Sheldon PintoJul 14, 2017 14:40:13 IST
Last year, Huawei launched its Honor 8, a smartphone, which was supposed to be a more affordable variant of the Leica-branded P9 flagship, one that was to be the much-awaited successor to the amazing Honor 6 Plus.
While Honor simply launched a successor to the Honor 6 Plus, its new Honor 8 smartphone, thanks to its launch price of Rs 29,999 was often pitted against the mighty “flagship killer”, the OnePlus 3. And it was always shot down.
Huawei quickly understood that despite its dual camera offering and its much-praised glass and metal body, Honor needed to come prepared with a successor that had just one objective in mind, defeating the next flagship from OnePlus.
This year, OnePlus launched its flagship OnePlus 5 smartphone and it was just a few weeks later that Huawei announced its revamped and refreshed Honor 8 Pro flagship. This time around, Huawei did its homework, but so did OnePlus which is still looking up, to compete with premium smartphone offerings from Samsung, HTC and the like.
While I have yet to pen down my review of the mighty OnePlus 5 (#sarcasm), the premium flagship brands this year have clearly drawn the line by offering premium design (that the OnePlus cannot touch) with premium hardware and software features as well. With that battle clearly lost, OnePlus seems to now have another competitor standing right behind it in the form of the fallen warrior, the Huawei Honor 8 Pro with top-end specifications and a tried and tested dual camera system. So how do the two compare? Let’s find out!
Design: Winner - Honor 8 Pro
OnePlus seems to have spent a lot of time with the design of its smartphone; going through multiple iterations to finally end up what we all now know as the iPhone 7 Plus, sorry, OnePlus 5. Sadly, all of this goes out the window when what you are getting is an Oppo R11 (a mid-range smartphone) with upgraded internal hardware. Other than that, the best comment you would end up with is that it looks like an Apple iPhone 7 Plus. And, well, imitation is said to be the best form of flattery.
Looks are one thing. But when held in the hand, the OnePlus feels lighter, slimmer and smaller than the previous OnePlus 3T which works for the new design. The bad part here is the craftsmanship and finishing, which is just not in the league of the Huawei Honor 8 Pro.
Move your fingers around the buttons and you will feel sharp edges poking into your digits. In fact, the camera protrusion on the back is so sharp, it can be used to scrape wood. The same can be said about any and every cutout on the device, it’s just not well finished or has not gone through enough runs on the CNC machine.
The Huawei Honor 8 Pro may not win awards when it comes to design, but it holds its own, more so because Huawei has been in the dual camera game for quite some time now and this adds to its originality. The quality and finish of the device is top class and feels smooth and polished like a flagship. It’s heavier than the OnePlus, but the large battery justifies the bulk. Despite its larger display, wider footprint and heavier build, the Honor is still slimmer than the OnePlus 5 at 6.9 mm. There is no camera protrusion on the device either, which makes the Honor 8 Pro the clear winner.
Display: Winner - Honor 8 Pro
The OnePlus 5 packs in the same old 5.5-inch Full HD (1920x1080 pixels) AMOLED display as on the older OnePlus 3T. There are no improvements apart from a few additional flaws, like the ‘jelly effect’ when scrolling through content (horizontal and vertical scrolls). It’s there and there is nothing you can do about it apart from training your mind to ignore it. But it will still get in your way every single time, until OnePlus comes up with a fix (highly doubtful) that is.
The Honor 8 Pro packs in a QHD (2560x1440 pixels) IPS LCD display, it's sharp and works well in every lighting condition. More importantly, it was quite accurate in terms of colour reproduction, as I pointed out in my review. With more screen real estate, higher resolution and great brightness levels, there’s little to complain here at Rs 29,999. The Honor 8 Pro wins this round as well.
Chipset, GPU, RAM and Storage: Winner - OnePlus 5
Indeed, there is plenty to talk about here, but I will add a simple table to make the comparison easier.
|Smartphone||OnePlus 5||Huawei Honor 8 Pro|
|Display Size (inch)||5.5||5.7|
|Resolution (pixels)||1,080 x 1,920||1,440 x 2,560|
|Pixel Density (PPI)||401||515|
|Display Type||Optic AMOLED||LTPS IPS LCD|
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 835||HiSilicon Kirin 960|
|CPU Clock Speed (GHz)||4x Kryo @ 2.45 & 4× Kryo @ 1.9||4x Cortex-A73 @ 2.4 & 4× Cortex-A53 @ 1.8|
|GPU||Adreno 540||Mali-G71 MP8|
|RAM||6GB, 8GB||4GB, 6GB|
|Sensors||Fingerprint, Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Proximity, Compass||Fingerprint, Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Proximity, Compass|
|Primary Camera||16MP, f/2.0, 20MP, f/2.6||12MP, f/2.2, 12MP, f/2.2|
|Optical Image Stabilization||No||No|
|Camera Array||Dual Camera||Dual Camera|
|Camera Setup||Normal lens, Telephoto lens||RGB sensor, Monochrome sensor|
|Autofocus System||Phase detection||Phase detection|
|Secondary Camera||16MP, f/2.0||8MP, f/2.0|
|OS Version||Android 7.1.1 Nougat||Android 7.0 Nougat|
|USB Type||Type-C Reversible connector||Type-C Reversible connector|
Now that you have gone through the table, it is easy to point out that the OnePlus is the more powerful one of the two. Offering not just the top-of-the-line Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chipset, but a hefty 8 GB of RAM (if you have chosen the high-end model) as well. You also get 128 GB of internal storage.
The Honor 8 Pro too has a good processor, it's just that it falls behind (by quite a large margin) when it comes to graphics performance. Still, in my tests, both smartphones performed equally well whether it was in gaming or battery life. But the OnePlus 5 is the clear winner here. This might seem like a good thing, but head to the 'Price' section because the OnePlus 5 is not exactly value for money.
Camera: Winner - OnePlus 5
I’ve tested both cameras, and when it comes to photographs with a heavy ‘bokeh’ effect, there’s really no defeating the Honor 8 Pro. But that’s just one use for the dual camera setup. The Honor 8 Pro also has another trick up its sleeve and that is the monochrome mode. The images are simply stunning, but sadly, cannot be tweaked since these images can only be clicked using the auto mode. The output however, is really unmatched since it comes from a monochrome sensor and is not like the usual software filtered stuff you get from most camera smartphones these days.
The OnePlus 3 and the 3T offered pretty capable cameras when compared to flagships like the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge and the like last year. This year, that is really not the case, with smartphones like Samsung, HTC and even the older Pixel from Google outdoing these low cost flagships by a mile.
Still, the camera out on the OnePlus 5 is decent for its price tag, and definitely better in both daylight and low light situations in comparison to the Huawei Honor 8 Pro.
The 20 MP 2X (1.6X optical) lossless digital zoom is useful, but the results from the same are not exactly up to the mark compared to 16 MP unit’s output and its crisp f/1.7 aperture. Both cameras on the OnePlus 5 and the Honor 8 Pro do lack OIS and make do with their software counterparts.
Again, when it comes to video, the OnePlus 5 is the clear winner as the Honor's video mode is pretty messed up (software fix needed). So, yes, the OnePlus takes the crown in the camera section even though the Honor has an extra monochrome mode.
Software: Winner - OnePlus 5
The Huawei Honor 8 Pro runs Android 7.0 with its EMUI 5.1 custom skin. Huawei told us that its operating system uses machine learning to keep the smartphone lag-free, and this is evident from the way it performs and it's commendable considering the relatively meek Mali GPU and the high-resolution QHD display. The system feels fluid, but even that fluidity has me wondering whether or not the next update will arrive, considering the heavy customisations that work well with Huawei's own HiSilicon chipset.
Onboard the OnePlus 5, we have the latest Android 7.1.1 based, lightly customized OxygenOS. It’s light and it runs pretty smooth, despite the power saving customisations by OnePlus. The bottom line is that it works (despite the bugs and the annoying jelly effect) and it works pretty smoothly at that. It may not feel as smooth as a Google Pixel, but at Rs 38,000 (or Rs 33,000) you are getting Nexus-like performance with a similar interface. Add the frequent updates to the OS on the OnePlus 5 with its tiny yet useful customisations makes it the winner.
Battery: Winner - Tie
The OnePlus 5 packs in a 3,300 mAh battery while the Huawei Honor 8 Pro features a 4,000 mAh unit. We ran both devices using the standard PCMark Battery Life tests and were a bit surprised to see a performance difference of 2 hours. The OnePlus 5 delivered an extra 2 hours of battery life in comparison to the Honor.
Surprised? Well, this is because the OnePlus packs in a top-of-the-line Snapdragon 835 that is manufactured using the 10 nm process while the Honor 8 Pro is stuck with a Kirin 960 that still uses the 16 nm manufacturing process. You also have to keep in mind that the Honor 8 Pro has a graphic-heavy QHD display to drive so despite its 4,000 mAh battery, the OnePlus lasts longer.
While the above talks about synthetic battery tests, in day to day usage, both smartphones will last you more than a day of use. This one's clearly a tie as both come with their own software and hardware tweaks for battery life. Both devices also come with quick charging technology.
And this is what it all boils down to. Price tags for the OnePlus 5 have gone up by quite a margin this year. The base model is available at Rs 32,999 and it gets you 6 GB RAM and 64 GB of internal storage. The high-end model with 8 GB RAM and 128 GB storage gets you more, but at a steeper Rs 37,999, which seems a bit too much, considering that the LG G6 sells around the same price tag but looks and feels premium, this really is asking too much.
The Huawei Honor 8 Pro gets you Android 7.0, a bigger 5.7-inch Quad HD LCD display, a bigger 4,000 mAh battery and a smartphone that looks unique and clicks some great black and white images. And it sells at the price of OnePlus 3T, which is Rs 29,999, which should be enough to convince those new sub-Rs 30,000 buyers to go in for it.
So it all boil downs to this. If its value for money and good build quality that you are looking for, the Huawei Honor 8 Pro offers more bang for your buck. But if you want the latest software updates and you like tweaking your smartphone (with custom ROMs), then you can still go ahead with the 6 GB RAM OnePlus 5.
Yes. As of now the 8 GB RAM OnePlus 5 is clearly only for bragging rights, but it won’t hold much weight when what you’re holding is an iPhone lookalike. Think twice before you spend that extra Rs 5,000 on the high-end model.
OnePlus has been chasing premium flagships for too long and it seems to have forgotten that it was supposed to rule the Rs 30,000 segment. Starting from Rs 32,999 (Rs 3,000 higher) may be fine for some buyers, but a high-end model at Rs 37,999 is too much for too little. With the Honor 8 Pro, Huawei indeed has a built a worthy OnePlus competitor this year and it has successfully challenged OnePlus this year.
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