Huawei G8 review

Introduction

Huawei may not be a full member just yet but it’s keener than most to follow the club’s dress code. Elaborate exteriors are the thing that defines the brand and that’s not limited to the premium line of devices. If it is refined design and elegance you are after, Huawei’s phones are consistently on the shortlist.

Naturally, using premium materials and adhering to high build standards results in a premium price tag. As the mobile scene is quickly changing, midrange devices are getting more powerful and feature-rich with every generation. Huawei is genuinely trying to match this on the outside. The P-series and the G-series are now really capable of rivalling their Mate siblings.

The Huawei G8 is a perfect example. It’s been following the premium Mate S all the way from the rumor mill to the production line and currently offers the same excellent design and some of the new and exciting features of its bigger sibling, all wrapped in a package that hopefully won’t break the bank.

Huawei G8 review

Even though the Huawei G8’s more or less conceived as a more affordable alternative of the Mate S, the handset doesn’t really come off as a blatant compromise. Unlike many “lite” versions out there, the G8 has a distinct feel of its own. It is somewhat less delicate than the Mate S, but the real distinction in the general feel and handling comes from the rounded body design more than anything else.

Key features

  • Dual Sim
  • 5.5″ 1080p IPS LCD (401 ppi) capacitive touchscreen
  • Qualcomm MSM8939 Snapdragon 615 chipset – Qualcomm MSM8939 Snapdragon 615 Cortex-A53, v GPU; 2GB/3GB of RAM;
  • 13MP 4160 x 3120 pixels autofocus camera with OIS, dual-tone LED flash, 1080p video recording.
  • 5MP front-facing camera
  • Android OS v5.1.1 Lollipop with Emotion UI 3.1
  • 16GB/32GB of built-in storage; microSD card slot, doubling as a secondary SIM slot
  • Cat. 4 LTE (150Mbps); Wi-Fi a/b/g/n; Bluetooth 4.0; GPS/GLONASS; FM radio; NFC; microUSB port with USB On-The-Go
  • Active noise cancellation with a dedicated mic
  • 3,000 mAh battery

Main disadvantages

  • No 4K video recording, no 60fps mode either
  • Non-removable battery
  • No quick charging or wireless charging support
  • No dual band Wi-Fi
  • No Lollipop Material design to be found

Just like the Mate S, the G8 offers a spacious 5.5-inch FullHD display with a 2.5D curved edges, with a little bit more side bezel. With 90% metal, the exterior is pretty much the same.

And the similarities in this particular pair are not just skin-deep. In fact, interestingly enough, they are quite comparable in terms of hardware and features. The Huawei G8 is based on a Snapdragon 615 chip, which is undoubtedly a more standard choice than the custom home-brewed HiSilicon Kirin 935 that powers the Mate S.

Now, you must be thinking the G8 and its hardware can’t possibly be that similar to the considerably more-expensive Mate S. So, have any corners been cut? The camera setup looks nearly identical on paper with a 13MP main unit, complete with autofocus and a dual tone LED flash. What the G8 is missing is the optical stabilization and it has a 5MP front-facer compared to the Mate’s 8MP selfie cam.

Huawei G8 official photos - Huawei G8 review Huawei G8 official photos - Huawei G8 review Huawei G8 official photos - Huawei G8 review
Huawei G8 official photos

Yet, a closer look at the spec sheet actually reveals some more pleasant surprises. The all new and improved fingerprint reader from the Mate S adorns the back of the G8 as well. High precision, speed and touch gestures – yes, that’s the one. Last, but certainly not least, the extra depth of the G8 has allowed for a 3000mAh battery pack, a good 300mAh more than the Mate’s.

Huawei G8 official photos - Huawei G8 review Huawei G8 official photos - Huawei G8 review Huawei G8 official photos - Huawei G8 review
Huawei G8 official photos

Things are looking good so far, but let’s not rush to judgment yet. Follow along for a closer look at the Huawei G8 from every angle and some proper benchmarking.

 

Huawei G8 360-degree spin

The Huawei G8 has a gorgeous profile and looks beautifully solid all around. The metal edges really add to the premium feel, despite being thicker than the Mate S.

Design and build quality

As already mentioned, the G8 took a lot of cues from all around the Huawei device lineup, especially design-wise. We can’t help but notice that the handset looks quite similar to the Mate S on the front and consequently to the Mate7 before it. Its display is also quite wide, leaving almost no side bezels and comes to an end with a nice 2.5D curvature of the glass.

The speaker grille on the top and the Huawei logo on the bottom complete the picture.

Elegant all around - Huawei G8 review Elegant all around - Huawei G8 review Elegant all around - Huawei G8 review Elegant all around - Huawei G8 review
Elegant all around

The Back is also quite reminiscent to the Mate S, but you can also see a lot of the Mate7 thrown in the design mix with the flash on the left side and perhaps even the Honor 7 with its dual LED setup.

The same can be said about the overall control placement, with the side buttons positioned similarly to the Mate S, but missing the obvious plastic antenna lines, more like the Mate7. Overall, the Huawei G8 carries an unmistakably Huawei design, but retains a look of its own instead of simply copying one of its higher-end siblings.

Despite aiming for a more budget-friendly price segment, the G8 is still almost entirely made of Metal and its build quality is superb. As far as color options go, it has a few of those and they all go well with the metal finish. They include the classic Golden, Gray and Silver.

Huawei G8 in the hand - Huawei G8 review Huawei G8 in the hand - Huawei G8 review
Huawei G8 in the hand

When compared side by side with the Mate S, the G8 does undoubtedly appear a bit bulkier. It feels the same way too, but that is a slightly deceiving observation to make, as, in reality, it is only slightly bigger and heavier and still retains a pretty slim profile.

It is pretty slim and the sensation is only intensified further by its double sloping edges, both on the front and the back. The curve on the back side also improves handling greatly and helps the unit sit snugly in the hand.

The phone’s body measures 152 x 76.5 x 7.5mm, which, as already mentioned, is just a bit bigger than the Mate S, but still a lot smaller than the Mate7. The same goes for the weight as well. The extra battery inside the G8 make it tip the scale at 167 g, or about 10 more than the Mate S, but still far from the 185 g of the aforementioned Mate7.

Controls

As already mentioned, the G8 offers a nice amalgam of different Huawei traits. The same goes for the controls and their layout. Buttons are laid out conveniently and everything is within easy reach. The buttons are also quite responsive, so we are definitely glad that Huawei hasn’t been changing things too much.

The design is really minimalist. Nothing is really out of place or out of measure. Huawei has opted for a 5.5-inch FullHD panel. It is noticeably bigger than the one in the Honor 7, but also quite smaller than the whopping 6.0 inches on the Mate7. The panel itself is the exact same size as the one in the Mate S, only a cheaper IPS models, instead of AMOLED. Still, it might look somewhat smaller due to the bigger bezels (71.7% screen-to-body ration, compared to 73.9% on the Mate).

Huawei’s current design of choice employs black bezels beneath the front glass with the ultimate aim of an edge-to-edge appearance, at least from a distance. That does work to some extent when the display is off, but the slightly different shade of the LCD and the fact that said bezels are broader on both sides do take away from the G8’s premium appearance and are one of the more obvious tell-tale signs of its mid-range nature. Still, that is more of an observation than an actual complaint. But more on that in the display section.

Clear front side - Huawei G8 review Clear front side - Huawei G8 review Clear front side - Huawei G8 review Clear front side - Huawei G8 review
Clear front side

With the main controls on the actual screen, the only thing underneath is a company logo. It is also worth noting that the front is covered by a very light dotted pattern.

There is not much else in plain sight on the front of the device. There is the earpiece and the 5MP front-facing camera, tightly packed next to it. No front-facing flash on this one though. .

There is also a proximity and a light sensor beside the earpiece. A status LED is also included, although it is practically invisible when off.

Going around the device, we find the left side almost entirely bare. It only houses the SIM card/microSD tray (yes, one of the slots doubles on the Dual SIM model).

Left side view - Huawei G8 review SIM card tray - Huawei G8 review
Left side view • SIM card tray

On the right side is where it gets busier. It still doesn’t feel cluttered and it really shouldn’t be, considering there is only the power button and the volume rockers. Both have a nice oval shape and precision cut design.

Only a couple of controls on the right side - Huawei G8 review Only a couple of controls on the right side - Huawei G8 review
Only a couple of controls on the right side

The power button has a grippy pattern, but we can’t imagine you could really mistake it for anything else as it’s quite shorter than the volume key.

The 3.5mm headphone jack is placed at the top of the device. Next to it is the secondary noise-canceling microphone. As you may or may not know, the Mate S actually has a third microphone, next to the primary one on the bottom. It allows for some really neat advanced directional recording, which is absent from the G8. That is just one example of how Huawei has went about shedding cost off the G8 – from rally premium features that you are likely not going to miss.

The top hosts the 3.5mm headphone jack and a noise-canceling mic. - Huawei G8 review The top hosts the 3.5mm headphone jack and a noise-canceling mic. - Huawei G8 review
The top hosts the 3.5mm headphone jack and a noise-canceling mic.

The bottom of the Huawei G8 has two symmetrical grilles, but only one of them houses a speaker. The main microphone is hidden under the other. Unlike the Mate S, there are no screws present on the bottom, which could mean that the G8 is held together by glue rather than a more advanced assembly, making it a bit more difficult to service.

The bottom side of the G8 - Huawei G8 review The bottom side of the G8 - Huawei G8 review
The bottom side of the G8

The back side of the Mate S offers a sloped design for improved handling and an even thinner edge. There are two plastic antenna inserts to facilitate radio reception.

Oddly enough, Huawei has went with two quite large and obvious patches on the top and bottom – one for each of the phones pair of antennas. The Mate S and Mate7, as well as the Honor 7 all utilize a much more non-intrusive line design. This approach is more similar to the Huawei P8 or the Nexus 6P and while it might appeal to some, we feel that it does stand out as somewhat of an eye-sore.

The 13 MP camera module is also quite familiar with its square shape. With the dual-tone LED flash on the side, it is much more reminiscent of the Honor 7. The only other control on the back is the new and improved fingerprint reader. It may look unchanged on the outside, but it’s actually better than the previous generations in every way.

Another neat feature of the new sensor is that it can double as a touch-based input. We already saw this feature debut on the Mate S. It recognizes swipe gestures and can be used to bring down the notification shade and dismiss notifications. However, interestingly enough, the Mate S also utilized side swipes to navigate through photos in the gallery, which seems to be missing from the G8. Hopefully it will appear in a later software update, as it should be easily implementable considering the hardware is present.

Another interesting aspect about the fingerprint reader is that it remains active even when the screen is off. This is an awesome feature and lets you unlock the device instantly.

A nicely rounded back side with a small camera bump and convenient fingerprint reader - Huawei G8 review A nicely rounded back side with a small camera bump and convenient fingerprint reader - Huawei G8 review A nicely rounded back side with a small camera bump and convenient fingerprint reader - Huawei G8 review
A nicely rounded back side with a small camera bump and convenient fingerprint reader

Display

The Huawei G8 offers a spacious 5.5 inch display, just like the Mate S. It seems to sit right in the sweet-spot size-wise, as far as current market trends go. The panel itself is of the LCD technology, which is undoubtedly a cut-back from the AMOLED one on the Mate S, but still offers pretty nice quality.

In fact, OLED technology is more of a rarity in the Huawei realm with only a hand-full of devices utilizing it, like the Ascent P1 and Nexus 6P. Huawei can boast quite a few excellent implementation of LCD tech, like the Mate7 or P8 and the G8 delivers a superb viewing experience as well. The panel in question has a resolution of 1080 x 1920 pixels and a respectable pixel density of 401ppi, identical to the one on the Mate S. Images appear sharp with punchy and vivid colors.

In terms of color accuracy, the Huawei G8 screen is less than stellar with a Avg DeltaE of 5.7, but we’ve seen flagship phones do worse, so we’re fine with it. Playing with the Color temperature slider we managed to get the color deviation down to Avg DeltaE 4.3, which is a borderline color calibrated result. And that’s without the maximum brightness getting any hit at all. Overall, the screen is nice and the color accuracy deviation is unlikely to bother you.

The maximum screen brightness of 460nits is about average for a LCD unit, but is still dwarfed by the Mate7 with its 530 nits, not to mention the Motorola Moto X Play with its over 600 nits, not to mention camp Sony. Contrast on the G8 is also high, but yet again not as good as the Mate7 or Honor 7.

Display test 50% brightness 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Huawei G8 0.08 81 976 0.45 460 1034
Huawei Ascend Mate7 0.11 149 1428 0.37 530 1428
Huawei Mate S 0.00 60 0.00 372
Huawei Honor 7 0.07 89 1372 0.32 450 1398
Samsung Galaxy A7 0.00 175 0.00 349
Motorola Moto X Play 0.23 343 1498 0.41 620 1520
Oppo R7s 0.00 185 0.00 365
Asus Zenfone 2 ZE551ML 0.13 107 796 0.44 390 879
LG G3 0.14 109 763 0.72 570 789
HTC One (M8) 0.20 245 1219 0.46 577 1256
Sony Xperia M4 Aqua 0.17 176 1012 0.74 828 1115
Sony Xperia C5 Ultra 0.18 219 1203 0.37 422 1144
Meizu MX4 0.63 594 947
Samsung Galaxy S5 0.00 274 0.00 529
Samsung Galaxy Alpha 0.00 228 0.00 456
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact 0.77 725 942

Sunlight legibility for the Huawei G8 is definitely above average in our current database, but again gets dwarfed by competitive offers by Samsung and Motorola.

Sunlight contrast ratio

  • Nokia 808 PureView4.698
  • Sony Xperia Z5 Premium2.525
  • Nokia Lumia 7202.512
  • HTC One2.504
  • Sony Xperia M4 Aqua2.503
  • Motorola Moto G2.477
  • Huawei G82.471
  • vivo Xshot2.465
  • Sony Xperia Z2.462
  • Xiaomi Mi 42.424
  • Samsung Galaxy S III mini2.422
  • Lenovo Vibe Z2 Pro2.416
  • Samsung Galaxy mini 21.114

Huawei G8 battery life

The Mate S is equipped with a 3000 mAh battery, sealed in behind the back panel. This is a good 300 mAh more than the Mate S and a clear upside to the extra weight and thickness of the unit. The LCD panel could potentially reduce said advantage, but numbers hint that it is actually not that far apart from the AMOLED unit of the Mate S in terms of power efficiency.

3000mAh are still far from the whopping 4100 mAh the Mate7 has at its disposal, but the G8 does a pretty good job of power management with a total endurance rating of about 70 hours (a bit more with one SIM card and a bit less with the duo working together). This is quite a lot better than the 60 hours the Mate S managed to clock in, but there are a few notes to be made.

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