Introduction


From the point of view of Huawei's product portfolio, the Mate S is a weird addition to its high-end roster. A mixture between the P and Mate lines, the S strikes a balance between thinness and size, all the while hitting the right notes when it comes to looks. No, it doesn't look 'cool'. It looks beautiful.

But during our week with the Mate S, we couldn't shake the feeling that it's something of a gap filler — a sort of stand-in until the Mate 8. Sure, you could argue that its smaller size is more than enough to justify an excursion outside the established product matrix, but a new line for the sake of a new line? Sure, why not. But that only complicates things for the Mate S, which now has quite a bit to prove — especially at €649/~$650.

Let's see if it's convincing enough.

In the box:

  • Huawei Mate S
  • Earphones with metal accents
  • 2A wall charger
  • USB to microUSB cable
  • SIM ejector tool
  • Flip case with 'smart' front window

Design

You'll go 'my precioussss' all over it in no time whatsoever!

Whether you like large devices or not is besides the point. The Huawei Mate S is a beautifully crafted piece of telephony goodness, and one that's sure to attract eyeballs.

More specifically, we start off with an aluminum body with nary a disagreeing element to clash with the uniform looks of the phone. Clear-cut lines, rounded corners, chamfered edges, and display glass that seeps into the frame masterfully. Add to that a thin, 0.28 inch (7.2 mm) profile, and you've got yourself one of the most striking phablets currently on the market. Just handling the Mate S is consistently rewarding, and so we loved fondling it. And that says a lot when you go through literally hundreds of devices a year.

Of course, the Mate S isn't just a pretty face, and is engineered with reason. The slim body makes handling the device easier, and the slightly rounded back helps too. Sure, at 5.5 inches and ~74% screen-to-body ratio, it's not exactly a one-hand device, and that's further amplified by its rather slippery rear and big black border encircling the actual display panel. But as a concern, these are easily forgiven by on-the-target hits like the metal volume rocker and power key, the two of which are easy to reach on the right side. Both of these are a joy to use, with extremely good feedback, just the right height, and a soul-satisfying, pronounced 'click' to them.

Finally, we ought to mention the rear-mounted fingerprint scanner. Obviously, this particular setup has grown in popularity lately, though it's definitely true that there's a notable — but acceptable — learning curve to go through before you feel right at home. Even then, however, you'll find that unlocking the phone when it's laying flat on a surface is kind of a hassle — we ended up using the pass code quite often whenever that happened.



Huawei Mate S

Huawei Mate S

Dimensions

5.9 x 2.96 x 0.28 inches

149.8 x 75.3 x 7.2 mm

Weight

5.50 oz (156 g)

Samsung Galaxy Note 5

Samsung Galaxy Note 5

Dimensions

6.03 x 3 x 0.3 inches

153.2 x 76.1 x 7.6 mm

Weight

6.03 oz (171 g)

Google Nexus 6P

Google Nexus 6P

Dimensions

6.27 x 3.06 x 0.29 inches

159.3 x 77.8 x 7.3 mm

Weight

6.28 oz (178 g)

Apple iPhone 6s Plus

Apple iPhone 6s Plus

Dimensions

6.23 x 3.07 x 0.29 inches

158.2 x 77.9 x 7.3 mm

Weight

6.77 oz (192 g)

Huawei Mate S

Huawei Mate S

Dimensions

5.9 x 2.96 x 0.28 inches

149.8 x 75.3 x 7.2 mm

Weight

5.50 oz (156 g)

Samsung Galaxy Note 5

Samsung Galaxy Note 5

Dimensions

6.03 x 3 x 0.3 inches

153.2 x 76.1 x 7.6 mm

Weight

6.03 oz (171 g)

Google Nexus 6P

Google Nexus 6P

Dimensions

6.27 x 3.06 x 0.29 inches

159.3 x 77.8 x 7.3 mm

Weight

6.28 oz (178 g)

Apple iPhone 6s Plus

Apple iPhone 6s Plus

Dimensions

6.23 x 3.07 x 0.29 inches

158.2 x 77.9 x 7.3 mm

Weight

6.77 oz (192 g)

To see the phones in real size or compare them with other models, visit our Visual Phone Size Comparison page




Display

Shades of orange look red. And that's a problem that you can only partially solve.

AMOLED panels have recently grown into a significant trend within the industry, and while we've seen Samsung make some great progress in terms of color accuracy and brightness potency, the unit on the Mate S misses both these targets.

In short, the 5.5-incher of the Huawei Mate S, while pleasant to look at, is actually fairly disappointing for a high-end device. And no, it's not because Huawei has decided to skip over Quad HD and instead stick to a standard (and perfectly sufficient) resolution of 1080 x 1920 (401 ppi). More worrying are the non-trivial disparities between target and actual color reproduction.

For example, at over 7700K, the screen on the Mate S is overly cold and therefore bluish-looking, though you can tweak color temperature and correct for this. What you can't do is fix the messed up color reproduction of the unit, so prepare for overly saturated colors that distort reality and look artificial. Given how Android and the entirety of the internet is coded with a different color gamut (sRGB) in mind, this is certainly a drawback.

Finally, on brightness. We measured a peak of just under 350 nits, which is on the lower end overall. Still, it being winter-y around here, we ran into absolutely no trouble — even on the odd day when the sun was up and shining — but you may feel otherwise once summer gets here. Unfortunately for Huawei, the minimum brightness of the panel (6 nits) is just too high for comfortable usage at night, and we can't say we were impressed by the performance of the ambient light sensor. It consistently let us down and forced us to manually adjust how much light goes through the pixel matrix, which is extremely annoying.

Not off to a good start.



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16 Comments

1. Zomer

Posts: 361; Member since: May 31, 2013

It's also slow.

8. Jango

Posts: 372; Member since: Oct 24, 2014

How so? I have a Huawei Nexus 6P and my friend the Mate S. Seriously beautiful device that Mate S, with a more solid feeling metal build construction and smaller frame. The screen was just as good as that on the 6P. The speakers were plenty loud, a smidgen less than the 6P. The selfie camera is probably the best out there after the one on the 6P. I can't speak for battery life or performance in general but what little i tried of the UI, seemed to perform just fine.

9. Chris.P

Posts: 567; Member since: Jun 27, 2013

Save for the Recents menu, UI performance is pretty decent on the whole. It's complex apps/games that put a strain on the Kirin 935. It's perfectly acceptable for the most part, but objectively inferior to the best out there.

15. Jango

Posts: 372; Member since: Oct 24, 2014

Thanks for the clarity.

13. Arch_Fiend

Posts: 3951; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

Its Soc Is Trash So That's Why Its Slow. The Nexus 6P Has The Sd810 So Of Course Its Not Slow.

2. Moose

Posts: 418; Member since: Jan 05, 2015

Nice looking phone, but only a 2700 mAh battery? And so expensive? No thanks. I tried their Mate 7 for a few months, great phone and 2-day battery - 4100 mAh, hard to accept even 3000 mAh after experiencing such great battery life.

3. iM2.0

Posts: 52; Member since: Dec 14, 2015

sorry Huawei but your 6s Plus rip off is awful

4. bur60

Posts: 981; Member since: Jul 07, 2014

This phone came first tho

12. Acer_Predator unregistered

how can be this iphobe rip off? it does not e en have a close to iphone liking..

6. vuyonc

Posts: 1089; Member since: Feb 24, 2014

Poor value for money.

7. jesus_sheep

Posts: 279; Member since: Apr 18, 2015

cash cows

10. Ghost04

Posts: 517; Member since: May 03, 2014

Same phone as Huawei P8 . P8 = 8.5 And Mate S = 6.5 .

11. iWin_Droid

Posts: 76; Member since: Jan 22, 2015

Huawei Mate S; Your smartphone equivalent of a bimbo, all beauty and a slow brain.

14. Andrewtst

Posts: 696; Member since: Jan 25, 2009

This phone deserve low scores, the price is way to high where spec similar south it own others phone.

16. AndyYan

Posts: 84; Member since: Feb 10, 2014

Fsck the faux-zero-bezel black borders.

17. Gautham386

Posts: 8; Member since: Nov 20, 2015

The device looks decent but how well it performes high end heavy graphic games?
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

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