One of the trends we find when we review a device from Huawei is that we love the design, but feel a little let down by the custom UI, Emotion. At first we were worried that the trend would continue when we saw the gorgeous Mate S. It borrows elements from the likes of the Samsung Galaxy Alpha and HTC M9 to provide a near full-metal build with an almost bezel-less fascia, which sports a stunning 5.5-inch display.
As well as the normal ports, users will find dual-speakers on the bottom that offer fantastic quality for music and movies, while a second SIM slot doubles up as an expendable microSD slot. Sitting around the back is a fingerprint scanner, a handy way to lock and unlock your phone in a flash, but we ended up hovering our finger on the camera sensor on more than one occasion, as it’s nearly the exact same size.
Turning on the device reveals a forked version of Lollipop 5.1 running alongside Emotion 3.1, and it’s an absolute treat. Both work well in sync to provide one of the most complete Android user experiences we’ve ever seen and there are some nice touches to enhance it even further. For example, pulling down on the display will show your schedule for the day, while the app management screen will highlight how much RAM you’re using at that exact time.
It makes mincemeat of all the tasks you could possibly throw at it and while the HiSilicon Kirin chip lacks the finesse of the Snapdragon series, the octa-core configuration makes the Mate S a joy.