Huawei’s 2015 flagship smartphone was unveiled to the world at a glitzy event in London way back in April. Until today, it had not yet been available on the African continent. At least on an official basis. The wait is over after Huawei finally introduced the phone to the African market (specifically the Eastern and Southern Africa markets) last evening at a colourful event in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Huawei’s General Manager for Consumer Business in South Africa, Charlene Munilal quotes the company’s dominance of the African mobile market at a record high. According to her, Huawei is now the second largest smartphone maker on the African continent. Over the last one year alone, sales of mobile devices by the company in Africa have soared by 245%. Huawei managed to ship over 75 million smartphones last year. Africa contributed greatly to that number and the company is counting on further growth to drive its sales through to the coming year.
Huawei sought to go after improving the user experience instead of cramming in more specifications so you won’t find a QHD panel or a fingerprint scanner but instead you get a compact packgae that is geared to get you doing more. It is rather odd that Huawei went the One Plus way of having 16 GB and 64 GB as the only storage options in an era where 32 GB is quickly becoming an expected standard as the base storage option and 128 GB storage options no longer make for breaking news. The P8 builds on the heritage of its predecessors of having cameras with a high megapixel count not only at the back where it matters but on the front as well for better selfies.
Jacob van Zyl, Huawei’s Director of Product Marketing for the Eastern and Sothern Africa region goes through the Huawei P8’s features during the launch in Johannesburg
In case you missed our earlier coverage of the Huawei P8, here’s a rundown of the specifications briefly:
- Display: 5.2 inch Full HD LCD – 424 ppi – protected by Gorilla Glass 3
- Memory: 3 GB RAM, 16 or 64 GB internal storage (expandable to 128 GB)
- Processor: Octa-core Kirin 930/935
- Camera: 13 MP main with OIS, 8 MP selfie
- OS: Android 5.0 Lollipop with Emotion UI
- Battery: 2680mAh
- Network: 3G, LTE
- Other connectivity options: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, hotspot, Bluetooth 4.1, NFC, microUSB 2.0
After having played with the device at the test area during the unveiling, I have a few impressions. It is very light and the build quality is as high as a smartphone can get. The camera’s performance in low lighting is exceptional. Since it was in the evening, I never got around to testing it under bright lighting but I doubt there would be any misses under such circumstances. The software is textbook Huawei. The Emotion UI we’ve known since the days of the Ascend P2 lives on and as such all the installed applications clutter an otherwise beautiful homescreen. iPhone style.
The beauty of the P8 however can be further explored with the help of themes. There’s a small selection but just like Samsung’s S6 theme collection, these are likely to increase with time. Huawei has been doing themes for quite some time now. The company’s flagship devices like the P6 had theme engines long before it became the next cool thing to have on a smartphone.
The Huawei P8 will be available in two colours: Mystic Champagne and Titanium Grey. Other colour options like Gold will be available later in the year. The 64 GB variant is what Huawei is going to market with. Well, at least in the South African market where it went on sale early today. We are yet to confirm what the options for the rest of the region are.
The South African market will also be the first one that will be getting Huawei Select. Huawei Select is a program under which buyers of the P8 smartphone will be able to get free parts replacements over the 24 month warranty period. Under Huawei Select, P8 buyers will be entitled to two screen and logic board replacements. So if you happen to be tipsy and drop your swanky new P8 on the asphalt in the driveway or happen to accidentally wash it down the drain, Huawei’s got your back. This is not the first time we are seeing this. Samsung was pushing a similar agenda with its Accidental Damage Handling (ADH) cover with the Galaxy S4 and Note 3 but seems to have backpedaled on the move since the current Galaxy S6/S6 Edge and Galaxy Note 4 smartphones in Africa don’t have the said cover. HTC also did something slightly less stellar with Advantage in select markets.
Huawei does not have immediate plans to bring the larger P8 sibling to the African market. While the company is still exploring what customer needs the Max will address that are already not catered to by the P8 itself, it has already ruled out the South African market ever getting the device.
This is the P8’s less beefier sibling that is supposed to not break your bank. There’s no word on its availability in Africa yet. It looks like the company will only be focusing on its flagship device and would not want to dilute its offerings.
Yes I asked about my favourite Android Wear smartwatch that I still can’t get thanks to it not being available in the market anywhere in the world. Lack of availability has been blamed on several issues but Huawei yesterday restated its commitment to have the device in the African market in Q4. For now, Huawei will be selling its TalkBand B2 wearable as a companion to the P8 smartphone.