Huawei still has a bit of a reputation as a maker of budget phones. Yet if we learned anything from reviewing the Huawei Watch it’s that the company can indeed do high-end. Then there’s the GX8. At first glance you’ll think “must be a flagship phone.” It’s a stylishly-designed phone, with a high-resolution (albeit slightly glossy) 5.5″ screen, dedicated fingerprint scanner on the rear, 16 GB of storage, MicroSD expandability, a snappy octo-core chip, and dual SIM support, which is awesome for those who travel internationally (note: using the second SIM means giving up your MicroSD slot).
The design of the screen, with it slightly sticking up, is absolutely something that grabs the eye. What also grabs are what look like two speakers under the screen. Sadly, one of these is just for show. Still, sound is clear–especially with headphones (which are included, by the way).
There are two philosophies of skinning Android (adding a unique look for your brand). Some companies favor a light touch. Huawei is not one of these companies. The Huawei skin is very different from default Android, going so far as to remove the App drawer. Instead, you swipe left. While the design itself is eye-catching, I wish they had kept the typical Android functionality.
The good news is that if this annoys you as much as it does me, the Android hacking community has your back. There’s already a version of CM 13 running for the GX8. For the unfamiliar, this is a version of the Cyanogen fork of Android (and my personal favorite). Now, this is a hack, and not all features will work (right now the fingerprint scanner is not running under CM), so it is not for everyone.
One thing in the GC8’s favor is the price. Right now both Amazon is selling the gray version of the phone for $100 off. There are cheaper unlocked phones, but a lot of them feel cheaply made.
If you want a metal and glass unlocked Android handset at a decent price, with the option to go dual SIM, or even just to try your hand at custom ROM creation, you may want to check out this sale.
Note: Huawei lent us a review unit. We were not able to test actual phone service.