Huawei's P8 and P8 Max Smartphones Land in London Looking Like the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus

By Matt Hill on at

Huawei has just unveiled two new smartphones, the P8 and the P8 Max, at its global launch event in London as the Chinese phone don looks to establish itself further in Europe.

The capital's Old Billingsgate Market building on the Thames is the latest landmark to be co-opted as a tech product launchpad, in this case for the new 6.4mm-thin metal unibody P8 smartphone – Huawei seems to have dropped the "Ascend" sub-brand bit – which boasts a 5.2-inch screen on the outside, a 64-bit, quadcore Kirin 930 processor inside.

The P8 Max phablet, meanwhile, offers up a 6.8-inch full HD display over much of the same functionality bar a boost to battery life (quoted: one and a half days' use for P8, nearly two and a half for P8 Max). And yes, both take obvious design influence from Apple's iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

But it's the camera where Huawei is flinging particular importance, though, talking up its pro credentials with a succession of flashy photo evidence. The 13-megapixel rear snapper has optical image stabilisation, 1080p video recording and a dual-colour LED temperature flash that aims to recreate natural light.

There's also some novel camera toys to play with, as you expect nowadays from smartphones in desperate search of a selling angle. Time-lapse and selfie specialities we've seen before – we're never using the term "groufie" no matter how many times it's said, although the latter's promise to recognise you every time and make you more attractive we'll certainly be testing.

But "Light Painting", which lets you sketch light tracks in mid-air for funky night shots, is a bit more unique. There's also something called "knuckle sense technology" for cropping images quickly with your, erm, knuckles. We'll certainly be investigating that.

The most fun-sounding addition, though, is "Director Mode", which lets you take multi-angle video footage simultaneously using multiple phones (up to four). Presumably all phones don't need to be P8s – that would be fairly optimistic – and while unclear so far, the demo did seem to suggest that the P8 was only necessary as the editing hub.

Elsewhere, Huawei talked up its connectivity credentials, as befits a world leader in connectivity, thanks to its latest antenna tech, with "Wi-Fi+" apparently offering seamless Wi-Fi switching to the point of actually turning your Wi-Fi on for you if you're in range of a previously connected hot spot. Then there's "Roaming+" (the plus is a theme), boasting three times the speeds of everyone else. Right-o.

Huawei has typically been known for budget handsets in the past, but has been looking to build a more premium presence and this latest phone certainly comes out swinging. Much language was lavished on the P8 and P8 Max's luxuriousness, with an interesting looking range of cases and headphones to come with it, too, but till it's in hand, it's too early to tell. (Although HTC may want a word about the dot matrix P8 Max one).

The Huawei P8 will be available in standard and premium versions for €499 (3GB RAM, 16GB storage, grey/champagne colours) and €599 (3GB RAM, 64GB storage, black/gold colours) while the P8 Max will be €499 and €599 for the same specs.

Huawei last launched a product in the UK two years ago, the Ascend P6, before moving its sights to Paris last year for the P7 as it increasingly sought to make a splash in the highly competitive European phone market. But with flagship blowers coming at a rate of knots – the HTC One M9 has underwhelmed, the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge launched last week, the LG G4 is incoming – is there enough here to establish a niche for either?

We've popped along to the event today and will have more info, impressions and release details as and when we get our hands on them.