After weeks of rumors, Huawei has made its Huawei P8 smartphone official by launching it in London. This was a relatively anticipated event because the brand did not launch new handsets at Mobile World Congress 2015, but focused on Wearable Tech during that event, with a number of cool devices, including [list here].
The P8 is Huawei’s premium phone, and it is a lot better than its Huawei P7 predecessor. From the build quality to the updated user interface, to the camera, Huawei has improved nearly all critical aspects of the phone.
The industrial design is nice and clean. The units that we played with did not have any branding in the front, which makes it look very clean. The overall shape of the P8 is reminiscent of what we’re used to with Huawei: very square, with rounded corners.
There’s a rounded aluminum rim all around it. The phone feels good and solid in the hand, and looks nice from the side as well. The bottom feature the speaker output and the USB charging port. MicroSD and SIM slots (1x nano 1x micro) are on the right side, along with Power and volume controls. The top just features the 3.5mm audio connector and the left side is completely void of any buttons.
The back of the phone is mostly metallic, Except for a solid-color strip at the top where the camera module is. I’ll assume that this is an aesthetic choice rather than a functional one, but it could also be that one of the antenna is hidden behind the solid-color section. It looks OK to me, but maybe I would have preferred it without the solid-color.
Also, the legal markings (hidden here by the security device) at the bottom are a bit too visible in my opinion, and take away from the design of the P8. Still, this is a very nice handset that feels like a well-built phone which is only 6.4mm thin (144.9 mm x 71.8 mm x 6.4 mm). Other colors include Champagne, Titanium, Gold and Black.
To match the design, Huawei is using the Kirin 930 SoC (system-on-chip) with 3GB of RAM. It uses 8 64-bit cores in a BIG.Little configuration and is pretty good (4x A57 2GHz + 4x A53 cores 1.3GHz). It should perform better than the Huawei Mate 7, although we have not had time to run any benchmarks.
One of the reasons why Huawei uses its own chip is because the company can provide its own LTE modems, which are often integrated. Given that Huawei 4G networks cover 50%+ of the world’s networks, there are opportunities to create some synergy. That said, it’s not very easy to quantify the eventual benefits to the end user.
By default, the Huawei P8 ships with 16 GB of storage, but there’s a MicroSD slot to easily (and cheaply) add capacity. The battery capacity is 2680 mAh, which is pretty decent for a phone this size, and comparable with high-end smartphones of this form-factor. Huawei has a habit of selecting other components with a bias for low-power qualities, and that includes the 1080p display.
Not surprisingly, the Huawei P8 ships with Android 5.0 (Lollipop) along with its own EMUI 3.1 (Emotion UI) user interface. EMUI comes with features that helps things like capturing and editing screenshots, or finding your lost phone (in your house), easier.
The 13-megapixel camera is not protruding from the back of the phone, but it doesn’t mean that it is wimpy, on the contrary. It comes with optical image stabilization and has a host of software features that are interesting to explore. Among them, “light painting”, which is a long exposure mode that lets you capture trails of light as things move around.
The “Director” mode lets you capture a photo from your phone, but also from up to 3 additional networked handsets (if not for the limit, you may be able to do your own “Matrix” shots…). There’s also a time-lapse mode built-in.
The front camera gets the usual “beautify” features, and since it’s an 8 Megapixel camera, things should look pretty good during those video-chat sessions.