Huawei Mate 8 - Best power


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When we first laid eyes on the Huawei Mate 8 at CES 2016, we were only mildly impressed. While its clean industrial design and oversized battery were welcome additions to the Mate family, the phone still came with software quite literally designed for another continent – and its overloaded feature set seemed more at home on a Samsung phone from 2012 than a modern Android flagship.
A week with the Mate 8 back home in Boston hasn’t changed our feelings about the phone’s shortcomings, but it has given us time to appreciate all the advantages this device has to offer. And when one of those advantages is enough battery life to see you through an entire weekend on a single charge, we become a lot more forgiving about things like substandard software.
With the possible exception of the Nexus 6P, the Mate 8 is probably the best-looking smartphone Huawei’s built. That doesn’t mean it’s terribly distinctive; it’s made of metal, with narrow-radius corners and chamfered edges, a design we’ve seen plenty of times before. The result is a very boxy look, broken up only by the circular camera lens and the fingerprint scanner beneath it. Those round casing penetrations don’t fit terribly well with the phone’s angular aesthetic, but neither do they look particularly bad. In the hand, the phone’s anodized aluminum casing feels wide and weighty at 185g, cool to the touch and slightly slippery in dry weather. Even in an age of phablets, the Mate 8 is a very large device.
Of course, it needs to be large to accommodate its display. Under the Gorilla Glass 4 cover sheet sits a 6-inch panel from JDI, an IPS LCD with 1080p resolution. If you think Full HD/367 ppi is too low for 2016, we’re gonna go ahead and disagree. We’re hard pressed to see the pixels without a microscope, colors pop as they should, and the lack of a super-dense Quad HD pixel mat means this is an easier panel to power (more on that in Performance, below). As with most LCD screens, blacks could be deeper: JDI’s IPS-NEO technology is meant to help with this –and it does to an extent– but for true blacks nothing can top AMOLED. On the whole though, this is a fine display.
Elsewhere, the hardware bears Huawei hallmarks we’ve seen before. On the left edge sits the now-familiar dual-SIM/MicroSD card slot, which allows for additional storage or the ability to register the phone on two separate carriers simultaneously. The fingerprint scanner on the back appears lifted straight from the Nexus 6P, and it’s just as quick and accurate. On the bottom lip an older MicroUSB port is flanked by twin speaker grilles, though only one actually contains a (fairly average) speaker.