While we wait for Huawei’s much anticipated P9 to arrive in Australia, we’ve got something else to whet our appetite, with the larger format Mate 8 arriving in Australia next week.
The Mate 8 isn’t exactly new new; the device was actually announced somewhat quietly before Christmas 2015, before making a bit more of a formal appearance at CES in January 2016. Jason attended Huawei’s CES event and saw the Mate 8 there, which might explain why the launch event in Sydney was quite a bit smaller.
In any event, Huawei has been in the larger phone market for a little while, since it first released the Mate product line in 2013. The name, incidentally, is very Australian — suggested by the product team here — though it did cause some confusion for those elsewhere, wondering why the phone was named after mating … anyway!
Huawei’s Mate 7, released at the end of 2014, sold very well for the company, with 7 million happy customers taking part. With roughly a quarter of phone users opting for a device over 5.5″, it makes good sense for Huawei to be here.
The Mate 8 takes what was good about the Mate 7, and just does everything a little better; the same gorgeous display is on offer, powered by an IPS-NEO LCD panel, with better contrast and wider viewing angles for sharing the experience with others. The display, too, takes up most of the front face of the phone — almost 85% — which is significantly more than Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus.
What’s inside the Mate 8 too was enough to capture our attention; Huawei’s Kirin 950 processor does the work, and it’s up to 100% faster at most tasks than the Mate 7. The graphics capability has improved as well, with a stunning 125% performance increase over the Mate 7. With the rapid advancement on mobile chipsets, we don’t find this hard to believe.
One of the points of appeal of a larger format smartphone is battery capacity; a bigger frame means a bigger battery. The Mate 8 features a 4,000 mAh battery, and quite a bit of smarts behind the scene, which should see the Mate 8 seriously lasting two days in ordinary use. We saw two phones, in use by Huawei executives, which had been quite heavily used throughout the day, and at around 6pm last night, both were around 70% charged. We were allowed to have a poke around Settings and see the usage and screen on times … a 2-day battery life claim might not just be marketing spin.
Of course, a phone these days isn’t much good without a camera that stands up, and while we’ve heard colloquially that the Mate 8’s camera isn’t flagship-level amazing, the sample photos said to be captured with the device were rather impressive. With a 16MP sensor, a reasonably fast f/2.0 aperture and optical image stabilisation (OIS), it’s quite conceivable that there’d be some quality shots to take here. We’ll unpack this further in our review.
In terms of availability, the Huawei Mate 8 goes on sale next week on May 24 from $899 for the 32GB device, from stores including Huawei’s own stores, Harvey Norman and JB HiFi. Huawei have a carrier deal with Vodafone this time round, with the Mate 8 starting on Vodafone’s $55 monthly plan over 2 years.
For those who are keen as mustard, the Mate 8 will be available for pre-order starting today, with some fun pre-order freebies, including the customer’s choice of Huawei Band or Talkband B2.