Huawei has been releasing quality smartphones over the years, but the product that really caught the world’s attention was the Nexus 6P which was made in a partnership with Google.
The Nexus 6P was a device that received rave reviews and made the Huawei name respected among tech enthusiasts around the world. I was very impressed with the Nexus 6P, so it wasn’t surprising that I had high expectations of Huawei’s latest flagship, the Mate 8.
I love phones with big screens and the Mate 8 definitely didn’t disappoint with its whopping 6in display. Thanks to thinner bezels, it doesn’t feel much larger than phones with 5.5in displays.
The weight (185g) is well distributed and feels just nice for the size. For those who aren’t accustomed to using large devices, there are a few modes to make the phone easier to use with one hand.
The aluminium finish on the back makes it look and feel good. And unlike most other flagship models on the market, the back is not a fingerprint magnet. On the flipside, it’s a little slippery.
It also accepts two SIM card slots. The second slot is actually a hybrid slot that doubles as a microSD slot. In other words, you get to choose either more memory or a second line.
Out of the box, the Mate 8 runs on Android 6.0 Marshmallow with Huawei’s Emotion UI 4.0 user interface which has a few neat tricks up its sleeve. Among the features that I like are the freedom to customise the notification screen and adjust the screen tone.
The look and feel of EMUI isn’t for anyone though – it doesn’t have an app drawer, so all your apps on the Mate 8 will appear on your homescreen.
The Mate 8 performs fluidly thanks to Huawei’s own Kirin 950 chip – there was no lag even when I was multitasking with a few apps open in the background.
Fingerprint readers are all the rage now, and the Mate 8 has one of the better sensors, which is located just below the camera lens on the back of the device.
The positioning of the sensor is practical and it was very good at recognising my fingerprint. Also, you don’t need to “wake” up your phone for it to sense your finger. That’s just cool.
The fingerprint sensor can also be used in a few other interesting ways – if you swipe down on the sensor it will bring up the notification bar and it can also double as the shutter button which is great when taking selfies.
The real strength of the Mate is its large 4,000mAh battery. The device easily lasted two full days on a single charge when used for YouTube, Facebook and WhatsApp, in addition to moderate amount of picture taking. In fact, I didn’t even bother with a power bank once I started using the Mate 8.
In terms of endurance, it’s hard to think of any other current flagship devices outdoing the Mate 8.
Media on the go
On paper, the Mate 8’s 1080p resolution is dated compared to rival flagships, as most other companies have moved on to sharper QHD displays. However, the sharpness and clarity of the display was never an issue during my review.
The screen was also impressively bright and there is even an option to adjust the screen colour temperature to suit different users.
If I had to nitpick, one area that could have been better is the placement of the speakers. The speakers are at the bottom of the device – while that’s better than positioning them at the back, having the speakers front facing would have enhanced the experience. However, there was no problems with the loudness or clarity.
The Mate 8 has a 16-megapixel camera. The picture quality was decent but the images came out a little soft at times. Like most smartphones, it performed best when there was sufficient light.
Also, the dual LED flash does a good job of adjusting the tone of the picture when taking close up shots in the dark.
The 8-megapixel front-facing camera does a good job of taking selfies and features a myriad of beauty options. As mentioned earlier, the fingerprint sensor makes selfie-taking a whole lot more manageable.
Users can double tap the volume down button to launch the camera from the lock screen even when the device is asleep. In fact, you can even make it take a shot as soon as you turn on the camera.
The Mate 8 is great for anyone who loves a feature-packed smartphone with a big screen. And what’s even better is that the large screen doesn’t compromise on battery life. The big battery easily powers the phone for more than a day so you don’t have to invest in a power bank.
All in all, the smartphone is a great for those who need a device for productivity and media consumption on the go.
Pros: Excellent battery life; premium build; fast fingerprint sensor.
Cons: Only has a 1080p screen.
Operating system: Android 6.0 (Marshmallow)
Network: 4G LTE
Display: 6in (1,080 x 1,920 pixels)
Processor: Quad-core 2.3GHz Cortex-A72 + quad-core 1.8GHz Cortex-A53
Camera: 16 megapixels with dual LED flash; 8 megapixel front-facing camera
Memory: 32GB internal memory
Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.2, USB 2.0, WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac; WiFi Direct; DLNA
Battery: 4,000mAh lithium-ion
Size: 157.1 x 80.6 x 7.9mm
Rating: 4.5 stars
Review unit courtesy of Huawei Technologies Malaysia, 1800-22-3366