Huawei has unveiled a new flagship, the Huawei P8. It's quietly dropped the Ascend name, and launched this new model alongside the P8max phablet, with a massive 6.8-inch display.
The Huawei P8 makes a number of bold moves, with Huawei calling out the iPhone 6 and Samsung Galaxy S6 on many occasions at the London launch. It promises to be slimmer, flatter, better on battery, a better camera and be cheaper. But that's just Huawei talking.
In the hand the P8 feels like the evolution of the P7 that it is. It's worthy of the flagship title, with a metal unibody offering a focus on slim design. The handset is only 6.4mm thick, so it can rightly claim to be thinner than both its named rivals.
It feels great in the hand too. It's not too heavy at 144g. The P8 measures 144.9 x 72.1mm, but one of the key points that Huawei emphasised is that it's flat. There's no bump for the camera, unlike most other handsets on the market, but we don't think it quite elevates itself to the same level of design as some of the other unibody handsets: it's not as elegant as the HTC One M9, and despite the lack of camera bump, it's not as sophisticated as the iPhone 6.
However, from the time we spent with the handset it felt solid enough and nicely finished. If you're looking for a handset that opts for premium materials, but is more affordable than some of its rivals, then you might want to look to the Huawei P8.
There's a 5.2-inch display on the front that offers a 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution, that's 424ppi. That matches the Xperia Z3, and from our time with the P8 we were impressed the with colours it can produce. We were in the launch venue, so it's difficult to judge how it will perform in bright conditions, but first impressions are good. There's punch and vibrancy to those colours.
The Huawei P8 also makes some bold claims when it comes to power. It offers a Kirin 930 64-bit octo-core chipset, with 3GB of RAM. There wil be two versions, a standard and premium version, the latter offering 64GB of storage compared to the 16GB of the standard.
In our play it was difficult judge the performance - as well as not being able to comment on the endurance of the 2680mAh battery - that's something that will have to wait until we put the Huawei P8 through a full review process. Every manufacturer claims long battery life and that figure is close to that of the Samsung Galaxy S6.
Skipping around Huawei's Emotion UI was fast enough, but it's here that we encounter some really deep modifications through the software. The P8 is packed with features, but there's move away from Android on pretty much every level. With Android Lollipop offering a very refined user experience, we suspect that some won't take to Huawei rough-riding over the top, especailly when many manufacturers are removing extras.
For example, swipe down the notifications area and this has been modified, looking more like the arrangement adopted by Apple for notifications. Hit the recent apps button and you get thumbnails of recent apps, rather than Lollipop's card carousel.
Given the short period of time spent exploring the Huawei P8 so far, we can't determine exactly how much this can be lightened up, how much could be changed with a change of theme, but our feeling is that out of the box, Emotion UI doesn't showcase the P8 as well as it could.
That's not to say the being unique is bad. Samsung has thrived on the TouchWiz customisation of its devices, but we get the feeling that some of what Huawei has changed is unnecessary. There isn't a huge amount of bloat in apps, but the setting menu is stuffed full of options. This isn't new to Huawei and something we're keenly interested in in exploring further.
Huawei likes to focus on the camera and rightly so: this is a key performance area for smartphones. There's a 13-megapixel sensor on the rear, with boasts of DSLR-style image processing, as well as a four-colour RGBW sensor, for better colour capture. In this area it's claiming an industry first.
There's also the claim that the optical image stabilisation is the best in class. With some devices - like the HTC One M9 - missing out on OIS, it will be interesting to see how well the camera performs against its rivals.
On the front there's an 8-megapixel camera, with the promise of a great selfie experience. You're harangued on opening the front camera as to whether you want standard beauty or perfect selfie "enhancement". It's quite frightening and of course, we opted for standard beauty.
There's still a huge amount to learn about the Huawei P8. It's packed full of functions, like a clever find your phone function, a dual antenna that claims to ensure that death grip is no longer a thing, as well as a range of official accessories, including an E Ink cover - so you can read your ebooks without draining the battery.
The Huawei P8 is set for international availability, offering dual SIM versions, and will come in standard and premium editions, with four different colours. The standard version will cost €499 at launch (£360); the premium version will be €599 (£430). That's an appealing price, but so much will depend on the experience.
We will bring you a full review of the Huawei P8 as soon as we can.