Huawei Mate 8 review: Checkmate

Checkmate

Chavdar Sirakov, 27 January, 2016.

Simple gallery

The Mate 8's gallery app offers a Timeline view, which sorts your images by the date you've taken them. Alternatively, you can opt for the standard Album view with all of your images sorted in different albums.

Opening a single image lets you quickly delete or rotate it, as well as gives you some basic sharing options (including streaming it over DLNA).

The info icon up top gives some pretty detailed information about the image, including a histogram. Pulling down from anywhere on the screen lets you take a quick photo without leaving the gallery. The image comes out in a square 1:1 ratio at 3,456 x 3,456.

Album view - Huawei Mate 8 review chronological view - Huawei Mate 8 review viewing an image - Huawei Mate 8 review Detailed info - Huawei Mate 8 review Camera quick access - Huawei Mate 8 review
Album view • chronological view • viewing an image • detailed info • camera quick access

You can also go into a more capable editor with options for light and exposure adjustments (so you can bring out the shadows or the highlights), filters and beauty enhancements. You can adjust levels and add individual watermarks for time, location, weather, food and mood. We're not sure most of these gimmicks have a place in a smartphone like the Mate 8, but hey, you can easily not use them.

The image editor is quite capable - Huawei Mate 8 review The image editor is quite capable - Huawei Mate 8 review The image editor is quite capable - Huawei Mate 8 review The image editor is quite capable - Huawei Mate 8 review The image editor is quite capable - Huawei Mate 8 review
The image editor is quite capable

Video player

When it comes to playing videos, the Huawei Mate 8 default player is pretty basic. Its sole option is playback speed. It lacks a floating window mode, but on this device, in particular, that's no big deal, as the video player is one of the 8 apps that can go into a split-screen multi-window setup.

Simplistic video player with few options - Huawei Mate 8 review Simplistic video player with few options - Huawei Mate 8 review
Simplistic video player with few options

Music player

The Huawei Mate 8 comes with Huawei's custom music player app. It offers four default playlists - songs, artists, albums, folders. You can create your playlists, too. The background of the app changes dynamically to match the album art, which is a nice little touch.

The Now Playing screen is pretty standard, it offers album art and lyrics. There are no equalizers to speak off, but the app does have a few extra features. It would try to pull album art, song info and lyrics automatically for you.

The music player - Huawei Mate 8 review The music player - Huawei Mate 8 review The music player - Huawei Mate 8 review The music player - Huawei Mate 8 review The music player - Huawei Mate 8 review
The music player

FM radio

The Huawei Mate 8 has a built-in FM receiver. It can play through the headset or the loudspeaker, but you'll need to have the headset plugged in as it serves as an antenna. We were disappointed not to find RDS support, so you'll have to name your radio stations by hand.

The FM Radio with favorites, but no RDS - Huawei Mate 8 review The FM Radio with favorites, but no RDS - Huawei Mate 8 review The FM Radio with favorites, but no RDS - Huawei Mate 8 review
The FM Radio with favorites, but no RDS

Amazing audio output

The Huawei Mate 8 got perfect scores in the active external amplifier part of our audio quality test. The smartphone's output was clean, while its loudness was well above average, making up for one of the best showings out there.

Even more impressively, plugging in a pair of headphones causes next to no distortion - even the hike in stereo crosstalk we've come to expect is very minor and the end result is excellent. None of the other readings are affected either and volume levels stay high for an impressive showing. Huawei didn't do a particularly good job with the Nexus 6P when it comes to audio output, but this time, the company has really brought its A-game.

Here go the results so you can do your comparisons.

TestFrequency responseNoise levelDynamic rangeTHDIMD + NoiseStereo crosstalk
Huawei Mate 8+0.01, -0.03-97.899.10.00540.0087-97.3
Huawei Mate 8 (headphones attached)+0.02, -0.09-97.397.90.0150.078-81.3
Huawei Nexus 6P+0.03, -0.01-94.790.00.00290.010-94.3
Huawei Nexus 6P (headphones attached)+0.02, -0.20-96.283.20.0410.147-37.7
Nokia Lumia 950 XL+0.01, -0.08-91.691.70.00350.012-89.3
Nokia Lumia 950 XL (headphones attached)+0.48, -0.07-90.491.50.0110.293-55.6
Sony Xperia Z5 Premium+0.01, -0.03-95.989.60.00340.012-95.5
Sony Xperia Z5 Premium (headphones attached)+0.11, -0.40-95.680.70.00570.227-55.2
Apple iPhone 6 Plus+0.04, -0.04-94.094.00.00130.0064-72.0
Apple iPhone 6 Plus (headphones attached)+0.10, -0.04-94.093.90.00160.087-64.1
LG G4 +0.04, -0.07-93.493.30.0021 0.050-92.6
LG G4 (headphones)+0.93, -0.13- 91.491.90.013 0.244-50.4

Huawei Mate 8 frequency response
Huawei Mate 8 frequency response

You can learn more about the tested parameters and the whole testing process here.

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 :)