Spec showdown: Samsung Galaxy S6 vs. Huawei P8

The Chinese company hopes to make a dent in Samsung's sales with its latest smartphone

The Samsung Galaxy S6 is now the benchmark for high-end smartphones running Android, but there are lots of challengers, including the new P8 from Huawei Technologies.

The two smartphone vendors have had many of the same goals when building their respective smartphones, including improving the looks and the cameras. But there are still differences that will likely sway you one way or the other. Here's a spec comparison between the phones:

Design

A more premium design has been a common theme for this year's launches of high-end smartphones. In this regard, both Huawei and Samsung have succeeded. The P8 has a metal unibody design and the Galaxy S6 combines a metal frame with a glass back. They are both good-looking devices, but neither design is very original. The P8 looks a little bland because Huawei doesn't put its logo on the front.

Processor

The Galaxy S6 and P8 use ARM-based processors with eight cores, but the technical underpinnings and clock speeds are slightly different. They both use four Cortex-A53 processor cores running at 1.5GHz for easier tasks. In addition to that the P8 has another four A53 cores running at 2.0GHz, while the S6 uses the more powerful Cortex-A57 processor running at 2.1GHz. That should make the Samsung smartphone more powerful, but the P8 kinder on batteries.

Screen

Samsung and Huawei appear to be in agreement that a smartphone in the high-end segment should have a screen that's a bit bigger than 5 inches. The Galaxy S6 has a 5.1-inch screen and the P8's screen measures 5.2 inches. But when it comes to the resolution there is a difference; the Galaxy S6 has a 1440 x 2560 pixel resolution compared to 1080 x 1920 pixels on the P8.

Huawei said the reward doesn't justify the cost of adding the high-resolution screen, which is an understandable argument. But at the same time, the S6 screen looks great and the battery life is quite good.

Storage

Samsung and Huawei have also chosen slightly different approaches when it comes to the amount of integrated storage. The Galaxy S6 will come with either 32GB, 64GB or 128GB, while the P8 has 16GB or 64GB of storage.

But users who buy the latter can expand the capacity by up to another 128GB using the MicroSD card slot, which Samsung decided to skip. Neither model gets it right; 16GB isn't enough for a smartphone in the high-end segment and Samsung should have included an MicroSD card slot to give users more flexibility.

User interface

If the P8 has one weakness, it is the additions Huawei has made to Android. The smartphone may run Android Lollipop, but the user interface is almost unrecognizable. Some of the additions aren't half bad, such as direct access to shortcuts when you swipe down, assuming there are no notifications. Most observers feel Huawei has made changes just for the sake of it.

Maybe it makes more sense if you have used Huawei's smartphones before. But the company missed out when it let Chinese competitor Lenovo buy Motorola, which could have taught it how to take a more cautious approach. Samsung, on the other hand, has learned from past mistakes and isn't as heavy-handed as it has been in the past.

Camera

Smartphone vendors have long relied on camera improvements to help convince users to upgrade, and the P8 and Galaxy S6 are no different. The main cameras on both models have the same resolution as their predecessors; 16 megapixels on the S6 and 13 megapixels on the P8. But the addition of features such as optical image stabilization helps improve performance in low-light conditions. The S6 has a 5-megapixel front camera and the P8 has an 8-megapixel version.

Pricing

Unsurprisingly, the P8 is the cheaper of the two, by a wide margin. The Huawei smartphone will cost from €499 (US$530) including tax, and the 32GB version of the Galaxy S6 costs €700 from Samsung. The P8 will go on sale in the middle of May across the world, but not in the U.S. Huawei still believes it needs to build a stronger brand before putting its more expensive devices on sale in the country.

Send news tips and comments to mikael_ricknas@idg.com

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Tags Huawei Technologiesconsumer electronicsSamsung ElectronicsAndroidsmartphones

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