System & CPU Performance

Continuing on with our standard system and CPU benchmarks we analyse how the Mate 8 performs in more real-world scenarios. 

One large disadvantage of the Mate 7 was the fact that device shipped with Android 4.4 KitKat while Android 5.0 had already been around the corner. Unfortunately Huawei’s update schedule allowed the international variant of the Mate 7 to receive an official update to Android 5.1.1 update only a mere two weeks ago, well over a year after the initial release of the device. Because the update introduces a lot of performance improvements related to the switch to the Android RunTime instead of the older Dalvik JIT compiler, I re-benchmarked the Mate 7 to be able to get an up to date comparison between the two devices.

Furthermore we observed a large JavaScript performance improvement with the latest Chrome stable version 47. Among smaller performance improvements among all devices we saw large boosts to new Cortex A57 SoCs such as found in last year’s Samsung flagships or devices coming with the Snapdragon 808/810. Therefore I went ahead to make sure the current device selection shown in this review have updated scores as we continue to re-benchmark legacy devices.

Kraken 1.1 (Chrome/Safari/IE)

In Kraken the Mate 8 gets the best performance among Android devices with a score of 3667ms. Even though this is a good number, the advantage to the Note 5’s Exynos 7420 is rather small and we still see a large delta to Apple’s latest iPhones. Apple still sees a massive platform advantage due to a much better optimized JavaScript engine in the form of Nitro, as Chrome’s V8 has fallen behind in performance over the last few years, a difference further amplified by the superior single-thread performance of Apples’ CPUs.

Google Octane v2  (Chrome/Safari/IE)

On Octane the Mate 8 is able to better distance itself in Chrome as it shows a more significant performance advantage to Exynos 7420 and Snapdragon 810-based devices, enabling it to lead Android devices.

WebXPRT 2015 (Chrome/Safari/IE)

WebXPRT shows a similar large advantage as the Mate 8 is leading Android devices in Chrome. Here again we see the difference an optimized browser can make as Samsung’s SBrowser still is able to slightly lead the Mate 8 even though it has a weaker CPU. It would really be interesting to one day see a full apples-to-apples browser comparison between all hardware platforms out there but unfortunately that’s seems to still be a hard-to-fulfill wish.

We continue on with BaseMark’s BaseMark OS II 2.0 – a system benchmark that tests out different aspects of a device’s performance, starting with a more synthetic system benchmark.

Basemark OS II 2.0 - System

The Mate 8 continues to post impressive results as the fastest Android device to date. The delta between the Kirin 950 and the Exynos 7420 seems rather small here so it might be that we’re seeing the effects of a lot of various properties between the two platforms.

Basemark OS II 2.0 - Memory

On the memory sub-test the Mate 8 is able to post a very large boost compared to any other device. It’s interesting to see that the devices leading the benchmark are all running Android 6.0 so we might be seeing an OS-side improvement in filesystem API performance. The difference between the Mate 8 and Mate 7 is simply enormous as the Mate 7 had one of the worst-performing NANDs in recent memory, to see Huawei able to go from the worst to the best performer in this test is very encouraging.

Basemark OS II 2.0 - Graphics

The graphics sub-test of BaseMark OS II has historically been unkind to Mali-based GPUs and the Mate 8 is no exception as we see the Mate 8 perform quite badly compared to other current-generation devices. Nevertheless, the new GPU is able to show a large improvement over the past-generation Kirin devices.

Basemark OS II 2.0 - Web

In BaseMark’s web test we see the Mate 8 again perform very well. The Huawei flagship is actually close to the performance of Apple’s new iPhones in this test.

Basemark OS II 2.0 - Overall

Overall the Mate 8 is able to post the best Android BaseMark score – it’s especially the improvement over last year’s Mate 7 which is drastic.

We continue on with Futuremark’s PCMark – another system benchmark that is able to test everyday scenarios and overall device performance by using stock OS APIs.

PCMark - Web Browsing

In the web-browsing test the Mate 8 is able to post a significant lead over other devices, scoring almost 8500 points. The firmware upgrade of the Mate 7 also allowed it to catch up to current-generation devices and is now able to better distance itself from Krait Snapdragon devices as software and compilers matured were better able to take advantage of ARM’s A15/57/72 big core architectures and thus age better.

PCMark - Video Playback

The Mate 8 continues to sport very good video performance. Kirin SoCs use encoder and decoder IPs supplied by Imagination Technologies, Huawei’s devices were seemingly the only ones not affected by a performance degradation in this benchmark that we first saw introduced in Android 5.0.

PCMark - Writing

The writing sub-test is where the Mate 8 is able to showcase the single large performance advantage over the competition. The test consists of small latency-dependent performance spikes that test out both raw performance of Android’s Java runtime as well as the SoC’s DVFS and scheduler policies. The Mate 8 being able to score so high seems to be due to Huawei’s optimisations of Android as well as higher average operating performance points enabled by the Kirin 950. Oddly enough this also confirms that the large performance degradation that we saw happening on the Nexus 5X/6P were not caused by Android 6.0 itself but rather by some configuration that Google chose to do on the new phones.

PCMark - Photo Editing

The photo editing test is mainly a GPU-based benchmark runs compute workloads through Android’s stock media effect libraries which rely on RenderScript. The Mate 8 able to score this well even though it doesn’t have the most performant GPU configuration means that either HiSilicon or ARM have greatly improved compute performance for Mali GPUs. The Mate 8 comes with ARM’s r8p0 version of the Mali drivers which is the latest available release. It would be interesting if with future software updates we’ll be able to see similar improvements from other vendors such as on Samsung’s Exynos devices.

PCMark - Work Performance Overall

Overall the Mate 8 is able to post an absolutely astounding work performance score in PCMark. The reported score also correctly represents my experience with the device as it is by far the fastest Android phone I’ve ever used. This represents an impressive showing from Huawei that can’t be understated – I was expecting the Kirin 950 to perform well, but we saw a lot of surprises on the software side that puts the Mate 8's system performance as the undoubted leader among the competition.

The Kirin 950, Cortex A72 Performance & Power GPU Performance & Power, Device Thermals
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  • Beany2013 - Tuesday, January 05, 2016 - link

    Last update was that it's due - IIRC - before the end of this week unless other schedule conflcts get in the way, from the question being asked on another thread. Reply
  • KPOM - Tuesday, January 05, 2016 - link

    Ryan now says on Twitter that the iPad Pro review will be post-CES. Reply
  • lucam - Tuesday, January 05, 2016 - link

    Thanks. Still don't understand why it's taking so long... Reply
  • Aenean144 - Wednesday, January 06, 2016 - link

    Joshua Ho had finals to study for and to take, then holiday break. Plus, it's going to be harder than your normal review as comparing x86 vs ARM isn't trivial. Reply
  • lucam - Wednesday, January 20, 2016 - link

    January is getting over...and no IPad pro review yet...:( Reply
  • ChronoReverse - Tuesday, January 05, 2016 - link

    The CPU efficiency results gives me hope for this year's phones. I'm going to have to keep my 6P in good shape and hope that the 2016 Nexus will equal it in every way save the SOC. Reply
  • phexac - Tuesday, January 05, 2016 - link

    This is why I finally gave up and went with an iPhone after using exclusively Android phones:

    "While this is DEFINITELY NOT A PERFECT DEVICE and Huawei can definitely improve in aspects such as SCREEN QUALITY, I’m tending towards calling the Mate 8 a worthwhile purchase – that is, if Huawei manages to fix the SEVERE CAMERA ISSUES."

    There are issues like this with every device. Galaxy S6, good but loaded with crapware and has memory leak due to known Android issue. Recent Nexus devices? Fantastic, but color calibration on 6P is iffy and no image stabilizer and long post-processing...and daylight picture quality is inconsistent. Note 5...glass back and crapware. Samsung Edges? Looks GREAT but the edge is a useless gimmick and makes the phone harder to hold.

    Finally got 6s Plus and love the fact that everything works without issues. Yeah, I wish the OS were a bit more flexible in some aspects, but it's great to have a phone where all features work well and navigation is ALWAYS smooth. And honestly, after a few weeks, I don't really notice the things I thought were going to annoy me. I do notice the smooth consistent experience every time though.
    Reply
  • syxbit - Tuesday, January 05, 2016 - link

    Agreed. It seems like the ideal device would be Apple hardware with Google software.
    QCOM is to blame for the utter disaster of 2015 Android phones. Who would have thought a single company could cause so much damage.

    Maybe the ideal future device would be a Pixel phone :).
    Reply
  • IanHagen - Wednesday, January 06, 2016 - link

    Google software? Oh god, no! Not that Android is bad. No, no, it's great, but for me OS X and iOS are very good reasons to use Apple hardware. From a developer standpoint too, great as Android is, no denying about that, sometimes it makes me want to cry for having to deal with sheer absurdities about it. Reply
  • Ethos Evoss - Wednesday, January 06, 2016 - link

    Another naive/pathetic person... Reply

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