LIVE FROM IFA 2015: Huawei used its event at IFA here today to unveil the latest in its Mate large-screen smartphone line, although a lot of attention was also focused on the commercial launch of its anticipated smartwatch.
While in many ways Mate S is an incremental upgrade to last year’s Mate7, the company made much of several new user interface features introduced with the new smartphone.
The Mate S range includes an upgrade to the fingerprint reader, which the company said “improves recognition speeds by 100 per cent”, and can also be used as a navigation tool – for example to control the notification bar, scroll through photos, or take pictures – improving the one-hand navigation of the large-screen phone.
Knuckle Control, introduced with Huawei P8, has been updated in Mate S, enabling users to launch apps by drawing certain short codes.
And perhaps most interestingly, the company touted a planned version with support for a force touch capability, enabling it to detect longer and harder presses.
The main camera has been upgraded, although the resolution remains unchanged at 13MP. As with P8, it features a four-colour sensor (RGBW), and has an independent image signal processor unit.
The front-facing camera is 8MP, with “soft front light to improve selfies”.
Mate S has a 5.5-inch full-HD screen, meaning Huawei has again refrained from going down the quad-HD (2K) route taken by rivals such as Samsung and LG Electronics.
It is powered by an octacore HiSilicon processor.
Mate S also supports the Mopria printing general protocol, which is said to include 700 printer types across 29 leading brands.
“Huawei has tried to cram as much technology as possible into the Mate S. It is reminiscent of Samsung’s approach with the Galaxy S4 and S5 where the focus seemed to be very much on ‘specsmanship’ versus rival devices,” noted Ben Wood, chief of research at CCS Insight.
“The speed with which Huawei is able to integrate new features is impressive. As rumours circulate that the next iPhone might include ‘force touch’, which was first introduced on the Apple Watch, Huawei appears to have already implemented a similar capability with the Mate S.”
Pricing is €649 for the standard version (titanium grey or white/champagne), with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, and €699 for the premium device (gold or coral pink) with 3GB of RAM and 64GB of storage.
Price for a 128GB version with force touch will follow.
Announced earlier this year at Mobile World Congress, the Android Wear-powered device will be available in Canada, Germany, France, Spain and Italy this month, to be followed by the UK, Japan and UAE in October. Information on further markets will come later this year.
Huawei Watch is “the first watch on the market to truly bridge the gap between fashion and technology,” claimed the company. It will support both Android and iOS smartphone users.
Huawei Watch has a traditional circular face. It will be available in rose gold, stainless steel and black frames, with strap options including stainless steel mesh, stainless steel links, rose gold- and black-plated stainless steel lugs, and brown and black leather.
It has a 1.4-inch touch-sensitive display coated in sapphire crystal. It is IP67 water resistant.
Features include a heart-rate monitor and six-axis motion sensor.
With Huawei Watch’s introduction long-anticipated, rival Samsung issued a press release on Tuesday confirming details of its own Gear S2 smartwatch – ahead of two events scheduled for the South Korean vendor at IFA tomorrow.
Also on show was Huawei’s G8, its lower-cost take on the large-screen smartphone. Highlighted features include the 5.5-inch FHD screen, 3000mAh battery, and low light imaging capabilities.
Available in silver, white and gold, pricing is €399 with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage.