Tech Tools review: Huawei’s Mate S is sturdy and has a great camera

Good specs make the Mate S a great bet but it may be a little expensive for some

Product name: Huawei Mate S

Price: €319.0

Where to buy:


Thu, Jun 2, 2016, 13:30


Perhaps it was Huawei’s choice of name that makes the Mate S feel instantly appealing. “Mate” makes it sound like we’re all in this together. “Mate” has your back in the way “Model 5467” never did. “Mate” won’t let you down, you see.

And for the most part, the Mate S lives up to its moniker. The 5.5-inch-screen smartphone handles almost anything with ease, moving from work to play, capturing some decent photographs along the way.

It got the design down too, with an all metal body that HTC, Apple and now even Samsung favours. The Mate S is a classy one, a cut above the plastic casing that previous Huawei phones favoured.

On the rear of the phone is the fingerprint scanner, making it more comfortable to hold and use the scanner to unlock your phone, take a photograph or even answer a call. Yes, it veers into gimmick territory, but this is one gimmick that actually might have an enduring use.

The Mate S is powered by the company’s own Kirin 935 chip, and comes with 3GB of RAM on board. It is speedy enough for most things, but the phone definitely feels a bit more sluggish than the S7 or the iPhone 6s, although the difference is only slight. Huawei’s custom Android Emotion skin probably doesn’t help matters though.

I say it lives up to the Mate brand for the most part though, because the one area the Mate S falls short in is the display. Which is some kind of irony, when you think about it, because that’s the most striking feature about the Mate S.

Don’t get me wrong; the HD display is nice to have, but in this price bracket, the mate S is competing with the likes of the Samsung S7, which has a quad HD display. But one thing in its favour here is the fact that it’s an AMOLED display, which means crisp text, striking colours and generally all-round more-than-acceptable visuals.

The camera too is a cut above. Huawei may have teamed up with Leica for the subsequently launched P9 but the Mate S’s 13-megapixel rear-facing camera delivers decent photographs, despite the lack of the Leica brand. And at 8 megapixels for the front-facing camera, the selfies will be more than adequate for Instagram and facebook. Get your duck face ready.

The 32GB of storage space that is standard on the Mate S won’t last too long if you are a serious video user, so the ability to expand the memory with a 128GB micro SD card is, as always, very welcome.

As buddies go, the Mate S is kind of pricey. It’s currently exclusive to Three Ireland, but the sim-free price quoted in the UK and the US puts it at the higher end of things.

Kind of like that “good” friend who suggests a restaurant for lunch that seems reasonable from the outside, only it’s the type of place that charges for tap water. And you’re the one footing the bill. Perhaps it’s because I’m so used to Huawei undercutting the competition, but the Mate S feels a bit on the expensive side of things.

The good

The fingerprint scanner is nicely placed and easy to use, and the all-metal body gives the Mate S a premium finish. The camera too.

The not so good

Does anyone really use “Force Touch” or whatever companies call it? That goes for iPhone 6s and 6s Plus users too by the way. It always feels a bit gimmicky, so I’m not sure what it really brings to the party for the Mate S. It’s only available on the 128GB version though.

The rest

The Mate S uses micro USB instead of the newer USB C, which although it dates the phone somewhat, it also means you aren’t destined to have to swap over every accessory you’ve bought for previous devices.

The verdict


Slightly pricey but the Mate S is a decent addition to the Huawei line-up. Given the choice though, the P9 is still top of the line-up for me.