LAS VEGAS: CHINESE PHONE MAKER Huawei is becoming a more dominant force in the smartphone market, and is confident that its latest effort, the Mate 8, will help to further creep up on market leaders Apple and Samsung.
Unveiled during the firm’s CES press conference/rave on Tuesday, the Huawei Mate 8 is a super-sized smartphone designed to take on the iPhone 6S and Galaxy S6 Edge Plus, to the point of mimicking these devices and offering a similar set of high-end specs.
The Mate 8 is typically Huawei when it comes to design. We got our hands on the gold-coloured model, which has a premium finish similar to that seen on the iPhone 6S with a metal-clad body and aluminium edges.
The Huawei Mate 8 is a big device at 157x81x7.8mm and we found it a little tricky to stretch our fingers to the top of the 6in display, but the small bezel and chamfered edges make it feel more compact and pleasant to hold than some other similarly sized smartphones on the market.
This largely bezel-less design comes at a cost, though, as the Mate 8’s display features a redundant black border, although this wasn't too noticeable during our time with the handset.
Like the Huawei-built Nexus 6P, there's a circular fingerprint sensor on the rear of the Mate 8 that loses the metal ring seen on the Mate 7 before it. We’ve yet to put this scanner through its paces, but Huawei claimed that it’s quicker than most.
Huawei has decided to stick with standard microUSB on the Mate 8, as opposed to USB Type-C.
On paper, the display on the Huawei Mate 8 is unlikely to impress many. Despite measuring a huge 6in, it sports a lowly 1080x1920 Full HD resolution as opposed to 4K or even QHD.
In reality, though, it’s a solid display. You won’t notice any pixels or fuzziness unless you’re really looking for it, and the screen was crisp and bright enough with good viewing angles even under the harsh lights of Las Vegas.
Some may bemoan the Mate 8’s low-resolution display, but few will have any complaints when it comes to processing power. The Huawei Mate 8 packs the firm’s 2.3GHz octa-core Kirin 950 processor that uses FinFET technology to offer a 100 percent performance boost compared with last year’s Mate 7, according to Huawei.
We have no reason to doubt these big claims, as the Huawei Mate 8 handled everything we threw at it effortlessly. The smartphone was exceptionally quick at opening apps, playing games and browsing the web, and we didn’t notice any signs of overheating during our time with the device. We’ll put it fully through its paces for our full Huawei Mate 8 review.
Oh, Huawei. The Mate 8 may be one of the first smartphones to ship with Android 6.0 Marshmallow, but the device loses some of its appeal on the software side. Huawei has topped Marshmallow with version 4.0 of its EmotionUI skin, which is a much heavier skin than seen on Samsung or Sony handsets, for example.
Huawei has changed the look and feel of Android substantially, and everything from notifications to the app tray have been completely redesigned. The firm has also added a host of its own apps, most of which, it appears, are not easy to remove.
Huawei has added some fun and quirky touches, although we’re pretty sure it would be impossible for Mate 8 buyers to remember all of them. You can tap on the screen with your knuckle to take a screen shot, use the fingerprint scanner to take a selfie and change the colour temperature of the display. These features will turn heads, but we’re not sure it’s enough to forgive the overbearing EmotionUI software.
The Huawei Mate 8 has a 16MP rear-facing camera, an improvement on the 13MP sensor seen on the Mate 7. We played with it only briefly, but the camera managed to produce vibrant and detailed images quickly.
Huawei has added a bunch of tricks to the camera app too, including a Beauty Mode that produces terrifying results.
Software aside, the Huawei Mate 8 is a great bit of kit. The screen isn’t the best on the market, but the premium design, powerful processor and decent camera make for an all-round impressive device.
Huawei has already won itself third place in the smartphone market, trumping the likes of LG and Sony, and with hardware like this, it certainly has the potential to continue to grow this share. If people can put up with the software, that is. µ