In recent months, Huawei has taken over Xiaomi’s limelight when it comes to premium, affordable phones. Their recent release, the Nexus 6P – which they made in conjunction with Google – is often touted as one of the best Nexus phones ever made.
When I was given the opportunity to have a preview of their latest flagship, I couldn’t say no.
Huawei has mastered the art of providing a top-notch unboxing experience that we would normally expect of other more premium brands.
After lifting the front layer, you are presented with three neatly organised boxes, each with a different piece of accessory.
The screen rocks a Full HD, 1920 x 1080 resolution IPS display. There’s a fingerprint sensor lock at the back, which works as fast as the one on Nexus 6P. Battery is a crazy 4000mah.
One think I dislike though is the design of the speaker grills at the bottom of the phone. Personally, I prefer the stereo front-facing speaker design that Huawei employed on the Nexus 6P, which allows for a much better movie and gaming audio experience.
The back of the phone shows off the Mate 8’s unibody design heritage. The smooth curve of the back makes the phone extremely easy to hold, while also producing a very nice color gradient which I absolutely adore under certain lighting conditions.
Huawei claims that their inhouse HiSilicon Kirin 950 processor makes the Mate 8 the fastest Android phone in the world today. The Kirin 950 is an octa-core processor with 4x Cortex A53 clock at 1.8GHz, 4x Cortex A72 clocked at 2.3GHz.
To get a sense of how fast the Mate 8 is, compared to Huawei’s previous masterpiece, the Nexus 6P, I’ve put together a short (non-scientific video) showing the launch speed for various popular apps, such as SG BusLeh, SG TrafficLeh & CPF Starter on both phones. Two of these apps were developed by Singapore Mobile App Development House, Originally US.
In all cases except one, Mate 8 launches apps faster than Nexus 6P. In the case of SG BusLeh, the Nexus 6P’s speed might be due to the fact that it is running the ad-free version of SG BusLeh, while the Mate 8 is running the ad-supported version.
In terms of storage, there are 32GB, 64GB and 128GB variations. There’s a very special innovation in Mate 8 that I didn’t find in other phones. Mate 8 supports dual SIM, but if you want to use an external storage (MicroSD card), you give up one of the SIM slot and place the MicroSD card there instead.
Almost all Android phone manufacturers are guilty of replacing the stock Android UI with their own version. Huawei’s take on Smartphone UIs take the form of the Emotion UI 4.0. While extremely fast and snappy, I somehow did not like how the many animations and effects designed to give the UI a glossy and “premium” feel. My personal opinion is that Huawei has overdone the effects, and in fact made the UI look “cheap”. There’s always the option of replacing this skin with third party launchers on Google Play, so this isn’t too bad.
In conclusion, the Mate 8 is a solid flagship successor. True to Huawei’s claims, the Mate 8 is fast and responsive. The hardware feels solid and is elegantly designed, with the exception of the speaker grills. The software UI design is polarising; either you love it, or you don’t. But it is an easy problem to rectify with the large selection of third party app launchers on Google Play. If you do not already have the Nexus 6P, and is in the market for a new Android phone, do seriously consider the Mate 8.
The Mate 8 will be available for sale on Lazada.
All photographs in this review are taken with the Nexus 6P.