Huawei Mate S hands-on

Huawei unveiled today what could be the toughest Android competitor to the upcoming iPhone 6s Plus — the 5.5" Mate S which has a version equipped with a Force Touch display. The pressure-sensitive screen means that the panel distinguishes between a light tap or a harder press, and reacts accordingly, and we are taking one for a spin at the IFA expo for your viewing pleasure.


As can easily be guessed from its 5.90 x 2.96 x 0.28 inches (149.8 x 75.3 x 7.2 mm) dimensions, the Mate S sports a very good 74% screen-to-body ratio on paper. It's a tad wider than the best 5.5-incher achievements out there, yet doesn't feel this way in the hand, as it is very thin, and especially so towards the minimalist, tapered edges, making it very ergonomic to hold. The cold metal feeling in your palm is cool, too (pun intended), though the aluminum doesn't mean that the phone feels slippery to the touch.

We also loved how well Huawei has managed to camouflage the now typical antenna stripes we see with most metal phones, and the company wasted no time trying to point out just how much better those look on the Mate S compared with the iPhone 6 Plus. We kind of agree.


The 1080p Super AMOLED screen panel is tapering to the sides in a typical 2.5D fashion, and is every bit as vibrant and a tad oversaturated as you can expect from a screen with this technology. The viewing angles are extremely wide, and the blacks are deep and real. The screen is also protected by Corning's latest and greatest — Gorilla Glass 4 — so the Mate S enters the still rather elite club of devices offering this newer generation of scratch-protected glass.

Processor and memory

The phablet is powered by Huawei's newest HiSilicon Kirin 935 chipset, which is an octa-core, 2.2 GHz endeavor, with ARM Cortex-A53 cores and 64-bit processing. Huawei has coupled its home-grown silicon with 3 GB of RAM, and given the light Emotion UI 3.1 that is running on the phablet, the whole shebang moves in a smooth and oily manner. While we obviously didn't spend enough quality time with the Mate S to be sure beyond a shadow of doubt, it's looking like the company's new phablet will deliver on the performance front no problem.


With the Mate S we get the same setup that is on the flagship Huawei P8 — a 13 MP camera in the back with an RGBW sensor, optical image stabilization and dual flash, as well as an 8 MP selfie shooter with the rare front LED flash. The camera has a full manual mode with ISO adjustments, exposure compensation, exposure time, white balance and focusing, as well as things like grid adjustments, and flash-assisted focusing. We found the camera app to be full to the brim with features that are surprisingly easy to find, yet the graphics could be a tad larger for our grubby mitts to press without fumbling around.


All in all, everything about the Mate S feels and touches great, down to the smallest details like directional mics, or dual speakers at the bottom, except for the pricing scheme, which is a bit on the hefty side, unlike the handset.

The 32GB version in titanium grey or mystique champagne will run at 649 euros, while the version with 64GB of ROM will come in "prestige" gold or coral pink, with a 699 euros tag. The 128GB Force Touch version will likely go north of that with at least a hundred, so it might have a steep hill to climb against a similarly priced iPhone 6s Plus, which might very well turn out to be its main and only competitor, because of the pressure-sensitive display. Unfortunately, as to when the Mate S will make its presence known on the market, we just don't know for now.

Related phones

Mate S
  • Display 5.5" 1080 x 1920 pixels
  • Camera 13 MP / 8 MP front
  • Processor HiSilicon Kirin, Octa-core, 2200 MHz
  • Storage 128 GB
  • Battery 2700 mAh



1. Busyboy

Posts: 731; Member since: Jan 07, 2015

Is it just me or is the display pinkish?

8. abdoualgeria

Posts: 928; Member since: Jul 27, 2015

It's just u

2. Tziggy14

Posts: 624; Member since: Sep 02, 2014

How could this be the toughest competitor to the iPhone 6s Plus when the Mate S will only be released in certain locations? The world is not just China Huawei.

3. tedkord

Posts: 17356; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

Not yet, anyway.

4. nctx77

Posts: 2540; Member since: Sep 03, 2013

How is this the first phone with forced touch and it's not even available? Also, I have yet to see a demo of it.

5. ryanze

Posts: 4; Member since: Aug 11, 2015

what is quite dissapointing, I really hope to see kirin950 here. the gpu in kirin935 is no competition for snapdragon or even iphone 6

7. MSi_GS70 unregistered

You have to forget HW .. important is the look

9. superkuiken

Posts: 168; Member since: Mar 24, 2013

Damn Huawei, what happened to the agressive pricing of the previous years?

10. hortizano

Posts: 294; Member since: May 22, 2013

You have my attention Huawei.. now do the right thing and bring it to the US...

11. abdiel

Posts: 7; Member since: Jan 08, 2016

I really really wanted this phone, I owned a Huawei G7 and I loved it, but this phone is definitely NOT worth the high price, I bought a Moto X Style instead

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