Although the Huawei Mate S has been available for the better part of a month in South Africa, the Chinese manufacturer gave members of the press and guests some private time with the smartphone as well as the brand new Mediapad M2 8.0 tablet at a lavish launch in Johannesburg last night.

Once we were fed and watered, we got to play around with the shiny new tablet and smartphone. Here are our first impressions.

How you doing, Mate?

The Mate S is currently available in four colours – Prestige Gold, Mystique Champagne, Titanium Grey, Coral Pink – with three capacities of 32GB, 64GB and 128GB. However, we were told that the 128GB version will only be available early next year.

The phone’s display is a 5.5-inch affair that isn’t overly bright, but also isn’t so dim that you’ll struggle to view the display in bright light.

Responsiveness of the display is great and as a result typing is accurate even when typing fast. Huawei’s Knuckle Sense 2.0, a feature that lets you draw shortcut gestures using your knuckles in order to access apps quickly, but we found it to be a bit of a hit-and-miss-affair in our brief time with the phone. We’ll check it out more in-depth when we do a full review.

A bright, responsive display protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 2.5D

At the back of the Mate S is a fingerprint scanner that can be used to unlock the phone and interact with it. While in the gallery, swiping left or right will move you through your images, while a downward swipe will bring up the notification menu.

The fingerprint sensor can also be used to take selfies a lot easier, which is pretty cool as we found the selfie camera to be really good. Even though it only has an 8MP sensor, the soft lighting LED, the tweaked Beauty mode and an F2.4 aperture combine to make your selfies look better than we’ve seen of late from other phones.

The rear camera is our favourite part of the smartphone though. The DSLR capabilities are stellar and easy to access while photos have deep contrast and little to no noise in dark conditions.

Although its large the Mate S is comfortable to hold.
Although it’s large, the Mate S is comfortable to hold.

Make it louder

We were not expecting Huawei to unveil the Mediapad M2 8.0, but we are so pleased they did.

The full metal 8-inch tablet runs Android 5.1 Lollipop on its Kirin930 octa-core CPU which scales speed and power draw according to the application being run. The display is clear and bright, and Huawei told us it can reach a maximum brightness of 400 nits.

The camera is quite small at 8MP, but the picture quality is impressive nonetheless. It’s even able to record 1080p video at 30 frames a second.

Huawei_Mediapad_2.0_full
Full metal body, Harman Kardon tuned speakers. The desire for this tablet is strong.

Typing on the Mediapad feels good. We entered a few lines of text at varying speeds, and the tablet didn’t miss a beat. We didn’t experience much, if any, input lag either.

The battery is a massive 4 800mAh lithium polymer creation that Huawei claims will last up to 30 hours, and you’re going to need that time because the Mediapad packs something special beneath its full metal body.

Two 1W speakers tuned by Harmon Kardon, who manufacture speakers of all forms from professional-grade PA systems to Bluetooth speakers for your home, are included to enhance your music listening and movie-watching experiences.

Unfortunately the noise at the event proved too loud for us to truly appreciate this, but the tablet was at least audible over the music playing at the launch, which is impressive on its own.

As far as we can tell, the speaker pushes sound out from the border around the entire tablet.
As far as we can tell, the speaker pushes sound out from the border around the entire tablet instead of from one outlet.

This really positive first impression of both devices left us looking forward to testing the Mate S and the Mediapad M2 in full, which we will do once our review units arrive.