Huawei Mate 8 review: Checkmate

Chavdar Sirakov, 27 January, 2016.

Telephony

The Mate 8 handles voice calls with ease and sound quality doesn't disappoint on either end of the line. A nice touch is the ability to tell the device only to pick up sounds from a 120-degree arc around the primary mic when on speakerphone, useful in loud environments.

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Smart dialling recent calls in-call interface directional speaker omni-directional speaker

Being a dual-SIM device, the Mate 8 provides options for handling the two cards. You can select which one enjoys high-speed cellular package while the other would remain on 2G only, and you can tell which one the smartphone will use for mobile data. Dual-SIM calling isn't exactly what it sounds like, in fact, it tries to learn from previous use and recommends which SIM card to handle the next call.

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Dual-SIM settings

Loudspeaker

The Mate 8 was only good for a Below average rating in our standardized loudspeaker test. The Mate S we had for review a couple of months ago scored similarly, but the Mate7 was two notches up at Good. The Galaxy Note5 and the LG V10 are only slightly louder, but the Lumia 950 XL excels in this respect.

Speakerphone testVoice, dB Pink noise/ Music, dB Ringing phone, dB Overall score
BlackBerry Priv 62.1 61.7 66.5 Below Average
Apple iPhone 6s Plus 65.8 65.1 64.6 Below Average
Huawei Mate S 66.0 65.8 66.6 Below Average
Huawei Mate 8 67.8 65.8 66.6 Below Average
LG V10 66.1 64.7 70.7 Average
Samsung Galaxy Note5 65.3 64.6 73.5 Average
Huawei Ascend Mate7 66.7 65.7 75.7 Good
Samsung Galaxy S6 68.1 66.3 73.7 Good
Samsung Galaxy S6 edge 69.7 66.5 73.5 Good
Sony Xperia C5 Ultra 69.8 66.6 82.7 Very Good
Huawei Nexus 6P 74.7 77.8 72.1 Very Good
Oppo R7 Plus 73.7 72.8 79.9 Very Good
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 74.7 73.5 81.6 Excellent
OnePlus 2 75.7 73.5 80.7 Excellent
Microsoft Lumia 950 XL 74.9 75.7 84.3 Excellent

You get a choice of two keyboards on the Mate 8 - one is courtesy of Swype while the other is the stock Android one. It's as nice as it is unexpected, given Huawei's full skinning practices. The Swype version has secondary symbols upon a long press, a feature valued by some while others couldn't care less. You can't have it all, though, as it lacks a separate number row, present in the AOSP solution.

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Text input

The Mate 8 ships with WPS office, which can be used for some basic document editing on the go. It can handle text documents, spreadsheets and presentations as well as PDF files. It can also export to PDF.

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WPS office

Phone Manager is Huawei's do-it-all app for keeping control over your phone. It lets you control all sorts of features from call/message privacy and Do Not Disturb settings, to phone optimization and app permissions, to network and battery usage.

The app features a one-touch optimization feature that frees up memory space and gives you settings recommendations for maximum battery performance. It's a hell of a slick feature that few manufacturers offer.

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Phone manager

Battery Manager is part of Phone Manager and includes a selection of three power plans with varying degrees of feature limitations. From here you can also control which apps can remain active after you send the phone to sleep.

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Battery manager

Huawei has bundled the Mate 8 with its Health app, which tracks steps and calculates calories burnt, but can also supposedly count the number of floors you've climbed. A file manager is also present, and it supports batch actions.

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Health app homescreen week view file manager