Huawei Mate 8 in-depth review - Super-sized friend

Just over three months after the Mate S was launched to rapturous applauch at IFA in Berlin, Huawei have unleashed the super-sized Mate 8 on the paying public. With premium looks, features and specs and price to match, it remains to be seem if people will flock to make it their handset of choice

 Huawei Mate 8 Review - Super-sized friend
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Review by Sunetra Chakravati,2/8/2016 2:45:57 PM

8

out of 10

Performance

9

out of 5

Look and feel

8

out of 5

Ease of use

9

out of 5

Features

9

out of 5

Battery life

Pros:

Well-specced | Fingerprint sensor | premium build and finish

Cons:

Massive | Old OS | EMUI not great

- By Sunetra Chakravarti

Following the Huawei design blueprint, Mate 8 packs an incredible amount of heft for the price. With Huawei's partnership with Google last year to bring the super-awesome Nexus 6P, the latest handset comes packed with top intuitive specs and features with the typical Huawei advantage of being able to give us handsets that dont cost the earth in comparison.

How premium is the Huawei Mate 8?

Very very premium is the answer. Right from the packaging to the handset, you can expect top notch looks and a very sophisticated feel. 

Very very thin, 7.9mm to be precise and as tall as the Google Nexus 6P, the Mate 8 has an all-metal curved back with the fingerprint sensor resting under the camera lens at the back. The phone is supplied with a clear plastic back cover so there is no chance of your inadvertently damaging the matt finish. A clear plastic screen protector is pre-stuck on the phone which will again helps stop any screen cracks and scratches on its tracks.

The power button on the side again has metal detailing which further accentuates its polished, business-like credentials.

Huawei Mate 8 in-depth review

 

Is it good for streaming and watching media?

The screen, although not as high-res as perhaps the Samsung Galaxy S7 family is still Full-HD. With a 1920X1080 resolution which translates to roughly 368ppi, the Mate 8 does really well with video playback but for a premium product from the likes of Huawei, we would have expected more.

The size, however, makes up for it and of course, the battery is good enough to take you through quite a few episodes of ‘The Night Manager’.

Is this a work or play device?

With the absolutely gargantuan 4000mAH battery onboard, the Mate 8 has the capacity, the brute strength and longevity to go through hard grunt work during the day and then compliment your hard partying ways off-duty.

Just to give you an idea- I charge the phone once every three days- get push notifications from all apps and tether it to my laptop for internet via 4G for atleast 8-9 hours each day. It is that good. It has a notification system too which alerts you to apps and processes that are consuming too much power as well as a choice of three option you can run your phone on- Performance, Smart or Ultra with the last one consuming the least power and the ‘Performance’ mode recommended for gaming and streaming videos. However, I really do wish it didn't alert me every 20 minutes about how Twitter was guzzling power in the background…

The processor is made by one of Huawei’s many companies and while the one on the P8 wasn't as great, the Hisilicon Kirin 950 is absolutely on the money. Blisteringly fast and good enough for most tasks including complex gaming scenarios.

Is the software any good?

EMUI, Huawei’s bespoke layer over Lollipop is really Marmite. It gets rid of the app drawer and makes the phone interface look exactly like that on iOS, in other words, messy. Although it has come a long way from being overly Chinese-focussed, Android 5 has basically made it fall over again.

As long as you don't use any of the add-ons Huawei promise- like rapping on the phone to unlock it or take a screenshot, you will be fine. On its 4th version now, it is gradually becoming lighter but ultimately, the heavier the skin, longer will the latest version of Android take to get to the consumer. The like of Samsung and Sony have realised this and tried to make the overlays barely-there but it is still a long way off from being perfect.

Will I be able to take great pictures with it?

In theory, the 16-MP camera with OIS should be able to take pictures that are at par with the Samsung Galaxy S7 and Apple iPhone 6, but the reality is a bit different. In bright light, the photos on the Mate 8 did not have the sharp lines or the focus of the ones on the Galaxy S7 but the phone that fared the worst was ultimately the Apple iPhone 6. The photos we took on the Mate 8 were, in general absolutely fine and should do really well for the usual social media uploading.

There are a lot of different modes on there including Light Painting (which Huawei introduced for the first time on the P8), Beauty (cue severely airbrushed wide-eyed selfies) and Time-lapse. Delve within the camera app and you will find nuggets such as Super night, HDR, Watermark and Professional (basically manual mode) on which you can adjust everything from ISO to AF.

Should I buy the Mate 8?

If you need a device to do all the grunt work in the world then this is the one for you. Also important are massive hands because the Mate 8 is a lot wider than most other smartphones out there making it quite awkward to use one-handed.

Not just battery, the Mate 8 also has a very good processor, sharp and fast fingerprint scanner and costs a lot less than the other premium phablets out there. Go get one!

Huawei Mate 8 Specifications

Price: £479.99

Operating System: EMUI 4.0 over Android™ 6.0 (Marshmallow) 

Dimensions: 157.1 X 80.6 X 7.9mm

Weight: 185 g 

Resolution: 1080p(1920X1080), 368ppi

Display: 6.0", FHD Screen

Processor: Huawei Hisilicon Kirin 950(64-bit,16nm, FinFET)

Octa core(4*2.3GHz A72 +4*1.8GHzA53)+i5 co-processor

Camera: 16MP, F2.0, OIS (Optical image stablization), Timelapse recording

Photos: max 4608 x 3456 pixels

Video recording: 1080p, 60 fps

support 720P 120FPS Slo-Mo recording

Front camera: 8MP, F2.4, Photos: max 3264 x 2448 pixels, Video recording: 1080p, 30 fps

Memory: 3GB RAM+32GB ROM; 4GB RAM+64GB ROM; 3GB RAM+32GB ROM; 
expandable storage via MicroSD slot

Battery: 4000 mAh non-removable lithium-ion battery

Fingerprint sensor: Yes

Misc: Dual-SIM; Colours: Moonlight Silver, Space Gray, Champagne Gold, Mocha Brown