Huawei Mate 8 review: Checkmate

Chavdar Sirakov, 27 January, 2016.

6-inch 1080p display

The Huawei Mate 8's defining feature is its 6-inch display. Arguably, 1080p was already a bit outdated around the time when Mate 7 was unveiled; but the Mate 8's screen comes in this same resolution. Hence, it won't win any pixel density awards, but at 368ppi, it's comfortably above what Apple coined as Retina resolution, and should be less taxing on the battery and processor.

Huawei Mate 8 review

The Huawei Mate 8 uses an IPS-NEO LCD panel by JDI, which delivers deeper blacks. The Huawei P8 was perhaps the first phone we've seen to come with this tech but today, it no longer looks as spectacular as before. Don't get us wrong, it's still noticeably better than any regular IPS LCD.

The maximum brightness level achieved by the screen when displaying white is 471nits, which while not award winning is plenty to go by. The offered contrast ratio is also excellent - 1361:1.

Regarding color reproduction accuracy the Mate 8 screen is less than stellar with an average deviation (DeltaE) of 6.1 a bit higher than what we would ideally like. We've seen worse even in flagship devices, so this one sits somewhere in the middle. For a screen to be considered properly calibrated it needs to have a maximum DeltaE of 4.

Using the built-in Color temperature slider, we managed to get a better color reproduction (Avg. DeltaE 4.4) by going all the way to the Warm setting, but that came at the expense of slightly lower maximum brightness (450nits).

In all cases, the minimum brightness of the screen (10.8) is somewhat too high for comfortable reading in pitch dark if this sort of thing is important to you.

Display test 50% brightness 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Huawei Mate 8 0.11 149 1355 0.346 471 1361
Huawei Ascend Mate7 0.11 149 1428 0.37 530 1428
Huawei Mate S 0.00 60 0.00 372
Samsung Galaxy Note5 0.00 183 - 439
Samsung Galaxy Note5 max auto - - - - 620 -
LG V10 0.07 100 1449 0.29 432 1490
BlackBerry Priv 0.01 184 26286 0.02 377 25133
Huawei Nexus 6P 0.00 180 0.00 352
Oppo R7 Plus 0.00 171 0.00 351
Apple iPhone 6s Plus 0.10 150 1563 0.43 590 1382
Microsoft Lumia 950XL 0.00 115 0.00 335
Microsoft Lumia 950XL (max auto) - - - 0.00 705

The Mate 8's solid performance in our display tests continues into sunlight legibility. A score of 2.949 is a very good achievement for an LCD panel and emphasizes another strong point of the IPS NEO tech.

Sunlight contrast ratio

  • Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+
    4.615
  • HTC One A9
    4.274
  • Samsung Galaxy S6 edge
    4.124
  • Samsung Galaxy Note5
    4.09
  • Huawei Nexus 6P
    4.019
  • OnePlus X
    3.983
  • Oppo R7s
    3.964
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 outdoor
    3.879
  • Samsung Galaxy J2 outdoor
    3.873
  • Samsung Galaxy A8
    3.859
  • Apple iPhone 6
    3.838
  • Microsoft Lumia 950XL
    3.837
  • Motorola Moto X (2014)
    3.816
  • Apple iPhone 6s
    3.783
  • Meizu Pro 5
    3.781
  • Vivo X5Pro
    3.706
  • BlackBerry Priv
    3.645
  • Apple iPhone 6s Plus
    3.53
  • Microsoft Lumia 950
    3.512
  • Oppo R7 Plus
    3.499
  • Samsung Galaxy J7
    3.422
  • Meizu MX5
    3.416
  • Oppo R7
    3.32
  • Samsung Galaxy J2
    3.235
  • Motorola Moto X Play
    3.222
  • Lenovo Vibe Shot
    3.113
  • LG Nexus 5X
    3.092
  • Huawei Mate S
    3.073
  • Microsoft Lumia 640 XL
    3.065
  • Apple iPhone 6 Plus
    3.023
  • Samsung Galaxy Note
    2.97
  • Huawei Mate 8
    2.949
  • HTC One S
    2.901
  • Sony Xperia Z5
    2.876
  • Microsoft Lumia 550
    2.851
  • Sony Xperia Z5 compact
    2.784
  • LG V10
    2.744
  • Sony Xperia M5
    2.69
  • Xiaomi Mi 4i
    2.641
  • Xiaomi Mi 4c
    2.574
  • Microsoft Lumia 640
    2.563
  • Motorola Moto G 4G
    2.546
  • Sony Xperia Z5 Premium
    2.525
  • Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
    2.503
  • Motorola Moto G
    2.477
  • Huawei G8
    2.471
  • Sony Xperia Z
    2.462
  • Huawei Honor 7
    2.406
  • ZUK Z1 by Lenovo
    2.382
  • HTC One E9+
    2.305
  • Sony Xperia C5 Ultra
    2.253
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 3
    2.249
  • Sony Xperia C4 Dual
    2.235
  • Motorola Moto G (2014)
    2.233
  • LG Nexus 5
    2.228
  • Huawei P8
    2.196
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 2
    2.166
  • OnePlus Two
    2.165
  • HTC One X
    2.158
  • Archos 50 Diamond
    2.134
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note
    2.119
  • Huawei P8lite
    2.078
  • Moto G 3rd gen max manual
    2.026
  • Huawei Ascend Mate7
    2.024
  • Sony Xperia E4g
    1.972
  • OnePlus One
    1.961
  • BlackBerry Leap
    1.892
  • Meizu m2 note
    1.892
  • HTC Butterfly
    1.873
  • ZTE Nubia Z9 mini
    1.759
  • Sony Xperia U
    1.758
  • Asus Zenfone Selfie
    1.68
  • Motorola Moto E (2nd Gen)
    1.675
  • ZTE Nubia Z9
    1.659
  • Motorola Moto E
    1.545
  • Sony Xperia M
    1.473
  • Xiaomi Redmi 2
    1.311
  • Sony Xperia C
    1.283
  • Meizu MX
    1.221

Connectivity

Regarding connectivity, the Huawei Mate 8 is properly equipped. Huawei is very proud, and rightfully so, of the Kirin 950's built-in radio support, which includes up to five 2G bands, ten 3G bands, and eighteen 4G bands. Our variant (NXT-L29) comes with dual nano-SIM slots, and the second one can only tap into 2G networks while the first gets the full cellular connectivity.

The Mate 8 supports dual-band 2.4/5.0GHz Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, with Wi-Fi Direct and hotspot capabilities. Bluetooth is v4.2, where interference issues with LTE networks should be fixed.

There's NFC on board, as well as an FM radio. The satellite receiver GPS, GLONASS, and Beidou, so there isn't a corner in the world where the smartphone won't be able to pinpoint your location.

A 3.5mm jack provides standard connectivity for wired headphones. There is no Type-C connector on the Mate 8 - a regular microUSB 2.0 provides charging and PC connectivity capabilities. Mind you, it defaults to charge-only every single time you connect it to a PC, and you have to select manually from the notification shade that you want to do something else. It does support USB OTG (without additional actions, like enabling it in settings), but it didn't work with the MHL adapter we had lying around the office.

Huawei Mate 8 battery life

The Mate 8 has one of the largest capacity batteries for a major manufacturer high-end phablet. At 4,000mAh, it's a tiny 100mAh less than the predecessor but is still a lot more than current rivals. Huawei's own Nexus 6P comes closest at 3,450mAh, the Lumia 950 XL packs 90mAh less, while the Galaxy Note5, LG V10, and Moto X Style make do with 3,000mAh.

While not strictly a flagship, the Oppo R7 Plus matches the Mate 8's diagonal and packs 4,000mAh worth of juice. The Samsung Galaxy A9 (2016) equals the Mate 8 in screen size and battery capacity, while also potentially offering much better performance than Oppo's 6-incher.

So, after that quick (ok, rather lengthy) roundup, let's see how the Mate 8 fares in our battery test.

In a single word - splendidly. The smartphone lasted a comfortable 17 hours running our web browsing script over Wi-Fi and is good for 12 and a half hours of video playback. At nearly 29 hours of 3G voice calls, the Mate 8 leaves little to be desired in any aspect of its endurance. We also like seeing triple-digit overall scores, and there aren't many of those.

Huawei Mate 8 review

For a comparison with all of the above (save for the Galaxy A9) be sure to check out our complete battery test table, where you can see how all of the smartphones we've tested will compare under your typical use.

We'll just go ahead and mention that the V10, the Nexus 6P, and the Priv die after half the web browsing, time of the Mate 8, and none of the major competitors comes even close in this respect. While well above average, the video playback result of the Mate 8, however, is bested by both the Note 5 and iPhone 6s Plus.

It's also worth noting that the Mate 8 comes bundled with a 9V/2A charger for a theoretical maximum output of 18W. Huawei states that it charges the battery from 0% to 100% in two and a half hours, which is quite remarkable. More importantly, in about an hour the battery reaches a 70% charge, which is great if you're pressed for time. Unfortunately there's no form of inductive charging, which we can rightfully complain about on a smartphone this expensive.

Make note that our proprietary score also includes a standby battery draw test, which is not featured in our test scorecard but is calculated in the total endurance rating. The battery testing procedure is described in detail in case you're interested in the nitty-gritties.