Huawei P8 Lite and TalkBand B2 Review: Wooing the U.S. Market

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Smartphone buyers might not recognize the name Huawei Technology but the company has been making popular cell phones for years. They've been mostly mid-range, mid-priced devices. But now, Huawei is making a new push to begin selling its smartphone and other personal technology items under its own name.


Earlier this month Huawei announced the release of its P8 Lite Android smartphone and the TalkBand B2 - a combination fitness band and Bluetooth headset.

The phone is quite attractive. Extremely thin at less than one-third of an inch and lightweight, at 4.6 ounces. It's large enough to support a 5-inch, 720 by 1280 pixels IPS touchscreen, an eight-core, 1.5 GHz Qualcomm (QCOM) 615 processor, 16 GB of internal storage (plus a microSD expansion card slot), 2 GB of RAM plus 13 and 5 megapixel cameras back and front.

Just like some of the competition's newest products aimed at the U.S. market, including the Asus Zenfone 2, the P8 lite is one of of a new breed to support two SIM cards/phone accounts. That means your phone can make and accept calls and messages from two separate numbers and/or carriers. It's a popular for world travelers in almost every other country on the planet. Like with the Asus, the P8 Lite handled our two test SIM accounts with aplomb.

The P8 lite worked smoothly flawlessly during our tests. It looks and feels great. Huawei's screen and icon design are both unusual (in a good way) and pleasing. The rear camera took nice photos and the phone's sound quality was good. We found the battery basically lasted a full day handling both SIMs under normal use.

There is no mistaking this phone for a top-of-the-line model. While thin and lightweight the phone is primarily made of plastic with some metal-looking trim.

Huawei is asking $249 (no contract) when you buy the phone from its online store but the competition costs less. Motorola's Moto G immediately comes to mind as well as Asus' Zenfone 2 sporting very similar specs (and an Intel (INTC) processor), retails for $199 and runs on a newer version of Google's (GOOG) Android OS (5.0 vs. the Huawei's Android 4.4.4). A more upscale Zenfone 2, with an ever faster processor, a whopping 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of internal storage, sells for only $299.

Overall Score: 8.4/10

The idea here is that you can wear this rectangular shaped smartband on your wrist or, if you prefer, take off the strap and wear it on/behind your ear. The TalkBand Web site doesn't really show what the device looks like when worn outside side of its colorful wrist band.

TalkBand works with both Android and Apple (AAPL) iOS devices. The tracking/exercise features as well as the nifty software to handle all the information come from the experts at Jawbone and the TalkBand relies on that company's UP technology. Jawbone is also known for its Bluetooth headsets and this little device, with the dual microphone,s worked quite well and sounded great. TalkBand's battery lasted nearly five days on a full charge.

That said, I was never really sure where to wear or how I wanted to use the device. I preferred wrist mounting but then missed out on the headset features. Also, quickly changing the device from my wrist to my ear sometimes made for an awkward start to phone conversations. You may be more adept at making the switch.

The TalkBand B2 is available with three different band color options and sells for a penny less than $200 online. As a comparison, choosing Jawbone's little $40 UP Move fitness tracker and a $130 Jawbone ERA Bluetooth headset allows you to wear both at the same time without the hassle.

Overall Score: 8.2/10

This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.

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