Last Thursday, Huawei launched their latest flagship smartphone, the Mate S, in Singapore (it is now available for pre-order, and will be priced at SGD 999). The device is being branded as Huawei’s premium flagship device — something we were reminded about numerous times during the launch event.
And it’s not hard to see why they saw the need to do so: mention Huawei, and many of us are likely to associate the name with products like modems and business-related services. The brand only moved into the mobile phone market about 10 years ago, after all. Since then, though, they’ve gradually increased their market share, and as we were informed at a launch event last week, the brand is set to make upwards of $40 billion by the end of this year.
Design-wise, the phone comes with a full metal body in Luxurious Gold, a 5.5-inch screen (the same as the iPhone 6 Plus), and a screen-to-body ratio of about 74% — pretty to look at, and pretty impressive for a brand looking to break out of its reputation for telecom services. We managed to get our hands on the Mate S to test it out before it reaches Singapore’s shores later this month. Here are some features you can look forward to enjoying should you decide to get one.
This might sound weird both conceptually and to use as a feature, and admittedly, there were a few raised eyebrows when members of the media were first introduced to the Mate S’ Knuckle Sense technology. I did feel quite self-conscious the first few times I knocked on the screen of the phone as well, but I’ve since come to find it a pretty handy feature to have.
This is how it works: tapping on the screen twice with one knuckle captures a screenshot, while tapping twice with two knuckles starts a video recording of what you subsequently do on your screen. You can also create shortcuts to open up the camera, for example, by drawing a letter “C” with your knuckle. I found myself using the screenshot feature more regularly, though the video function also lets you do completely random but fun things like this:
Yup, I recorded a video of myself taking a screenshot, using only my knuckles.
Fingerprint recognition is fast becoming a requisite feature for every smartphone these days, so it’s not surprising that the Huawei Mate S — which the brand is marketing as their premium device — comes with the function too.
Apart from the usual features that fingerprint sensors allow you to do — like make secure payments, answer calls and unlock your phone — it also lets you take pictures more easily. This is mostly due to the fact that the phone’s fingerprint sensor is placed on its back, which means you can grip the phone securely and still tap your finger on the sensor without blocking the camera lens. It’s something that selfie lovers will appreciate, in any case.
Document Readjustment Feature
This doesn’t sound especially appealing off-hand, but it is more interesting than it sounds. What happens is that with the Mate S’ camera, you get a function called Document Readjustment. Selecting that feature before you take a shot lets you capture an image as though you’re taking it face-on, even if you’re actually shooting from the side. Here’re some images to better explain what it does:
So far, I’ve noticed that this works better for actual objects like signboards and screens, rather than for pictures of people, for example. Photos of people tend to end up looking a bit warped, most likely because it’s simply harder to calibrate for depth and 3D surfaces. Guess there goes my chances of taking sneak shots of celebs I meet on the streets.
Yup, the Huawei Mate S will come with a pressure-sensitive screen, which works sort of like the iPhone’s Force Touch. It will also allow users to weigh small objects on its surface, though why someone would need a last-minute weighing scale is unknown to me. (Someone at the launch event provided an insightful tip that this might be helpful for drug dealers…which is actually true, if you think about it.)
Jokes aside, I can see how the feature could work for Singaporean aunties wanting to make sure they don’t get scammed at the market. It would also make for a pretty cool party trick, I guess. One thing to note, however, is that this feature won’t be available on the first batch of phones coming to Singapore. It’s not clear if Huawei will be making it available later on, though.
Overall, the phone is a rather impressive effort on Huawei’s part. Its interior may not be entirely different from the next Android device, but the other features it offers does help to make it stand out from its competitors, and may help brand Huawei as a smartphone maker to watch.
Here’s the full specs list:
|Display||5.5-inch AMOLED FHD screen, Gorilla 4 Glass screen|
|Dimensions||149.8 x 75.3 x 7.2mm|
|OS||EMUI 3.1, Android 5.1|
|CPU||Hisilicon Kirin 935, Quad 2.2GHz + Quad 1.5 GHz, 3GB RAM|
|Camera||13MP rear camera, 8MP front camera|