LIVE FROM LONDON LAUNCH: Huawei today unveiled its 2015 flagship smartphone, P8, describing it as “a combination of advanced technology and sophisticated design” – accompanied by a phablet sibling, P8 Max.
Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei Consumer Business Group, introduced the device by stating that “we fully believe this device will become one of the most popular smartphones in 2015”.
The company spent a significant amount of time at the event talking about the design of the new product, which sees the company moving to a full metal unibody. Joonsuh Kim, head of the mobile design team for the company, said that “working with solid metal is not easy, but the result is phenomenal.”
Huawei used Apple’s iPhone 6 and Samsung’s Galaxy S6 as comparisons, noting that the P8 is both slimmer (6.4mm, compared with 6.9mm and 6.8mm respectively for its rivals), and has a better screen-to-body ratio (78.3 per cent, compared with 70.8 per cent for the Samsung device and 66.8 per cent for the iPhone 6).
It features a 5.1-inch “IPS-NEO” display, which is said to be brighter (“transmissivity” brighter by 15 per cent), sharper (1500:1 contrast ratio), and last longer (15 per cent power consumption reduction).
A Huawei flagship launch would not be complete without the introduction of a somewhat left-field concept, following its efforts to popularise group selfies – “groufies” – with the P7 last year. In this case, it is “knuckle sense technology”, which can detect a double-tap from a knuckle to capture a screen grab, or drawing on the screen with a knuckle to “crop” a selection.
Introducing the device’s camera capabilities, Yu said that its “camera philosophy” is focused on two areas where smartphones traditionally struggle – low light and high contrast. At the P8 unveiling, he said that the device features “best in class OIS”, the “world’s first 4-colour 13MP RCBW imaging sensor” (improving both low-light and high-contrast performance) and DSLR-level independent image signal processor.
And again taking aim at the Samsung and Apple rivals, he said that the camera is “seamless, sleek and with no bump”, rather than having a protruding lens. “The camera itself needs to be beautiful,” he said.
With the shift to a metal unibody design, Huawei is also introducing a dual antenna system with seamless switching, which is designed to offer improved network connectivity – an issue which its rivals have acknowledged as a challenge. Yu said that P8 offers 50 per cent fewer dropped calls as a result, with data connectivity also benefitting.
The device is powered by a 64-bit octacore chipset from Huawei’s own semiconductor arm, which uses ARM’s big.LITTLE architecture (4×2.0GHz and 4×1.5GHz cores) to offer high performance when needed, but reduce power consumption when performing less onerous tasks.
It also touted what it calls an “apps power consumption firewall”, which blocks apps from “abnormal power usage” when running in the background to boost power performance.
The company also unveiled an interesting peripheral: an e-ink cover. Trumpeting benefits such as low power consumption and readability in bright light, the cover has a 4.3-inch display designed to displace traditional e-readers.
Also on the P8 spec-sheet is dual-SIM support, although Yu said that a single-SIM version will also be available where operators demand it – while the executive acknowledged that the former is “more convenient” for consumers.
Huawei P8 will be available in a “standard” version, with 16GB of storage and grey or champagne body, priced at €499. A “premium” version, with 64GB of storage in black or gold, will cost €599.
Availability is immediate in “more than 30” launch countries, with a wider global rollout to follow.
The bigger device, P8 Max, has a 6.8-inch IPS-NEO full-HD display, coupled with a customised user interface designed to take advantage of the additional screen real estate.
Utilising the bigger size, it also has what Yu described as a “huge” 4360mAh powered battery. This gives 2.23 days of “normal” use on a single charge.
It is also said to feature a “unique camera with light-tracing capabilities for any environment”.
Despite its larger size, the company again highlighted its impressive screen-to-body ratio of 83 per cent, compared with 73 per cent for the iPhone 6 Plus and 80 per cent for Samsung’s Galaxy Note 4.
P8 Max availability follows slightly after P8 – Yu said availability will be in around a month’s time, again with “more than 30 countries” promised.
As with the P8, there will be a “standard” version with 32GB of ROM, in grey or champagne, priced at €549. The “premium” version, with 64GB of storage, in grey or gold, costs €649.