Since the Nexus 6P was released last year, Huawei has been gaining some name recognition momentum in markets where it was previously not sold, or relatively unheard of. This of course has paved the way for other Huawei smartphone models to start surfacing elsewhere, especially in North America. With more users balking at rising smartphone costs, our Huawei GX8 review looks at an unlocked, mid-range Android smartphone solution.
Other specifications include:
- 1.5 GHz Qualcomm® Snapdragon 616, 8-core processor, 64 bit (MSM8939)
- 2GB RAM
- Android 5.1 Lollipop running EMUI 3.1
- Bluetooth 4.0; Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n, 2.4G
- Accelerometer; Proximity sensor; Ambient light sensor; Compass, Fingerprint
- LTE Category 4: 50 Mbit/s (UL), 150 Mbit/s (DL); DC-HSPA+: 5.76Mbit/s (UL),42 Mbit/s (DL); WCDMA: 384 Kbit/s (UL), 384 Kbit/s (DL); EDGE Class 12: 236.8 Kbit/s (UL),236.8 Kbit/s (DL); GPRS: 40 Kbit/s (UL), 60 Kbit/s (DL)
What’s In The Box
When you purchase an unlocked Huawei GX8 smartphone, you receive:
- 1x Huawei GX8
- 1x microUSB cable
- 1x USB power charger
- 1x earbuds
- 1x SIM ejector pin
- 1x Quick Start Guide
- 1x Warranty Guide
Before we take a look at the phone, I must admit I was suitably impressed by the packaging itself. Like most other smartphones, it comes in a pretty non-descript black box emblazoned with the text “Huawei GX8” in gold on the side. Upon opening the box, a paper cartridge holds the instruction manual, another holds the earbuds, cable, and charger, and the phone itself is slid in between these two, safely nestled between foam pieces on each edge and one side.
As for the phone itself, it definitely has a premium feel to it. The aluminum metal body has a nice weight to it as well, and a nice premium look. As is pretty standard, the headphone jack is on the top of the phone, the volume and power buttons are on the right side, the Micro-USB port and stereo speaker holes are at the bottom, and the dual-SIM card/microSD card tray is on the left of the phone. One thing of note, the power button is below the volume buttons which is a reversal from most other phones, but that just puts the power button comfortably where your thumb rests. With the fingerprint scanner unlock though, I’d prefer to have the power button above the volume buttons allowing for easier access to the volume buttons.
The front screen is rounded slightly at the edges, which is a nice touch when using the phone without a case. Flipping the phone over, you’ll find the fingerprint scanner, rear facing camera, and LED flash. Our review unit was Horizon Gold, the GX8 is also available in Space Grey and Mystic Champagne.
Overall, the Huawei GX8 is a nicely designed premium feeling smartphone.
The display on the Huawei GX8 is a 5.5″ TFT display with a 1920 x 1080 FHD resolution. A 1080p resolution on a 5.5″ screen does feel a bit big, with text being quite large but it definitely makes content very readable and easy to see. Colours were great and the screen contents were visible under most lighting conditions with no issues. The adaptive brightness setting worked well, and did a great job of adjusting the screen brightness based on the surrounding ambient light.
The Huawei GX8 ships with Android 5.1 Lollipop, although testing on Android 6.x Marshmallow has started in certain markets. On top of Android, Huawei has shipped this smartphone with the EMUI 3.1 UI platform, and to be honest I rather quite liked it as an alternative to stock Android. EMUI is fairly clean, and allows you to apply different themes to the phone to suit your style. There are of course minor changes to the notification shade and settings, but it’s mostly skinning. One feature that I really liked that worked with both the EMUI UI and Google Now Launcher was the ability to swipe across the bottom navigation icons towards one side of the screen and have the screen shrink towards that side for easier one handed operation.
Another one of the very cool things that Huawei has done with the GX8, and I wish it was on my Nexus 6P as well, is to add functionality to the fingerprint scanner. Not only do you use it to unlock your phone, but swiping down will pull down the notification shade, swiping up will hide it, double tapping with the notification shade open will clear your notifications, and finally you can use it as a camera shutter when you have the camera app open. All small things, but once you get used to using them, it’s hard to remember that functionality is missing when you use a different device.
Other features include motion controls which include flip to mute, double touching to turn on the screen, drawing a letter to open applications, and an interesting shake your device to rearrange your icons function. All in all, the added features aren’t overdone and, even though minor, really go far in assisting with making basic Android operations even easier. Aside from that, being an Android device you have full access to the Android ecosystem.
Performance on the Huawei GX8 is very decent, there were a few times I noticed a slight stutter, and that was usually when I had quite a few apps updating in the background. Aside from that, the phone felt very responsive, apps opened quickly, and games and videos ran smoothly and without issue on the 64-bit 1.5 GHz Qualcomm® Snapdragon 616 8-core processor and 2GB of RAM. For most tasks the average person performs on their smartphone, the performance of the Huawei GX8 will be sufficient.
The speakers on the GX8 are probably its weak spot if it had one. While the sound is clear, crisp, and can be loud depending on what you are listening to, the fact remains that they are at the bottom of the phone instead of the front for optimal sound. The speakers don’t pack a lot of punch on the bass end of the spectrum either, but that’s fairly standard fare for most smartphones.
With its 13MP camera with optical image stabilization (OIS), pictures taken with the GX8 are pretty good both outdoors and indoors.
The included camera app adds settings such as “Good Food,” “Beauty,” and Time-Lapse along with photo and video taking capabilities. The Good Food setting worked surprisingly well and pictures of food taken with this setting on definitely looked better. As well, you can also tweak a range of settings including touch to capture, take photos automatically when smiles are detected, object tracking focus, and even adjust ISO and white balance.
If you’re the selfie type, the front camera was pretty decent as well, and worked great for video Hangouts.
I had no issues with reception or call quality, and was able to hear the other party as well as have them hear me during conversations without any problems.
Featuring a 3000mAh battery, the Huawei GX8 is on the upper end of the middle of battery capacities for phones. I could easily last the day with plenty of battery life left over, and not have to worry about needing to find a plugin for a quick top up during the day.
Originally listed on the Huawei website for $349.99USD, the Huawei GX8 is currently selling on the official site for
$299.99 $199.99 and on Amazon for $249.99. Given the specs, performance, and camera, the GX8 offers pretty decent value for the price — especially considering it is unlocked and can be used on numerous networks without requiring you to sign a contract.
If you’re looking for a decent mid-range Android smartphone with a premium feel that won’t break the bank, the unlocked Huawei GX8 is definitely worth a look.