We go hands-on, again, with the Mate 8!
During our travels in China a few weeks ago we chanced upon Huawei’s latest flagship, the Mate 8. While we managed to get a few minutes hands-on time, our time with the Chinese company’s latest phablet was painfully brief, since we were at a store and our lovely caresses were already drawing weird looks. Anyway, our point is that while we managed to get a good look at the phone a few weeks ago, our first encounter made us want more.
Thankfully it didn’t take long for the company to finally bring their latest phablet in the PH. The previous entry in the series, the Mate 7 was a stepping stone of sorts for Huawei, as it showed the world that they’re more than capable of making a full metal smartphone that didn’t cost an arm and a leg.
Huawei Mate 8 specs
- Kirin 950 octa-core processor (4 x 2.3GHz, 4 x 1.8GHz) with i5 coprocessor
- 4GB of RAM
- 6-inch full HD display, 2.5D curved diamond cut glass, 1920 x 1080 resolution
- 64GB internal storage
- 16-megapixel Sony IMX298 rear cam with f/2.0 aperture and 3-axis OIS
- 8-megapixel Sony IMX179 front cam with f/2.4 aperture
- 3G, LTE
- WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, A-GPS, Fingerprint scanner
- 4000mAh battery
- Android 6.0 Marshmallow, EMUI
Intial Impressions: a big beast that’s been lovingly crafted from metal
Remember the part where we waxed poetic about the Mate 7 putting Huawei on everybody’s radar in 2014? That’s not an exaggeration – up to that point the company’s most remarkable smartphone was the P7, and we’re using remarkable sarcastically. After the Mate 7, Huawei churned out metal phone after metal phone that not only looked good, but felt great in use.
We’re happy to report that Huawei’s hot streak continues with the Mate 8, at least when it comes to design and construction. The phone sports lovely chamfered edges and thin top, bottom and side bezels, which allows the phone to have a considerably smaller footprint compared to other phablets.
That doesn’t mean that the Mate 8 isn’t substantial – it is – it just means that it’s not completely unmanageable to use one handed. While we admit we have big, gorilla-like hands, people with average mitts probably would be able to manipulate the Mate 8 quite easily. If you compare it to the iPhone 6S Plus, it’s actually a millimeter shorter.
The Mate 8 has a lot of design cues borrowed from its older Mate S sibling, things like the speaker grille camera module design and placement, and so on. Just like Huawei’s other high-end flagship devices, the Mate 8 sports a fingerprint scanner on the back that’s positioned where your digits naturally rest on the phone when grasping it.
The Mate 8 uses a 6-inch, full HD IPS display protected by Gorilla Glass 4. While we gave the Mate 7 a pass for not using a QHD display when it was released, we can’t do the same for the Mate 8, especially since Huawei’s other phablet, the Nexus 6P, uses a QHD panel on its 5.7-inch display. Come on guys, it’s already 2016, time to quadruple those pixels already.
While we might give the resolution on the Mate 8 grief, in truth it’s a perfectly nice display. Colors are bright and vibrant, viewing angles are plentiful and you’ll probably only see those pixels if you really squint hard and look for it on the display.
The Mate 8 runs Huawei’s own home grown processor (courtesy of HiSilicon), the Kirin 950, paired with an i5 co-processor, 4GB of RAM and a Mali T880MP4 GPU. The processor is a beast, and the unit felt fast and snappy in our hands. It’s really capable of just plowing through anything you throw at it without too many problems, and is a worthy competitor to the offerings of Samsung, Qualcomm and MediaTek. There will be only one hardware config for the Mate 8 here in the PH – that’s the 64GB, 4GB RAM version. The Mate 8 will come in two colors: Champagne Gold and Mocha Brown.
Just like their other phones, Huawei’s Mate 8 runs the latest version of their UI overlay, Emotion UI layered on top of Android Marshmallow. We’ve said it before and we’ve said it again – we’re not fans of any UI that takes our app drawer and lays our apps out in the open. The upside is that EMUI gives you themes and additional functionality that you wouldn’t have otherwise, so there’s that.
The Mate 8’s imaging chops is provided via a 16-megapixel Sony IMX298 rear cam with f/2.0 aperture and 3-axis OIS. The phone has a multitude of shooting modes, including full manual shooting. Check out some of the shots we took earlier with the unit:
Huawei is pricing the Mate 8 at Php 32,990 when it launches on March 2.