Huawei G8 review (hands-on): Huawei hits its budget straps again

Another handsome budget smartphone from Huawei, but this one has a Qualcomm processor

At the end of Huawei’s big press event at IFA in Berlin – at which the Chinese smartphone manufacturer announced its new Mate S smartphone, along with prices and availability for the Huawei Watch – it made mention of another new smartphone release: the Huawei G8.

I say it mentioned the G8, but that would be doing a disservice to the alacrity of the presentation. The slide came up so quickly that you might have missed it if you’d blinked.

Huwawei G8 review: Rear and camera

That's perhaps because the Huawei G8 made its first appearance in China a month or so ago, hot on the heels of the Honor 7. But now, just like that handset, the G8 is making its way to Europe. The “Premium” version is set to cost 399 euros, which, in the absence of any UK pricing right now, pegs it at around £290.

Despite the Huawei G8's brief appearance, however, it was out in force in the product demonstration area after the event, and I was able to spend a little hands-on time with it, and it's a decent looking handset.

In fact, the phone is remarkably similar in look, feel and specifications to the Honor 7. The G8 has a fingerprint reader mounted on the rear beneath the camera, which seems to work both quickly and reliably. Its case is manufactured from tough, unyielding aluminium, and the glass on its front has 2.5D curved glass at its edges – just like the more expensive Huawei Mate S. It's a little curvier in the corners than the Mate S, and a touch thicker, but other than that, it's a handsome device.

Huwawei G8 review: Bottom edge from angle

As with all Huawei and Honor phones, however, the software is a touch less appealing. The Huawei G8 runs Android topped with the latest edition of Huawei’s Emotion UI, and while it felt responsive on the stand and is crammed with features, not everyone is a fan of the way it works. For example, I don't like how it removes the app tray in favour of stacking app shortcuts across multiple homescreens – it seems an unnecessary alteration.

The difference is in the details

Look closer, and plenty of differences between this and the Honor 7 become apparent. The Huawei G8 has a 5.5in 1080p IPS display, while the Honor 7's is 5.2in across the diagonal. The G8 also has lower-resolution cameras, although 13-megapixels at the rear and 5-megapixels at the front isn’t too shabby. The rear camera also has optical image stabilisation, so it ought to perform reasonably well in low light.

There’s a slightly lower capacity 3,000mAh battery, down on the Honor 7's 3,100mAh power pack, but the most notable difference between the two phones is that the Huawei G8 employs a Qualcomm processor. With Huawei normally sticking to its in-house guns, specifying its own HiSilicon Kirin chips, could this signal a change in direction for Huawei’s smartphones?

Huwawei G8 review: Top edge

Whatever the answer to that question, the Huawei G8 is not going to threaten top-end smartphones such as the Samsung Galaxy S6 for sheer speed. The processor in question is the 1.5GHz octa-core Snapdragon 615, a mid-range SoC also found powering the HTC Desire 820. There’s also 3GB of RAM and 32GB storage, plus a microSD card slot allowing up to 64GB more to be added. Other specifications include 802.11n Wi-Fi, plus 4G and dual-SIM support.

Early verdict

I thought the Honor 7 was pretty good for a £250 smartphone when I had a look at it last week, and the G8 looks to offer a similar package for those who prefer a larger-screened smartphone.

As ever, the Emotion UI might prove too much for some people, but if that doesn’t rub you up the wrong way, the hardware looks pretty tasty for the money. It will be available to buy in the UK later in September.

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