Huawei Honor 8 Pro review: The Incredible Hulk
India's smartphone market is a crowded one. There aren't only a plethora of brands competing in the market, but these brands have numerous products that cut across price brackets. If you look at the Rs 30,000 price point, there is some intense competition going on. Recently the OnePlus 5 was launched to great fanfare in the country, which I equated to being the smartphone equivalent of the legendary Formula 1 driver Michael Schumacher. Huawei's Honor 8 Pro eyes the same space, but to compete with arguably the greatest race car driver, Honor has created a smartphone which is the technological avatar of the veritable hulk from Disney's Marvel universe. As an Avenger's fan, I say this with great pride as this phone is incredible like the hulk and in the past few weeks has become one of my favourite smartphones.

The Good

The hulk as I'd like to call the Honor 8 Pro through this review is one mind bending phone as it resonates excellence and brute force at anything that it does. True, it may remind one of the iPhone, but then most phones these days do and it is very well constructed. It feels like a hefty tank in one's hand — reminding one of the hulking hulk at 7mm and 184 grams. It feels astonishingly solid, which is kind of also due to its weight.

One of things adding to its weight is its massive 4,000mAh battery which kind of ensures superlative longevity. Again, this a hulk like tendency as it can take a lot and yet not feel the heat. In my tests which went on for almost three weeks, this phone often delivered more than 50 hours of battery life with medium to heavy usage. The phone also supports fast charging technologies, ensuring that phone gets juiced up and ready to go in 2 hours.

Huawei uses its own top of the line eight core processor which is also in its flagship P10 (yet to be launched in India) smartphone and has married it with an impressive 6GB of RAM and a very generous 128GB of storage which can be further expanded with a microSD card slot. Make no mistake, this is a multimedia junkies dream.

Suffice to say, the phone delivers amazing performance which involves more than 20 apps being used at the same time and some heavy duty gaming with graphically intensive games like Injustice 2. Sure, it isn't as fast as the OnePlus 5, but then that's just a freak of nature. The Honor 8 Pro comes close enough and offers more bang for your buck for less. It also stays cool as a cucumber, a trait even the incredible hulk is not known for.

Its front is dominated by a LTPS 2k 5.7-inch screen which looks gorgeous. It is better than the screen on the OnePlus 5, in the case you were wondering. It is bright, vivid with punchy colours and quite resistive to scratches with a layer of protective cover glass on top which means whatever be the task, it gets the job done in an almost morning way like Dr Bruce Banner when not in his angry Hulk avatar. But the most important thing is that it is great for VR use cases, unlike a 1080p screen.

While all of this is good, actually really good, the real highlight of this phone is it's imaging prowess. It has twin 12-megapixel cameras on the back — one a standard RGB camera while the other being a black and white camera and on the front there's a 8-megapixel shooter. In simple words, the imaging package is the best one you get on any phone that's less than Rs 35,000. And again yes, better than the OnePlus 5.

Here's why - the rear cameras take sharper and richer photos in day and night than any other phone they compete with outside of the 3 year old iPhone 6 and while doing so they pull some amazing DSLR like tricks thanks to Huawei's software trickery which enables an adjustable bokeh mode which is very effective, a superb HDR mode, and a nice monochrome mode.

It also comes with a neat pro mode and also has cool features like filters, a 3D model mode and an effective video mode that captures video in 4K with minimal shake and great audio even in large concert like situations. Recently, I attended a Raghu Dixit concert and the audio it captured was fantastic, on par with the iPhone 7 Plus. There's also a GoPro app also on the phone which can help you edit these videos, though I didn't care much for it as I decided to upload the videos directly to my Instagram.

It also has a mean selfie camera which will be the envy of any phone in the market including even some of the dual front camera competitors. More so, the screen lights up like a flash (a trick pioneered by the iPhone) which makes this phone a delight to use even in low-light conditions. Its incredible to say the least.

Besides these features, the Honor 8 Pro has some additional bells and whistles like a rear mounted fingerprint scanner that works at light speed and an IR blaster something that's missing in most phones in the market and its box doubles as a VR cardboard that works with the Jaunt app. Its single onboard speaker is also quite effective, better than most phones in the market.

The Bad

As incredible as this hulk is, it isn't without faults. Firstly, at 184 grams, this is a decidedly hulking phone. It ain't for someone looking for something light. Actually, it is solid, it could be used like a weapon to bludgeon a thief to death! No kidding!

The matte black finish that Huawei implements doesn't seemingly have a double coat of paint. A minor ding would scuff the phone and it would lose some paint. That doesn't happen with most phones and this isn't isolated to the Honor 8 Pro, as this also happens with Huawei's flagship - the P10.

The low-light performance of the cameras could be better. Images become particularly grainy which is something Huawei should look towards improving. In addition, the 4,000mAh battery means that the phone also takes a long time to charge; again perhaps the company could look at a faster charging solutions in the mould of OnePlus's tech.

Lastly, I'm a fan of stock Android Nougat. While the user interface is decent, essentially a springboard of apps and widgets, it isn't as seamless as the stock Android. One can even configure the phone with an app drawer and customise it with themes but Huawei's themes are not as nice as the ones Xiaomi offers on its user interface. The bigger worry is that Android, updates, particularly, security updates will not come on time, if ever they come.

Should you buy it?

Seriously, who doesn't like the incredible hulk? If you don't my dear reader, then I'm judging you. Because Dr Bruce Banner aka the hulk is brilliant when he's calm and explosive in an incredibly beastly way when he's angry. The Honor 8 Pro is exactly like him. It tucks along quietly like a scientist when you want it, or it can raise hell with its sheer power, battery life and camera technology when you want it to show off. For Rs 29,999, this is my favourite phone — yeah, the OnePlus 5 be damned because you can't drive like Michael Schumacher in India. It wouldn't be even cool to do so as damaging that Ferrari would break so many hearts but it will be so cool to have the hulk here and raise some hell!