Huawei impressed with the Nexus 6P and Mate S and is continuing down the western audience road with yet another release, the Huawei Mate 8. As a follow-up to the original Ascend Mate 7, the Huawei Mate 8 aims to upgrade the line-up and target western consumers and tech enthusiasts. Boasting with future-proof features and a contemporary metal design, the handset is bound to make an impact even outside of the company’s home market, China. At the dedicated launch event held on Thursday, November 26, the Chinese smartphone manufacturer took the wraps off a widely anticipated smartphone to reveal a handset that doesn’t really innovate compared to its predecessor.
Much like the Nexus 6P and Mate 7 before it, the Huawei Mate 8 goes with the largest display possible on a phone, slapping a 6-inch FHD resolution IPS display on the front of the device, the same as found on the Mate 7. The protection of the display has been upgraded to Gorilla Glass 4, but other areas in hardware only see limited changes this time around. Now that doesn’t mean that the Huawei Mate 8 is not a good handset, but it does demonstrate how smartphone manufacturers around the world seem to have arrived at a… block of sorts, routinely releasing new phones with little upgrades.
Moving on, the Mate 8’s most interesting feature is the upgraded fingerprint sensor, which can be used for multiple tasks than just unlocking your phone. Although some of these uses are going to be restricted to the Chinese market at first, they are bound to be rolled out internationally. According to the company, the fingerprint sensor will be able to make mobile payments, unlock files and accounts, lock applications, stop alarms and even answer calls through a long press. These small tweaks are very significant, taking into account that other manufacturers don’t really allow people to customize the way in which they use biometric security on mobile devices.
The design of the Huawei Mate 8 is representative of previous editions and of the current craze towards thin, light, metal smartphones. The thin and light construction with the chamfered edges and brushed metal back remind of Samsung’s Galaxy S6 and Apple’s iPhone 6S. The edges and accents of the phone are representative of Huawei, though, giving the Mate 8 a bit of uniqueness. The Huawei Mate 8 release date isn’t official yet, but the company suggested it would be officially launching the handset in January, at CES 2016. Until then, we will most likely find out about different color options and finish options for the Mate 8, as well as get an idea of what it will actually cost once it hits stores.
Despite having an FHD display and QuadHD being the norm nowadays, we expect the Huawei Mate 8 screen to be just as sharp and bright as any other display. Although fans of the company and those looking forward to the handset seem to already be disappointed in Huawei’s choice of resolution, the ppi density of the screen goes over 350 ppi, which means pixels will still be indiscernible to the human eye, even if it’s not QuadHD resolution. The lower resolution is a compromise, though, seeing as the GPU within the handset is not that powerful and the battery not that big at 4000 mAH (fast charging included). The lower resolution will hopefully help with battery life as well as overall performance, but it’s not nearly as impressive as other devices launched in 2015.
The Huawei Mate 8 hardware is comprised of a HiSilicon Kirin 950 CPU, Mali-T880 MP4 GPU, backed by 3 GB RAM in the 32 GB internal storage variant and backed by 4 GB in the 128 GB internal storage variant. Huawei adds a microSD slot for extra expansion to all models, which makes the Huawei Mate 8 a very good option if internal and expandable storage are priority features for you. The handset will be launched with Android 6.0 Marshmallow and Emui 4.0, the latest in Huawei’s skin portfolio.
The camera setup is interesting, the Huawei Mate 8 featuring a 16 MP sensor with tri-axis optical image stabilization, phase-detection autofocus and dual-tone flash. The Sony sensor within is not the best choice, but the OIS the company added should help with the low-end micron sizing as well as blur, noise and motion. Up front, the handset sports an 8 MP camera. Since the first Mate 8 hands-on videos won’t be appearing anytime soon, we’re going to have to wait a bit longer to see if these cameras are good or not.
Overall, the Huawei Mate 8 is less impressive than we would have expected it to be, but considering that the company just unveiled the Mate S, too, I think they’ve pretty much covered what they were supposed to introduce to the flagship market. Do you think the Mate 8 or the Mate S are good devices for entry in the western market, if priced right? The Huawei Mate S is very expensive at about $700 unlocked, and we expect to see the Huawei Mate 8 price to be even higher once it is launched. Quite unfortunate, indeed.