Lazada Singapore, the exclusive distributor of Honor 8 Pro, sent me a Honor 8 Pro loan unit to review in late August. After 3 weeks of using it daily, I finally got down to finish writing this article.
Prior to this, I have been using the Huawei P10 Plus as a primary smartphone. Though I have also been occupied with reviewing other smartphones like OnePlus 5, Sony Xperia XA1 Ultra, LG G6, Samsung Galaxy S8, I’m in a pretty good position to compare the 2 smartphones.
The Honor 8 Pro is a perfect use case that branding and marketing make or break a product. Not many consumers are fully aware of how similar it is with the Huawei P10 Plus. Perhaps Huawei itself does not want this fact to be blatantly known, or else no one would buy the P10 Plus. Commercially-speaking, Honor is a brand on its own. The only hint that it is from Huawei is the EMUI OS and fine print “Huawei Technologies” on the phone. It builds upon the fantastic feature list which I first experience on the Huawei Mate 9 and I recommend you to read that article where I shared 30 features that makes Huawei a user-friendly smartphone.
What’s in the Box
- Honor 8 Pro smartphone (64GB)
- 2-pin Quick Charger (5V 2A and 9V 2A)
- USB Type-C cable
- SIM tray eject pin
- VR cardboard with glasses
Features that are the same as P10 Plus
- Kirin 960 Octa-Core 4x 2.4 GHz (Cortex A73) + 4x 1.8GHz (Cortex A53)
- EMUI 5.1 based on Android 7.0
- 6GB RAM
- 2560 x 1440 QHD
- Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.2, 802.11ac, Type-C USB 2.0
- Fingerprint Sensor, NFC, Infrared Sensor
- Dual SIM hybrid slot (4G + 4G dual standby) with microSD
- Up to UHD (4K) Video Recording
Features that are different from P10 Plus
- Larger Display: 5.7-inch on Honor 8 Pro vs. 5.5-inch on P10 Plus
- Smaller Storage: 64GB (Honor) vs. 128GB (P10 Plus)
- Larger Battery: 4000 mAh (Honor) vs. 3750 mAh (P10 Plus)
- Lower-Res Rear Camera: 12MP + 12MP f/2.2 (Honor) vs. 12MP + 20MP f/1.8 (P10 Plus)
- Smaller Aperture Front Camera: 8MP f/2.0 (Honor) vs. 8MP f/1.9 (P10 Plus)
- Mono Speakers (Honor) vs. Stereo+ (P10 Plus)
- No aptX (Honor) vs. aptX supported (P10 Plus)
- Slower Charger (Honor) vs. SuperCharger (P10 Plus)
- Heavier Weight: 184g (Honor) vs. 165g (P10 Plus)
- Slightly Larger: 157 x 77.50 x 6.97 mm (Honor) vs. 153.5 x 74.2 x 6.98 mm (P10 Plus)
- Cheaper Price: S$599 (Honor) vs. S$998 (P10 Plus)
- More Software: Jaunt VR app and 3D Creator camera app on the Honor
From the list above, you can see that the Honor 8 Pro is quite an impressive device to own too. After using it for almost a month, I find the overall user experience to be close to the Huawei P10 Plus. Overall speed is fast and responsive without lags thanks to 6GB RAM (Antutu benchmarks at 131860), but I do encounter occasional force closure of apps, which happens so fast that I just tap the app again to load it back in no time.
Design-wise, they both use identical aluminium materials. The P10 Plus has a rounded sides like iPhones, while the Honor 8 Pro has a slight edge distinction but not as sharp as Mate 9. The antenna linings on the P10 Plus is specially designed to contour around the bottom whereas the Honor 8 Pro is just straight across.
As for the screen, the P10 Plus delivers slight whiter display, while the Honor 8 Pro has slightly warmer tone. You can only see the difference when putting the phones side by side to inspect. Since our human eyes are very good at adjusting white balance, you should not see any significant issues. If anything, a warmer screen is better for the eyes.
There are features that I really appreciate on the P10 Plus, like the better-sounding stereo speakers, front fingerprint sensor with gestures, SuperCharge adapter. On the camera app, it is easier to access the Pro shooting mode by swiping up the manual controls. In wide aperture mode, the P10 Plus is able to zoom up to 2X, but not on the Honor 8 Pro, because the P10 Plus has a secondary camera that is of higher resolution. Finally, the P10 Plus lens is f/1.8 compared to f/2.2 on the Honor 8 Pro.
The features that I really like on the Honor 8 Pro is the large 4000 mAh battery, that delivers a full day of usage comfortably. The power optimisation feature does result in some apps not running background updates as aggressively, like Gmail. The phone also accommodates a larger display without increasing the size. The 3D Creator app lets you generate an avatar of oneself of which you can personalise with outfits, hair, and make it do some animated moves which you can save. I do not quite like the oversized head though, and some of the long hairdo further bloats the head.
For the Jaunt VR, it is a free app that you can download on the Play Store. I applaud the creativity of Honor who uses the retail box package to transform into a VR goggle.
The Camera Difference
Honor 8 Pro’s dual camera at the rear is f/2.2 while Huawei P10 Plus is f/1.8. Technically-speaking, the P10 Plus is better, but here’s the real life test result between the 2 cameras.
I have observed that the Honor 8 Pro is tweaked to capture images with higher exposure and lower contrast. White balance is also slightly cooler. This observation has been consistent.
For certain, the Honor 8 Pro achieves brighter photos that do not require further tweaking, but there is higher risks of losing the highlights, as can be seen in the photo below where the signboard is unreadable on the Honor 8 Pro.
Here is a comparison on the monochrome shoot setting. Huawei P10 Plus has a slightly warmer cast and lower exposure level.
Clearly, Leica has a strong influence over the image engine tuning, evident on the P10 Plus. Honor 8 Pro, on the other hand, does not carry the Leica baggage, and is free to tune the image processor to Huawei’s liking.
The wide aperture mode continues to be the darling of Huawei, and now the Honor 8 Pro has it too. Other than the lack of 2X hybrid zoom, the function is identical to P10 Plus. It easily creates a visual separation between the subject and the background. With a default setting of f/4, the blur amount is good enough without appearing too artificial. Even though the lens aperture is slightly smaller, I do not feel the camera operates any much slower.
Best of all, if you do not like it, just adjust the aperture to the smallest, and you get a “standard” smartphone image without the excessive background blur. For now, I still prefer the Huawei’s (and Honor’s) dual camera implementation than the other brands, because it lets me control the background blur even after I took the shots. In addition, most of the optical zoom by other brands (like Xiaomi Mi6) have smaller apertures and operates with lag. Also, in most occasions, these phones (tested on ASUS Zenfone Zoom S, OnePlus 5 and Samsung Galaxy Note8) do not use the secondary zoom lens all the time (I can tell by inspecting the EXIF which captures the primary lens aperture number). However, optically-speaking, the zoom lens on these cameras offer a better visual perspective with lesser distortion.
Should you get the Honor 8 Pro or the Huawei P10 Plus? After my hands-on experience on Honor 8 Pro, I conclude that the smartphone generally performs similar to Huawei P10 Plus. The Honor 8 Pro runs as fast and smooth as the P10 Plus, and given its stellar Kirin processor, it is the best-priced mid-tier smartphone to buy. If you think the P10 Plus is high-priced due to the Leica branding, then the Honor 8 Pro is the closest alternative that Huawei offers at a palatable price, with improved benefits like larger 4000 mAh battery and larger 5.7-inch display. Retails at S$599, exclusively at Lazada Singapore, warranty by Huawei Service Centre.
- Affordable price with Huawei P10 Plus capabilities
- Carries the legacy load of features in Huawei, like screen recording, knock gesture screen capture
- Does not support premium wireless audio codec, like aptX.