High-end phones are all about feel. You can cram in all the up-to-the-second processors, storage and RAM you like: if a flagship phone doesn’t feel the business, it’s not the business.
Huawei, which brought out its high-end Mate S at the massive IFA consumer-electronics show in Berlin last month, knows this well. We sat down with Clement Wong – the company’s vice-president of Huawei's global product marketing team – at the show. “Everyone is looking for premium,” he said. “We know consumers hunger for innovation, and that customers are looking for something different. So we’ve tried something different.”
“Different” sums up the Mate S rather nicely. The body is fully metal, and dual diamond-cut for maximum sleekness. “People will be wowed by the thickness,” says Wong. The phone, according to Huawei’s own callipers, is just 7.2mm thick, but its space-age materials allows it to taper at its edges, making it feel even thinner while still allowing space for a stepped battery construction (for that little bit of extra juice). “Our dual diamond-cut design creates amazingly slim feel,” says Wong, “and the curvature creates more space inside for all the stuff we wanted to include.”
That curve serves another purpose too: pick the Mate S up and it nestles gently in the palm of your hand, making it as comfortable to use as it is spectacular to look at. Elsewhere, the Mate S’s materials are carefully crafted from front to back: the camera lens on the back is covered with sapphire-coated glass, so unless your pockets are full of diamonds, it won’t scratch.
A display of strength
Huawei certainly can’t be accused of going light on features. The 5.5in screen on the front is covered with ultra-tough Gorilla Glass 2.5, with curved edges that make the display look almost fluid. The picture itself comes courtesy of a Full HD AMOLED for maximum colour reproduction. Behind it is an incredible eight-core, 64-bit processor to keep number-crunching effortless, while 3GB of RAM and up to 128GB of permanent storage should mean the Mate S stays usable no matter how much you ask of it.
There are plenty of new tricks as well. Take Huawei’s Knuckle Sense 2.0, for example, which lets you draw gestures on the screen with your (you guessed it) knuckles. Outline a ‘C’, for instance, and the 13-megapixel, optically-stabilised camera will fire up. You can even design your own application shortcuts with different knuckle drawings. Elsewhere, on selected models, features such as Force Touch – Huawei’s Jedi-sounding way of detecting how hard you’re pushing the screen – allows you to do much more than with a simple tap-or-not-tapped touchscreen. Forthcoming apps will be able to do all kinds of tricks, such as weighing objects placed on the ultra-hardy screen, but from its launch, a firm push on one of the corners of the Mate S’s screen can be set to launch a particular app, while photos can be zoomed in and out using a similar mechanism.
We got the last word from none other than Jerry Huang, Huawei’s global marketing director. “We have integrated all the key features – especially the user experiences – into this phone from phones like the P8 and the Mate 7,” he says. “We are bringing this phone to a new benchmark of how beautiful the smartphone can be.”