Editor’s Note: This product has been removed from our side-by-side comparison because it has been discontinued. You can still read our original review below, but Top Ten Reviews is no longer updating this product’s information.
Huawei has made a lot of recent inroads into the U.S. market, but most of its smartphones are still built for international audiences. One of those was the Huawei G8, which the company recently brought to U.S. audiences in the form of the GX8.
The Huawei GX8 is a disappointment. That’s not because it lacks necessary features or is too slow; in fact, the GX8 packs extras you don’t normally find on midtier devices, like a rear-mounted fingerprint scanner. Rather, the GX8 is dragged down by bland design and one of the heaviest-handed Android overlays we’ve seen in our smartphone reviews. Richly themed Android skins are common in Asia, but American audiences tend to prefer skins that are closer to stock Android.
If you’ve used Android phones before, you’ll have to re-learn how to navigate when you pick up a GX8. Swiping up from the lock screen, for example, doesn’t unlock the phone; it brings up a quick-access drawer for apps like the flashlight and calculator. You swipe right or left to unlock the phone, but once you’re at the home screen, swiping up from the bottom no longer gives you that quick access you’d expect; instead, you have to swipe down from the top and switch to a different tab, just to access those same shortcuts.
If that all sounds confusing, it’s because it is. After a couple weeks with the GX8 in hand, I still swiped the wrong direction when trying to unlock it without using my fingerprint.
The GX8’s 5.5-inch screen is large, but it only packs 1080p resolution, a cost-cutting measure you’d expect from a midtier device. Beneath that screen is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 processor. The 615 offers enough power to keep the UI relatively smooth, but I noticed the occasional dropped frame when swiping from home screen to home screen. When it came to heavier loads, the phone crumbled under our benchmark tests, offering about 45 percent of the Samsung Galaxy S7’s overall performance.
The GX8’s camera is a bright spot in the phone’s design, as it includes optical image stabilization – a feature not found in all top smartphones, much less midtier phones. The onboard image processing isn’t the fastest at focusing and can wobble when you’re shooting video, but photos are sharp enough, especially given the phone's price.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to get the best smartphone you can for your money. When midtier price points include such great options as the Motorola Moto X and Nexus 5X, a phone with an unimpressive design and overbearing Android skin gets lost in the shuffle. The Huawei GX8 is okay, but it’s not good enough to compete with the many greats on our lineup.