Honor 8 Pro first impressions review

honor 8 pro screenThe Honor 8 Pro was revealed 48 hours ago. After the first 12 hours, I slipped in my SIM and have been using it as my daily driver.

The new flagship phone from Honor was announced on Wednesday. I was fortunate enough to have been invited to a pre-release show-and-tell. Even better was that I was able to take a shiny blue handset home with me.

So, is the Honor 8 Pro “born for speed”? Does it indeed usher in “a new era of phone design”?

Honor 8 Pro spec overview

There is no argument that, on paper at least, it’s a strong performer.

Right from the 5.7-inch display with a QHD resolution with a 515 ppi pixel density it means business. This is the first time Honor has packed this many pixels into a phone.

Under the hood is an octa-core Kirin 960 chipset, 6GB of RAM, 64GB of internal storage. With that, there’s a microSD slot, dual 12MP rear cameras, 8MP front snapper and a sizable 4000mAh battery.

Honor 8 Pro design

The Honor 8 Pro is a great-looking smartphone.

The metal unibody is quite reminiscent of an iPhone. That is not meant as a critism. Far from it, in fact. Nobody can really knock Apple when it comes to industrial design, can they?

honor 8 boxThe 8 Pro sits nicely in your hand and it feels great. At first I was a little bit disappointed that the Pro didn’t have the same shimmery back as the Honor 8 but I the Pro has won me over.

The matte finish on the rear doesn’t collect fingerprints like the regular 8. Nor does it feel like it’s going to escape your grip at any moment.

Blue happens to be my favourite colour, so I’ve been more than happy with this review sample. You can also get it in Platinum Gold and Midnight Black.

honor 8 pro controlsThe power/lock and volume keys fall nicely under finger or thumb on the right of the handset. The curvy, smooth edges of the phone really do feel good.

The 8 Pro is a mere 6.97mm thin – this makes the similarly sized iPhone 7 Plus look a bit chubby.

The Honor 8 Pro’s vital statistics are 157 x 77.5×6.97mm. It’s large but never feels unwieldy to hold.

honor 8 pro portsThe base of the phone houses the single speaker, USB-C port and headphone jack.

Round the back a centralised fingerprint scanner.

honor-8-pro-camerasThis is joined by the dual 12MP cameras in the top-left corner. Cunningly, Honor have hidden the laser focus beneath the ‘Dual Lens’ legend.

You’ll also notice that one of the colour-coded antenna bands runs straight through the camera. Nice touch.

honor 8 pro screenHonor 8 Pro display

Trigger the fingerprint scanner or poke the power button and the screen comes to life. And what a screen.

This peeper-pleasing crisp, bright QHD, 5.7-inch display is a joy to behold.

The resolution plus size makes the phone’s video and gaming experience comparable to phones asking £200+ more than the Honor.

The high pixel density (ppi) also makes the 8 Pro a solid virtual reality device. Honor even underline the fact by cleverly incorporating a Google Cardboard-style VR headset in the phone’s packaging.

The phone comes with the Jaunt VR app preinstalled to get you up and running right out of that clever box.

Honor 8 Pro – Born for speed

The Honor 8 Pro’s engine-room is definitely packing. The Hauwei-made Kirin 960 octa-core processor is split between four high-performance Cortex A73 cores clocked at 2.4GHz and four low-power Cortex A53 cores clocked at 1.8 Ghz. This is mated to a healthy 6GB of RAM.

That makes the Honor 8 Pro more powerful than the more expensive, flagship Huawei P10 and P10 Plus.

honor 8 pro ram usageI like the neat touch of how the phone will let you know how much RAM you’re using too. Even with music playing, and Twitter and Facebook running, it still had half its RAM ready for duty.


The 8 Pro is running Android 7 Nougat, the latest version of Google’s operating system. This is wrapped in parent-company Huawei’s Emotion UI.

EMUI, as it’s known, used to be one of the sticking points for me not falling completely in love with Huawei and Honor devices. Not any more.

The last couple of iterations have been a significant improvement. The current version, v5.1, is cleaner and less clunky than previous incarnations. I still prefer stock Android, but EMUI is no longer a reason for dodging Honor.

Honor says that it has optimised its interface so it opens your favorite apps quicker, based on the time of day you use them. Also, that the 8 Pro won’t suffer the same slow-down issues which blight other Android devices within their first 500 days of ownership.

Well, I am not able to testify regarding the 500 days thing – I only have the handset for 5 days – but it certainly feels speedy.

You get 64GB of storage which is enough for most. Should you need more then there’s space for a microSD card next to your SIM. This can officially increase the 8 Pro’s storage by another 128GB. If you’d rather use that slot for another SIM, you can do.

Honor 8 Pro camera

Having a great screen is one thing, but being able to capture great images is another.

The Honor 8 Pro packs the same 12MP rear dual-camera setup that you’ll find on the smaller Honor 8. As you will recall, these are configured with one RGB lens and one monochrome (black and white) lens.

This setup improves low-light shows, with the mono lens able to draw in more light than its colour counterpart. Depth of focus is also fab and allows you to blur backgrounds in images with DSLR-style bokeh.

Round the front an 8MP snapper will service all your selfie needs with relative ease.

I’ve taken a few quick snaps on my travels yesterday – not really great compositions by any stretch of the imagination – but, hopefully, these will give you an indication of the quality.

I intend to get some ‘proper’ shots sorted over the weekend.

The Honor 8 Pro seems to be able to pick out a good level of detail up close. In the bright sun that we’ve had the sky looks to be a little bleached out.

Some of the colours appear to be a little lacking in vibrancy.

As I said, I’ve probably not really given the camera an opportunity to be used to its fullest. Saying that, most users will be point-and-shooters I would assume.

Honor 8 Pro battery

The phone might be skinny but, somehow, Honor have managed to shoehorn a whopping 4,000mAh power pack in to it.

Honor reckons that’s good for two days of regular usage on a single charge, or 1.44 days if you’re a heavy user.

honor 8 pro asphaltAs you can imagine, I have had the phone on almost constantly, messing with apps, setting up email accounts, etc. All this without having to recharge it before leaving the office. Even more impressively, I’ve not needed to recharge it til the following morning.

Once I get in to normal use mode, I can see the battery lasting 1.5 days-ish.

Honor 8 Pro first impressions

So far, so good. The Honor 8 Pro looks like it has the looks and the chops.

The specs, build and price all add up to a potential giant-killer.

Everyone that’s held the 8 Pro and flicked through its UI have been impressed. When I’ve told them the price, they’re seriously contemplating buying one.

I will write a more in-depth review soon. Stay tuned.

Hear me and Gareth discuss the Honor 8 Pro on the Tech Addicts podcast

Honor 8 Pro price and release date

The Honor 8 Pro price is £474.99 and will be available on April 20th in the UK and Europe.

It will be going on sale online on Amazon.co.uk.

honor 8 pro UK preorderIf you head on over to Huawei’s vMall you can preorder and grab something extra in a bundle.