Huawei Mate 8 review: A big phone that’s almost brilliant

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Huawei Mate 8 review: Performance, display quality and battery life

All this is a shame because the rest of the Mate 8 is pretty tasty fare, starting with the performance of the CPU and graphics. As is usual for a Huawei phone, the processor is a HiSilicon unit, but this is not a CPU I’ve come across before. It’s the very latest 16nm Kirin 950 – a step up from the Kirin 935 I saw in the Huawei Mate S Press Touch I reviewed late last year – and it’s backed up by 3GB of RAM.

Normally, this would signal the start of a moan about sluggish performance and a general lack of responsiveness, but this time, it’s different. In fact, as you can see from the tables below, in terms of pure CPU grunt the Kirin 950 is a cracker.

Perhaps this shouldn’t be a surprise. The chip is an octa-core unit made up of a pair of quad-core CPUs of ARM design. One is a 2.3GHz Cortex-A72 CPU, used for intensive tasks; the other is a 1.8GHz Cortex-A53 for low-power jobs, and both do an admirable job of keeping the phone’s UI moving.

The Mate 8 phone feels responsive in every way. It restarts and boots in seconds, apps launch at a snap and web pages load, scroll and pan smoothly. Just the level of performance you’d expect from a flagship smartphone.

Even graphics performance, which has in the past been a particularly weak area for Kirin chips, is pretty good.

The Huawei Mate 8 can’t match the might of the Apple iPhone 6s here, but it’s on a par with the Nexus 6P (Qualcomm Snapdragon 810) and it’s well ahead of the dismal Mate S and its Kirin 935.

This is all very promising stuff, and the performance picture is rounded out by solid display performance. Let’s get one thing out of the way first: the resolution is only 1,920 x 1,080, but this isn’t a problem. At no time since I’ve been using it have I noticed any graininess or pixellation. Despite what the manufacturers would have you believe, Quad HD and 4K displays aren’t really necessary, even on a 6in smartphone.

And the quality is rather good. It’s bright, reaching a maximum of 505cd/m² at maximum settings. Contrast is rather good, reaching 1,402:1, ensuring black looks inky and colours really leap out. The screen covers 99.3% of the sRGB colour space, which is exceedingly impressive. The only weakness is that colour accuracy is somewhat out of whack, particularly in green and red tones, so some graphics can look a touch strange.

But this is easy to forgive in the light of the Huawei Mate 8’s battery life. In day-to-day use, I was able to regularly eke one-and-a-half day’s use out of the Huawei Mate 8’s huge 4,000mAh battery. If you use the phone sparingly, I’d imagine two days’ full use wouldn’t be out of the question.

Oddly, its performance wasn’t quite so good in our video-rundown battery test, but its runtime of 11hrs 48mins is on a par with the Nexus 6P and better than its predecessor, the Mate S. All told, battery life is considerably better than average.

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