Mate 8 vs Note 5: Battle of the Premium Phablets
If you’re looking to buy a new phablet soon, you’d know that Mate 8 and Note 5 are two of the latest and greatest from Huawei and Samsung. Unfortunately, choosing between the two can be a bit confusing since both of them offer some compelling features. So, to help you out, here is a head-to-head comparison of the Huawei Mate 8 and the Samsung Note 5.
Huawei Mate 8 and Samsung Note 5, both have decent designs and good build qualities. Mate 8 has a nice metallic uni-body frame with brushed metal sides and chamfered edges. Note 5 — on the other hand — is purely made up of metal and glass. But this does not make the Note 5 any more delicate than the Mate 8 because all the glass panels have been protected using Gorilla Glass 4.
First of the few design differences that you’ll notice is that Mate 8 prefers soft keys (home, back, recent apps) while Note 5 has a mix of capacitive touch and hard keys. I find both approaches equally easy to use and there are no complains here.
Secondly, Mate 8 hosts the fingerprint sensor on the back while Note 5 has the fingerprint sensor on front, concealed within the home button. Initially, I did like Huawei’s placement of the fingerprint sensor but when I started using Note 5 I realized something. I realized that I spend most of my time using the phone while it laid flat on my desk and unlocking the phone (in this position) using fingerprint recognition was not possible with the Mate 8.
Moving on, another thing that is quite different is how the hardware buttons (volume rocker and power) feel on both devices. Mate 8 has rather delicate buttons which is why I have time-and-again pressed the power button accidentally while just picking up the device. In comparison, Note 5’s buttons are a bit stiff and can not be accidentally pressed.
Huawei Mate 8 and Samsung Note 5 are both phablets with large 6.0″ and 5.7″ displays respectively. Size isn’t the only difference here because Mate 8 has an IPS-NEO LCD panel while the Note 5 boasts the Super AMOLED display. As you’d expect, Mate 8’s display seems a bit dull and washed out when compared to Samsung’s punchy Super AMOLED display. Despite that, Mate 8’s LCD panel isn’t bad when compared to other LCD panels. In fact, it definitely does perform better than many other LCD panels on the market.
One thing that might disappoint some is the low resolution of Mate 8’s display. It has a 1080 x 1920 pixels (368 ppi) display while the Note 5 has a higher resolution 1440 x 2560 pixels (~518 ppi) display. Another constant complain which I’ve had with the Mate 8’s display is it’s sunlight visibility. I feel that Mate 8 display panel isn’t as bright as it could’ve been. This makes it kind of difficult to use your phone outside on extremely sunny days.
Mate 8 and Note 5 both have octa-core processors that have enough power to get your day-to-day tasks done. Mate 8 features Huawei’s very own HiSilicon Kirin 950 chipset with a Quad-core 2.3 GHz Cortex-A72 CPU and another Quad-core 1.8 GHz Cortex A53 CPU. On the other hand, Note 5 also features Samsung’s very own Exynos 7420 chipset with a Quad-core 1.5 GHz Cortex-A53 CPU and a Quad-core 2.1 GHz Cortex-A57 CPU.
One thing that there is no doubt about here is that HiSilicon Kirin 950 clearly beats the Exynos 7420 in raw CPU performance. Although there isn’t much different while using them but I have had the Note 5 halt a few times while Mate 8 never did. While it is arguable that software might have a role to play in it, in my opinion, it depends on the CPU as well.
Unfortunately, not all is rainbows and sunshine in the Huawei land. Huawei’s Mate 8 has the Mali-T880 MP4 GPU which is definitely inferior to the Note 5’s Mali-T760 MP8. One of the main reasons being that Mate 8’s GPU has only 4-cores while the Note 5 has a 8-core GPU. But again, I have had no issues with both while playing resource hungry games like NFS No Limits or FIFA.
Huawei’s Mate 8 has a humongous 4000 mAh battery while Samsung’s Note 5 has a relatively smaller 3000 mAh battery. Both the devices have non-removable Li-Po batteries. As you might expect from the numbers, the Mate has significantly better battery timings than the Note 5, largely due to the larger capacity and a lower resolution display.
Both the devices, the Mate 8 and the Note 5, do support fast charging but in my experience Note 5 charges faster than the Mate 8. Than again, the reason for Note 5 charging faster is it’s smaller battery as compared to the Mate 8. Following is a list of our key findings from several different battery tests that we ran on both the devices:
- Charging Time: 1h 50m (Mate 8) – 1h 10m (Note 5)
- Battery Life (Heavy Usage): 35h (Mate 8) – 15h (Note 5)
- Battery Life (Normal Usage): 50h (Mate 8) – 26h (Note 5)
On paper, both the devices have similar 16MP primary cameras with a few technical differences but in reality they’re quite different.
When examining the pictures at 100% crop, Mate 8 often has trouble focusing in the automatic mode causing it to produce a much softer image than the Note 5. On the contrary, Note 5’s images have little but noticeable noise in dark parts of the image. Regardless, Note 5’s images have immense amount of detail which is not to be found in images taken with the Mate 8.
When viewing the images normally, Mate 8 and Note 5 both take good pictures in well lit conditions such as outdoors. But indoors or in low-light conditions, the Mate 8 fails to reproduce colors as good as the Note 5.
Below is a comparison of few images that were taken with the Mate 8 and Note 5.
Sample Image #1
Sample Image #2
Sample Image #3
Sample Image #4
Sample Image #5
Sample Image #6
Mate 8 vs Note 5 Wrap-up
Everything considered, I’d say that both Samsung Note 5 and Huawei Mate 8 are viable options depending on what you use your smartphone for. Below are the list of reasons why I think that you should consider one or the other.
Why consider Samsung Note 5?
- Punchy colors of the Super AMOLED display.
- Remarkably good camera performance.
- Better productivity with S-Pen and features such as multi-window, Samsung SideSync, etc.
Why consider Huawei Mate 8?
- More raw performance power.
- Significantly better battery timings.
- Additional storage via microSD card.
I’d personally choose the Samsung Note 5 because of it’s Super AMOLED display and the superior productivity features. What will be your choice? Share with us in the comments below.