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Huawei Mate 8 review: A battery life beast

Release date:2016-01-28

 

Already selling in China, Huawei announced at the 2016 CES conference that the 6-inch Mate 8 will also come to other countries worldwide (though not the US, if you happen to live there). I spent two weeks with the huge-screen phone ahead of launch, and walked away generally liking what I saw, especially the long-lasting battery and the high camera quality. There are still minor flaws, however, including a screen resolution that's lower than I'd like on a phone of this size.


The Mate 8 is not as powerful as Samsung's Galaxy Note 5 or LG's V10, but hopefully it's less expensive -- we don't know regional prices yet. If you convert the Chinese cost, the Mate 8 comes in overpriced at about $600, £400 and AU$825, which is too high for the Mate 8's real-world capabilities, so hopefully Huawei lowers this for its final local pricing.


The Mate 8 certainly isn't the end-all, be-all large-screen phone to get, but for the right price, it'll give fans of big phones a good alternative in an all-metal build. For most, however, the Nexus 6P remains the better buy.


Pros:

Long-lasting battery

Recent version of Google's software, Android 6.0

All-metal build

Same accurate fingerprint reader that's on the back of the Huawei-made Google Nexus 6P

Loud speaker audio


Cons:

Large size is polarizing and won't fit comfortably in all hands

Dim screen

Screen resolution is too low



Battery life and screen size set the Mate 8 apart, but...

If you're hot on big phones, the Mate 8's 6-inch screen gives you the room you need to run wild. When I hold the Mate 8 in my hand, the screen seems bright and wonderful...until I stream video, view high-res photos or hold it next to any other phone. It's then that I notice its 1,920-by-1,080-pixel resolution looks dimmer and a little hazier than other phones of its class at any brightness level, especially the impossibly vibrant Nexus 6P.


Compared to ultrasharp displays like on the Nexus 6P's 2,560-by-1,440-pixel resolution, higher-res graphics look less detailed; that's because there are fewer pixels on the Mate 8, much lower than you typically see on a large-screen phone (see chart below). Most of the time, the Mate 8's resolution won't impede your viewing pleasure, but Huawei really should have climbed to the next rung in resolution to match the well-priced Nexus 6P (2,560x1,440 pixels).


Better news is that battery here is a monster -- the Mate 8 lasted an average of 15.6 hours in our video drain tests. In everyday life, too, I always seemed to have enough battery reserves after continuously using it throughout the day. Some of that is due to the dimmer screen, though if your battery ever does get perilously close to flatlining, you can always turn on the phone's power-saving settings.


Bonus points: Camera and Android 6.0

Photos were another bright spot. The 16-megapixel rear camera and 5-megapixel front-facing camera shot off picture-perfect rounds of photos in most lighting settings, indoor and out. I'm not saying these were flawless -- camera photos do have their limits and I did get some weirdly yellow indoor shots in seriously terrible lighting -- but the camera components have gotten so good lately that most higher-end models will take photos you like.



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