Huawei's all-metal, 6-inch Mate 8 has a lot going for it, especially its long-lasting battery and high camera quality. After all, those are two things almost anyone would look for in a phone. But unfortunately the handset's price tag is too steep to close the deal -- €600 for the 32GB version and €700 for the 64GB model. Those numbers translate to roughly $650 and $760; £450 and £525.
The Mate 8 isn't expected to come to the US.
The prices alone aren't the problem; they're in line with premium rivals. The problem is that the Mate 8 just isn't a premium phone, certainly not premium enough to best the Google Nexus 6P or Samsung Galaxy Note 5, two of the phones I would look at if you're thinking of going large (scroll to the end for a full specs comparison). Part of my recommendation to skip the Mate 8 stems from the other, admittedly minor drawbacks, including a screen resolution that's lower than I'd like on a phone of this size.
A much lower price would help blunt those flaws and give fans of big phones a good alternative in an all-metal build. However, if you can get the Nexus 6P or Galaxy Note 5, or even the LG V10, do that instead. You'll get more for your hard-earned cash.
- 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
- 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 1,920x1,080-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 2,560x1,440-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 rounds of very nice 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.
Selfie shots were also pretty good when tested in the hand and yes, even on a selfie stick during a rowdy New Year's party, but Huawei does shove Beauty Mode down your throat -- unbelievably, you have your choice of two. Those with a more natural vibe can switch to the usual camera mode to slides settings down from Beauty 10 to zero.