Huawei finally launched the successor to last year’s Ascend P7 smartphone, and the Huawei P8 is everything we imagined based on months of rumors. The new flagship looks sleek, is powerful, and comes with many unique features. The company also unveiled the P8 Max, a massive, phablet version of the device.
Updated on 05-08-2015 by Andy Boxall: Added in news the P8 has a splash-resistant nano-coating. Additionally, you can read our complete review of the Huawei P8 here, and our hands-on report regarding the P8 Max here.
Huawei goes all in for metal with a unibody design
Huawei’s P series of phones have always looked attractive, partially due to how much the company borrows from the iPhone design and Sony’s Xperia phone design. The P8 looks even sleeker than last year’s model with polished, double-chamfered edges just like those found on the iPhone 5. The 5.2-inch IPS screen is almost bezel-free with a resolution of 1,920 x 1080 pixels, and the entire device is encased in an aluminum unibody. The P8 Max has the same look, but packs a massive 6.8-inch 1080p JDL screen for those who what a tablet-sized smartphone.
Huawei managed to cut down the thickness of the P8 to just 6.4mm, making it thinner than the iPhone 6 and Samsung Galaxy S6. The camera blends seamlessly into the back of the device, so you won’t have the camera module sticking out, either. Around the camera, there’s a rectangle made of glass, which is presumably necessary to allow for a cell signal. The device comes in champagne, gold, grey, and black color options, and Huawei will have a few cases available, including an E Ink back cover for reading ebooks, and displaying the weather, etc.
Huawei really invested in making a top-notch camera for the P8. The device has a 13-megapixel camera on the back that features a four-color RGBW sensor that aims to improve contrast and reduce noise in low-light conditions. Most cameras only have a tri-color sensor. Huawei also boasted that the P8 can offer up DSLR level imaging processor thanks to an internal Image Signal Processor. which improves exposure, white balance, and natural colors.
Much like most flagship phones, the P8 has optical image stabilization, but it’s anti-shake technology corrects by up to 1.2 degrees, which is double that of the iPhone 6 Plus. In theory, this should make shaky videos look even smoother, while also improving low-light photos. Huawei emphasized that its camera can capture more detail, especially when the lighting isn’t so great.
Related: Huawei Ascend P7 review
The camera software also offers auto scene recognition and multi-frame dynamic exposure, which takes four frames simultaneously and stitches them together to capture all aspects of the scene in the best light. There’s a perfect selfie mode, as well, which uses the ISP to detect faces quicker, and then highlight them. Those selfies should be pretty high-quality regardless, though, as the front-facing camera is 8-megapixels.
When it comes to videos, Huawei added a special director mode that allows four P8 phones to shoot video from different angles. The software then creates a video made up of the different angles from each phone’s footage. Another special feature Huawei mentioned is the ability to use your knuckle to take a screenshot, crop a photo, and so on.
The P8 Max has the same 13-megapixel shooter on the back, but the front-facing camera falls down to 5-megapixels for some strange reason.
Splash resistant nano-coating will keep it safe
One feature not mentioned at the launch event, which only came to light in a press release several weeks after the phone made its debut, concerns the phone’s durability. Huawei has teamed up with P2i, a technology firm specializing in protective nano-coverings, and wrapped the P8 in a special liquid repellent layer. Although the phone isn’t actually waterproof, and won’t survive a trip to the bottom of the bath, it will be protected against spills, humidity, splashes, and sweat. It’ll also resist corrosion from any little accidents during its life.
Why it kept this welcome little feature a secret until now isn’t known, but it’s good news regardless.
Huawei’s user interface adds cool extras to Lollipop
Huawei’s P8 runs Android 5.0 Lollipop with the company’s own customized Emotion UI on top. You can change the theme to get a different look on your phone at any time. Huawei also created this cool feature to help you find your phone more quickly. It’s called voice wake up, and you can ask your phone “Where are you?” or some other phrase, and your phone will respond, saying, “I’m here,” and play music until you find it.
Related: Huawei Watch hands on
Power-saving processor and battery
The P8 and P8 Max are powered by the Kirin 930 and 935 64-bit processors, which offer lower power consumption thanks to the big-little processor setup. This technology ensures that the phone uses the small processor for tiny tasks, and the bigger processor for heavy-duty tasks. The result is a processor that Huawei says is 20-percent more efficient. The processor is paired with 3GB of RAM, and the phone offers up 16GB or 64GB of internal storage, depending on which model you choose.
Huawei also built power-saving software that can stop apps from running in the background when you don’t need them. This should keep the 2,600mAh battery in the regular P8 alive for one day of heavy use or one and a half days of average use. However, if you’ve got the larger P8 max, you shouldn’t be concerned about battery at all, thanks to the 4,360mAh battery inside.
Pricing and availability
Huawei says the P8 will cost $530 for the 16GB models, or $630 for the 64GB versions. The P8 max will cost a tad more at $582 for 16GB and $688 for the 32GB version. The phones will launch in 30 markets first, before expanding to 100 markets shortly thereafter. Initial launch countries include China, Colombia, France, Germany, Mexico, Spain, South Africa, Turkey, UAE, and the United Kingdom, among others.