But, here’s the thing, you don’t have to do that because the Huawei Mate 8 has one big advantage over the competition.
Don’t get me wrong, the Mate 8 will run pretty much as smoothly as any of the other flagships in the market right now. With the help of Huawei’s new silicone and Android 6.0 Marshmallow, you probably won’t even notice any of the minor stutters I did unless you’re coming from a significantly more powerful device.
It’s even pretty good in the camera department. Nothing to shout about, but it is certainly capable of taking some great shots. It’s also got a massive battery that should easily last the average user an average day.
But, if I had to pick one standout feature, it would be the device’s big screen. It makes content consumption so satisfying but is this enough to tempt you away from the majority of this, or even last year’s, flagship smartphones?
Well, that depends on the user. I will say this, though, if you want an enormous top-of-the-line smartphone, you would be hard pressed to find something that runs better.
[nextpage title=”Watch more, play more, see more”]
Huawei is an interesting company. In a smartphone world dominated by the likes of Apple and Samsung, it’s very hard for anyone to come in and disrupt the hegemony established by those two brands. But, if there was anyone to do it, Huawei would definitely have a good shot at it and it isn’t hard to see why.
The Chinese company makes some seriously good devices and the brand new Mate 8 is no exception.
What is it like to hold?
Kicking things off is the first thing you’d notice when you pick up the Mate 8 — the build. A short way to put it is that it feels like a supersized Mate S. That means you get the same premium feel-in-hand and attention to detail when it comes to the fit and finish of this device. The metal rails feel as great as cold steel on skin and the device doesn’t flex in any way when pressure is applied.
It is a hefty smartphone, but considering its size and the size of the battery sitting under that fingerprint sensor in the back, this isn’t too surprising. The Mate 8 also gets a slightly improved fingerprint sensor over the Mate S but I should point out that it’s very sensitive to dirt, sweat, and grime which will cause it to miss.
If you have clean hands, then the Mate 8’s fingerprint sensor should work about as well as it does on any Huawei flagship — fantastically. It unlocks almost instantly and consistently despite only needing 6 taps to set up.
How does it run?
It runs like any powerful flagship device should: Smoothly. The homegrown Kirin 950 octa-core processor mated to 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage on our lower-end Mate 8 had no problems chewing through daily tasks and intensive games.
Peculiar that AnTuTu would detect the Mate 8 as a Nexus 6P.
A lot of why this smartphone runs smooth despite the size and having only 3GB of RAM is down to the 6-inch full-HD display. Today’s smartphone flagships, especially those that are 5.5-inches and above, come with a quad-HD panel. More pixels means more power is required to push those pixels.
One of my biggest worries coming into the review of this device was that full-HD display and how it might be less sharp on that big screen. I can honestly say that I’m happy to be wrong because the display on the Mate 8 is pretty crisp. Not once did I think that the device would’ve been better with a QHD panel.
What sets it apart?
When Huawei revealed this device to us, one of the strongest claims they made was about the battery life. According to them, the Mate 8 was a device free from the clutches of a powerbank, being able to last a day and a half on a single charge. Looking at the spec sheet, the large 4,000 mAh battery powering the full-HD panel on the Mate 8 does look promising and it certainly delivers.
For some reason, I do not have the battery graph for this day’s usage. I do apologise for this.
During one of my moderate usage tests, I unplugged the smartphone at 7.30am and it wasn’t until about 11pm before I had to hook it up to the power source again. That gave me a solid 7 hours and 26 minutes of screen on time which is pretty impressive. Charging was pretty quick too, considering the size of the battery. 30 minutes on the plug gave me 32% while a full charge was achieved in just under one and a half hours.
On average, though, with my relatively heavy usage pattern, I managed about 6 hours to 6 hours and 30 minutes of screen on time on a single charge. Not bad but there is a caveat — I use the Mate 8 a lot more for content consumption than I do with the average smartphone.
Why? Well, it’s that gigantic screen.
With it, I watch way more Netflix, iflix, Twitch and YouTube content than I do on a regular 5-5.5-inch handset. The extra screen real estate also makes games so much more enjoyable so I end up clocking in more hours than I would have done reviewing another smartphone.
This could, of course, be unique to me but I would be surprised if you don’t end up consuming more content on the Mate 8 simply because it’s that much bigger.
But, while content consumption is a big strength, it also exposes one of the Mate 8’s biggest weaknesses — its awful speaker. For such a huge device, the Mate 8’s tiny bottom-firing speaker was a nightmare to deal with.
It was so easily blocked during gaming sessions and so dissatisfying when watching videos. If you do pick up this smartphone, do yourself (and your ears) a favour and pick up a decent Bluetooth speaker to go along with it. It’ll make those bedroom video bingeing sessions so much more satisfying.
Does it take good pictures?
When it comes to camera performance, the Mate 8 won’t break any records. After using the phenomenal cameras on the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge and Lumia 950 XL, the Mate 8’s 16-megapixel rear snapper just pales in comparison.
That’s not to say it doesn’t take good pictures because it definitely can. It’s just that more stars need to align for it to achieve a result close to that of the aforementioned smartphone camera champions. Once the lighting gets a little tricky or the subjects start moving a little too quickly, it becomes really challenging to get a solid shot.
You just need to have a little patience and some amount of creativity to pull the most out of this camera. The 8-megapixel front camera is pretty decent too, capturing lots of detail — maybe too much detail for some, but if you’re one of those there’s always the beauty mode.
More shots from the cameras can be found in the gallery.
Why should you buy one?
As a whole, the Huawei Mate 8 a solid device. Its got all the hallmarks of a flagship device including one of the best camera experiences on a Huawei device, a beautiful fit and finish on that full metal build, a top of the line processor and a host of cool features via knuckle sense (screen capture and screen record come to mind).
Perhaps its biggest strength is its screen — that beautiful 6-inch panel is just awesome for the content heavy consumer. If you’re dead set on a large device with flagship specs, you’d be hard-pressed to find one better than the Mate 8. This is especially so when you take the Mate 8’s RM2,099 price tag into consideration. If you want more power, the Premium model with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage costs RM2,399
It’s just a good value flagship smartphone with a great big screen and that makes it a good buy if you’re in the market for a top-of-the-line phablet.
[nextpage title=”Gallery”]Here are more shots from the Huawei Mate 8. Click on each image to view the original picture.
Low light is where this camera really struggles:
But if you can find a decent light source, it becomes good again.