Huawei’s design ideas might not be wholly original, but that doesn’t mean the company’s not building great smartphones. Its new flagship, the Mate S, is the case in point. Some models have a pressure-sensitive screen that just happens to have the same name as Apple’s Force Touch technology and the rear and sides of the device might look like a HTC One M9, but this is still a device that’s clean-looking, well built, and just a pleasure to hold in the hand.
Its rear-mounted fingerprint sensor is fast, activating with just a touch. Although the device has its fare share of gimmicks, they don’t distract from what is overall a powerful smartphone. The 5.5-inch HD AMOLED screen is vivid, and the quad-core Kirin processor, while relatively unknown in Western markets, is definitely capable, with smooth screen animations and little lag. There’s also a 13-megapixel camera with optical image stabilization and dual-tone flash, 3GB of RAM, and a choice between 32GB and 64GB of expandable internal memory. Huawei’s custom UI, with its sickly-looking icons and lack of an app drawer, still annoys me, but it’s a minor criticism of an impressive device.