Huawei Mate 8 review: Checkmate

Checkmate

Chavdar Sirakov, 27 January, 2016.

Synthetic benchmarks

The Huawei Mate 8 is powered by the Kirin 950 chipset, made by HiSilicon, a Huawei subsidiary. It's not the first in-house chip the company uses, it's been an ongoing Huawei effort to produce its own SoC's.

Previous iterations include the Kirin 935 in the Mate S and the Kirin 930 in the P8, the two differing in CPU frequency. The Ascend Mate7, on the other hand, had a Kirin 925 inside. For all the numbering differences, the chips have all traditionally had a common issue and that's been GPU performance.

Huawei has made the necessary steps in that department and fitted the Mali-T880 GPU in MP4 configuration. Coupled with the conservative 1080p resolution, the Mate 8 should have no issues on the graphics front.

Huawei Mate 8 review

That's definitely not where all the effort has gone, though. The Kirin 950 chipset comes with a dual quad-core CPU setup, utilizing four of the latest Cortex-A72 cores in its performance cluster and that makes it the first processor with such cores that we get to test. Neither member of the Snapdragon 65x line has shown up on our doorstep just yet, and Mediatek's Helio X20 is yet to make it to a production device.

Additionally, the chip is built on a 16nm production line, as opposed to the 28nm of older generations with the resulting benefits in power efficiency.

One aspect of the Mate8's hardware, which we're no fans of, is the fact that 3GB of RAM are paired with 32GB of storage, and 4GB come with 64GB. If you insist on the larger operating memory, but don't have heaps of multimedia to store, you'd still need to pay for those 64GB. For the record, our review unit is the 32GB variety so it has 3GB RAM.

The Mate 8 stormed through GeekBench, its score miles ahead of anything before it. Our previous champ in the multi-core test, the Meizu Pro 5 with an Exynos 7420 inside, couldn't keep up with the Kirin's powerful A72 cores. The Nexus 6P is among the highest-ranked Snapdragon 810 models, and its score is about two-thirds of the Mate's.

GeekBench 3

Higher is better

  • Huawei Mate 8
    6323
  • Meizu Pro 5
    5578
  • Samsung Galaxy Note5
    5124
  • HTC One E9+
    4796
  • Huawei Nexus 6P
    4539
  • Apple iPhone 6s Plus
    4413
  • Sony Xperia C5 Ultra
    4226
  • Sony Xperia Z5 Premium
    4194
  • LG V10
    3607
  • Huawei Mate S
    3475
  • Moto X Pure Edition
    3433
  • Samsung Galaxy A8
    3375
  • Oppo R7 Plus
    3204
  • Huawei Ascend Mate7
    3165
  • BlackBerry Priv
    2963

The assorted Antutu benchmarks also put the Mate 8 in a leading position. In Antutu 5 it's only slightly ahead of the Meizu Pro 5, but comfortably outpacing the Galaxy Note5. Here, the Snapdragon 810 does best inside the Xperia Z5 Premium, and the Nexus 6P is further down, on par with the iPhone 6s Plus.

In Antutu 6 Huawei's flagship pair scores similarly though the Mate 8 has the upper hand again. The Galaxy Note5 is little behind, but not as much as the Snapdragon 808-powered LG V10. Oddly, in this benchmark, the significantly more powerful chip of the Pro 5 posts an identical result to Qualcomm's second-best of the year.

AnTuTu 5

Higher is better

  • Huawei Mate 8
    76785
  • Meizu Pro 5
    74655
  • Samsung Galaxy Note5
    69465
  • Sony Xperia Z5 Premium
    62652
  • Huawei Nexus 6P
    58610
  • Apple iPhone 6s Plus
    58582
  • LG V10
    52713
  • HTC One E9+
    50753
  • Moto X Pure Edition
    50629
  • Samsung Galaxy A8
    49554
  • Sony Xperia C5 Ultra
    46502
  • BlackBerry Priv
    45725
  • Huawei Mate S
    44393
  • Huawei Ascend Mate7
    41510
  • Oppo R7 Plus
    37750

AnTuTu 6

Higher is better

  • Huawei Mate 8
    91609
  • Huawei Nexus 6P
    89345
  • Samsung Galaxy Note5
    81615
  • LG V10
    67547
  • Meizu Pro 5
    67531

The Mate 8 surrenders the benchmark lead in Basemark OS II 2.0, another compound benchmark. An inch behind the Nexus 6P, the Mate 8 is outpaced by the iPhone 6s Plus in the overall score. The Exynos-powered Note5 and Pro 5 are still not a match for Huawei's 6-incher.

However, the Mate's processor shows its strength in the CPU-specific parts of the benchmark. Its single-core result is the highest of the bunch, with only the Note5 coming close. There's absolutely no contest in the multi-core test, where the Mate 8 wipes the floor with the current crop of high-end phablets.

Basemark OS 2.0

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 6s Plus
    2261
  • Huawei Nexus 6P
    2040
  • Huawei Mate 8
    2017
  • Samsung Galaxy Note5
    1880
  • Meizu Pro 5
    1837
  • Sony Xperia Z5 Premium
    1687
  • Microsoft Lumia 950 XL
    1472
  • BlackBerry Priv
    1393
  • LG V10
    1383
  • HTC One E9+
    1227
  • Samsung Galaxy A8
    1089
  • Oppo R7 Plus
    968
  • Sony Xperia C5 Ultra
    931
  • Huawei Mate S
    914
  • Huawei Ascend Mate7
    849

Basemark OS 2.0 (single-core)

Higher is better

  • Huawei Mate 8
    7332
  • Samsung Galaxy Note5
    6745
  • Sony Xperia Z5 Premium
    6205
  • Huawei Nexus 6P
    6014
  • Meizu Pro 5
    5760
  • Huawei Ascend Mate7
    4365
  • Samsung Galaxy A8
    4338
  • LG V10
    4261
  • BlackBerry Priv
    3941
  • HTC One E9+
    3444
  • Huawei Mate S
    3000
  • Sony Xperia C5 Ultra
    2872
  • Oppo R7 Plus
    2707

Basemark OS 2.0 (multi-core)

Higher is better

  • Huawei Mate 8
    41897
  • Samsung Galaxy Note5
    28360
  • HTC One E9+
    28201
  • Huawei Mate S
    22817
  • Huawei Ascend Mate7
    22387
  • Sony Xperia C5 Ultra
    21809
  • Samsung Galaxy A8
    21753
  • Meizu Pro 5
    21416
  • Sony Xperia Z5 Premium
    18336
  • Huawei Nexus 6P
    17661
  • LG V10
    17127
  • Oppo R7 Plus
    16784
  • BlackBerry Priv
    11388

Which brings us to graphics performance. While the Mate 8 is no slouch here either, it's also not in the leading position. Its Basemark X results are only slightly ahead of the LG V10, BlackBerry Priv, and Moto X Style (a.k.a. Pure Edition). Those all come with an S808 chipset, which features a rather modest Adreno 418 GPU.

The Note5's score is some 70% higher though the Pro 5 isn't as convincing. It's the Xperia Z5 Premium that leads the way for S810, with the Nexus 6P behind, but still much better than the Mate.

Basemark X

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy Note5
    26281
  • Sony Xperia Z5 Premium
    24281
  • Huawei Nexus 6P
    22825
  • Meizu Pro 5
    20038
  • Huawei Mate 8
    15593
  • LG V10
    15161
  • BlackBerry Priv
    15072
  • Moto X Pure Edition
    14598
  • HTC One E9+
    9639
  • Samsung Galaxy A8
    8838
  • Huawei Ascend Mate7
    6501
  • Sony Xperia C5 Ultra
    5695
  • Huawei Mate S
    5368
  • Oppo R7 Plus
    5349

In GFXBench, the Mate 8 posts some respectable scores, but is again no chart-topper. In the offscreen tests, which are run at a standard 1080p resolution regardless of the specific smartphone's actual display setup, the Mate 8 achieves higher frame rates than the S808 bunch, but not quite on par with the S810 or Exynos 7420.

In the onscreen tests, at actual display resolution, the Mate 8 is favored by the lower number of pixels it needs to render, compared to most of its rivals and climbs up the chart. That doesn't help it against the iPhone 6s Plus, Pro 5 and Xperia Z5 Premium, which run the test in FullHD, too. The Nexus 6P, however, gives the Mate 8 a solid run for its money, despite having a QHD screen - owing to the S810's Adreno 430.

It's probably worth noting that the Mate 8 runs the onscreen tests at a slightly lower 1,740 x 1,080-pixel resolution (1,920 x 1,080 pixels, minus the strip of onscreen buttons). This small difference made for slightly better scores in the Mate's onscreen tests compared to the 1080p ones, but the difference is marginal at best.

GFX 3.0 Manhattan (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 6s Plus
    39.5
  • Sony Xperia Z5 Premium
    26
  • Huawei Nexus 6P
    25
  • Meizu Pro 5
    25
  • Samsung Galaxy Note5
    21
  • Huawei Mate 8
    18
  • LG V10
    15
  • Moto X Pure Edition
    15
  • Samsung Galaxy A8
    13
  • BlackBerry Priv
    12
  • Huawei Ascend Mate7
    8
  • HTC One E9+
    6.6
  • Sony Xperia C5 Ultra
    6
  • Oppo R7 Plus
    6
  • Huawei Mate S
    5.4

GFX 3.0 Manhattan (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 6s Plus
    38.6
  • Sony Xperia Z5 Premium
    27
  • Meizu Pro 5
    25
  • Huawei Mate 8
    18
  • Huawei Nexus 6P
    17
  • Samsung Galaxy Note5
    15
  • Samsung Galaxy A8
    14
  • LG V10
    9.5
  • Moto X Pure Edition
    9.3
  • Huawei Ascend Mate7
    8.5
  • BlackBerry Priv
    7.6
  • Sony Xperia C5 Ultra
    6.4
  • Oppo R7 Plus
    6.3
  • Huawei Mate S
    5.8
  • HTC One E9+
    5.4

GFX 3.1 Manhattan (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Sony Xperia Z5 Premium
    18
  • Huawei Nexus 6P
    17
  • Samsung Galaxy Note5
    15
  • Meizu Pro 5
    14
  • Huawei Mate 8
    10
  • LG V10
    10
  • Moto X Pure Edition
    10
  • BlackBerry Priv
    7.8
  • Huawei Mate S
    3
  • Sony Xperia C5 Ultra
    2.9

GFX 3.1 Manhattan (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Sony Xperia Z5 Premium
    19
  • Meizu Pro 5
    14
  • Huawei Mate 8
    11
  • Huawei Nexus 6P
    11
  • Samsung Galaxy Note5
    6.7
  • LG V10
    5.7
  • Moto X Pure Edition
    5.6
  • BlackBerry Priv
    5.4
  • Huawei Mate S
    3.4
  • Sony Xperia C5 Ultra
    3.1

The bottom line is that the Huawei Mate 8 has tons of raw processing power in both single- and multi-core applications. Its GPU performs adequately (unlike the Mate7 before it), but is not quite up to par with the CPU's performance.

We'd say Huawei made some very well-calculated choices on this one. On the one hand, the Mali-T880 MP4 would have definitely choked with a higher-res screen. However, a QHD display with a GPU to match would have meant a much more serious strain on the battery, and that wasn't a compromise the company was willing to make.

That said, Samsung's Exynos 8890 has a Mali-T880 MP12 GPU with three times as many cores, so the Mate 8 won't have it easy once the Galaxy S7 bunch and the Note 6 come next.

Reader comments

  • AnonD-698812

How do I roll back to Marshmallow, Andriod 6, from Nougat 7.0 I bought HUAWEI Mate 8 on Andriod 6, however I upgrade to 7.0, which I regretted. My region is UK. Assistance is urgently needed.

  • Anonymous

Any 3rd party app were I can get more options for the apps available in Multi window?

  • Anonymous

my mate 8 is now 1 year and 4 months old but still performs just like before and recieved an update for android 7 nougat hooray,but it's battery drains 15% overnight due to battery wear and tear sad,but still a great phone :)