Huawei P8 review: Impressive flagship smartphone at more affordable price

Chinese manufacturer Huawei is targeting the high-end smartphone segment with the launch of its P8 – a market already dominated by flagship devices such as the iPhone 6 and Samsung Galaxy S6.

But while Apple and Samsung’s latest offerings tend to set you back well over Dh2,000, the P8 retails for a very reasonable Dh1,699. So how does Huawei’s latest measure up against the big boys?

The company has put a lot of effort into the P8’s design, which sports an all metal case (apart from a glass strip on the rear around the camera) with a premium look and a weighty feel. It’s available in “carbon” black, “titanium” grey, “mystic” champagne and “prestige” gold.


It’s probably Huawei’s best designed handset to date, although the finish isn’t completely clean, with the same slightly rough edges we saw with the Sony Xperia Z3+. So it probably falls a little short of the design excellence of Apple and Samsung.

The P8 sports a 5.2 inch IPS LCD display with a pixel density in line with the HTC One M9 but a bit below others at the top table. As a consequence, its performance isn’t quite up there with the likes of the LG G4 or the iPhone 6, but is extremely close behind. Videos such as the new James Bond trailer are rendered smoothly with a naturalistic palette.

Huawei has been talking up the P8’s camera system and while it’s not on par with the G4, it’s still an impressive set up, with high quality images, a handy low light mode, and some neat but gimmicky settings that allow for light painting and night car trail shots, if that’s your thing.

If you judge the P8 purely in terms of design, display and camera, there are better handsets on the market without question. And despite a high marketing spend, Huawei still can’t match the likes of Apple, Samsung for brand cache. But let’s remember that the P8 costs just Dh1,699, which will get you a very high performing smartphone at a far lower price than its rivals. If you want a high-end device but want to pay (far) less than Dh2,000, it’s hard to beat.

Q&A

First things first, how do you pronounce Huawei? Who Are We? How away?

The correct pronunciation is “Wah Way,” according to a handy little video the company produced.

And remind me who they are again?

“They” are one of the largest telecoms device and equipment manufacturers in the world. According to figures from IDC, they shipped more smartphones in the Middle East in the first quarter of the year than anyone other than Samsung and Apple, and 48.2 million globally in the first half of the year.

What else do I need to know about the P8?

The P8 is a dual-SIM phone, with one SIM slot doubling up as a Micro SD card holder. It has a few natty features such as being able to wake the phone up with your voice, and being able to perform certain functions via “knuckle sense technology,” by knocking on the display.

Sounds interesting. But the 5.2 inch screen is a bit small for me.

Well, you’re in luck. For those who don’t like to squint at small screens, and who have freakishly large hands, Huawei have also launched the P8 Max, which has a ludicrous 6.8 inch display. Less phablet than tablet that makes calls.

One last question: what does “Huawei” actually mean?

This is a tricky one actually; as far as I can tell, it means “splendid achievement of Chinese-doing.” Hard to argue with, given the amount of phones it’s selling.

jeverington@thenational.ae

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