10 Aug 2015
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Hands-on review: The Huawei P8

By Patrick Pilcher

Huawei have been supplying smartphones for ages. Until now these have largely been cheapie phones. Now with their latest, the P8, Huawei are changing their spots, offering flagship level specs at a mid-range price.

Look and Feel

Design-wise, the P8 is impressive. There’s no sign of any Tupperware, and the P8 appears to have been hewn out of a single block of aluminum with glass adding to its designer looks. As is the current in thing for flagship smartphones, P8 has chamfered sides. This makes it feel exceptionally comfy in the hand.

Another notable omission is the lack of a camera bump -  the P8’s back is completely flat. This means there’s nothing to catch on your pocket. The P8 is available in “mysterious champagne” or “titanium Grey”.

Taking a closer look at the P8 also reveals that Huawei have paid a lot of attention to small details. In the hand, the P8 has more in common with a Swiss watch than smartphone. Little details such as a textured power button, a chrome ring around the flash and a host of others little details hint at design sophistication.

The P8 is also highly pocketable, being slim and lacking an awkward camera bump. This is helped along by the fact that it weighs in at a reasonable 144 grams.

Under the Hood

Firing the P8 up reveals a crisp and vivid 5.2” 1080p IPS LCD display. The P8 show is powered using an in-house designed 2GHz Hisilicon Kirin 930 8-core CPU. Add in 3GB of RAM and performance is generally smooth.

The not so good news is that Android fans will lament the lack of an app drawer, even though there one is baked into the lock screen (providing music controls, a calculator and flashlight).

The inclusion of Dual SIM slots means you can keep using an existing a phone number with one telco while taking advantage of a competitors cheaper plans using the other slot (Dual SIM slots also provide a handy means of avoiding international roaming fees as you can also stick a locally purchased SIM in the second slot).

The real stand-out with the P8 is its 13 MP rear shooter. Where most image sensors have RGB sub-pixels, the P8’s sensor includes extra white ones that can take in more light. This and the use of a DSLR-grade image processor, means the P8 shoots cracking good photos and its HD video recording isn’t shabby either.

This is helped along thanks to a bevy of different shooting modes. Perhaps the most innovative is what Huawei have branded “Director Mode”. This allows up to three phones to wirelessly connect and stream video to the P8. This footage can then be combined into a single movie on the P8. Equally clever is the “Light Painting” mode hich allows the user to paint around photographed subjects using a light source  such as a phones screen, a flashlight or laser pointer.

The Perfect Selfie mode can “beautify” your face, and is even smart enough to find your mug and enhance it in-group shots. Used sparingly, Beautification enhancements did hide the odd wrinkle (there are no settings high enough to fix what is wrong with this writers mug however).

Last (but by no means least) there’s also a “Super Night” mode. While you’d be forgiven for thinking this involved wearing a cape and wearing ones undies on the outside, super night mode provides noise free photos at night - no flash needed. This said, a tripod is vital to avoid image blurring.

In Use

While fandroiders may bemoan the lack of an app drawer, few can argue that Huawei’s Emotion UI is unresponsive. In terms of my own use, I was pleased to note that it was intuitive and didn’t get in the way of day-to-day use.

The P8 delivered just over a day’s use which isn’t too shabby considering it only packs a relatively small 2,680mAh battery.

Another small but useful feature is the P8’s speech recognition capabilities. Even when the P8 is in standby you can utter a customisable name to wake it up and have it do your bidding. If like me you frequently have panicked searches for your phone before heading out, you’ll be pleased to note that with the P8 you can simply Say “okay [name] where are you?”. If the P8 is within ear shot, it’ll play a tune, vibrate and flick its flash on and of, also saying “I’m here!” as the volume increases.

The only real fly in the ointment I found with the P8 was its inability to play nice with Android wear hardware. Here’s hoping Huawei fix this as it’ll be a real deal breaker for many potential buyers.


Huawei have managed to pull off the near impossible feat of offering a great looking device with flagship features and a high-end design all at a wallet pleasing $799 price.

In short with the P8, There’s a helluva lot to like. It packs a fantastic camera, an intuitive and responsive UI, plus a heap of other features that makes it a must check out if you’re looking for a new smartphone.

Tech Specs

RRP:                $799


Dimensions:   144.9 x 72.1 x 6.4 mm

Weight:           144g

SIM:                Dual SIM

Display:          IPS LCD, 5.2”, 1080 x 1920 (424 ppi)

UI:                   Emotion 3.1 UI

OS:                  Android OS, v5.0.2 (Lollipop)

Chipset           HiSilicon Kirin 930/935

CPU:                Quad-core 2 GHz Cortex-A53 & quad-core 1.5 GHz Cortex-A53

GPU:                Mali-T628 MP4

Memory:         microSD, up to 128GB (via second SIM slot)

Storage/RAM:16/64 GB, 3 GB RAM

Camera:          (Rear) 13 MP, (front) 8Mp

Connectivity:  WLAN Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, hotspot

Bluetooth:      v4.1, A2DP, LE

GPS     Yes

NFC     Yes

BATTERY:       Non-removable Li-Po 2680 mAh battery

Colours:          Titanium Grey, Mystic Champagne (16 GB), Carbon Black, Prestige Gold (64 GB)

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