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Huawei Mate 8 review

Huawei Mate 8 display
Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : 429
inc VAT (SIM-free)

The Huawei Mate 8 is exceptionally quick, but this 6in phablet is held back by a hopeless camera and a frustrating UI

Specifications

Processor: Octa-core 2.3GHz Kirin 950, Screen Size: 6.0in, Screen resolution: 1,920×1,080, Rear camera: 16 megapixels, Storage (free): 32GB (24.6GB) / 64GB, Wireless data: 3G, 4G, Size: 157x81x7.9mm, Weight: 185g, Operating system: Android 6.0

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Android 6.0 & Emotion UI

As with all Huawei phones, though, (with the exception of the Nexus 6P, of course) the Mate 8 comes undone by its Emotion UI Android 6.0 skin. I’ve said in the past that I’m not a big fan of Huawei’s EMUI software, and it infuriates even more on the Mate 8, as it simply doesn’t make good use of the phone’s bigger screen.

For instance, it insists on separating out the drop-down notifications and settings shortcut menus, leaving caverns of empty space at the bottom of the screen when you only have a few notifications. It’s a mystery why Huawei’s hung on to this leftover from Android 4.0 KitKat when both screens could easily be combined to make one, easy to use menu.

Huawei Mate 8 side on

The design of Emotion UI hasn’t improved in the newest 4.0 version either, as app icons still look rather tacky, and the way it crops every single third-party app to fit its rounded-edged square template continues to rankle every time I turn the phone on. The fact there’s no app tray makes it worse, too, as each home screen can quickly become very cluttered if you don’t keep on top what you have installed. Even worse, despite having Android 6.0 Marshmallow running underneath it all, there’s no Now on Tap, leaving out what’s arguably one of Marshmallow’s most useful and attractive features.

Camera

Huawei’s 16-megapixel camera is also a huge disappointment, as it produced nothing but blurry, smeary pictures even in bright, winter sunshine. Strangely, our indoor shots were actually better than our outdoor photos, as our still life arrangement looked much sharper when we had our external lamp turned off than it did when we had it turned on. That’s not much of an endorsement, though, and it’s a real shame considering the rest of the Mate 8’s hardware is so good.

Huawei Mate 8 camera test^ Colours look good on the Huawei Mate 8, but there’s simply no detail at full resolution

Huawei Mate 8 camera test indoors with lamp^ Things improved slightly indoors, but the fur of our teddy bear is still very hazy and every outline was still very soft

Huawei Mate 8 camera test indoors without lamp^ Bizarrely, it was only when we had our external lamp turned off that we started to see some vague semblance of crisp clarity

Conclusion

If it wasn’t for its hopeless camera and Huawei’s Emotion UI, the Mate 8 would be an excellent phablet for anyone still waiting for Samsung to release its Galaxy Note 5. At £429 SIM-free, it’s also relatively cheap for its size, costing less than the Nexus 6P. However, when the Nexus has a vastly superior camera, better battery life and an even more attractive display, there’s simply no competition. If you’re in the market for a big screen smartphone, the Nexus 6P is still our phablet of choice. 

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Hardware
ProcessorOcta-core 2.3GHz Kirin 950
RAM3GB
Screen size6.0in
Screen resolution1,920×1,080
Screen typeIPS
Front camera8 megapixels
Rear camera16 megapixels
FlashDual LED
GPSYes
CompassYes
Storage (free)32GB (24.6GB) / 64GB
Memory card slot (supplied)microSD
Wi-Fi802.11ac
BluetoothBluetooth 4.2
NFCYes
Wireless data3G, 4G
Size157x81x7.9mm
Weight185g
Features
Operating systemAndroid 6.0
Battery size4,000mAh
Buying information
WarrantyOne year RTB
Price SIM-free (inc VAT)£429
Price on contract (inc VAT)N/A
Prepay price (inc VAT)N/A
SIM-free supplierhttps://www.vmall.eu/uk/huawei-mate-8-32gb-space-gray-286573/
Contract/prepay supplierN/A
Detailshttp://consumer.huawei.com/minisite/worldwide/mate8/specifications.htm
Part codeNXT-L29

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