Do we have a good one for you today – The new Samsung Galaxy S8 takes on the Huawei Mate 9. The Galaxy S8 with its Infinity Display and all-glass backing takes on the large displayed, all-metal Mate 9. Does the new Galaxy S8 have what it takes to outclass the Mate 9 with its dual Leica cameras and stereo speakers? Samsung completely revised its Galaxy S series while Huawei did a makeover job with the Mate 9. When it comes to their design and specifications, just how do these two smartphones stand up to one another. Let's look at just what these two devices have in common, if anything, and then we will take a closer look at each one in hopes that we can determine a winner of this comparison.
The Samsung Galaxy S8 and the Huawei Mate 9 have a few things in common. The displays of the two devices are only 0.1-inches different in size, but the smaller displayed S8 is smaller in physical size by 8mm and weighing in at 35 grams lighter than the Mate 9. The displays use a different technology, different resolutions, and different Gorilla Glass for protection. Although both devices use different processors and GPUs, they are comparable. They pack the same amount 4GB of DDR4 RAM and offer the same amount of in-device storage at 64GB with the means to expand their memory via a microSD card. The primary camera areas could not be more different – the Galaxy S8 uses a single 12MP Dual-Pixel camera, and the Mate 9 uses one 20MP sensor and one 12MP sensor – but both take great pictures. The Galaxy S8 and the Mate 9 both use an 8MP sensor for their front-facing cameras (FFC). Both have a rear-facing fingerprint sensor for unlocking the device as well as NFC for authorizing mobile payments, including Android Pay. They both have non-removable batteries with rapid charge capabilities, but the Galaxy S8 adds wireless charging. They come with the usual suspects – WiFi, Bluetooth (v5.0 in the S8 and v4.2 on the Mate 9), GPS, NFC, and the newer reversible Type-C port for charging and data transfer.
Please take a thoughtful look at the detailed Specifications Comparison chart below, and here you will see just how these two great devices stack up against one another – click on the "View Full Comparison" link at the end of the chart to expand the details. After that, we will look at each device in greater depth and point out some of its pros and cons. From all of this information, we will try to determine the winner based on specs and execution of design and functions.
Samsung Galaxy S8
Samsung made some major changes to their Galaxy S series this year – gone is the flat display found on the Galaxy S7 and the dual curved display on the Galaxy S7 Edge. What we have this year is one design theme used on both the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus as Samsung introduces us to their new Infinity Display. It has no left or right bezels and curves on both sides, making it look completely different from its predecessor. Samsung did away with their staple physical 'Home' button, as they did with the 'Back' and 'App' keys. They are all located on the lower part of the display that has 3D Touch capabilities. Samsung moved the fingerprint sensor to the back near the camera lens. To avoid using the fingerprint sensor, Samsung added a couple of easier ways to unlock the device by way of facial recognition or an iris scanner. The physical appearance of the Galaxy S8 may be enough to win you over, but did Samsung upgrade the specifications enough, and just how does it stack up to the Huawei Mate 9.
The flat 5.1-inch display used on the Galaxy S7 gives way to a much larger 5.8-inch Infinity Display on the Galaxy S8. It keeps the Super AMOLED technology with a new 18.5:9 aspect ratio that makes it taller, slightly narrower, and causes it to have a QHD+ display resolution of 2960 x 1440 pixels with 570 pixels-per-inch (PPI). This new display takes up 83.6-percent of the front of the phone and goes edge-to-edge, right-to-left, with very small bezels on the top and bottom. Samsung continues to use the 'always-on' display to help save battery life but just as importantly, making it easier and quicker to check notifications. Samsung uses the newest Corning Gorilla Glass 5 to protect the front and back of the device. The Galaxy S8 is the first high-volume smartphone to use the 10nm technology found in the newest Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 octa-core processor and Samsung's excellent Exynos 8895 octa-core. The SD 835 is clocked at 2.35GHz with an Adreno 540 GPU rounding out the model coming to the US. The other countries will use the Exynos 8895 with four cores clocked at 1.7GHz and four cores clocked at 2.3GHz and a Mali-G71 MP20 for graphics. The Galaxy S8 packs 4GB of DDR4 RAM and has 64GB of the faster UFS 2.1 expandable memory via a microSD card.
Rather than replace the excellent camera from the Galaxy S7, Samsung decided to concentrate on making advancements to their imaging software, and so far, the picture quality looks excellent. The Galaxy S8 uses with a Dual Pixel 12MP sensor with a large aperture of f/1.7, a 26mm lens, PDAF, LED flash, auto HDR and OIS. Samsung change the FFC by enlarging it from a 5MP to an 8MP sensor with its own autofocus. It still is a wide-angle lens, the same f/1.7 aperture, and Live HDR. Samsung also kept the same sized non-removable 3000mAh battery that features Quick Charge and still offers Quick Wireless Charging.
As with all of Samsung's Galaxy S series devices, it has many features crammed in. It continues to be IP68 certified against dust and water resistance. It keeps its heart rate monitor and oxygen saturation sensor for those that exercise and the new Samsung Health replaces Samsung's S-Health. The Galaxy S8 comes with a new Samsung Connect feature that will hook up with Samsung's appliances, SmartTVs, thermostats, and other IoT (Internet of Things) devices. Samsung introduces its own personal assistant called Bixby – Samsung's goal is to get away from manually making adjustments with your hands and instead use the spoken word. You can either ask Bixby simple questions or get the camera involved by pointing it at a historical building to receive some facts regarding the structure or if you aim the camera at a sign written in a foreign language, Bixby will translate it for you. Samsung added a DeX Station that will interface the Galaxy S8 with a monitor, keyboard, and mouse to give you a near desktop experience – this feature has never proven very popular in the past. You can use Android Pay as well as Samsung Pay, which allows Galaxy S8 users more freedom to make mobile purchases. The Galaxy S8 will arrive with Android Nougat 7.0, followed by a quick upgrade to 7.1. It measures 148.9 x 68.1 x 8.0 mm, weighs in at 155 grams, is available in Midnight Black, Orchid Gray, Arctic Silver, Coral Blue, and Maple Gold depending where you are located. The Galaxy S8 will cost about $720 outright and is now available for purchase at major retailers.
Huawei Mate 9
Huawei likes to use a large display and likes to use a Full HD resolution on their Mate devices and the Mate 9 continues that tradition with a large 5.9-inch FHD display. Huawei thinks the QHD is an unnecessary waste of battery life. Even with an almost tablet-sized display, Huawei was able to keep the Mate 9 relatively compact by using small bezels and placing the fingerprint sensor on the back of the device. It has an all-metal build and its slightly curved edges make it comfortable to hold for long periods. The Mate 9 is a GSM device so it will work on AT&T and T-Mobile. Let's see just how it stacks up to the Samsung Galaxy S8.
The Huawei Mate 9 sports a phablet-sized 5.9-inch IPS LCD FHD display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels and 373 PPI due to its large screen. On a display this size, a QHD resolution would be a little crisper, but our review of the Mate 9 gave it high praise for the display. For the processor, they chose their powerful 64-bit Hisilicon Kirin 960 octa-core model with four cores running at 1.8GHz and four cores running at 2.4GHz. The Kirin 960 does support CDMA, but it is unlikely that a Verizon/Sprint model will arrive in the US, which is a real shame. For any graphics thrown its way, Huawei included their accomplished Mali-G71 MP8 GPU. The Mate 9 packs 4GB of DDR4 RAM and 64GB of expandable internal memory via a microSD card.
Huawei is into photography and likes to include a good camera on their smartphones and they did a great job on the Mate 9 by using dual lenses from the infamous Leica brand. There is a 20MP sensor for colored photos and a 12MP sensor that shoots strictly monochrome (B&W) photos. They added OIS, 2X zoom, both Phase Detection Autofocus (PDAF) and laser autofocus, and a dual-tone LED flash. Black and white photos can take on an image all their own and the Mate 9's secondary lens and software can help turn out some interesting pictures. The Mate 9 uses an 8MP sensor on its FFC with a large f/1.9 aperture and 26mm wide-angle lens for great selfies and video chatting. The Mate 9 packs a large 4000mAh non-removable battery along with Huawei's SuperCharge to charge your battery from 0-100-percent in only 90 minutes.
Huawei is concerned about saving battery life so even with a display as large as 5.9-inches you will not find a QHD resolution. They claim the 4000mAh battery will last you a full two days and then, when you need a charge, their SuperCharge system will get you up and running in no time. Huawei does not include any Hi-Fi circuitry to enhance its sound, but they do give you dual stereo speakers. The Mate 9 has a rear-facing fingerprint sensor to unlock the device or authorize mobile payments, including Android Pay. The Mate 9 is running Android 7.0 Nougat out of the box. The Mate 9 measures 156.9 x 78.9 x 7.9mm, weighs in at 190 grams and comes in Space Gray, Moonlight Silver, Champagne Gold, Mocha Brown, Ceramic White, and Black. Its pricing is about $600.
…And The Winner Is…
The Final Word
As good a device as the Huawei Mate 9 is, I have to give this win to the Samsung Galaxy S8. The Mate 9 is a good value at $600, but it lacks the ability to run on all major US networks, only has a Full HD display, and is a little boring in its design, even with its small bezels. If you are already on AT&T or T-Mobile networks then it might be the perfect smartphone for you. However, this comparison is based on specifications and in that department, the Galaxy S8 simply offers more for your extra $120.
While it certainly wins in the looks department, the Galaxy S8 also has a better Super AMOLED QHD display with the 'always-on' feature, as good or better processor and GPU, IP68 certification, an excellent camera, and wireless charging. It also includes a heart rate monitor, oxygen saturation sensor, and the popular Samsung Health, which replaces S-Health. Samsung Pay allows users more freedom and options when it comes to making mobile payments. Samsung adds their personal assistant, Bixby, on the Galaxy S8 as well as Samsung Connect, and Samsung DeX, and Hi-Res audio (although only one speaker). The Galaxy S8 can also be used on all US networks.