The Huawei G8 is a mid-range contender from a manufacturer that you’re sure to be hearing more of in the future. Coming off the back of the Mate 7.
The phone has a much less aggressive shape than the modern rectangle-shaped smartphone. This is all supplemented by the slightly arched back, which allows for an easier hold, and the 2.5D glass on its front. There was no compromise with the materials, as the phone’s back and frame are made out of cool-feeling metal. When the display is off, the G8 appears to be a nigh-bezelless handset, but once you turn it on, it becomes apparent that there is quite a frame around the display – it’s just well hidden when the lights aren’t on. All in all, the handset’s screen-to-body ratio is not too impressive, which means that its 5.5” screen translates to a larger body – one that some may find bulky. The right-mounted lock and volume controls are intelligently-placed, making them easy to reach despite the size of the phone. This isn’t something that’s always done well, and it makes a big difference when it’s done right. Finally, around the back is a fingerprint scanner. This is great placement; it means that you don’t have to move your finger more than 1cm or so to use it. It’s far easier than the home-button location use by both Samsung and Apple. However, it does take some getting used to thanks to a few gesture tie-ins we’ll mention later.
The 5.5-inch Full HD display doesn’t appear to have the best overall brightness, but the colours and contrast seem wholly usable for most interactions and media playback, even if the white balance felt a little off in our initial encounter. With a 1080 x 1920 resolution, the display ends up having a 400 PPI density, which makes for some sharp images – rest assured, small text and details are perfectly visible.
Similarly to the Mate S, the Android 5.1 Lollipop-based experience is natural enough to swipe around. Emotion UI 3.1, which runs on top takes a little getting used to coming from more traditional builds of Android, with a dual-tab notifications panel at the top and no apps drawer to speak of whatsoever, but it works. Flexibility and customisability are key here, with a ton of alternative themes to choose from and support for gestures via the aforementioned rear fingerprint sensor, for pulling down the notifications pane or snapping a selfie.
The Huawei G8 has an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 616 humming under its hood – reportedly, the same SoC as the Snapdragon 615, but a bit better at managing battery life. In our experience with the latter, the processor can keep up a good pace, so long as the manufacturer doesn’t throw a bucketload of UI features and background processes at it. Additionally, the handset is equipped with the generous 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of internal storage, which can be expanded via microSD of up to 64 GB. There are also dual SIM slots, with active 4G connectivity from both at the same time, 32GB of inbuilt storage and a capacious 3000mAh battery, which should tide most users over for a full day of swiping, tapping and snapping as well.
The G8 camera is a bit of a strange one. The phone’s main snapper packs the hefty 13 MP resolution, There’s also a front-facing 5-megapixel camera, which can be fired off using the rear fingerprint sensor and naturally selfie fans will appreciate the phone’s beauty and foodie modes too. The camera’s app looks all too familiar, as it has also borrowed some iOS influence. Fancy modes, such as manual mode or slow-motion are not present here. There’s a beauty mode, time lapse, food mode, video, and some filters that you can apply to photos pre-shot. The G8 camera should get you by, but it will likely frustrate you at times thanks to the odd photo with poor focus or bad lighting. Despite its flaws, it’s pretty good for a camera in this price range, but unreliability can be an unrepentant thorn in your side when you least expect it.
It’s a solid mid-range device with a fantastic fingerprint sensor, a feature packed camera and seemingly enough grunt under the hood to get the job done. A dual SIM 4G smartphone will an all-metal body, a solid pair of cameras, large battery, a respected processor and the latest available build of Android. It’s in a tough space with some notable competition, but after this initial encounter, there’s certainly potential for a great smartphone here.