Huawei leapfrogs Apple with pressure-sensitive Mate S phone

— 11:33 AM on September 3, 2015

Huawei is stealing some thunder from Apple's September 9th event, where we may see an iPhone 6S with Force Touch onboard. The Chinese company has unveiled its Mate S handset, and it packs more force sensitivity than that Skywalker dude.

The Mate S sports a 5.5" AMOLED 1920x1080 screen, with an effective resolution of 360 PPI. A slab of Gorilla Glass rests atop it, curved at the edges to make swipe gestures easier. The star of the show is the screen's pressure sensitivity, which allows for a number of force-based interactions, such as strong finger and knuckle presses. Huawei cites some examples like pressing harder on the screen to zoom into a picture, or drawing letters with knuckles to bring up favorite apps.

We see what you did there, Huawei. Well played.

The company also demonstrated the phone's weighing feature, which uses the pressure sensitivity to turn the phone into a scale. Seems gimmicky and potentially useful all at once, assuming you don't crack the screen.

Touch interaction isn't limited to the main screen, though. The fingerprint scanner on the back of the device also acts as a mini-touchpad, too. For extra voice clarity, Huawei uses three microphones on the Mate S. The main camera has a 13MP sensor, sapphire lens, dual-tone flash and image stabilization. The front selfie shooter documents your narcissism with 8MP.

All this is powered by a homebrewed HiSilicon Kirin 935 SoC, which contains an octa-core CPU split between four cores at 2.2GHz and four at 1.5GHz. 3GB of RAM provide a work space for all those cores, while flash storage options range from 32GB to 128GB.  Android 5.1 customized with Huawei's Emotion UI runs the show. My OEM skin of choice is "none, thank you," but in this case Huawei may have needed some software customization to make the force sensitivity and extra touch surface work. A little disappointingly, the handset's Wi-Fi adapter only supports 802.11n.

The phone measures 5.9" x 3" (150 mm x 75 mm), and it's only 0.28" (7 mm) thick. Despite its thinness, the handset still manages to pack a 2700-mAh battery. The entire package weighs 5.5 oz (156 g). The backside is arched just slightly, which should help make the phone a little more comfortable to hold than, say, the flat-backed iPhone 6.

The Huawei Mate S will be available in "Luxurious Gold, Titanium Grey, and Mystic Champagne" finishes, though there's no word yet on a stateside release date or pricing. The company says the regular, non-pressure-sensitive Mate S will cost 649€ ($721) and 699€ ($776) for the 32GB and 64GB storage tiers, respectively, so it's likely the force-sensitive handsets' price tag will go up from there.

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