Just as we were all getting used to Huawei’s high-end Mate S phablet, the Chinese manufacturer has gone and made it obsolete after only a few months.
The new Huawei Mate 8, launched in January here in the UAE, takes a very likeable, big phone and makes it even bigger. Impressively, it’s available from just Dh1,899, a significantly lower entry point than the likes of the iPhone 6S Plus and the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge +.
So how does it compete with the other big boys on the market?
First things first: Huawei scores points for realising (unlike so many others) that most of us would happily accept a slightly heavier and bulkier phone if it got us a longer lasting battery.
The Mate 8’s 4,000 mAh battery trounces that of the iPhone 6S Plus (2,750 mAh) and the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 and LG V10 (both 3,000 mAh), so you can happily browse the web, play games and watch movies to your heart’s content without worrying about running out of juice.
You’ll be watching those movies on a whopping 6-inch screen, compared with the Mate S’s 5.5-inch display. However, the Mate 8 eschews its predecessor’s Amoled display for a relatively conventional 2560×1440 resolution display, with a far lower pixel density.
As a result, the trailer for Captain America: Civil War looks perfectly fine and renders smoothly, but lacks the wow factor you get with the iPhone or the Samsung Galaxy S range.
Camera-wise, the Mate 8 fares much better, its predecessor’s 13MP rear camera now upgraded to 16MP. While not quite as good as the LG V10, the Huawei camera’s performance is right up there with the best of the rest, with sharp, colourful images in a range of light conditions.
So what’s the all-round verdict? While the Mate 8 isn’t quite up there with the big boys, it provides very good all-round performance at a competitive price, with its battery life as its stand-out feature.
Design-wise it still trails the iPhone and Galaxy Edge range. High-end Samsungs have the nicer displays, while LG’s G4 and V10 have better cameras. But with a starting price of just Dh1,899, the Huawei Mate 8 is brilliant value for money.
q&a: functions at your fingertips
John Everington answers more questions:
You mentioned something about design?
The Mate 8 has a similar design to the Mate S, encased in a metallic unibody with a rounded back and slightly rough sides. It’s still not up there with the iPhone and the Edge range, but it doesn’t feel cheap. It’s worth mentioning that with such a large 6-inch screen, it’s not very comfortable for those with small hands.
Fair enough. So what do I get for my Dh1,899 then?
The entry level model comes with 32GB of memory with 3GB of RAM. For Dh2,199 that rises to 64GB and 4GB of RAM. And the memory is expandable to 128GB thanks to a MicroSD slot.
What other premium features do I need to know about?
The Mate 8 packs the same rear fingerprint scanner of the Mate 6, which we also saw on the LG V10. It does a brilliant job, unlocking the phone with your index finger almost instantly.
Is this the bit when you remind me how well Huawei is doing worldwide?
Go on then, why not? The company moved into third place in the global smartphone market for 2015, according to data released last week by Strategy Analytics, bumping Lenovo/Motorola into fourth place.
With a market share of 7.4 per cent (up from 5.8 per cent in 2014), Huawei is still a little way behind Apple (16.1 per cent) and Samsung (22.2 per cent).
And final question …
It comes in “Champagne” Gold, “Moonlight Silver”, “Space” Grey, and “Mocha” Brown.
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