1. Huawei P8 (£400) ★★★★✩
The Huawei P8 may not have the design personality or some of the final little finishing touches of the best from Samsung and Apple, but this is one fine-looking phone. Oh, and did we mention it costs £100 less than a Galaxy S6?
It’s a supremely thin 6.4mm-thick aluminium Android with 4G, microSD and an insanely pocketable frame. It’s not entirely smooth, there’s no fingerprint scanner or other gadgety extras. But it will still impress onlookers, as only a real top-end phone can.
Anything to complain about? The software is quirk-central, the norm for a Huawei phone. It needs some tweaks to get the most out of. Emotion UI embraces the wonky and weird: there are some signs that at heart this phone wasn’t really made for UK folks from square one.
Parts of the Huawei P8’s brain haven’t been quite as well-optimised as the best either. It lasts a respectable 1.5 days with normal use, but for video we only squeezed seven hours out of the thing: the Galaxy S6 managed 14. Ouch. But at other times it outperforms the rest. How does that work, eh?
It’s not so good for transatlantic flight movies, but for watching the odd bit of Netflix the solid 5.2in 1080p screen will more than do the trick. The P8 doesn’t quite get the display level of perfection you get elsewhere, but it does save you some cash too.
Screen 5.2in 1920 x 1080 LCD (424ppi) > Processor Kirin 930 or 935 Octo-core 3GHz > Cameras 13MP rear, 8MP front > Storage 16GB, 64GB (with microSD) > Battery 2680mAh > Dimensions 144.9 x 72.1 x 6.4mm, 144g
Design - Metal chocolate bar 8/10
Gold, silver, black? The Huawei P8 lets you choose, and each version is carved out of cool, hard aluminium. This phone feels pretty good, but as with any rectangular-style design, it’s a bit more severe-feeling than the others here. So, do you want slim or smooth?
In fact it's the slimmest phone in the test at 6.4mm. Which is good for show-offs, especially as it’s made of aluminium. A silicone skin will make it thicker, but also help avoid dents.
It gets bonus points for having a microSD slot, and is good-looking among Huawei’s designs. Still, there’s no fingerprint scanner, no universal remote IR blaster and nothing too dynamic in the layout. It does put the power button on the side, within easy reach of your thumb, though. Solid, solid, solid.
Camera - Good hit rate 8/10
The P8 has a 13MP sensor with OIS. Its hit rate is pretty great and its low-light skills aren’t too shabby either. You don’t have to try hard to get good shots out of this camera. Colours can be unruly, though. An 8MP selfie camera will render all your craggy bits in exquisite detail, although there’s a face-smoothing mode to save you any embarrassment too.
Screen - Full HD: just enough 7/10
This year, some phone makers decided they didn’t need QHD resolution. Huawei was one of them. The P8 has a 5.2in Full HD screen. You get good colour, contrast and sharpness. But some of the other phones here are even stronger.
OS and Apps - Mixed emotions 6/10
Heard of Emotion UI? It’s how Huawei puts its stamp on Android, version 5.0 in this case. It’s a bit odd, dumping the apps screen like an iPhone and adopting an odd colour scheme. You can customise it plenty, but you may need to.
Why? The lock screen is kinda odd and the wallpaper and co. are a bit of a turn-off for the eyes. The P8 uses themes, though, making facelifts a cinch. And there are several decent themes preinstalled too. So why did Huawei plaster it with such a dodgy one by default? Who knows.
Thin as a pencil and classier than ever: the best Huawei yet