Living with the Huawei Mate S

What's it like to use the Huawei Mate S every day?
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Living with the Huawei Mate S

Huawei Mate S is the new top smartphone from the world’s third biggest mobile maker. To see how the new Chinese smartphone stacks up against the better-known names in tech, we entrusted it to one of our reporters for the week. Let’s see what they thought of living with the Huawei Mate S.

Day 1 – This thing looks great

Huawei Mate SWhen I was handed the boxed Mate S I instantly knew that this was meant to be a premium smartphone. Black, square and with Huawei Mate S elegantly etched in gold on the front, the box looked like it contained a limited edition phone like the Porsche Design P’9982 by BlackBerry.

That luxury feel continued as I opened the box to reveal the metal phone and some very attractive looking earphones. Picking up the phone, I was impressed to find it was as sleek as the box it came in. It’s really thin and has a completely metal body so it feels really nice to hold. It looks pretty special too thanks to a screen that seems to cover almost the entire front of the phone. There’s even a decent leather-look flip case in the box so you can keep the Mate S looking good.

The Huawei Mate S has made a great first impression, and I’ll leave judgement on how it works until I’ve got everything set up and have had a chance to play with it a bit.

Day 2 – A few ups and downs

Now that I’ve had some time to get to know the phone, it’s probably a good idea to give my first impressions on the software on the Huawei Mate S.

There are only really two things that frustrate me. The first is that there’s no app drawer, instead all your apps are on your home screens, like on iPhone. The other is that when you swipe down for notifications, you have to press another button for the quick settings. I know I’m being picky, but when so much attention has been paid to the design I really wanted to love the software too.

Having said that, Huawei has added some useful software features. There’s a fingerprint scanner on the back of the phone, but it can do more than just unlock the Mate S. I spent today answering calls, controlling the camera, turning off the alarm, showing the notification panel and browsing photos – all by pressing, swiping and holding it. That makes this fingerprint scanner the most useful one I’ve seen.

Day 3 – The Mate S is great for entertainment

Three days in and I’m really enjoying the Mate S. The screen quality has been particularly impressive, especially for games where the vibrant colours look really good. I’ve also found it plenty big enough for movies, making my morning commute more interesting.

The phone’s been really quick too. It comes with some big games built in, like Asphalt Nitro and Siegefall, and they open in an instant. That’s probably because the Mate S keeps telling me when there are draining apps running in the background so I can close them. That means I can keep more RAM free to open new apps.

And sound quality has been great. I’ve been using the earphones that come with the Mate S and I’ve really noticed clearer highs and lows in my music than I get with my usual phone and headphones.

Day 4 – The camera’s pretty good

I’m not much of a photographer, but today I went out to test the 13MP camera on the Mate S. I quite liked the photos it took. They aren’t the sharpest I’ve taken with a phone (those come from the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge and Sony Xperia Z5) but the colours are really accurate. And, to be honest, they’re more than sharp enough to share on Facebook.

Huawei Mate S camera sample

Huawei Mate S camera sample

What really impressed me were the photos I took in the office. Normally the fluorescent lights really mess with the colours in the pictures, but the Mate S got its automatic settings spot on.

Day 5 – It’s been a good week

Now that I’ve spent a full working week with the Huawei Mate S, it’s probably time to judge the battery life. In five days I’ve charged the phone twice. That’s impressive given the big screen and speedy processor. But now it’s time to hand back the Mate S and return to charging my phone nightly.

It really does feel like Huawei has made a competitive high-end phone. I’m going to miss its sleek design and, of course, the great battery life.

If you want to get your hands on the Huawei Mate S, head over to Carphone Warehouse.

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