Huawei Mate S Review

December 17, 2015 | Mark Goldstein | |

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this review were taken using the 13 megapixel JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 4Mb.

On paper, the Huawei Mate S's 1/2.3-inch camera sensor is on par with the devices inside the majority of compact cameras. The f/2 maximum aperture of the Mate S' lens does a remarkably good job of producing attractive background bokeh blur when capturing close-up shots.

Snap a more distant scene like a landscape and the Huawei Mate S maintains this high image quality. There's barely any evidence of detail smoothing in fine foliage and certainly no sign of the painterly appearance that some smartphones can produce when capturing such scenes. Colour reproduction is also very good, and that isn't just down to the Huawei Mate S's screen technology. When viewed on a computer, images retain the same impressive vibrancy. Photos of very colourful objects may look slightly oversaturated for some tastes, but could be easily toned down if required.

However, whilst the Huawei Mate S produces great results in good light, the limitations of its small sensor are apparent in dimmer conditions. In Pro Camera mode, the Mate S' sensitivity scale tops out at only ISO 1600, where there's plenty of visible grain and detail is becoming blotchy. Dynamic range is also quite poor, though this is easily improved by activating the highly-effective multi-shot HDR feature. You'll also find that the Mate S' optical image stabilisation and wide aperture lens reduce the need for shooting at higher sensitivities in low light.

The lens itself doesn't let the side down, either. It's 29mm-equivalent focal length is great for capturing wide-angle shots. Centre sharpness is excellent, and detail only softens slightly as you reach the corners of frame. The lens also manages to avoid too much chromatic aberration, with only occasional fringing visible on very high-contrast edges.

Autofocussing is usually reliable, but given the ease at which you can just tap your own focus point, you rarely have to rely on the Huawei Mate S determining its own point of interest. Occasionally you will need to tap several times to force the camera to focus on a very close subject, however.

Noise

The Huawei Mate S has five manually-selectable ISO sensitivity settings available at full resolution, ranging between ISO 100 and ISO 1600.

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

iso100.jpg iso200.jpg
   

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

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ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

 
iso400.jpg  

Focal Range

The Huawei Mate S's fixed focal length lens is equivalent to 29mm in 35mm camera terms. Digital zoom is available, but with a corresponding reduction in image sharpness.

29mm

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File Quality

No image file compression options are available, but the Huawei Mate S can shoot at various resolutions and aspect ratios.

13MP (4:3)

10MP (16:9)

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10MP (1:1)

8MP (4:3)

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6MP (16:9)

 
ratio_6mp_16_9.jpg  

Macro

The Huawei Mate S able to focus as close as 5cm from a subject. We found this claim to be accurate, though autofocussing does occasionally struggle to lock on at this kind of range.

Macro

macro1.jpg

Flash

The Huawei Mate S uses an LED flash, and as usual for this technology, it gives a much weaker flash burst than a standard xenon camera flash. Shooting a white surface from a distance of 1.5 metres reveals the flash is unable to properly light the scene and there's significant vignetting.

Flash Off

Flash On

Image Stabilisation

The Huawei Mate S features full optical image stabilisation. With such a wide-angle lens, it's not really required during daytime shooting, but it enables the camera to use slower shutter speeds and lower ISO sensitivities in low light with less risk of blur from camera shake.

Night

Thanks to the optical image stabilisation and a wide f/2 maximum aperture, the Huawei Mate S performs fairly well at night. This image was taken at the camera's maximum ISO 1600 sensitivity, and though there's some noise and detail smoothing, the result is still comparable to what a typical compact camera would produce.

Night

Night (100% Crop)

night1.jpg night1a.jpg

HDR

Dynamic range isn't the most impressive aspect of the Huawei Mate S's sensor, but its HDR feature does a great job of boosting this. It's easy to use and the results are seamless and natural-looking.

HDR Off

HDR On

hdr_off.jpg hdr_on.jpg

Effects

The Huawei Mate S's camera app includes eight filter effects, but this being a smartphone, extra effects are only an app away.

Off

Mono

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Impact

ND

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Valencia

Blue

effect_05.jpg effect_06.jpg
   

Halo

Nostalgia

effect_07.jpg effect_08.jpg
   

Dawn

 
effect_09.jpg  

Panorama

The Huawei Mate S's automatic sweep panorama mode works well and lets you stop panning at will. The results aren't always perfect, but ghosting is rare. Unlike most regular camera panorama modes which produce significantly downsized images, the Huawei Mate S has enough processing power to capture at high resolutions, so panoramas are usually around 2800 vertical pixels.

panorama.jpg