Huawei Mate S review: gap rapidly closing on Apple, Samsung
Huawei’s Mate S is further proof of the company’s growing confidence in the high-end smartphone market, following in the footsteps of the impressive P8 to deliver a premium device at a more affordable price point.
The Mate S is probably the Chinese manufacturer’s best-designed smartphone to date. However, its specifications aren’t earth-shattering, and its price point is only marginally more competitive than others in its class, which may give you pause for thought before splashing out.
The handset’s design isn’t yet up there with the likes of the Galaxy S6 Edge and iPhone 6S, but it’s a massive improvement on the company’s previous designs. The rough edges of the P8 have been smoothed out, with the slightly round-edged display offset by a beautifully crafted metal body, with an unobtrusive camera and a very effective fingerprint scanner.
While lacking the wow factor of Apple and high-end Samsung devices, the Mate S’s 5.5-inch Amoled HD display performs perfectly well, with the new Star Wars trailer looking both rich in colours and perfectly smooth.
The Mate S’s 13MP camera is on paper a little weaker than those of other devices in its class. While low light performance is a little below par, it does the job, even if the G4 remains streets ahead.
Huawei has made a lot of the Mate S’s pressure-sensitive display, similar to Apple’s new 3D Touch. Such a technology remains in its infancy however, and offers even less functionality than on the iPhone 6S.
The Mate S, which runs on Android Marshmallow, retails at around Dh2,299 with 64GB of internal storage. This makes it cheaper than the new Sony Xperia Z5 (starting at Dh2,699), and a bit more expensive than the slightly older LG G4.
Despite the Mate S’s superior design, for me the G4 still wins out in this class thanks to its superior camera. But Huawei is rapidly closing the gap, meaning the big boys had better watch out.
q&a clever but not compelling
John Everington reveals what the new Huawei Watch has to offer:
Huawei also announced a watch, didn’t they?
Indeed they did. The Huawei Watch is a smartwatch that will work with both Android smartphones and iPhones running iOS 8.2 or above.
What’s its design like? As good as the Mate S?
I’d say so. At its heart, the Huawei Watch has a 42mm diameter circular face, which is a plus if you like a traditional watch design, although others will argue a square face (like the Apple Watch) is better suited to a smartwatch. There’s a single button on the side that will wake and dim the display, and acts as a home button. Like the Apple Watch, it’s available in several different finishes, with a variety of straps.
What’s under the hood?
There’s a built-in heart rate monitor for fitness tracking purposes, but no GPS, meaning you’ll need to take your phone running with you. The new version of Android Wear means the watch can connect to your phone via Bluetooth and over a Wi-Fi network. There’s 4GB worth of storage for music and apps, of which there are a growing number available. But while some swear by their smartwatches, for me there’s still no compelling feature beyond messaging and call notifications.
How much will it set me back?
Prices start at Dh1,299. That’s Dh100 less than the entry level Apple Watch, and about the same price as the new Samsung Gear S2, but a little pricier than the Sony Smartwatch 3 and the Moto 360.
Follow The National’s Business section on Twitter