Published on June 21st, 2015 | by Varuna Singh2
Huawei P8 Review
I love it when a phone surprises me. When you think of Huawei and its flagship device, you wouldn’t necessarily think it falls in good competition with the S6 or the G4 or even the M9. In fact the P8’s price is about 900 dirhams cheaper than the big guys’. In reality, the P8 is a very compelling option.
“AED 800 cheaper than the competition”
Huawei’s brand ambassador is famous Arabic singer Nancy Ajram.
My first experience with the P8 started when I unboxed it. At their event, Huawei mentioned they wanted the experience to be like taking a book off its shelf. The box itself tries to impress you even if you aren’t going to care about it later.
“Not so original”
Huawei Design not only sounds, but also looks like Porsche Design. The P8 even comes in gold (color). The back and sides almost feel as they are made of metal, and the speaker and charging port on the bottom is purely taken from Apple’s iPhone. Huawei also boldly stated how their phone has no camera bump and the black stripes that go across the device aren’t quite original.
“A very satisfactory premium feel”
But you know, I do like how this phone feels. It works well. The weight, the metallic feel, the responsive buttons and the almost adequate screen size. When you take the P8 out of its box, you get an assuring magnetic feedback. The Huawei P8 feels very premium to hold. You do not feel much plastic and the phone is comfortable to hold in one hand. But the experience also extends in its software.
“EMUI Android lollipop with a surprisingly fast processor”
In its guts, the P8 is running Lollipop as you would expect. The user interface is far from the stock Android experience. It more hit than miss. The P8 is using EMUI which is Huawei’s skin on top of Android. EMUI is far from stock but can offer unique features. For example, the P8 ‘s UI can morph to the corner of your palm if you want to reach those hard the top with one hand.
“Impressive Knuckle Capture”
The P8 has a very interesting feature where you can knuckle-circle (yes, you read that correctly) the screen to take a screenshot. If you want to take the whole phone’s screenshot, you can use Android traditional Lock + Volume Down key. However if you are interested in only a certain segment of the screen, you can knuckle circle the display. It works most of the time, but what’s even more surprising is you can only trigger this with your knuckles. I have no idea how that works technically, but it works quite well.
Other software features like taking a quick picture by long pressing the volume key (even if your phone is locked) is a convenient addition. A lot of the features are shared across EMUI devices which happens to work well for the P8.
If you are looking for a stock experience, the P8’s UI is EMUI which is a combination of iOS and Android elements will disappoint you badly. Given the screen size and feel of the P8, these changes are most of the time quite helpful and productive. They keyboard works well with Swype built right in.
“A better performing processor than you’d expect”
The phone performs quite well. The processor never seems to hiccup running many apps and games was on par with the other flagships of today. You are not trading off performance with this device. The P8 is running a 64 bit octa 8 core Huawei’s Kirin processor.
The screen on the P8 is adequate. It’s a good screen and the blacks are the darkest I’ve seen. The screen does a good job in its adaptive brightness to save on battery life as well as maxing it out during sunlight.
“Almost 2 days in battery”
Speaking of the battery, the P8 gets great battery. In my tests, I could keep the P8 running for more than a heavy day of use. That included Instagramming, Snapchat, Emails, 2 calls and a quick 5 minute Periscope session.
The P8 does most things right in hardware. The software isn’t stock android and that may annoy a few people. Practically speaking, I welcomed the enhancements, shortcuts and UI improvement EMUI brings to the P8. It looks and feels good, doesn’t perform any less and costs you almost 25% less than the phone its competing against. So why would you not get the P8?
“Great pictures, annoying video performance”
Well, EMUI can be annoying at times. There is a separate updater for the UI that gets confusing. The phone’s camera takes great pictures but the videos suffer from major flaws. Almost every video we took didn’t focus properly and almost every time got the white balance off. The Optical Image Stabilization worked really well however.
The P8 seems to be the right phone if you are looking to settle for a very capable phone but don’t want to spend so much money. You want a powerful phone and a good-looking one as well. The Gold, iPhone-like aesthetics might put you off, and maybe the Huawei brand might too. But for AED 1799 for the 16GB, it’s a great buy and it has assured me that Huawei can make a good flagship.
- Feels great
- Great sound, screen and network retention
- Impressive battery life
- Pretty good performance
- Great OIS and camera picture quality
- The phone’s design is not original
- Poor video capture
- EMUI needs some user flow wire-framing