Camera Still Picture Performance

The Mate 8 is equipped with a new camera module sporting a new sensor from Sony. The IMX298 is a 1/2.8” sensor with a 1.12µm pixel pitch offering resolutions of up to 16MP in 4:3 format. This marks a departure from the RGBW design that Huawei had adopted last year with the IMX258 in the P8 and Mate S. While the RGBW sensor definitely was able to demonstrate advantages in low-light photography it lacked detail compared to traditional Bayer RGBG sensors in well-lit scenarios.

Camera Setup
  Main (Rear) Front
Sensor Sony IMX 298
1/2.8" 1.12µm pixel pitch
Sony IMX179
1/3.2" 1.4µm pixel pitch
Resolution 4608 × 3456
16MP 4:3
3264 × 2448
8MP 4:3
Optics F/2.0 aperture
27mm eq. focal length
F/2.4 aperture
26mm eq. focal length
Stabilization 3-axis 1.5° OIS -

For the first time we see Huawei push the sensor’s resolution up to 16MP which should theoretically allow the new module to resolve more detail compared to last year’s models as well as the Mate 7. Huawei continues to maintain a F/2.0 lens aperture with a 35mm equivalent focal length of up to 27mm, enabling a wide field-of-view.

Early software issues: A case of severe near-sightedness

When I received my Mate 8 review unit I was curious to test out Huawei’s promised improvements in camera quality, but I what I was met with were some very concerning samples that were worse than what a cheap budget smartphone could produce.


Mate S - Mate 8 B116 - Galaxy S6

The phone consistently was producing extremely blurred pictures that were far inferior to any other smartphone. At first I didn’t know what was causing this as the Mate 8 introduces both a new sensor, module as well as ISP in the Kirin 950.

 
 
 
Mate 8 vs Mate S

After further testing and investigation it seems that the focus mechanism of the camera is malfunctioning. A good way to demonstrate this is to launch the camera in the phone’s “Professional” manual mode and to open up the manual focus slider UI. While focusing on objects via manual selection on the screen, one can see the focus slider adjust between its minimal and maximal focal length. 

The issue seems to be that the Mate 8 in its early software isn’t able to focus correctly on objects further away than ~75cm-1m away and tries to focus to infinity in basically any shot that is not a close-up frame of an object.

Reaching out to Huawei they confirmed that this is currently a software issue and that we’ll be seeing an update pushed out in the “near future”. Unfortunately this means that I wasn’t able to complete a proper camera evaluation of the Mate 8 as basically all pictures suffer from severe blurriness and chromatic aberrations due to the out-of-focus lens. 

We’ll be updating the article with a revisited camera evaluation and comparison tests against competing devices once Huawei pushes out the firmware update to resolve the focus issue.

Day-Time Photography

As such, the following samples aren’t representative of the end product but at least we’ll be able to get an idea of Huawei’s processing and exposure handling in the Mate 8.


Ignoring the lack of detailed due to the focus issue, the Mate 8’s daylight camera samples seemed to lack vibrancy, colour saturation and contrast. This was mostly caused by the HDR mode that tended to cause shots to become washed out as the SDR shots were better in terms of colour reproduction in bright light. The issue with the SDR shots however were that they consistently weren’t exposed enough.

Night-Time Photography

In night-time shots the Mate 8 fared much better and seems to offer good exposure and colour reproduction with low noise levels. Unfortunately again because of the focus issue it’s hard to give a more detailed evaluation as we continue to see blurred out photography. 

Overall it’s just impossible to rate the Mate 8’s camera so we’ll have to delay the full verdict to more in-depth follow-up once Huawei updates the device’s firmware.

Battery Life & Charge Time Camera Video, NAND & WiFi Performance
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  • jay401 - Monday, January 11, 2016 - link

    Mate 8? Why not just name it the "M8". Reply
  • huberddp - Monday, January 18, 2016 - link

    I have a Nexus 6P and it never gets hot. Only the battery when charging. Reply
  • fanofanand - Tuesday, January 5, 2016 - link

    $700+ for a Chinese device, yeah good luck with that. They really think people are going to choose this over a shiny new iPhone? They need to approach Western markets the way Hyundai and Toyota/Lexus did. Very few people will risk that kind of coin when there are proven alternatives available at the same price. That's why Lexus and Hyundai went with the "Everything the other guy has but 10% cheaper" kind of thing. If they were selling this phone for $450 people would take the risk, but I can't imagine this will be a smashing success in the West. Reply
  • beggerking@yahoo.com - Tuesday, January 5, 2016 - link

    i take my $100 Blu phone over any icrap any day. Reply
  • niva - Tuesday, January 5, 2016 - link

    I'm more concerned about the software on these phones than anything else. The reason why the Nexus 6P is doing so well is because Google manages their software and people are inclined to trust that process. Any other phones by Huawei will not sell well here, especially at those high prices. Reply
  • johnny_boy - Tuesday, January 5, 2016 - link

    Huawei is pretty good from my experience. I own a Honor 6 and it got a relatively timely update to lollipop last year (though you need to download it from the Indian support site). There is reportedly Marshmallow update plans scheduled for this year, too. If this device gets Marshmallow, that will be quite impressive. Reply
  • Ethos Evoss - Wednesday, January 6, 2016 - link

    Yes I just purchased Honor 6 Plus just for £120 and it is very good phone..
    Marshmallow is coming on both honor 6 and plus so that is awesome ! http://forum.xda-developers.com/honor-6/general/hu...

    The sound is NOT good as on Vivo X5Pro but that IPS screen .aah whites are much much better still than ON AMOLED.. I really can't wait to receive S6 edge to compare the whites and the brightness
    Reply
  • s.yu - Saturday, January 16, 2016 - link

    Stupid Huawei fanboy you don't even know how to make a proper comparison. If you need the "blazing" white as some put it, using adaptive mode solves it. If you want an accurate white, there are basic and AMOLED photo modes. Reply
  • Ethos Evoss - Sunday, January 24, 2016 - link

    You ashole qhy I would be fanboy?of this phone? When I have iPhone 6,s6 edge ,vivox5pro, P7 ..
    I just ignore you kiddo ;)
    Reply
  • SanX - Thursday, January 7, 2016 - link

    Generally agree. I tried Blu 6" 1080p not for $100 but for $200 as a temporal substitute. Aside from speed in games it was OK. Of course Nexus 6 is better but not that much really. And the screen of Blu is way brighter. Every next gen of cheapo phones make all other phones more and more marginally different. Advantages? You do not care to lose or drop them. Companies must think of allowing multiple phones with the same phone # so that we will never search for the misplaced phones LOL Reply

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