At its IFA press conference in Berlin, Chinese manufacturer Huawei has announced the Mate S, its latest flagship smartphone. With a large 5.5-inch full HD screen, it can arguably be classified as a phablet, but thanks to thin bezels the overall dimensions of the device feel surprisingly compact. 

In the camera department the new model comes with a very similar specification as its smaller cousin, the P8. A 13MP 4-Color RGBW image sensor is coupled with an F2.0 aperture and an optical image stabilization system. The front element is covered by scratch-proof sapphire glass which makes the slight camera hump less problematic. Like the P8, the Mate S uses an image processor that is independent from the main system chip. The camera app offers a new 'professional' mode that allows for manual setting of ISO, shutter speed, white balance, focus and metering mode. The stock app does not offer Raw capture, and there was no word from Huawei if the format would be available via third party apps. 

In the presentation Huawei was quite keen to point out the new black and white capture modes, and the 8MP front camera is supported by a front flash that produces a slightly diffused light for more flattering self-portraits in the dark. The build-quality is premium all around, with a slightly curved metal back, metal edges and Gorilla Glass 4 covering the front. The body is water-resistant and the Full-HD screen offers a pixel density of 401 ppi and a 18M:1 contrast ratio. The fingerprint sensor comes with improved sensitivity and recognition speed. It can be used as a shutter button when taking selfies or for scrolling through gallery images by swiping it. 

Huawei claims the battery takes you easily through a day and 10 minutes without re-charging, and will give you 2 hours of talk time. One of the dual-SIM slots takes microSD cards to help store your images and videos. The Huawei's standard version with 32GB of storage will be available from September for €649 (approximately $730), a gold or silver premium version with 64GB will set you back €699 (approximately $785). There is no word on US pricing yet. A version with 128GB of internal memory and a force touch screen is to be announced at a later stage.

For the more budget-minded user the also new Huawei G8 offers a very similar camera specification and identical screen size but slightly down-graded feature set and build quality at a more affordable price point of €399 (approximately $450).

Huawei Mate S Key Specifications:

  • 13MP RGBW sensor
  • F2.0 aperture
  • Optical image stabilization
  • Dual-LED flash
  • 5.5-inch 1080p screen
  • Android 5.1.1
  • 3GB RAM
  • 32/64GB storage
  • HiSilicon Kirin 935 octa-core chipset
  • Manual control MicroSD support
  • Stereo Sound
  • 2700 mAh battery