By Gerard S. Ramos / Lifestyle & Entertainment Editor
IT wasn’t too long ago when Huawei, either as a brand or as a company (Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd.), was known only to the suits and grunts of the world’s telecommunications players big and small, being a provider of operational and consulting services and equipment that seamlessly worked in the background to keep connected the companies and the markets these served.
Today, Huawei has become one of the biggest names in the information and communications technology (ICT) landscape, having successfully expanded its business to providing end-to-end communications solutions that include a solid consumer devices portfolio of smartphones and tablets. Now, it attracts the kind of media attention and consumer mindshare that were once enjoyed exclusively by the likes of Apple, Google and Microsoft, ranking just behind Samsung and Apple in worldwide smartphone sales in the third quarter of 2015, according to Gartner.
Beyond impressive global sales data, another feather in Huawei’s cap is Google—arguably the world’s most influential ICT company—tapping the Shenzhen, China-based company to manufacture its latest premium smartphone, the Nexus 6P, which consumers and gearheads around these parts can now sample and play around with at Huawei’s newly opened flagship “Experience Store” at SM Mall of Asia, along with the much-lauded Android-powered Huawei Watch. The company’s latest smartwatch is now available for the taking, while the Nexus 6P and all of its unadulterated Android 6.0 (also known as Marshmallow) goodness should be ready for purchase before year’s end or shortly thereafter, along with the Huawei Mate 8 and its 6-inch display glory.
For those who want to get their hands on the latest and greatest in the top-end Huawei Mate line in time for Christmas, or who find the Mate 8’s phablet-pushing display as the too much screen real estate to handle, there is the Huawei Mate S with its gorgeous 5.5-inch screen. (More on the screen in a bit.) It is a luxuriously designed smartphone that not only builds on the qualities that made the Mate 7 such a well-deserved best seller, but also introduces a few innovations, including a number of touch-related features that further usability and deepen ease of use.
From the Mate S screen, you can now crop and edit photos, and even record the screen; and from the insanely good fingerprint sensor located at the back of the phone, you can now answer calls, take photos, browse pages, control the notification bar all just by sliding, clicking or pressing the sensor.
It must be noted, however, that some of these touch features are available only on the 128-gigabyte model of the Huawei Mate S, features that it inherited from the Huawei P8 that became available in global markets well before the release of the so-called 3D touch-enabled iPhone 6s and 6s Plus.
Whatever Mate S variant you choose (it comes in 32 GB, 64 GB or 128 GB models), the smartphone you will hold in your hand is one of exceptional craftsmanship, encased in a full-metal body with a brushed gold finish that never teeters into the tacky (and pretty much effectively conceals your typical fingerprint smudges), and with just the slightest curvature in the back for better ergonomics. It weighs a mere 156 g, with dimensions at 149.8×75.3×7.2 mm, and yet it never feels fussy or fragile in the hand. And, yes, the gold variant of the Mate S, dubbed Luxurious Gold, is the only variant available in the country.
On the right side of the Huawei Mate S sits the power button, along with the volume rocker, both of which may be just slivers of metal but nonetheless are responsive and give good tactile feedback. At the bottom is the microUSB port flanked by grills for the speaker, while a microphone and the headphone jack are at the top. The left side of the device is kept bare save for the combined nano-SIM and microSD card tray. Actually, pick the more generous 64 GB/128 GB variant of the Mate S and you can use the memory-card slot instead to work a dual-SIM affair, both leveraging LTE connectivity.
Now, again on that 5.5-inch display: with a 1080×1920 pixel resolution and a 401-ppi pixel density, the Mate S screen isn’t exactly the envelope-pushing ultra-HD display that Sony has packed into its flagship Xperia Z5 Premium. That said, the Amoled Full-HD display of the Mate S boasts of vibrant colors, strong contrast and exceptional viewing angles, the viewing experience further enhanced by a near-borderless design. The company also took pains to make the edges of the 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass 4 that tops the display seemingly curve into the phone’s metal frame, adding to the premium feel of the smartphone. Photos and videos, whether taken by the phone’s solid 13-megapixel rear camera with dual tone flash and optical image stabilization or otherwise, look marvelous on the display. Meanwhile, there is an 8-MP front-facing camera for all your selfie and videoconferencing needs.
Powered by the 64-bit Hisilicon Kirin 935 octacore processor complemented by 3-GB RAM, the Huawei Mate S runs on Android 5.1 (Lollipop; an update to Marshmallow should be forthcoming) with its proprietary Emotion UI 3.1, or simply EMUI, helping things along. No doubt the company’s user interface will be an acquired taste to some users, but it offers a number of advantages, particularly if you intend to work on a dual-SIM configuration. For one, switching between one network to another when sending SMS or locking onto a better LTE connection is made easier by the wonderfully configurable EMUI.
You can get learn more about the various technologies that fuel the Huawei Mate S, in terms of both software and hardware, at goo.gl/uPEyVN. Suffice it to say, this current flagship strongly and beautifully illustrates why Huawei has become as one of the most formidable players in the global smartphone space.