Huawei P8 hands on and first impressions


Today, I managed to get my hands on a Titanium Grey unit of the P8, courtesy of Huawei Malaysia. The P8 is one of the devices in Huawei’s stylish P-series of smartphones. Here’s my first impressions on the Huawei P8.

Huawei P8 hands on and first impressions

If you’re a fan of technology and smartphones, then chances are you’re already familiar with Huawei’s P-series of smartphones. The P-series is a section of smartphones dedicated to being the most stylish and well built smartphones on the block. Every entry in the series has managed to wow people in terms of design and build, like the Ascend P6 and it’s thinness or the Ascend P7 and it’s dual glass setup. The Huawei P8 looks to follow that trend. But how does it actually look and feel?

Simply put, the Huawei P8 is one of the most gorgeous looking smartphones I’ve set my eyes on. The Titanium Grey verison of the device is compromised of a black glass panel on the front, a solid metal frame with chamfered edges in the middle and a solid metal rear panel, with a small piece of glass on top. The result is an extremely elegant and sophisticated looking device that you would be proud to pull out and show to your friends. It’s also very slim at only 6.4mm, slightly slimmer than the iPhone 6.

The build of the device is also stellar. The metal frame going around the device is incredibly rigid and solid. The chamfered edges around the frame help make the device comfortable to hold and easy to manage, despite the device being so thin. I made an attempt to bend the phone, but the phone didn’t even flex in the slightest. The same amount of force on the ECOO E04 however made the device flex to an almost LG G Flex-like state. In other words, the Huawei P8 definitely delivers in terms of build quality.

The Huawei P8 comes with a 5.2-inch JDI sourced 1920 x 1080p full HD IPS display, a 64-bit octa core Hisilicon Kirin 930 processor clocked at 2.0GHz, 3GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, up to 128GB of expandable storage, a 13MP OIS equipped rear camera, an 8MP front camera, a 2680mAh battery, dual sim card slots, NFC and runs on Android 5.0 Lollipop with Huawei’s Emotion UI 3.1 on top.

The display on the P8 is fantastic, with great viewing angles and good color reproduction. Blacks are almost AMOLED black, and all the other colors look natural. The display is however very reflective, which makes using the device in direct sunlight tougher than it needs to be. Aside from that, the panel seems to be a pretty high quality one, capable of matching even Apple’s retina displays.

My experience with the Huawei P8 has so far been a very snappy and quick one. Emotion UI 3.1 is much more refined and fast compared to it’s earlier, clunkier renditions. The P8 zoomed past the daily tasks that I usually did, like checking my email, going through Slack, reading some Google+ posts, checking the Gizchina Core group, snapping pictures and making calls and texts. I haven’t tried any intense gaming yet, that’ll be in the full review.

Emotion UI is now much better than it’s early days with very few bugs and no random stutters or slowdowns. The default theme that comes with the P8 is clean and sophisticated, with deep colored icons and smooth animations. The dropdown notification bar is now translucent and sorts your notifications by the date and time that they appeared. If there’s a single gripe I have with EmUI, it’s the recent apps page. The page can only show 4 apps at a time, and it’s cumbersome to go through them when you’ve got a lot of apps open. I’ve yet to use the UI extensively, but so far things are looking positive.

Another thing to mention is the sound quality of the P8, which is very good for a mobile device. It can get slightly tinny at the highest volume, but it compensates by being quite clear and loud, especially for a mobile device. It’s no HTC Boomsound, but it’s still pretty good.

That’s all for my first impressions on the device. So far I’ve been very impressed by the device. If you want to see more pictures you can check the gallery below, and if you have any questions to ask feel free to ask in the comments.

Huawei P8 hands on photos

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49 Comments

  1. joe montdsad
    July 14, 2015

    600$ USD. Really not competing on price at all, why would you not just get a Xiaomi Mi4 or other similarly specced phone for half the cost.

    • Airyl
      July 14, 2015

      I don’t know. There’s really just something about Huawei’s devices that I really like, that Xiaomi and the rest don’t have.

      • Mariner
        July 14, 2015

        Kind of funny that I’ve had a P8 (single SIM only, alas) here in the UK for around a month now – I’m used to seeing Chinese phones reviewed on Gizchina long before I could get my hands on one!

        Very lucky to get a great deal over here of the P8 phone + a reasonable 12 month contract for a total cost of less than £250 (around $390). I think the network blundered by offering this deal to tell the truth!

        It is a very well-produced phone which is well-built and has decent performance. Only real issue I’ve found so far is indifferent battery life (though not poor) and one or two quirks in the EMUI software. For instance, notifications for Google apps don’t work quite correctly. Oh, network signal drops out more than it should but I think this is down to the network which is known for relatively poor coverage here. If I decide that I can’t get along with it, I’ll move to a different network because the total price will still be worth it.

        Images from the camera look pretty decent which is good as this what attracted me to the phone in the first place. The screen is too dim on the standard settings but brightness can be jacked up and it is then a good screen.

        All in all, I’m happy with this phone but not sure it is worth the $600 quoted here. With the deal I got, a real bargain though.

        • Airyl
          July 15, 2015

          I agree with everything you’ve said so far. Too bad no dual sim though. Doesn’t it have an SD card slot?

          • Mariner
            July 16, 2015

            Yep, the GRA-L09 model of the P8 I own has two slots, but the second slot isn’t (apparently) able to accept a SIM. A pity, really, as I originally intended to get another dual-SIM phone.

            With the original firmware, the GPS signal was a little flaky at times, cutting in and out when using tracking software, but I’ve upgraded to B132 software (though a link found on the German Huawei site!) which appears to have resolved the problem.

            I understand there is an Android 5.1 beta out there somewhere so I’m hoping that this will ultimately resolve the Google notification issues with EMUI when finally released.

      • MaxPower
        July 14, 2015

        it’s called design 🙂

        • Lazar Prodanovic
          July 15, 2015

          It’s called greed!
          They had design & quality & before but with more than competitive prices. Thing they never had whose good costumer suport.

          • Airyl
            July 15, 2015

            Customer support for Huawei is actually very good in Malaysia, at least from what I can tell.

            • Lazar Prodanovic
              July 15, 2015

              Well they hardly update software for anything else then flagship’s (that P8 certainly is). Emotion UI is pretty heavy (& I don’t like louncher can’t hide anything & cetera). Their so called kernel optimizations are funny to say so & they lag with publishing sources (that are by the way pretty much depreciated). Other than that they are OK. Still better than almost all Chinese manufacturers.

            • balcobomber25
              July 15, 2015

              They updated several non flagships to Kit Kat as well as Lollipop. Emotion UI being heavy and you not liking the launcher has little do with customer support.

            • Airyl
              July 15, 2015

              Odd, I’m pretty sure the P6 is still being supported to this day, and I’ve also heard news that the Mate 2 was recently updated to Lollipop. And like I’ve said, EmUI has really come leaps and bounds from it’s earlier appearances (I owned a P6, so the differences are obvious). Even the old Y300 has Lollipop on it.

            • Lazar Prodanovic
              July 15, 2015

              Not thanks to Huawei. Look take a look over at MoDaCo for ZolaIII look at the thanks meter & look how many times name jumps up In trades from developers in the thanks section for Y300. Well that’s actually me.
              After that you can actually read & some of user opinions aut there. ???

            • Airyl
              July 15, 2015

              Well then good job. Have a cookie.

            • Lazar Prodanovic
              July 15, 2015

              Had LG’s one long ago. ?

          • balcobomber25
            July 15, 2015

            I wouldn’t call it greed because they are offering a very good product for the price. Customer support is excellent here in Thailand and it was excellent in Cambodia, Singapore and Malaysia too when I lived there.

            • Lazar Prodanovic
              July 15, 2015

              They ware with this pricing they are horrible. Think with your head! Compare this to Meizu MX5 or Asus Zenfone 2 & you will see how bad price of P8 actually is for that it offers.

            • balcobomber25
              July 15, 2015

              I am about to be the owner of an Mx5 and it if its anything like the MX4 it will be a great phone. But it has nothing to do with the P8. There will always be cheaper options with comparable specs available. It is like that in every industry. It doesn’t mean the more expensive products are pointless, they are just for a different target audience than you.

            • Lazar Prodanovic
              July 15, 2015

              I trow in other “premium” phone from a same performance class that is also over priced (MX5) but still costs less than P8 even it have better specs & you say it have nothing to do with it? I didn’t trove in Le TV S600 that actually has similar spec & price that is seal able.
              & nothing can’t touch performance price ratio for Zenphone 2 for this year no matter if you like or dislike it.

              It’s up to you to trow away your money as much as you like.

            • balcobomber25
              July 15, 2015

              I spend my money based on what I deem a good value just as you do. The Zenfone 2 is one of the ugliest phones I have ever seen and I hate software Asus uses. I wouldn’t take one for free.

              My new phone is a Meizu MX5 which I won through the contest here but I also plan to buy a Gionee S7 which has similar specs to a Jiayu S3 but costs as much as $300 more. Why? Because I love Gionee phones, everyone I have used has amazing build quality, great cameras and they offer incredible designs in my view ( i prefer thinner phones). Same with my car example above. I drive a Volvo S60, I could have bought a similar equipped Toyota, Honda or Kia for $10-20,000 less but I like Volvo’s.

              To me throwing away money is buying something you don’t really like just because it is cheaper. Everyone I know who buys Huawei and Vivo phones loves them and don’t mind paying extra for them. It;s the same with Samsung and Apple users. And how exactly is the Mx5 an overpriced phone?

            • Lazar Prodanovic
              July 15, 2015

              Well I would never buy S60 but the Australian Ford Falcon RX8 instead even it comes with nothing fancy nor technologically top but it’s a power house unmatched for its price.
              On the open highway you could only wave me in your S60 wile I fly by over you.
              MX 5 is overpriced because it costs more than last years flagship’s from a top super brand’s & it’s actually not bringing anything new, faster or better compared to them (actually it’s worse).

            • balcobomber25
              July 15, 2015

              MX5 costs 1799 yaun. There wasnt a flagship last year that sold for less than that in China. What Meizu did was take an already great phone and make it better. They added fast charging, upgraded the fingerprint sensor of the pro, added brand new optics and laser focus to the camera and they made it lighter, thinner and stronger. But they also added the Helio X10 one of the best SoC’s you can get today.

            • Bevels
              September 20, 2015

              Yup, your Falcon XR8 would blow the S60 away on the highway. All while your seats fall apart, aircon craps out, tail lights fail after 50,000kms, your engine starts ticking, belts start whining, steering becomes sloppy and you guzzle twice as much petrol.

              Take my word for it, I worked in the Ford factory in Melbourne for two years. No matter how good that car looks coming off the line, it’s a POS. Repeatedly, day in day out, because of “cost cutting” methods of manufacturing (eg. using clamped washers instead of split pins on high use interior parts) I’d take faulty units to my supervisor only to receive the same reply every time “Pass it, it’ll last through the warranty period”…. and that’s the REAL analogy in play that reinforces the point @balcobomber is trying to make. Just because the XR8 has vastly more power, doesn’t make it a better car. Design, overall functionality, build quality and customer service are worth the extra dollars to a discerning buyer.

              But please… keep buying the e-junk phones, because it creates competition that keeps quality flagship phones cheaper for the rest of us 😉

            • Lazar Prodanovic
              September 20, 2015

              Yeah nica I see a real man & the machine… By the way I really like cheap handis with out real support like this one:
              http://www.xiaomitoday.com/infocus-m810t-review-snapdragon-801-handset-thats-half-the-price-of-oneplus-one/
              But don’t worry it’s probably just me…

            • Airyl
              July 15, 2015

              I don’t have a Meizu MX5 on me, but my friend does have a Zenfone 2. Comparing the two isn’t really as clear cut as it seems, and it doesn’t really show the Zenfone 2 as a clear winner at all.

              The P8 has a display that’s way better than the Zenfone 2’s. It’s very noticeable, and I’m willing to bet some Zenfone 2 owner can vouch for me when I say the Zenfone 2’s display isn’t the most stellar around. Then there’s the build quality, where the P8 trumps the Zenfone 2 by a mile. The P8’s design is also a couple of steps above the Zenfone 2’s being more premium and ergonomic, though that’s a given considering the price. The camera on the P8 is also better than the Zenfone 2’s, especially in low light. The flash on the P8 also appears to be of higher quality, giving pictures better color reproduction. The sound quality from both speakers on the P8 also beats the Zenfone 2’s sound quality handily. Aside from that, the P8’s WiFi reach is also farther compared to the Zenfone 2.

              The main things the Zenfone 2 has against the P8 are it’s raw graphics performance, where it beats the P8 quite handily, and battery life which I haven’t tested long enough to conclude anything about. The Zenfone 2 also has an extra gig of ram, though that’s really more of a bragging rights thing according to my friend.

              In a pure performance to price ratio the Zenfone 2 has the upper hand, but in almost everything else the P8 is the better choice. I’d usually say just pick up the Zenfone 2 regardless, but the difference in performance is really only limited to gaming and extremely CPU intensive activities, and I’d be lying if I said I’d happily give up my P8 for a Zenfone 2. It really comes down to what the user values more, and whether this user guy is a rich bastard or not.

              The way I see it, the P8 is aimed more at a mainstream audience, the ones that see an iPhone like a functional status symbol than a smart multi-purpose device. The P8 excels here because it’s cheaper than the others with relatively similar features (build quality, design, camera). These people not only value design and build over all else, but the things they do with their phones can barely be described as CPU or GPU intensive. In other words, we’re not really the marketed audience, but it doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy the device for what it is.

            • Lazar Prodanovic
              July 15, 2015

              Actually when it comes to CPU performance under heavy multicore loads they are around the same. Zenphone trumpets everything A53 based in simpler 1-2 CPU’s based tasks (turbo busts). This is very significant in real life workloads (starting apps using anything Web kit or browser based) the additional SIMD extensions really trumpet NEON’s when used.
              I don’t see smartphones as a jewelry or for that matter status symbol.
              Purpose of technology is to be used (especially today when it grows old so fast) not displayed & for that it needs to be affordable.
              P8 is certainly not 2+x better than Zenfone as much it costs.

            • Airyl
              July 15, 2015

              Like I said, you’re not the target market. The target market has absolutely no idea what your first paragraph means.

      • Airyl
        July 15, 2015

        Also, it’s actually only $470 in Malaysia, which means we get it pretty cheap.

      • balcobomber25
        July 15, 2015

        I have this same feeling for Gionee. They don’t have the best specs, but from a design, customer service and build quality standpoint I am willing to pay more for one.

        I did own a P6 and I loved it though and I had to deal with Huawei customer service on two occasions and was blown away with how smooth and easy it was. In fact they even got me a coffee while I waited for them to fix my phone lol.

        • Lazar Prodanovic
          July 15, 2015

          I am spoiled European. Had two Huawei’s one got only one minor OTA in complete life spin. Repair service whose ok. Huawei’s kernel butchering whose something horrible along side with pore optimized ROM. Build quality whose excellent, enough to say that device still works after more than two years of torture.

          P6 probably whose best one from P series even Vivantes GPU whose a let down.

          It’s newer again Huawei for me.

    • balcobomber25
      July 15, 2015

      The way I look at it is to revert to cars as we often do here. Why would you buy a BMW 5 series when you can get a Kia Optima with the same equipment for $30,000 less?

      It doesn’t make sense until you actually own a Huaweii (and not the cheaper Honor series which are still good). The build quality is some of the best I have ever seen, the design is something different in a sea of the same basic molds. Its the same way with Gionee. My favorite phone right now is the Elife S7. It’s a $500 phone with an MT6752 SoC, the same SoC used in the $180 Jaiyu S3. Or just like my Vovo S60. For the same money I could have had a BMW or Merc. For less money I could have had a Kia or Toyota. But there’s something about Volvo I love, the reliability is off the charts (My Volvo C30 went 100,000 miles before a single thing went wrong, the alarm failed and they replaced it free of charge). The service is excellent.

      • MaxPower
        July 15, 2015

        does your Volvo crush nuts?

        • balcobomber25
          July 15, 2015

          My Volvo crushes everything! Especially the ego and soul of the Honda fanatics with their 7 foot wings and 37 inch rims, when they pulled up to next me at a red light. Was always funny to see their reaction at getting blown off the line by a Swedish Hatchback.

        • Lazar Prodanovic
          July 15, 2015

          With C30 you probably can. ???

      • JakobSWE
        July 15, 2015

        I got a Volvo V70 with about 450,000 miles still working almost as if new. Amazing cars indeed.

        • balcobomber25
          July 15, 2015

          I loved my C30. I had it custom ordered from the factory when i was in the military, I had it bumped up from 227hp to 254hp (thanks to parts from the Ford Foucs ST) and that thing was a mini rocket ship. Only reason I got rid of it was I needed something bigger.

  2. mf1gt3r
    July 14, 2015

    Huawei sure does make decent phones. Just that their pricing isnt interesting.

    • July 15, 2015

      Yea … Huawei devices never come into my list cos of their sky-high prices.

      • trapchan
        July 16, 2015

        Still cheaper than Oppo

  3. balcobomber25
    July 15, 2015

    I spent some time with one at the mall the other day. The design is incredibly striking in real life. It’s very comfortable and easy to hold, and the build quality is the usual from Huawei (very good).

  4. G'n'T
    July 15, 2015

    Those JDI displays are something else. I had one in a Sharp SH-04E. Fantastic phone that worked well for over 2 years. Shame Japan’s LTE frequencies are different to most other countries and I could never get LTE back home.. With that display in the P8, that by itself gives it a big advantage straight off the bat.. Looks great.

  5. resnick
    July 15, 2015

    Huawei P8 has a similar design like Elephone S2

    • balcobomber25
      July 15, 2015

      Except Elephone ripped off that design from Huawei…

  6. Cheapskate
    July 15, 2015

    So basically you’re saying that an expensive phone is better than the cheap ones we see normally? Quite obvious…

    I read GizChina for the cheap but still good phones, if i really wanted a good phone i’d buy a Flagship from one of the big companies…

    • Airyl
      July 15, 2015

      I’m not really making any comparisons to cheap phones aside from that one short flex test I did with the ECOO E04, and that’s mainly because it was the only thing I had on hand. I will try to compare it with other big brand devices like the iPhone 6 and Samsung Galaxy S6 in the review though.

      Also, Huawei technically is one of the big companies.

      • AJ
        July 15, 2015

        By the way Hisilicon Kirin 930 Soc is much behind the flagship SOC like snapdragon 810 and samsung exynos 7420 octa. Kirin 930 still has 28nm process whereas 810 & 7420 has 20nm planar and 14nm finfet process respectively. Kirin 930 has dual channel LPDDR3 933Mhz providing 14.9 GB/s but other two has 64 dual channel LPDDR4 1500Mhz providing upto 25.6 GB/s and GPUs are no where comparable adreno 430 in snapdragon 810 is clocked in between 500 – 600 Mhz and can deliver upto 324~388.8 GFLOPS, the gpu in 7420 is octa core mali t760 clocked at exactly 772 Mhz delivering more than 190.4 GFLOPS, sadly 930 is behind the line with mali t628(quad core) clocked at 600 Mhz will only be capable of delivering 76.8 GFLOPS. AS I HAVENT USED ANY OF THE DEVICE POWERED BY ANY OF THE ABOVE SOCs THE HEATING ISSUE AND STABILITY IS NOT TAKEN INTO ACCOUNT. However the perfomance goes like this…..

        • Faux-News
          July 15, 2015

          All that said, in real time usage the performance is fluid, games can play well enough except for heavy gamers. Plenty of reviews online and you’ll find it hard to find anyone complaining of real time performance as opposed to looking alone at benchmarks (Antutu score btw for Kirin 935 is between 47k to 51k). And Huawei devices are one of the coolest when it comes to heating issues.

          But then Huawei P8 was never intended for everyone nor marketed as such. Those who want a beast chip have to wait for upcoming Huawei D8 and Mate 8.

    • balcobomber25
      July 15, 2015

      So you would by a phone from Huawei, Xiaomi or Lenovo? They are the big companies.

  7. Faux-News
    July 15, 2015

    I wanted the Huawei P8 carbon black version sold only in China currently but the reseller price was too high. I anyway ordered the new Honor 7 now. 🙂

  8. Steven Fox
    July 15, 2015

    I looked at it at a local carrier store two days ago and it really is a marvelous device, but as said pricing is just ridiculous.
    At around 300$ this could be the best device on the market, but hard to pick it instead of Mi4 or MX5 at almost 450$.