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Huawei still thinks 6-inch phablets is the way to go

Richard Lai, @richardlai
November 26, 2015
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It's been well over a year since Huawei launched its premium Mate 7 phablet, and as of August, over five million units have been sold worldwide. That's far more impressive than the original goal of just one million phones. While the smaller Mate S has since been released, the company still believes in sticking to the masculine roots of the Mate series, which brings us to the Mate 8. Like before, this model sports the same 6-inch 1080p display spec but now also covers 95 percent of NTSC gamut. As a bonus, there's a piece of 2.5D glass on top of that. Of course, the biggest selling point this time is the new octa-core Kirin 950 chipset which promises much higher performance and efficiency at the same time, mainly thanks to the new 16nm FinFET+ process, some more powerful CPUs (4 x Cortex-A72 and 4 x Cortex-A53), ARM's flagship Mali-T880 GPU and integrated LTE Cat 6 modem.

As you can see, the backside fingerprint reader -- which is now circular like the one on the Huawei-made Nexus 6P -- is here to stay, but we're told that it's better than the Mate 7's. To be specific, it can read "Level 3 Detail" aka the recognition of "the intricate detail of a single ridge," instead of just Level 1 and Level 2 -- "the flow of the friction ridges" and "the presence or absence of features along the individual friction ridge paths and their sequence" respectively, according to an FBI document we came across. This should lead to better accuracy and security.

Other less obvious changes include the more powerful 16-megapixel camera powered by Huawei's very own image signal processor (hopefully this will make up for the small 1.12um pixels on the Sony sensor), up to 128GB of storage (with microSD expansion), a slightly smaller 4,000 mAh battery and a more efficient i5 sensory co-processor. Naturally, this aluminum phone comes with Android 6.0 but with Huawei's heavy customization (ugh). As for colors, you have an option between Champagne Gold, Moonlight Silver, Space Gray and Mocha Brown (this new one is my favorite).

For now, the Mate 8 is only launching in China and the price has yet to be announced (it'll likely be around $600 off-contract, based on the series' value positioning), but we're told to stay tuned for a global launch at CES in January.

Update: Indeed, the Mate 8 will be available for about $500 (3GB of RAM with 32GB of storage) up to $690 (4GB of RAM, 128GB of storage) in China.

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