It’s official: flagship season is amongst us once again. HTC are gearing up to show off the One M10, Apple have got a new iPhone on the way and the Lenovo owned Motorola brand are mere moments from shipping the new Moto X range. Never one to be left out of a party, Huawei have taken the wraps off their so-called ‘global flagship’. It’s got the questionable ‘Mate’ branding and the obligatory ‘S’, but that’s not all. Let’s dig in, shall we?

 

huawei mate s side

 

Let’s start with the basics, and as it’s 2015, there’s some things that the Mate S needs to tick off if it’s got a chance of success. 5.5″ AMOLED Full HD screen? Check. Android 5.1, 3GB of RAM, a powerful processor (Hisilicon Kirin 935, 64bit) and every connectivity option under the sun (full specs here, nerds)? Check, check, check and check. The list goes on with a 13MP rear camera that features optical image stabilization, RGBW sub pixels and dual tone flash. Oh, and let’s not forget the 8MP front facing unit, which packs a ‘soft light’ flash to avoid glowing red eyes.

Really then, it’s what you’d expect of a 2015 flagship – stacked with more power than you’d know what to do with and the software you’d expect. The real story with the Mate S is its construction, which screams quality – something Huawei have needed for a while now.

The phone is made from a solid block of aluminium, with beautiful chamfered edges, leading to a “2.5D” screen (fancy terminology for a light curve). Around the back, there’s that 13MP camera unit in a position that’ll seem plenty familiar to HTC fans, with a fingerprint reader located just below. The company claim that the fingerprint reader also functions as a multi-purpose button, capable of going back, home or opening the multitasking menu depending on where you hit it.

mate s

Perhaps of most pride for Huawei is some -ahem- familiar screen technology they’re using. Namely, Force Touch. Yes, that term invented by Apple to describe pressure sensitive screens has made it into the Mate S. What that means is that you’ll be able to pull off neat tricks, like weighing objects with your phone’s screen (Huawei used an orange) or press hard on an image to see a section zoomed in.

There’s also the second generation of their Knuckle feature, which lets you use your knuckles to quickly launch applications by drawing their letter, or use your knuckles to quickly crop and edit images. It’s a gimmick that Huawei seem to be throwing some weight behind, and hey, who am I to say what people do with their knuckles in the privacy of their own home?

Unfortunately, the phone is still saddled with Huawei’s EMUI 3.1 skin. It’s far from the prettiest skin, turning icons childlike and burying functionality that stock Android highlights, but we suppose it’s necessary for custom software when you’ve got such a cutting edge, tricksy screen.

Huawei-Mate-S-8

 

And that’s about it for the Mate S, it’s a well built, handsome flagship with everything you’d expect and perhaps, just a little more. So what does the Mate S cost? Huawei are launching it in Europe, and it’ll cost €649, around £476, for a version with 32GB of internal storage. The 64GB model starts from €699, around £513.

Huawei say neither of these models will support Force Touch, and that a third, 128GB model with Force Touch will be announced at a later date. The phone is available in ‘rose gold’, ‘luxurious gold’, ‘titanium grey’ and ‘mystic champagne’ from the 15th of September.

The only question is: if this is the flagship, what’s the P8?

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Ten fingers, five senses, one man, loads of Chinese smartphones.

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