IN A WORLD where Chinese upstarts are challenging the traditional smartphone illuminati, a new release from Honor is kind of a big deal. The Honor 8 Pro is billed as a bigger version of last year's gorgeous Honor 8, a handset still being toted by yours truly in preference to even the exalted Google Pixel.
But the Honor 8 Pro is so much more. For a start, of course, it now boasts a 5.7in screen which it describes as Quad HD, which is basically 4K give or take some technical semantics.
Then there's the battery, which at 4,000mAh is a beast, and will stay charged for two days with average use, thanks to some AI power management in the EMUI interface.
But before you screw your face up, EMUI is much improved and even has an app drawer again (hooray!) and it feels like everything that has been added over and above AOSP is a bonus, not a bloat.
Running Android 7.0 Nougat straight out of the box is always pleasing and the fact that the screen is as buttery smooth as anything we've seen is, to us reviewers, a bit like being licked by kittens.
What's more, Honor (don't call them Huawei) believe that thanks to the same Smart Power 5.0 technology that keeps the device plodding on in standby for a full week (trust us, we tested it), will keep the handset feeling like new with no slow down or fragmentation.
Somehow, at just 6.97mm, it manages to be thinner than its little sister, thanks in part to the decision to switch from a glass body to a metal one, but it does also lose the smart-button feature on the fingerprint sensor that we loved. No matter, though.
There's the option once again of either two micro SIM cards or a micro SIM and a micro SD card, with an official ceiling of 128GB, but in reality, any SDXC card (even larger ones) work fine.
The camera is significantly game-raised, with 12MP a dual-lens set up for stills and full 4K for video. The resulting images are crisper and brighter than before and its low-light credentials are fantastic.
For VR fans, there's a small consolation to the fact that you won't be able to get Daydream working from launch, but don't fret because the box actually turns into a Cardboard. With the QHD screen with a flagship challenging DPI, the results are pretty damn good.
The speakers are DTS enabled, and while they're not a substitute for a good bass bin, they're a damn site better than you have a right to expect in this price range, and will certain drown out the death rattle dance beats of any little oik who decides to play their music on the bus. Trust us. You'll win.
Of course, something has to give, and in the case of the Honor 8 Pro, as with its predecessor, it doesn't have an official water resistance rating, and though we're told it's ‘splashproof' it's a slight shame to know that it wouldn't survive a trip down the toilet bowl - though it has been shock and stress tested to within an inch of its life otherwise and rocks Gorilla Glass 3 for screen survival.
Considering that we don't expect this to be Honor's flagship, or should we say 'only flagship' of 2017, there's a huge amount to be excited by here. The 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage coupled with an octa-core Kirin processor with a GPU on top makes for a very slick gaming experience, as well not creaking under the weight of the silly number of apps we installed.
This phone is, at so many levels, a contender to the Pixel XL, both in specs and performance. It even feels a little bit like the Google handset in the hand. But there's one clear and important difference. The price. At under £500 (£474), the Honor 8 Pro embarrasses recent flagships. It out-specs the S8, the LG G6 and even the Pixel. Heck, it even gives its sister company Huawei a run for their money with the P10 Plus, all of which are considerably more expensive phones.
There's lots of things we've not had a chance to test properly, like the 4K video and whether it really will feel like new in six months time, but everything that we have tried suggests that this is another flagship killer from Honor, a mid-year substitution that is going to give the Honor 9, whenever that arrives, a lot to live up to. If you like a big screen phone, it comes highly recommended. µ