Amongst the long line of smartphones unveiled at IFA in Berlin today we saw the Mate S, the new flagship model from Chinese manufacturer Huawei. While its specs put it a notch below the very best phones on the market today, it's a notch cheaper too, and it does have one innovative feature worth talking about: Force Touch.
That's the pressure-sensitive technology we've seen Apple debut on the Apple Watch and extend to the MacBook; it's also widely expected to feature in the next-generation iPhones tipped to be shown off in California this time next week. Force Touch offers more ways of interacting with your phone (pressing harder to zoom into a photo for example), and it looks like Huawei has nabbed both the idea and the name from its U.S. competitor.
Aside from the pressure-sensitive screen, the Mate S brings with it a 5.5-in Full HD AMOLED screen and a fingerprint sensor around the back of the unit for some added security. Just 7.2 mm (0.28 in) at its thickest point, the phone has a unibody metal shell and a slightly arched back for easier gripping. Inside, an octa-core CPU (two quad-cores clocked at 2.2 GHz and 1.5GHz respectively) and 3GB of RAM keep everything running smoothly.
There's an 8 MP front-facing camera and a 13 MP one around the rear, complete with optical image stabilization to keep your shots as blur-free as possible. The 2,700mAh non-removable battery is above average in size and Huawei is promising a day's use guaranteed, with more usually possible. A microSD card slot is available for extending the internal storage (more on this in the pricing below), and a dual-SIM slot too.
There are some more unusual ideas here as well, such as the "Knuckle Sense" technology that lets you use your knuckles to perform various actions (like cutting out a photo) rather than your fingertips – it sounds a bit bizarre, and it probably is. There are four colors to pick from: Coral Pink, Prestige Gold, Titanium Gray and Mystique Champagne.
As for pricing, phone arrives in Europe this month for €649 ( about £475) for 32 GB of storage and €699 (which converts to about US$730) for 64 GB. The 128 GB edition – actually the only one to include Force Touch – will be launching sometime later this year (and probably after the iPhone), with dates and prices to be announced. At this point, there's no indication it's going to be available in the United States for the foreseeable future.
With rumors swirling that Huawei will be one of Google's manufacturing partners on a new Nexus smartphone, the Mate S is likely to attract more attention than it might otherwise have found. It's not going to break any benchmarking records but as a total package it's an appealing-looking option at the premium end of the smartphone market.
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