Honor, which is Huawei's e-commerce brand (which they sometimes like to refer to as their brand for "millennials") has announced a brand new smartphone, the Honor 8 Pro. As you would expect from the name, it does look a lot like the Honor 8, but it does have a few differences on the outside, and plenty of differences internally. The Honor 8 Pro was announced today in London, and is actually Honor's first smartphone with a QHD display, while Huawei now has a couple of devices with the higher pixel density resolutions, this is indeed Honor's first. We've spent a couple of days with the Honor 8 Pro ahead of the announcement, so let's take a look at what's great and not so great about this new smartphone from Honor.
The first thing you'll notice about the Honor 8 Pro is the size. While the Honor 8 was a 5.2-inch device, and it was actually praised for being a high-end smartphone with a small screen and small price tag, the Honor 8 Pro has a 5.7-inch display. That display is a Quad HD LTPS IPS LCD display, giving it a pixel density of 515 pixels per inch. This panel is really sharp, and if you didn't know any better, you might even think it was an AMOLED panel. It doesn't look as washed out as many IPS panels that you see on smartphones (like the ones on the LG G5 and LG G4). The brains behind the Honor 8 Pro is the Kirin 960 processor and 6GB of RAM. So needless to say, this phone is a beast. Other specs include dual 12-megapixel cameras around back, a 8-megapixel front-facing camera, 64GB of storage with a micro SD card slot and a 4000mAh battery.
Honor was proud, very proud of the glass back on the Honor 8, when it debuted last summer. It had a pretty interesting reflection, which looked great. But the Honor 8 Pro doesn't have that. Instead it's metal. Which there's nothing wrong with that. When it comes to a premium smartphone, metal is always a good choice. This does make it a bit slippery, but it's not as bad as other aluminum unibody devices on the market. There are also subtle antenna lines on the top and bottom of the Honor 8 Pro, at least on the blue model ewe have here. The camera module is flush on the back of the device, that was another feature Honor was proud about with the Honor 8. Where the camera did not stick out at all on the device. Although, I will say, it looks a bit off on the Honor 8 Pro with the larger module, and that's largely because of the Honor 8 Pro being metal instead of glass.
With the Honor 8 Pro, the company did a good job at making the device pretty comfortable to hold in the hand, even though it is a large device. On the front, you'll notice that there are still some pretty large top and bottom bezels. Now that isn't really that easy to get rid of, seeing as there is a lot of circuitry up there, so there does have to be some bezel on the front. You do also see the Honor logo present on the front. It would be nice to see this moved around to the back of the device, or just keep one on the back (since there is a logo there already).
One thing I've noticed from the Honor 8 Pro in the short time I've been using it already is that the back scratches up very, very easily, unfortunately. Even easier than other Huawei smartphones like the Mate 9 and the Nexus 6P. I've been carrying the LG G6 in a case with the Honor 8 Pro, and the Honor 8 Pro got a nice scratch down the center of the back from being in my pocket. That hasn't happened to any other device, so that's not a good look. And you'll definitely want to put a case on this one.
The box that the Honor 8 Pro comes in actually doubles as Google Cardboard. Now that's both good and bad. It's good because it means you can experience virtual reality on your Honor 8 Pro, but bad because Cardboard isn't really being developed anymore, and it's not the best experience. The Honor 8 Pro is not compatible with Google's Daydream either (likely due to the fact that it is not using an AMOLED display). So that's a bit disappointing, especially since there are so few Daydream-compatible smartphones on the market right now.
So there's not much to talk about on the software front. It's identical to the Huawei Mate 9, P10 and Honor 8, all of which have EMUI 5.1 and Android 7.0 Nougat. What this means is that there's not many surprises here. You do still get the option for an app drawer in the launcher, which is nice and something that those in the western markets are going to appreciate. The quick settings in the notification shade also customizable here, so you are able to adjust these to your liking, by adding and/or removing different toggles and rearranging them. There's no Google Assistant yet, that should be coming fairly soon though, since it is supposedly available for any Android smartphone with Google Play Services running Android 6.0 Marshmallow or later.
With the Kirin 960 and 6GB of RAM inside, EMUI 5.1 absolutely flies on the Honor 8 Pro. Of course, it was pretty fast on the Honor 8 already, so that's not a huge surprise. But Huawei has continued to optimize their software and make it lighter and lighter with each update, and EMUI 5.1 has been hailed as the best yet, since it debuted alongside the Mate 9 last fall.
First impressions of the Honor 8 Pro are pretty good. There are a few things that we would have liked to be different with this device, but all in all, it's a pretty good smartphone from Honor. It's just a shame that it's not yet coming to the US. This particular model is destined for Europe, so it doesn't work 100% on the networks here in the US, which is a bummer. But hopefully Honor will bring it to the US soon. That shouldn't be a surprise seeing as Huawei and Honor have been bringing the majority of their flagships to the US in the past year or so. Those looking for a large smartphone, with a great big battery will want to look no further than the Honor 8 Pro. Of course, we'll have more details on the battery and other aspects of the smartphone in our full review.