lower antenna band near the base, though). The whole feel is of a solid (if slightly slippery) phone, which at 184 grams, is slightly on the heavier side. It is unlikely to turn heads or stop traffic but is quietly classy. Think of it as the quiet gent in the dark suit in the corner rather than the flashy dresser on stage, like the Honor 8 was. That one was more glass, less metal. The Pro is more metal, less glass. Appropriate.
But beneath that relatively quiet exterior, there lurks some seriously good hardware. The 5.7-inch display is a quad HD one, and powering the device is the same HiSilicon Kirin 960 processor that we have seen on the Huawei Mate 9 and P10 (both alas, unreleased in India at the time of writing), 6 GB RAM, 128 GB storage (expandable), dual 12.0-megapixel cameras at the back, an 8.0-megapixel camera in front, all the connectivity options you could want (including NFC and Infrared) and a massive 4000 mAh battery under the hood. Running on top of all that is Android Nougat and Huawei’s freshly released EMUI 5.1.
Garnish that with a price that many are speculating could be in the vicinity of Rs 32,000 and that hashtag starts making sense. For, it is not just coincidence that the Honor 8 Pro has been “unveiled” a mere day after the launch of the OnePlus 5 in India. The 8 Pro does seem to have taken very careful aim at the perceived weaknesses of the OnePlus 5 – it comes with a higher resolution display and a larger battery, and also with a design that while being relatively routine at least does not seem like a rip off from the files of Cupertino. And while the dual cameras of the OnePlus 5 do come with a higher megapixel count, our experience of the Honor 6X and 8 have shown that Honor has the knack of coaxing more out of dual cameras than most companies, and also has an interface that lets you do more with the camera (the near stock Android UI of the OnePlus 5 can be a bit of a liability in that regard).
It has the specs and looks to unsettle the brand that claims to never settle. The price and performance may well determine the fate of the Honor 8 Plus. Stay tuned for our review once we get both of those parameters sorted.
In the meantime, we will resort to Hamlet:
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