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Huawei Mate 8 review: The most powerful Android smartphone right now

Huawei Mate 8 leaks continued to flow in and now, we finally have the handset in the palm of our hands just waiting to see what it is capable of doing. Though it is a bit on the expensive side, and while most of you will probably not even think about purchasing it, let us see how well the company has catered to that crowd that absolutely loves flagship smartphones. Here is our review.

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Huawei Mate 8: Design and appearance

Sporting an ‘all metal body’, we were very happy that we received the Champagne Gold version. In total, there are three more color versions of the smartphone, ranging from Moonlight Silver, Space Gray and Mocha Brown. However, if you want a combination of beauty and power, then we highly recommend that you purchase this version. In terms of form factor, Huawei Mate 8 belongs to that category of handsets that go overboard with their screen sizes because when we gripped it for the very first time, it was a bit too large for our liking.

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Those of you who have never owned a large screen smartphone in their lives ever, will definitely take some time to get used to it. Moreover, thanks to its sheer size, Huawei Mate 8 also felt heavier than most devices out in the market, but that does not change the fact that its metal body is by far one of the most appealing things we have seen in a smartphone in a very, very long time. As for the bezels, you will definitely be able to notice them, but they do not cover a very large portion of the smartphone since according to the specification details, Huawei Mate 8 has a screen size that covers 78 percent of the entire device. That is quite a lot, and we fear that if the size of the bezels was more than what it originally is, the phone would appear more of a miniature tablet rather than a cellular device.

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Regardless, as far as the design of the smartphone is concerned, the Huawei team definitely deserves a two thumbs for it, even though you will be paying a premium price for. If aesthetics were the only factor that was required to purchase a smartphone, then we believe that Huawei Mate 8 would be sitting right on top of the table right now. However, there are several more things that need to be take into consideration, and we will be detailing them right here.

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Huawei Mate 8: Button placement

Button placement is by far the least important category of this review but if you will be upgrading to Huawei Mate 8, then chances are that you will have to get used to that button placement, which is going to be quite different from your previous handset. Like majority of Chinese smartphones, Huawei Mate 8 has its power and volume buttons situated on the right hand side of the device, and a SIM card slot is present right at the top left corner of the device. One issue that we found with this approach is that you actually need a pin of a very small diameter in order to force the SIM card slot out.

In case you happen to lose the pin that came bundled with your smartphone, it might prove to be a little worrisome, but any household pin will do the job just fine. Another thing that got us worked up was that the battery is non-removable and despite its large capacity (which we will get to later), it cannot be pried out, unless you have some significant amount of experience doing such activities without permanently damaging the exterior of your smartphone.

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Not incorporating a physical home button gave rise to another issue, but when we saw that that capacitive buttons are present right on the screen, we immediately let it go. Best of all, they were extremely responsive when we tapped on them (in short they did not require multiple taps in order to execute a single task). One advantage of having capacitive function buttons on the screen is that they will not interrupt with your browsing experience or disturb you if you happen to be watching a movie or playing a game that has buttons present on the screen.

There is a microUSB 2.0 charging port present at the bottom and a 3.5mm headphone jack present right at the top. We were hoping for a USB-C port, because we like to transfer large capacity files from our smartphone to other machines, but Huawei decided not to go down this road because USB-C has yet to become mainstream and its accessories such as charging cables are yet to become cheap since this particular charging port is relatively new to the smartphone market.

Huawei Mate 8: Display and resolution

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For a flagship smartphone, it is a very bold move for a company not to incorporate a 1440p display but it looks like Huawei Mate 8 was to deliver a primary function; more battery life and maintain the crisp visual experience for the user. These days, having 1440p displays has negative repercussions, with only one advantage; they only provide a higher display viewing quality while sacrificing battery life and performance. If you are spending top dollar on a premium smartphone like this, then experiencing performance breakdowns is definitely a reputation killer for a flagship smartphone manufacturing company.

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The 6 inch display uses an IPS NEO LCD, which is slightly sharper that Super AMOLED type displays and while it does not have the energy efficiency advantage compared to the latter, it does have some amazing viewing angles if you tilt the smartphone screen at any angle. In comparison, AMOLED and Super AMOLED do not have this feature, and if you do decide to tilt it, you will notice that the colors start dissolving.

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Here we decided to pit Huawei Mate 8 against an iPhone 6s in order to see how great the display quality is. As you can see in the images, we were quite impressed with the results, showing that you do not necessarily need a smartphone to have a higher resolution in order to give out impressive display quality.

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Huawei Mate 8: Interface impressions

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With the only complaint being its high price tag, Huawei Mate 8 has managed to impress us in all other departments so far, but now we will get to that section that determines a positive or negative user experience since the operating system and interface go a long way in making, or breaking your purchase. Huawei Mate 8 has a slew of extremely powerful hardware running inside its metal body, but all of that is going to be of absolutely no use if the operating system is filled with issues.

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On this occasion, we were happy to see that Huawei Mate 8 comes running with Android Marshmallow 6.0. It is running on top of the company’s EMUI 4.0. In short, everything was extremely snappy, as it should be since Huawei Mate 8 is running the most powerful processor combination in an Android smartphone to date, along with running the latest and greatest operating system that Google has to offer. We will give credit to Google where credit is deserved.

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Most Samsung’s high-end smartphones falter despite featuring terrific hardware and that usually happens when your own custom interface does not place nicely with the components, causing a dismantled OS experience and an unhappy user. Since we have to turn up the review real quickly, we could not provide you the review in the English language, but we have to tell you that there are several languages to choose from and depending on your location and of course your native language, you can switch to that from the settings menu.

Huawei Mate 8: Camera samples

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Huawei Mate 8 as a Sony IMX298 16MP camera mounted on its rear side. Let us see how the results of the camera are when we take it for a test run. Here are our random rear camera results.

Huawei Mate 8: Battery life measurement

For most of you out there, high amount of battery life is a very crucial feature to have in a smartphone. In Huawei Mate 8, its large form factor is big enough to accommodate a massive 4,000mAh cell so we decided to take it for a battery test. We tested out the smartphone with its screen brightness set to 100 percent. In this way, you will be able to experience the worst case scenario when you purchase Huawei Mate 8.

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Having a larger battery is always a great thing to have, and this was witnessed from Huawei Mate 8 when we were able to rake out slightly over 28 hours while connected to 3G, and 17 hours on 4G. Keep in mind that we carried out some casual browsing tasks and occasionally, we streamed high-resolution videos. We did this to give you an idea on what kind of battery life will you experience should you decide to carry out similar tasks as well.

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The battery life of the smartphone is phenomenal and we can say that the resolution, optimized OS, interface and efficient chips all had a part to play in order to make this possible.

Huawei Mate 8: What features make this smartphone stand out?

Huawei Mate 8 is a great Android powered handset, especially if you are on the hunt for a premium smartphone. There are several features that make it feel that a premium quality smartphone and we would like to point out those features right now. Additionally, we will also point out what we felt could have been added to Huawei Mate 8 in order to make it even better than before. Hopefully the company will be reading this so that they will be able to release an even better device in the future.

Things that we liked about Huawei Mate 8

  • Massive screen size will allow you to enjoy HD content and play the latest mobile games
  • Powerful and impressive hardware
  • Extremely long battery life
  • Impressive display quality despite a lower resolution
  • Ability to accommodate two microSIM cards (keep in mind that if you have a full sized SIM card, then you will have to reduce it to a microSIM form factor)
  • An impressive 16MP camera sensor
  • A fingerprint scanner mounted on the rear side
  • Running Android Lollipop 6.0
  • Able to charge the battery faster thanks to the company’s own quick charge feature
  • Outstanding build quality

Things that we thought could have made the smartphone much better

  • Ability to accommodate both SIM cards and still have space for a microSD card (currently, if you place a microSD card, you will only have space for a single SIM card, which kills flexibility)
  • Having a USB-C port (the earlier phone that we reviewed, UMi Hammer S had a USB-C port and was priced much lower than this)

Hardware specifications

  • Chipset: Kirin 950
  • Processor: Quad-core 2.3 GHz Cortex-A72 + quad-core 1.8 GHz Cortex A53
  • RAM: 4GB (the model that we reviewed)
  • Memory: 64GB (supports a microSD storage card up to 128GB)
  • Battery: 4,000mAh
  • Display size: 6.0 inch
  • Screen resolution: 1920 x 1080
  • Charging port type: microSIM

Final verdict

After looking at each and every aspect of Huawei Mate 8, we have summarized the following scores below:

  • Build Quality: 10 out of 10
  • Appearance: 10 out of 10
  • Button placement: 10 out of 10
  • Interface experience: 10 out of 10
  • Display quality: 9 out of 10
  • Price/performance ratio: 5 out of 10
  • Battery performance: 10 out of 10

As you can see, Huawei Mate 8 is an ideal example of how a premium flagship is supposed to look like. It harbors the best hardware that you can get from an Android powered smartphone, which translates into you getting the best performance experience. Running an updated operating system also has its perks and battery life was simply stupendous. However, in a world where there is no such thing as a perfect smartphone, there are somethings that put us off. First off, while you can place two SIM cards, you will have to sacrifice external storage support, or you could just place a storage card and a single SIM card, which would be alright for most users out there.

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However, when you give a premium smartphone to consumers, they should have the best of everything without having to make a choice over which thing they will have to sacrifice in the longer run, and which thing they won’t. Also, we were hoping for a USB-C port, but since such this new port will take some time to be adopted alongside microUSB ports, we have no choice but to let this slide. Our approximate pricing details have been given below, and it might be cheaper than the rest of the competition, but having a smaller price would definitely have given it a competitive edge. Regardless, Huawei Mate 8 is ‘THE’ handset to go for right now if you want to experience the exact meaning of raw power and beauty in smartphones.

  • 3GB RAM + 32GB storage model: $469 (compatible with China’s LTE network)
  • Standard 4G version with 3GB RAM + 32GB storage model: $500
  • 4GB RAM + 64GB storage model: $579
  • 4GB RAM + 128GB storage model: $688
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