Huawei Mate 8 vs Mate 7: specs review and all the differences

Lovers of big phones, rejoice! The Huawei Mate 8 is here and it is a giant, 6-inch phone with fairly good-looking specs sheet and since there aren't all that many 6-inch devices out there, it might be one of the best options if that size is what you're looking for.

But how does it compare against its predecessor, last year's Mate 7?

Both being aluminum phones with a sturdy construction, a fingerprint scanner and large batteries, they have more in common than they have differences. Nonetheless, there are some interesting changes, so here are all the differences between the new Huawei Mate 8 and last year's Mate 7.

First, the actual body and build quality. Both phones are made out of sturdy aluminum. Some of the press renders for the Mate 8 don't do it justice, though, portraying it as a nearly bezel-less device. While bezels do seem to have become thinner when compared with the Mate 7, they are still there, measuring at around 1.5mm. In terms of ergonomics, the rather flat back on the Mate 7 has been tweaked to a very slight curve and thinner edges on the Mate 8. The screen on the new phablet is also of the so called 2.5D variety, meaning that it curves slightly towards the edge. All of this should make the new Mate 8 more comfortable to hold and handle. Huawei has also made a minor change to the fingerprint reader, which is now round rather than square.

Then, there are the changes under the hood: coming to replace the Mate 7's Kirin 925 is another Huawei-made system chip, the Kirin 950. The new SoC is made using dual-sourced 14nm/16nm parts (the most advanced currently available technology), and features an octa-core big.LITTLE setup with four high-performance Cortex A72s running at up to 2.3GHz, and four battery-savvy Cortex A53s clocked at up to 1.8GHz. This is a huge departure from the now decidedly dated Mate 7 chip, which was a 32-bit affair featuring four Cortex A15s running at a max speed of 1.8GHz and four A7s.

Gamers will be more interested in the GPU on the Mate 8: it's the Mali T880MP4 clocked at up to 900MHz. Combined with the comparatively humble 1080p resolution, the GPU should have no problems dealing with most games, but when you consider the fact that the Mate 8 release date is set for Q1 2016, it will look rather average compared to the upcoming Snapdragon 820 flagships, for instnace.

The Mate 8 is now offered in two versions: the base model has 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage, while the higher-end version comes with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. The Mate 8 is unveiled as a dual-SIM phone in China with support for two nano SIM cards, but you can also use the second SIM card slot for microSD cards, so expandable storage is an option. The Mate 7, in comparison, shipped with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage even in its higher-end model (it also supported microSD storage expansion).

Turning over to the cameras, we see a bump from a 13-megapixel sensor on the Mate 7 to a 16-megapixel 1/2.8" Sony IMX298 sensor for the main camera on the Mate 8, and it comes with an f/2.0 lens on top of the stack. At this configuration, pixel size stands at 1.12 microns, which is on the low side and we'll be curious how it performs, particularly, in low light. The front camera on the Mate 8 now has an 8-megapixel resolution, up from 5 megapixels on its predecessors, which should translate into more detailed selfies.

Interestingly, the battery of the Mate 8 is now lower than what we had on the Mate 7: 4,000mAh versus 4,100mAh. The reason behind such downgrades usually involves more power-efficient displays and processors, so despite the decline in actual size, we don't expect any significant decrease in actual battery life.

With all this in mind, it's clear that the Mate 8 brings a fairly substantial upgrade under the hood and on the camera side, while remaining a very modest change in terms of outwards appearance. Would you upgrade to the new Huawei 6-inch phablet?

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