Introduction 

It’s been a month now since Huawei launched its new smartphone flagship, the P8. Huawei started Ascend P-line of smartphones back in 2012 with the launch of the Ascend P1, and has since iterated every year with the follow up P6, P7, and this year’s P8. A notable deviation from the standard naming scheme is that Huawei chose to drop the Ascend brand and this year’s official name is simply the “Huawei P8”. The P-series targets the higher-end market through more robust and premium build quality, while the separate Honor brand is targeted at mainly the Chinese and other budget markets. The Mate family covers the phablet form-factor, although Huawei now also offers a super-sized P8max with 6.8” screen that kind of blurs the size segmentation.

In trying to broaden our coverage of emerging players in the mobile space, we had the pleasure of extensively covering two of Huawei’s devices over the last year – the Honor 6 and the Mate 7, so be sure to read those articles to have a good overview of Huawei’s previous efforts in terms of Emotion UI software implementations and specifics of the HiSilicon Kirin SoCs.

The P8 succeeds the Ascend P7 – both are the 5” form-factor devices aiming at the high-end segment. The P8 differs quite a lot from the P7 by ditching the glass back in favour of an all-metal unibody with rounded sides. The size also goes up a bit as the display continues to grow from 4.7” and 5” on the P6 and P7 up to 5.2” on the P8. The device gains 3mm in width and 5.1mm in height over its predecessor, reaching dimensions of 144.9 x 71.8 x 6.4mm. The device remains still very thin at 6.4mm and thus helps its ergonomics.

Before we look closer at the design choices, let’s go over the specifications of the P8’s hardware.

Huawei P-line
  Ascend P8 Ascend P7 Ascend P6
SoC HiSilicon Kirin 930/935
Hi3635


4x CA53@1.5GHz,
4x CAA53e@2.0/2.2GHz
Mali-T628MP4
HiSilicon Kirin 910T

4x CA9@1.8GHz
Mali-450
HiSilicon K3V2

1xCA9@1.5GHz
Vivante GC4000
Memory 3GB LPDDR3 2GB LPDDR3 2GB LPDDR3
Storage 16 or 64GB NAND +
microSD
16GB NAND +
microSD
8/16GB NAND +
microSD
Display 5.2” 1920x1080
JDI IPS-Neo LCD
5.0” 1920x1080
IPS LCD
4.7” 1280x720
IPS LCD
Cellular Connectivity GPRS/EDGE/DC-HSPA+/Category 4 LTE GPRS/EDGE/DC-HSPA+/Category 4 LTE 2G / 3G HSPA (EvDO China SKU)
Dimensions 144.9 x 71.8 x 6.4 mm
144 grams
139.8 x 68.8 x 6.5 mm
124g
132.7 x 65.5 x 6.2 mm
120g
Camera 13MP (4160 x 3120)
 Sony
IMX278 Sensor
F/2.0 aperture, 29mm eq.

Rear Camera w/ OIS

8MP Sony IMX179
F/2.4 aperture, 26mm eq.
Front Facing
13MP (4128 x 3096) Rear Facing Sony Sensor w/ F2.0 aperture, 8MP FFC 8MP (3264 x 2448) Rear Facing Sony Sensor w/ F2.0 aperture, 5MP FFC
Battery 2680mAh (10.19 Whr) 2500mAh (9.5 Whr) 7.6Wh
Shipping OS Android 5.0.2 (64-bit)
EmotionUI 3.1
Android 4.4.2
EmotionUI 2.3
Android 4.2.2
Emotion UI 1.6
Other Connectivity 802.11a/b/g/n + BT 4.1, microUSB2.0,
GPS/GNSS,

​DLNA, NFC
802.11a/b/g/n + BT 4.0, microUSB2.0,
GPS/GNSS,
DLNA, NFC
802.11b/g/n + BT 3.0,
microUSB2.0, GPS/GNSS,
DLNA
SIM Size NanoSIM +
NanoSIM (xor microSD)
Micro-SIM Micro-SIM
 

Huawei continues to use its in-house HiSilicon-designed SoCs with the use of a new Kirin 930 or 935. The SoC is a dual-cluster piece sporting a total of 8 ARM Cortex A53 CPU cores. Differing from the usual big.LITTLE implementations were the silicon vendor would choose to use two differing CPU architectures, the Kirin 930’s use a low-frequency and leakage optimized A53 cluster paired with a high-frequency and higher leakage variant. HiSilicon calls this higher frequency core an A53e, although the piece should have no architectural differences to a traditional A53 other than an optimized physical layout to enable the higher operating frequencies.

There was some confusion as to why two SoC model numbers were referenced during the announcement of the device, but the end story seems to be is that HiSilicon brands the same piece of silicon; the Hi3635 differently based on the frequency binning it is able to reach. As such, the cheaper variants of the P8 and P8max come with the Kirin “930” with the fast A53 cluster clocked in at 2.0GHz and 16GB of NAND memory, while the more expensive models with 64GB of storage come with the Kirin “935” clocking in at up to 2.2GHz on its performance cluster. We’ve already seen this practice in the Honor 6 and Mate 7, both using the same Hi3630 chipset but branded slightly differently (Kirin 920 and Kirin 925) due to the higher clocks on the latter model.

Other than the CPU architecture change, the Hi3635 seems to differ very little to the Hi3630. We still see an ARM Mali T628MP4, running at slighter higher clocks of 680MHz. The memory sub-system is also again furbished by a 32-bit dual-channel LPDDR3-1600 memory controller design, which serves 3GB of total memory in all of the P8’s models. As expected, Huawei continues to use TSMC’s 28nm process;

HiSilicon first equipped an integrated modem in the Kirin 920, and the 930 continues this although with a slight downgrade in capability as it only supports UE Category 4 LTE speeds, reaching up to 150Mbps downstream and 50Mpbs upstream.

It’s on the camera that Huawei has undoubtedly focused most of its attention on in the P8. We had some very harsh words for the Honor 6’s and Mate 7’s camera performances, as both featured very disappointing photo and video quality. The P8 looks to change this through the introduction of a brand new Sony sensor, the IMX278. This is the second kind of implementation RGBW (Or RGBC) after the OmniVision unit found in the original Moto X. Huawei also abandons on-SoC still-image processing for a dedicated Altek external ISP. To finish things off, the camera module supports two-axis optical image stabilization with up to 2° of movement freedom. All these changes mark a significant upgrade for Huawei, and it seems to pay off for the P8, which we’ll cover in more detail in the camera section.

Design

Getting back to the P8’s design, we see an evolution of the all-metal chassis which was introduced in the Mate 7. The P8 remains a unibody design with a non-removable 2680mAh (10.19Whr) battery. The front of the phone follows the traditional slab design with the 1080p screen taking up 78.3% off the front’s footprint. It should be noted that the black frame surrounding the actual screen makes it seem as if the device’s size-bezels are much smaller than what they really are, something which is very visible on the lighter coloured models.


 

As opposed to the left side of the device which is barren of any feature, the right side holds the volume rocker and power button as well as the ejectable trays for the nanoSIM as well as nanoSIM/microSD combo. The volume rocker is very clicky and distinguishable from the power button, which not only has a characteristic texture on it but is also surrounded by an indent differentiating itself from the otherwise round sides. Speaking of the sides, the curvature makes for a very comfortable grip which is accentuated by bevels on the front and back.


On the top of the device we find the 3.5mm headphone jack and the top auxiliary microphone. The bottom is more interesting as the microUSB 2.0 port is flanked by two Torx screws and two symmetrical speaker grills. I tried dismantling the device by trying to remove the screws and lifting up the device's screen, but it seems that Huawei also employs additional adhesive to hold the metal shell and the screen together. 

Huawei called the design a “single audio chamber speaker system”, but in practice the right grill is essentially just for aesthetics and only serves as a housing for the bottom microphone. Covering up the left grill will completely dampen the audio output of the device. Nevertheless, the P8 is still able to output very loud and clear audio with good depth.


The back of the device is accentuated by the plastic injection mold lines (which serve as dielectric dividers for the device’s antennas) at the bottom of the phone, while the top part we see a glass piece serving both as the cover glass for the camera and design element as it continues for the whole width of the device, which comes in either white for the brighter coloured phone options or black for the darker variants.

Huawei was proud to show off the ability to keep the camera flush with the rest of the phone. It seems they even managed to have some leeway here as the camera module seems to be still 1.5mm underneath the glass.


In terms of build quality it seems the P8 is a solid phone. The only gripe I’ve had with it is that it seems to have some empty space underneath the back of the phone as if you try to squeeze it will flex inwards by up to 1mm. The phone’s ergonomics are good and it was a generally pleasant device to use.

The P8 is available in two variants at each price point: 499€ for either the 16GB Mystic Champagne or Prestige Gold versions, or 599€ for the 64GB Titanium Grey or Carbon Black variants which also come with the 200MHz higher CPU clocks.

Software - EmotionUI 3.1
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  • Peichen - Friday, June 5, 2015 - link

    I am an iPhone 6+ user but I have no problem this review uses Galaxy S6 camera for comparison as the S6 have an excellent camera. The SONY RGBW sensor in this camera might be used in the upcoming iPhone 6S in September and it will be interesting to see with SONY and Apple's refinement how it will stack up against Note 5 and G4. Reply
  • serendip - Friday, June 5, 2015 - link

    Huawei should really stop with this Kirin nonsense. The modem sucks power, the SOC's power management is a joke, yet Huawei are crazy enough to charge flagship prices for a midrange phone that struggles to keep up with much cheaper offerings. A Mi Note is a cheaper and better option. Reply
  • TekDemon - Saturday, June 6, 2015 - link

    I know this isn't a nexus review but these charts would look rather different if a nexus 5 running 5.1 and a nexus 6 on 5.1 were used since Lollipop 5.1 finally brought a lot of changes into android that were manufacturer dependent. The nexus 5 on 5.1 posts better random writes than any of the phones on this list for example. Reply
  • OOwl - Saturday, June 6, 2015 - link

    I do agree with you in terms of 5.1 improvements. I am currently testing a small upcoming Motorola handset and although it's not a monster in terms of power and should be on paper lower powered than the processor in the P8 Lite, it is soo much more responsive. Battery life is also rather underwhelming on these Kirin SoC powered handsets... Reply
  • R3MF - Saturday, June 6, 2015 - link

    just picked this up on contract for £21x12, or looked at another way; ~£250 for a phone with 300m/5000t/1gb.

    for that price its flaws pale into insignificance.
    Reply
  • sunnohh - Sunday, June 7, 2015 - link

    Jelly, 1 year contracts across the pond! Extremely low rates. Don't tell me you get reliable service everywhere. Reply
  • R3MF - Sunday, June 7, 2015 - link

    i live in a rural area, we never get reliable service. :) Reply
  • sunnohh - Sunday, June 7, 2015 - link

    I pay 45$ for unlimited call text and 5gig data through wal mart's plan that uses an AT&T sim. Nexus 5 is about 97% reliable, but it's bring your own phone. Which around here is the exception rather than the rule. The rule being Verizon near 100% reliability and exhorbinate rates and long contracts with obscene break up fees. Reply
  • Ethos Evoss - Friday, June 12, 2015 - link

    Jeeezus anandatech u made me sweat PROPERLY I finished this mega ,tera hexa .. eem .. NO !
    I will go rather other way ...
    It took me over and hour to finish this mini, micro , nano , piko , errr.. I'll skip rather all metrics and I'll jump directly to deep ATOM review I have EVER seen in my life ..
    ALWAYS when it comes to Huawei devices especially to find EVERY single NEGATIVYTY to their products..
    I will say you are MOST weirdest website in actual WORLD ..
    But that's fine that is your probably style to do autopsy to find weakness..
    To summarize your (in few ways) misleading review to pull people off buying phone bcos of bribed by apple or who knows who doesn't bother me .. but u are cowards anyway ..
    we can start :

    1.introduction and design:

    * ''only supports UE Category 4 LTE speeds, reaching up to 150Mbps downstream and 50Mpbs upstream.''
    -So u claiming that this phone supports LTECat 4 only ?? u liying or u have wrong info as this phone supports LTECat 6 !

    *''We had some very harsh words for Mate 7’s camera performances, as both featured very disappointing photo and video quality.''
    -Ecxuse me ?? I have feeling that u HAS no experience of taking pictures at all I own Mate 7 and everybody says that my pictures on phone are amazing WTF u trying to say weirdos?? liars! isheep!

    *''This is the second kind of implementation RGBW (Or RGBC) after the OmniVision unit found in the original Moto X.''
    -yeah why u higlighting it IT WAAS second?? why nobody been talking about it THEN in crappy fail moto x ? what u trying to protect ? or put itno negativneses ?? so WHAT if it''s second ?seriously!

    *''It should be noted that the black frame surrounding the actual screen makes it seem as if the device’s size-bezels are much smaller than what they really are, something which is very visible on the lighter coloured models.''
    -yeah u picked white version so what u been expecting ?? so stupid every phone which is in withe color must have black borders jesus christ u are unbelieveable .. did u mention this in crapple iphone 6 review? you need more knowledge that if u have black screen version u don't notice any borders! mentals..

    *''Huawei called the design a “single audio chamber speaker system”, but in practice the right grill is essentially just for aesthetics and only serves as a housing for the bottom microphone. Covering up the left grill will completely dampen the audio output of the device.''
    -eem excuse me and what is the problem that phone has simetrical grills which gives better look ?!?
    on your crapple phone wht is there 5 holes on right side and 2 on the left how rubbish crap looking !
    dampen audio ?? oh yeah even iphone 5 or 6 or s6 or edge has dampen audio bcos everybody covers holes so obviously sound will be dampen WTF u mentiong this SHT??1?!!? ar u nuts?

    * camera module seems to be still 1.5mm underneath the glass.
    -ar u serious with this mention ?? jeezus christ .. u are total weirdos FOR REAL ! ATOM REVIEW!

    *''he only gripe I’ve had with it is that it seems to have some empty space underneath the back of the phone as if you try to squeeze it will flex inwards by up to 1mm''
    - Whaaaaa??? OMG what THE HELL are you doing with smartphones seriously u need HELP !

    2.Software - EmotionUI 3.1

    *''Huawei continues the choice of not including an application drawer with the EmUI launcher, so all installed apps are placed on the launcher screens.''
    -So what? BETTER NOT complain here as u wud have to complain to your beloved iphone so u rather stayed quiet right ?

    *''It would be appreciated if Huawei had at least included the option to disable app-icon framing throughout the OS''
    -I NEVER EVER heard in my life that SOMEBODY wud comes up with this NON-SENSE sht called ''app-icon framing throughout '' trully u are word inventors ! ... app icon framing .. jeezus christ ..

    *''I've praised Huawei's inclusion of a per-app permission manager in the Honor 6 and Mate 7, and it sadly seems that the P8 drops this practice as it no longer is exposed to the user''
    -the reason why they didn't include this feature anymore was because all constant annoying remind to close all important apps and services which needs to be running and users been complaining by not receiving notifications , locations not found ! in other phones never been why it bothers you now???

    *Although the P8 lacks a fingerprint sensor ''
    -trully who uses it?? nobody .. only gay geeks with their glasses 200 bioptries

    *''a feature where one would double-tap or draw with a knuckle to capture a screenshot''
    -I believe if u root the phone which is easy to do so .. u can nicely disable this feature in file systems (eg build prop)

    3.CPU & System Performance

    I really NOT going to break down this section as there are 1000 negativeness I would be here till next christmas..
    Simply your bars, graphs and compares ARE TOTAL POINTLESS/USELESS t
    Completely obsolete as I browse or edit on my mate 7 or on P7 perfectly no problems as any other phone.
    I noticed that If iphone or any other phone you adore has less or shame/laughable results u simply not include it in your graphs .. u cowards ..!

    4.GPU Performance

    Same as above no comment on useless completely not REAL world results as everybody plays games on the phone without any issues .. or play films.. on P7 we normally watch youtube vids in 1080p or 720p without problem ..
    yeah your pathetic iphone can be on top but good luck it its even crappier battery which will stay last half a day or less !

    5.WiFi Performance and nand

    I really don't understand another pointless tests of wifi performance ..
    it is clearly USELESS /POINTLESS to have strong wifi another battery drain ??
    Wake up, u measuring NETWORK speed instead of INTERNET speed ! What u wanna tell me now u playing multiplayer over smartphones behind desks like idiots like onPC where wifi network speed is inevitable
    Pleease DON'T be naive, Huawei instead of you THINK and don't implment stupidly highest wifi module tuner radio JUST for pointless network speed which nobody will NEVER use it for every day use ! Everybody needs fast internet download speed for quick loading pages or downloading files don't you think ? And this P8 managing at best ! Yu fkin thanks god u didn't unsolder wifi chip to check if it's OK or what.. myyy gooosh ..

    * While the new eMMC doesn't break any records, it's now among the "average" performing devices out there, as opposed to the horrendous performances of the Mate 7 and Honor 6
    -horrendous .. wow so dramatic? I never noticed any horrendous like u oddly describing - bitching !

    6.Display Measurement and power

    *''together with a NovaTek NT35695 display controller IC''
    -jez so u mentioning controller wt-hell and u can tell us brands of capacitors and resistors too ? i think that is important too n ?

    *''I noticed a very weird behaviour of the display's brightness that cannot be explained by usual mechanisms such as CABC. The OS clearly alters brightness depending on the application - for example using a browser such as the stock one or Chrome, along with other random applications such as Dropbox or FX Explorer will cause a dimming in the display, if one opens up the recents menu or goes back to the home-screen then one can see how the backlight brightens up. One would think this can be explained with by assuming the default launcher and OS elements are allowed a higher luminosity than other apps, but I've discovered that many other apps don't dim the display.''
    - Right here is ONLY first thing right now I can agree with this issue ... yes I have noticed dimming in chrome but u didn't consider it is caused by app ? the chrome app causing this and some others because when u open chrome it auto changes resolution don't thik that you surfing in 1080p ...
    this happens to me with my mate 7 so i just increase brightnes a bit and volia .. problem solved..

    *''Huawei P8 backlight bleed''
    Every phone with ips screen has bleed it is caused by stress which is put by phone frame where screen glass lies .. i means that you will NEVER craft housing middle frame bezel 100% straight by machine .. it would have to be laser machine NOT CnC .. so when screen is placed into frame there is significant bend , squeeze of glass ass glass is slightly bendable elastic

    Huawei's GREAT feature which NO ONE phone has it is white Color temperature
    In this case , I will call it ; this new case (new and new IPS technologies comes across) this neo-ips screen it seems that is not playing together with color temperature feature..
    As it perfectly works with M7(mate7) P7 I have color temperature set nearly to max about 85% !
    Looks like due to new IPS technology and that RGBW or RGBC feature in LCD has conflict !
    In this case (as been this explained in warm results and cold results) It is necessary that once user will be watching films or photos will have to change color temp to warm and WHEN will be surfing on internet and reading text definately slide it to the cooler side ... (not max as it result bluish distortion)

    7.Battery life and charging

    Again your beloved iphone has to be on top.. aaahh well ...
    I truly doubt it is better than mate 7 .. rubbish .. ppl saying it has not great battery at all ..
    I won't comment this
    In my real world battery life on my mate 7 is nearly two days and on my GF's P7 is whole day ..
    I don't genuinely believe your iphone or others has better battery .. NO chance !
    For charge I don't mind as I charge phone over night so in morning all is ready ...

    8./9.Camera and video

    Only to say that seen couple vids on youtub or pics on parena or Garena and ppl managed to make nice, great photos so don't really understand your AGAIN so much hatress to this phone
    I agree video recording is not good part but pictures are very good and even at night ..

    10.
    DISASTER ... ANANDATECH ....YOU are ICON of the internet
    I will name you KINGS of WEIRDO-GEEKS ... :DDDDD
    Huawei haters from unknown reason ... bribed by apple ? to keep your site above water..? as everybody corrupted smartphone sites..
    Remember Huawei phones ARE NOT for any performance .. you are brainwashed by your fixed bug in head that all in the world HAS to be highest, fastest, best... you are all wrong..
    Huawei manuf. they DID described it what they phones are for.. for what use
    Firstly for elegance , then smart look, for smart ppl not for kids like you type; aah that is sloow that is crap I don't want it gpu and cpuu is sloow..
    This smartphone is for grown ppl grown man in suits , for managers, for social women in beautiful dress they love nice and sleek and slim light design, which they will stick this review into your ass and we will say ''WE SIMPLY DO NOT CARE'' if it's not highest specs. GTFOOO
    |You GLASS-GEEKS

    CIAO

    Reply
  • hmdqyg - Wednesday, June 17, 2015 - link

    The "T-Rex Offscreen Power Efficiency" is pretty useful. Could you perform the same test on Tegra X1, Tegra K1, A8x, Snapdragon 810 and Snapdragon 801? Reply

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