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Technology Today - January 2016 - CES Huawei Mate 8

By Robert Sanborn

First of all. It is a cell phone. One of how many that are out there on the market and, from what I saw at CES, are bound to be more and more coming to our shores. Huawei is one of the many very large Chinese companies that most people have never heard of and they have already made quite a few inroads into the USA market. If you look at a number of the Google Nexus phones available, you are looking at a Huawei phone. You can look them up here.

Like many companies from off shore, they are making phones, watches (the electronic kind), tablets, and a host of other products. And I was quite impressed with the showing of the Mate 8 phone at their press conference at CES. It is a high end phone that will compare with the Apple 6 Plus but of course, since it is a generation later, it has more memory, more pixels in the camera, faster processor, and a sleek design. And they gave me one to take home.

Huawei Mate 8

So without even taking it out of the box, as I wandered the equivalent of 42+ football fields of exhibits (including the end zones) at CES, the show formerly known as the consumer electronics show, the first thing I discovered with such a new phone, that no one is showing off a case for it. I probably saw a dozen different companies showing off phone cases and in nearly all the booths, they were showing off cases made for the Apple iPhone 6 and its variants. Amazon on the other hand had 8,538 results for the “Huawei Mate 8 Phone Case”. Most of them for less than $20.

Having said that, I did find a booth that would make me one out of leather or wood at Toast, a small manufacturing plant in Portland OR. Take a look at their cases and you will be amazed at what they are putting together not for just phones, but for tablets as well. I can’t wait to get my hands on one of those.

Toast Cases
The Huawei Mate 8 is their latest high end phone and I am happy to say, connected very nicely to the AT&T network that I use. This link above takes you to their mini site as if you look for the phone on their normal US site, you won’t find it. It is a large phone of the 6 inch variety and having been a long time user (two years) of the Apple iPhone 5S, must say getting used to the larger size was a little tricky. I won’t go into much of the details of the specs and features but one thing does stand out and that is the battery life. You can listen to 98 hours of music or watch 17 hours of continuous video on a single charge. What that really means is you can talk a long time without needing to plug it in and my own use at home and around town for the last week confirm that the battery does indeed hold quite a charge. Another neat feature is that the phone supports two sim cards so that you can use it on two different networks. The back camera is quite an upgrade as well with 16 megapixel Sony sensor attached to a six piece aspherical lens using a hybrid autofocus system. When it makes it to these shores, look to spend around $600.

But I do like the speed, the video, and the sound. Having said that, I also have to confess that all the time I used my iPhone, I have kept it in a waterproof and dustproof case from Catalyst and Lifeproof and so that does have an impact on the sound but it sure makes me feel more secure in knowing that the phone won’t be damaged, especially when I was out in the rain, trying to connect to my Uber driver to find the correct entrance at the Mirage hotel in Las Vegas. Uber, you need to upgrade your maps as we discovered that the entrance to the Mirage Events Center is not on any road and is not that easy to find. And I know, it is not supposed to rain in Las Vegas but it did for the first three days out there and I love having a waterproof case on my phone.

So you will be impressed with the specs of the phone as I said as it includes the cool finger print reader to an 16 megapixel camera, to great sound. Now, having used the iPhones for a very long time, getting used to the Android system was not as difficult as I would have thought. AT&T has a nifty transfer utility that will copy your contacts, photos, and videos from the iPhone to the Android phone and it worked very well. I must admit, I haven’t yet looked to see how I will synchronize my contacts with my Microsoft Outlook and I need to figure out how to do it with the calendar as well.  Setting up the email accounts was pretty easy, though I did discover that at one point, the Android forgot that I had saved the passwords to the accounts and for a while refused to get new email till I went back in and put in the passwords again.  The photos that are transferred are saved in an album called “Other” and that is ok. Of course, since the Apple and Android are different operating systems, I needed to download all the apps that I had on the iPhone. It also means I need to buy some of those apps. To copy my music, I needed to download Google Music to my computer and now my music is stored in Google’s cloud. It is getting complicated; I have stuff stored in Google’s cloud, Microsoft’s, and Apple’s.
The final thing I needed to save was my text messages and how do those things pile up. I was never one to text much (you should try doing it on a flip phone), but people have really gone into it in a huge way. Looking around the internet, I found a great guide from Tom’s Guide that stepped it through very easily and now I have all my text messages but I don’t see the images.

The good news is that the larger phone seems to fit in my pockets as well as did the smaller iPhones but of course, the volume controls and power button are at a different location that I need to get used to. The fingerprint reader is on the back of the phone and after getting used to it, actually like it as I can pick up the phone with one hand and easily turn it on. So far, I am enjoying using the phone as I get used to the switch from ios to android.

More from CES later.

Robert Sanborn

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