Camera and Audio


The camera sensor in the Mate 8 is very well specified, with a 16MP sensor with f/2.0 lens, OIS (optical image stabilization), phase detection autofocus, and a dual-tone flash. In practice, however, the image quality was lower than I'd hoped – specifically in situations without ideal lighting.

Here are a some example shots, taken with the stock camera app and automatic settings:

All of these photos defaulted to 1/33 sec exposure time, ISO-160. They were taken inside my light box (with the same lighting I use for all review photos) and no editing of any kind has been done. The full images can be opened and examined if desired. The light box is a best-case scenario for lighting, and the images still look a little dark to my eye. Once outside of the light box, low-light images started to produce quite a bit of noise, in spite of the lower ISO speeds and longer exposures possible thanks to OIS.

On the other hand, overall 'snappiness' of the camera was very good. I would equate the time to focus and snap a shot as very similar to a recent Samsung Galaxy phone, and that's excellent. In contrast, my old Nexus 6 (and even more so the Nexus 5 before it) were quite slow to focus and actually snap the photo, so quick shots were basically out the window with those cameras.

I nearly forgot to mention the front-facing camera, and it's actually impressive. At 8 MP it's capable of some very good photos on its own, and it did very well for me in good lighting.


Sound is a particular standout with the Mate 8. Calls were clear and loud, and this may have the best earpiece speaker I’ve heard on any phone. This is an aspect of smartphones that seems so basic, but is often disappointing. I was pleased that even at higher volumes the earpiece managed to produce clear sound, without noticable distortion.

External sound from the mono speaker on the bottom edge of the phone is very good as well; clear, and capable of a fair bit of volume when needed. Headphone use is another standout with the Mate 8, which has a far superior 3.5 mm output than many devices I’ve used. My daily driver during my time with the Mate 8 was a Nexus 5X, and it paled in comparison in the headphone department. In all instances the Mate 8 drove the same headphones with more clarity and bass.

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