Huawei Mate 8 Review

Introduction


Huawei Mate 8 Review
Huawei Mate 8 Review
Huawei Mate 8 Review
Huawei Mate 8 Review
Huawei Mate 8 Review
Surging to new heights after the successful release of the Google Nexus 6P, consumers around the world are becoming increasingly aware of the company behind the prized phone. Huawei’s remarkable run in 2015 is extending already into the New Year, where it used CES 2016 to announce its latest smartphone in the Mate lineup – the Huawei Mate 8.

It’s been over a year since its predecessor launched, but even more pressing is that the bar has since been raised by the Nexus 6P, so the Mate 8 is predisposed to a higher level of expectation. Similar to the recent Mate S, however, we’re a bit skeptical about its worth being attached with a starting price of €599 (~$650). That’s quite a wallop considering all things, but let’s find out how it fairs.

The package contains:
  • Huawei Mate 8
  • 2A Wall Charger
  • microUSB cable
  • SIM ejector tool
  • Earphones
  • Protective case
  • User guide

Design

Huawei produces a great all-metal _phone_ design.

By now, there’s no denying it. Huawei is able to play on the same level with established industry brands such as HTC, when it comes to delivering quality all-metal designs. The Mate 8 is a beautifully crafted, all-metal design with a subtle curve that employs many of the design characteristics we’re familiar seeing in the Mate series. And for something adorned with a 6-inch screen, it doesn’t feel oversized at all, as they’ve kept it pretty svelte and lightweight. By no means is it meant to be a one-hand device, but the aesthetics make it a far more forgiving thing to handle.

Many things about the phone’s design have been meticulously thought out, like the arrangement of its SIM slot, which fashions together the microSD, nanoSIM, and microSIM slots into a singular unit. If that’s not versatility, then we don’t know what is. There’s also the recessed fingerprint sensor on its back too, which, just like the one in the Nexus 6P, is remarkably accurate and responsive – plus, it’s in a good placement as we hold the phone.

 

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Front view | Side view
Huawei Mate 8
Huawei Mate 8
6.19 x 3.17 x 0.31 inches
157.1 x 80.6 x 7.9 mm
6.53 oz (185 g)

Huawei Mate 8

Huawei Ascend Mate7
Huawei Ascend Mate7
6.18 x 3.19 x 0.31 inches
157 x 81 x 7.9 mm
6.53 oz (185 g)

Huawei Ascend Mate7

Samsung Galaxy Note 5
Samsung Galaxy Note 5
6.03 x 3 x 0.3 inches
153.2 x 76.1 x 7.6 mm
6.03 oz (171 g)

Samsung Galaxy Note 5

LG V10
LG V10
6.28 x 3.12 x 0.34 inches
159.6 x 79.3 x 8.6 mm
6.77 oz (192 g)

LG V10



Huawei Mate 8 Review

Display

Same overblown colors as usual, but it comes with a more potent luminance.

The Mate 8 comes with a 6-inch IPS LCD display that's slapped with 1080p resolution. The resulting pixel density of 367 ppi is certainly sufficient in reading out fine text with our eyes from a normal distance.

Thankfully, the display that’s present here is significantly more improved with its brightness output than the one in the Mate S that we reviewed last month. In particular, its peak luminance reaches 492 nits, making it more visible under direct sunlight. However, it shares the same color reproduction as the Mate S, as opposed to the more accurate panel of the Ascend Mate 7 before it. Therefore, colors appear overblown, which some folks won’t mind, but the results aren’t necessarily true-to-life.

Display measurements and quality

Maximum brightness (nits)Higher is better Minimum brightness (nits)Lower is better Contrast Higher is better Color temperature (Kelvins) Gamma Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
Huawei Mate 8 492
(Good)
8
(Good)
1:1619
(Excellent)
7362
(Good)
2.09
4.85
(Average)
6.36
(Average)
Huawei Ascend Mate7 484
(Good)
11
(Average)
1:1560
(Excellent)
7111
(Good)
2.25
2.89
(Good)
5.16
(Average)
Samsung Galaxy Note 5 470
(Good)
2
(Excellent)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
6722
(Excellent)
2.09
1.32
(Excellent)
1.94
(Excellent)
LG V10 457
(Good)
4
(Excellent)
1:1556
(Excellent)
7877
(Average)
2.35
4.06
(Average)
6.57
(Average)
View all

The numbers below represent the amount of deviation in the respective property, observed when a display is viewed from a 45-degree angle as opposed to direct viewing.

Maximum brightness Lower is better Minimum brightness Lower is better Contrast Lower is better Color temperature Lower is better Gamma Lower is better Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
Samsung Galaxy Note 5 60.4%
50%
unmeasurable
5.7%
2.4%
281.1%
128.9%
Huawei Mate 8 74.2%
75%
77.2%
28.2%
9.6%
30.7%
102.2%
Huawei Ascend Mate7 77.9%
81.8%
80.7%
14%
11.1%
22.8%
15.3%
LG V10 88%
75%
90.6%
3.2%
14.5%
3.9%
3.5%
View all

The CIE 1931 xy color gamut chart represents the set (area) of colors that a display can reproduce, with the sRGB colorspace (the highlighted triangle) serving as reference. The chart also provides a visual representation of a display's color accuracy. The small squares across the boundaries of the triangle are the reference points for the various colors, while the small dots are the actual measurements. Ideally, each dot should be positioned on top of its respective square. The 'x: CIE31' and 'y: CIE31' values in the table below the chart indicate the position of each measurement on the chart. 'Y' shows the luminance (in nits) of each measured color, while 'Target Y' is the desired luminance level for that color. Finally, 'ΔE 2000' is the Delta E value of the measured color. Delta E values of below 2 are ideal.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Color accuracy chart gives an idea of how close a display's measured colors are to their referential values. The first line holds the measured (actual) colors, while the second line holds the reference (target) colors. The closer the actual colors are to the target ones, the better.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Grayscale accuracy chart shows whether a display has a correct white balance (balance between red, green and blue) across different levels of grey (from dark to bright). The closer the Actual colors are to the Target ones, the better.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

View all
Huawei Mate 8 Review

Introduction


Huawei Mate 8 Review
Huawei Mate 8 Review
Huawei Mate 8 Review
Huawei Mate 8 Review
Huawei Mate 8 Review
Surging to new heights after the successful release of the Google Nexus 6P, consumers around the world are becoming increasingly aware of the company behind the prized phone. Huawei’s remarkable run in 2015 is extending already into the New Year, where it used CES 2016 to announce its latest smartphone in the Mate lineup – the Huawei Mate 8.

It’s been over a year since its predecessor launched, but even more pressing is that the bar has since been raised by the Nexus 6P, so the Mate 8 is predisposed to a higher level of expectation. Similar to the recent Mate S, however, we’re a bit skeptical about its worth being attached with a starting price of €599 (~$650). That’s quite a wallop considering all things, but let’s find out how it fairs.

The package contains:
  • Huawei Mate 8
  • 2A Wall Charger
  • microUSB cable
  • SIM ejector tool
  • Earphones
  • Protective case
  • User guide

Design

Huawei produces a great all-metal _phone_ design.

By now, there’s no denying it. Huawei is able to play on the same level with established industry brands such as HTC, when it comes to delivering quality all-metal designs. The Mate 8 is a beautifully crafted, all-metal design with a subtle curve that employs many of the design characteristics we’re familiar seeing in the Mate series. And for something adorned with a 6-inch screen, it doesn’t feel oversized at all, as they’ve kept it pretty svelte and lightweight. By no means is it meant to be a one-hand device, but the aesthetics make it a far more forgiving thing to handle.

Many things about the phone’s design have been meticulously thought out, like the arrangement of its SIM slot, which fashions together the microSD, nanoSIM, and microSIM slots into a singular unit. If that’s not versatility, then we don’t know what is. There’s also the recessed fingerprint sensor on its back too, which, just like the one in the Nexus 6P, is remarkably accurate and responsive – plus, it’s in a good placement as we hold the phone.

Front view | Side view
Huawei Mate 8
Huawei Mate 8
6.19 x 3.17 x 0.31 inches
157.1 x 80.6 x 7.9 mm
6.53 oz (185 g)

Huawei Mate 8

Huawei Ascend Mate7
Huawei Ascend Mate7
6.18 x 3.19 x 0.31 inches
157 x 81 x 7.9 mm
6.53 oz (185 g)

Huawei Ascend Mate7

Samsung Galaxy Note 5
Samsung Galaxy Note 5
6.03 x 3 x 0.3 inches
153.2 x 76.1 x 7.6 mm
6.03 oz (171 g)

Samsung Galaxy Note 5

LG V10
LG V10
6.28 x 3.12 x 0.34 inches
159.6 x 79.3 x 8.6 mm
6.77 oz (192 g)

LG V10



Huawei Mate 8 Review

Display

Same overblown colors as usual, but it comes with a more potent luminance.

The Mate 8 comes with a 6-inch IPS LCD display that's slapped with 1080p resolution. The resulting pixel density of 367 ppi is certainly sufficient in reading out fine text with our eyes from a normal distance.

Thankfully, the display that’s present here is significantly more improved with its brightness output than the one in the Mate S that we reviewed last month. In particular, its peak luminance reaches 492 nits, making it more visible under direct sunlight. However, it shares the same color reproduction as the Mate S, as opposed to the more accurate panel of the Ascend Mate 7 before it. Therefore, colors appear overblown, which some folks won’t mind, but the results aren’t necessarily true-to-life.

Display measurements and quality

Maximum brightness (nits)Higher is better Minimum brightness (nits)Lower is better Contrast Higher is better Color temperature (Kelvins) Gamma Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
Huawei Mate 8 492
(Good)
8
(Good)
1:1619
(Excellent)
7362
(Good)
2.09
4.85
(Average)
6.36
(Average)
Huawei Ascend Mate7 484
(Good)
11
(Average)
1:1560
(Excellent)
7111
(Good)
2.25
2.89
(Good)
5.16
(Average)
Samsung Galaxy Note 5 470
(Good)
2
(Excellent)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
6722
(Excellent)
2.09
1.32
(Excellent)
1.94
(Excellent)
LG V10 457
(Good)
4
(Excellent)
1:1556
(Excellent)
7877
(Average)
2.35
4.06
(Average)
6.57
(Average)
View all

The numbers below represent the amount of deviation in the respective property, observed when a display is viewed from a 45-degree angle as opposed to direct viewing.

Maximum brightness Lower is better Minimum brightness Lower is better Contrast Lower is better Color temperature Lower is better Gamma Lower is better Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
Samsung Galaxy Note 5 60.4%
50%
unmeasurable
5.7%
2.4%
281.1%
128.9%
Huawei Mate 8 74.2%
75%
77.2%
28.2%
9.6%
30.7%
102.2%
Huawei Ascend Mate7 77.9%
81.8%
80.7%
14%
11.1%
22.8%
15.3%
LG V10 88%
75%
90.6%
3.2%
14.5%
3.9%
3.5%
View all

The CIE 1931 xy color gamut chart represents the set (area) of colors that a display can reproduce, with the sRGB colorspace (the highlighted triangle) serving as reference. The chart also provides a visual representation of a display's color accuracy. The small squares across the boundaries of the triangle are the reference points for the various colors, while the small dots are the actual measurements. Ideally, each dot should be positioned on top of its respective square. The 'x: CIE31' and 'y: CIE31' values in the table below the chart indicate the position of each measurement on the chart. 'Y' shows the luminance (in nits) of each measured color, while 'Target Y' is the desired luminance level for that color. Finally, 'ΔE 2000' is the Delta E value of the measured color. Delta E values of below 2 are ideal.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Color accuracy chart gives an idea of how close a display's measured colors are to their referential values. The first line holds the measured (actual) colors, while the second line holds the reference (target) colors. The closer the actual colors are to the target ones, the better.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Grayscale accuracy chart shows whether a display has a correct white balance (balance between red, green and blue) across different levels of grey (from dark to bright). The closer the Actual colors are to the Target ones, the better.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

View all

Interface and Functionality

EMUI 4.0 goes back to that ‘more is better’ strategy, but it can come off disorganized.

Rather than rehashing in detail again, we’ll just cut to the point and say that the Mate 8 is running the newer EMUI 4.0 skin on top of Android 6.0 Marshmallow. Having the latest build of Android is great news for fanatics, but the underlying custom skin still prides itself in being one of the most feature-filled experiences out there. That’s a good or bad thing depending on who you talk to, however, even with Huawei’s best efforts, we’re inclined to say that it’s still a smidgen behind Samsung and LG’s interpretations.

Visually, the interface is skinned in all the appropriate areas, like the dialer and calendar. Functionally, it bears a wealth of features that adhere to power users, such as its one-handed mode, side-by-side multi-tasking, and gesture (knuckle) controls, but they’re not as refined as we’d like. For example, the side-by-side multi-tasking is limited to only a handful of native apps – far from the more diversified support we find in TouchWiz.

While the core functions of Android are present, EMUI 4.0 attempts to be the mega Android experience with its set of exorbitant features, but the end result lacks cohesiveness and a clear direction.

System Performance

The Kirin 950 is a benchmark trailblazer.

If this is any indication of what’s on the horizon, then Huawei is shaping up to be a formidable force because its home-brewed 64-bit Kirin 950 SoC delivers impressive results with the Mate 8. Our particular review sample features 3GB of RAM, but there’s another model with 4GB. Either way, the benchmark scores are off the roof!

In reality, the processing power propels every action to be accompanied with a pleasant level of responsiveness, but we wouldn’t say it’s as tight as the Nexus 6P’s performance with stock Android. Still, it continues to impress with its better-than-average graphics processing performance. 

Accompanied with 32GB of internal storage, while the other variant comes with 64GB, we can all sleep knowing it’s not going to be an issue because there’s room for expansion courtesy of its microSD slot.

Performance benchmarks

AnTuTu
Higher is better
Huawei Mate 8 87783
Samsung Galaxy Note 5 67207
LG V10 46905.33
Huawei Ascend Mate7 42443
Vellamo Metal
Higher is better
Huawei Mate 8 2894
Samsung Galaxy Note 5 2532
LG V10 2216
Huawei Ascend Mate7 1398.6
Vellamo Browser
Higher is better
Huawei Mate 8 5733
Samsung Galaxy Note 5 5476
LG V10 3571.33
Huawei Ascend Mate7 2813
Sunspider
Lower is better
Huawei Mate 8 529.5
Samsung Galaxy Note 5 677.7
LG V10 1047.16
Huawei Ascend Mate7 776.6
GFXBench T-Rex HD on-screen
Higher is better
Huawei Mate 8 39
Samsung Galaxy Note 5 37
LG V10 25
Huawei Ascend Mate7 17.4
GFXBench Manhattan on-screen
Higher is better
Huawei Mate 8 18
Samsung Galaxy Note 5 15
LG V10 5.7
Huawei Ascend Mate7 8.6
Basemark OS II
Higher is better
Huawei Mate 8 1958
Samsung Galaxy Note 5 1765
LG V10 1148.33
Huawei Ascend Mate7 921.3
Geekbench 3 single-core
Higher is better
Huawei Mate 8 1635
Samsung Galaxy Note 5 1431
LG V10 870
Huawei Ascend Mate7 882
Geekbench 3 multi-core
Higher is better
Huawei Mate 8 6335
Samsung Galaxy Note 5 4717
LG V10 3361.33
Huawei Ascend Mate7 2960
View all

Camera

You’ll relish over its vast shooting modes and controls, but the quality of the camera leaves more to be desired.

Love and care is abundantly evident in the phone’s camera hardware, one that features a 16-megapixel 1/2.8” Sony IMX298 CMOS sensor. That’s paired with an f/2.0 apertures lens, phase detection auto-focus, tri-axis optical image stabilization, and a dual-tone LED flash. If that’s not enough, the 8-megapixel front snapper ensures it’s going to be more than adequate for selfies. Even with the dreamy combination, the only chink in its armor is the fact that video recording tops out at 1080p.


In complementing the rich camera gear, the Huawei Mate 8 runs the same diversified camera interface we’ve seen in many iterations of its EMUI skin. There’s a vast set of tools, shooting modes, and yes, a manual mode as well to please advanced users, but despite all of its prowess in the still shot department, the video recording experience is still largely an automatic affair once the record button is pressed. Indeed, there are manual controls to preset parameters like the focus, but once it starts recording, they can’t be adjusted on the fly.

Image Quality


The hardware sounds delightful on paper, but in reality, we find its performance to be at best average. Scenes with abundant lighting are handled nicely by the camera, churning out sufficient details and mostly neutral colors. Going indoors, however, artificial lighting tends to cast a noticeably greenish hue to our shots – while details become significantly softer. And even though noise is kept to a minimum under low light, the lack of detail in the shots simply makes everything subdued. Plus, its auto-focus becomes erratic at times as well.

Camera speed

Taking a pic (sec)Lower is better Taking an HDR pic (sec)Lower is better CamSpeed score Higher is better CamSpeed score with flash Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Note 5 2.1
2.7
842
No data
Huawei Mate 8 2.5
2.8
715
429
LG V10 2.7
3.9
557
453
Huawei Ascend Mate7 2.8
3.2
797
586
View all

Video Quality


You’d think a phone of this caliber would be endowed with 4K UHD recording, but that’s not the case. Overall, its 1080p samples fail to impress with its soft-toned looks – there’s just no meaningful presence of fine detail. However, its auto-focus is snappy and the audio recording is mostly clear. Going with the standard 30FPS mode, there’s an option for its stabilizer feature, but the camera is very prone to this wobbly, jello-like effect when moving around.


Multimedia

We can’t complain about its on-the-go media consumption.

If you can stomach the color inaccuracies of the display (or at least partially correct for them by setting white balance better), you'll find that the 6-incher of the Mate 8 is a good fit for on-the-go media consumption. Like most high-quality phablets, really.

The video and music players are both pretty basic and offer little more than you'd expect from a built-in solution. The Gallery is a bit different in that its photo editor is actually quite powerful and integrates features — such as pixelization for censoring parts of the image and a bucket load of filters — that you'd usually be forced to seek elsewhere.

Unfortunately, the internal speaker is underpowered, mustering up a maximum output of 71.4 dB. While that’s sufficient for smaller spaces and produces a neutral audio tone, it just doesn’t have the substance to make it sound commanding. Conversely, using the headphone jack with DTS enabled delivers an enjoyable experience that’s rich sounding.

Audio output

Headphones output power (Volts)
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Note 5 0.609
LG V10 0.52
Huawei Mate 8 0.368
Loudspeaker loudness (dB)
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Note 5 70.7
LG V10 69
Huawei Mate 8 71.4
Huawei Ascend Mate7 79
View all

Call Quality

Not bad, thanks to ‘loud voice mode.’

Huawei Mate 8 Review
Listening through the ear piece comes with no issues at all, mostly because voices have a clean and deep tone, but also due to the fact that the extra ‘loud voice mode’ ensures voices have a stronger volume to them. Conversely, however, the microphones used to capture our voice seems to cast a robotic tone for our callers. And finally, the speakerphone is usable in moderately noisy conditions – it just won’t handle extremely noisy situations.

Battery

Great battery life that won’t disappoint.

You wouldn’t believe it by looking at its slim profile, but Huawei is somehow able to stuff a 4000 mAh battery into the Mate 8’s body. However, since the device's settings didn't allow us to set its display brightness at anything close enough to 200 nits, we were unable to run our custom battery test (which we're always running at 200 nit display brightness).

Despite that, we’re satisfied by its real-world battery life performance – where it easily eclipses a full day. By the end of the night, we find the handset generally around the 40% to 50% range, which is impressive in our books. And while its 156 minutes of charge time isn’t the fastest in comparison to the greats, we have to bear in mind that it’s packing a significantly larger battery than many of its contemporaries.

Battery Benchmarks

Charging time (minutes)
Lower is better
LG V10 65
Samsung Galaxy Note 5 81
Huawei Mate 8 156
Huawei Ascend Mate7 170
View all

Conclusion


Huawei’s sudden surge is evident, there’s just no arguing how they’ve turned things around in just a year. The Huawei Mate 8 is yet another device in their portfolio that shows that they’re not backing down anytime soon, as it’s quickly establishing itself as a premium phablet with Marshmallow on board. In all fairness, there are several great things about the handset, like its premium all-metal design, long-lasting battery life, and exceptionally quick processing performance, but at the end of the day, its high price point makes it a tough sell.

The handset is already available overseas, where it’s slapped with a starting cost of €599 ($643). That’s honestly tough to swallow, given that we can spout out several phones that have better characteristics and performances – plus, several of them are lower in price. That said, it’s still not a crazy idea to import it, if you truly want a phone that looks different from everything else sold here domestically.

Software version of the review unit:
Android Version: 6.0
Build Number: NXT-L29C900B116
Kernel Version: 3.10.86-g47269b5


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