Huawei P8 Review: Is This The Affordable Flagship You’ve Been Waiting For?

Huawei P8 Review: Is This The Affordable Flagship You’ve Been Waiting For?

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We review the P8!

Chinese manufacturer Huawei is making waves in the international market, both in offering relatively high-spec flagships at a price lower than their competition – in this case, top-tier manufacturers like Samsung and LG. Huawei’s streamlining the naming convention of their phones, dropping the Ascend prefix on most of their phones and simply going with Y (entry level), G (mid-range), P (high end) and Mate (phablet). Today we’ll be reviewing their newest flagship, the P8, the successor to their middlin’ P7, and see if the company has learned from their mistakes in the past.

Huawei P8 specs

  • Kirin 930 octa-core processor, 2.0GHz clock speed
  • 3GB of RAM
  • 5.2-inch full HD display, 1920 x 1080
  • 16GB of storage, expandable via microSD
  • 13-megapixel rear camera, OIS, DSLR-level independent signal processor, 4-color RGBW sensor
  • 5-megapixel front camera
  • Dual-SIM, Dual LTE
  • WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, A-GPS
  • Android 5.0 Lollipop
  • 2,680mAh battery

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Premium, metallic unibody design

Huawei’s previous flagship, the P7, sported a plastic and glass ensemble, with two panes of glass covering the important bits. After the success of their all-metal Mate7 phablet, it’s not surprising that the company went with a full, unibody metal body with the P8. The phone sports lovely chamfered edges and rounded corners for better ergonomics, but we can’t shake the feeling that Huawei took a lot of inspiration from Apple’s iPhone 6 in the overall design of the phone.

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As unoriginal as some parts of the phone are, there’s no denying that the P8 looks beautiful, especially our rose-gold colored review device. While the phone is thinner than most at 6.4mm, it doesn’t feel awkward or hard to hold. Much of that is because of the phone’s smaller profile compared to other phones – it has a 5.2-inch display, a stark contrast from the 5.5-inch smartphones from other manufacturers.

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The volume and power keys sit on the right side of the phone, with the two SIM slots sitting right underneath. As is becoming common practice with phones like these, if you’re not keen on using the second SIM slot, you can utilize it to beef up the 16GB storage of the P8 instead. Moving on, the 3.5mm jack is located on top while the USB port is located on the bottom, flanked by two speaker grilles. We’re really liking the trend of manufacturers putting the speakers on the bottom of phones, which allows them (including the P8) to pump out considerable volume even when the phone is flat on the table.

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Flip the phone on its back, you’ll see an oddly featureless landscape, aside from the prominent Huawei logo and the 13-megapixel rear camera, along with a dual LED flash. The placement and size of the camera module are pleasing to the eye, as it sits flush on the body without any protruding element, which isn’t the case with the other offerings of international brands.

The 5.2-inch display sports only full HD resolution, which may irk a few people looking for high-resolution displays. Aside from that little hiccup, the phone’s display is pretty good, with punchy colors (without being oversaturated), good color reproduction, clarity, and sharpness.

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Huawei has had this habit of placing Android Lollipop-like on-screen navigation keys without actually putting in Android Lollipop on the device. This ends on the P8 – the phone uses Lollipop navigation keys because it IS actually sporting Lollipop (Android 5.0 in fact) though most of Google’s goodness is hidden behind the company’s EmotionUI overlay. Much like its other Chinese rivals, Huawei’s UI strips the app drawer and places all your apps outside (probably mimicking Apple’s iOS setup).

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EMUI 3.1 tries to add unique features

We’ve seen Huawei’s EmotionUI before, but the iteration in the P8 comes with a few extra bells and whistles. Speech Awareness allows you to call out to your phone if you can’t find it in the room you’re currently in. Just say the keyword out loud (the default is okay Emy), ask “where are you” once your phone answers and then it’ll play a sound continuously that allows you to find it.

In practice though, the feature doesn’t really work that well. You’ll have to be very deliberate and precise when you say “okay Emy” for the phone to respond to you, and more often than not you’ll be yelling out “okay Emy” over and over without the phone responding to your commands. While you can change the keyword, it reduces the effectivity of the feature immensely.

Another feature that’s was good on paper but really doesn’t work that well in practice is the knuckle sense. When you move your knuckle over certain parts of the display, the P8 is supposed to be able to take that section and isolate it, and allows you to send that selection to certain contacts or social media. While the P8 is supposed to be smart enough to differentiate a finger over a knuckle, in practice it’s not – we had to turn off the feature from the settings because the phone kept misinterpreting our swipes with our finger with our knuckles.


Kirin 930 is fast and efficient

Much like Huawei’s other phones, the Huawei P8 runs on the company’s home-grown Kirin 930 octa-core processor paired with 3GB of RAM and a Mali-T628 MP4 GPU. That hardware combination is more than enough to score very impressive scores in AnTuTu, and provides a fluid user experience with no lag in sight.


PC Mark’s work benchmark puts the phone’s score at an impressive 4553. Playing games on the P8 is a pleasure, as all the games we ran on it (including Real Racing 3, Modern Combat 5) ran well without any issues at all.

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A feature-packed camera that’s capable of taking stunning photos

Good, vibrant colors even under an overcast sky
Good, vibrant colors even under an overcast sky
Taken indoors during the day
Taken indoors during the day
Taken indoors during the day
Taken indoors during the day

Huawei put a lot of features into the camera of the P8. They’ve gone all out in the 13-megapixel camera in the flagship device. First off, the P8 has one of the best optical image stabilization units in the market today, capable of accounting for 1.2° degrees of movement, which is better than the iPhone 6 Plus’ 0.6°. That’s combined with world’s first four color RGBW imaging sensor and DSLR quality image signal processing.

BGC at night, taken with Super Night Mode
BGC at night, taken with Super Night Mode
Singapore's skyline at night, taken with the Super Night Mode
Singapore’s skyline at night, taken with Super Night Mode

Aside from that, the P8 is also capable of stunning light photography using a long-exposure mode called light painting. It’s essentially a long exposure feature that allows you to capture light trails, though for it to work well you’ll need to prop up the phone in a tripod or a similar jig.

Taken with Light Painting mode
Taken with Light Painting mode, propped up against a glass panel
Taken with Light painting mode
Taken with Light painting mode, hand-held
Taken with Light painting mode, hand-held
Taken with Light painting mode, hand-held

Like the Honor 6 Plus, the P8 is also capable of taking super night shots via long exposure, though again you’ll need to prop the phone up via a tripod if you hope to capture decent images.

All day battery life

The P8 has a 2680mAh battery, which is standard for most phones in its class. With moderate use, the P8 managed to get us through the day, but needed a trip to the charger when we got home. There’s nothing remarkable about the battery life of the P8 (aside from its whole day endurance) but the good news is that it’s not too shabby either.

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Verdict: a very capable and relatively affordable global flagship

Huawei has certainly learned from their experience with the P7. The P8 is their best flagship device yet, and shows that the company is fast becoming a manufacturer to be reckoned with. The P8 is capable, fast and has a great camera – things that consumers look for in a flagship device from an international brand.

Unfortunately the P8 still lacks a killer feature that will really make it stand out from the pack. While the light painting mode of the camera is cool and unique, it doesn’t quite lend itself to being used every day, as it requires the phone to be stabilized to be used properly.

Still, the P8 is a very strong contender, and its expected price of under 22K means it’ll be one of the cheapest flagships from an international brand out in the market today. If you’re looking for a good mix of looks, performance and camera performance, then the P8 may just be the phone for you.



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