Huawei hosted a grand event in Paris where it launched the flagship P20 and P20 Pro smartphones. Along with the P20-series devices, the Chinese smartphone maker also launched the Porsche Design Huawei Mate RS. The smartphone features a premium design, two fingerprint sensors and the same triple-camera setup at the back as seen on the Huawei P20 Pro.
The Porsche Design Huawei Mate RS being a luxury smartphone is priced at €1,695 for 256GB storage variant (approximately Rs 136,250), and €2,096 (approximately Rs 168,404) for the 512GB storage variant. Sadly, the smartphone won’t be launched in India, but you can always pick it up if you’re traveling to Europe or any other market where it is available. I got to play around with the Porsche Design Huawei Mate RS at the launch event in Paris, and here are my first impressions.
Metal and glass symmetrical design
The moment I first held the Mate RS in my hand, it reminded me of the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S9. After all, it features a metal frame with symmetrical curved edges. The frame is sandwiched between front and back glass, with dual curved edges; it’s something that we have already seen on the Galaxy smartphones. On the chin, just below the display, you have the Porsche Design branding.
Unlike the P20 and P20 Pro, the Mate RS comes with an edge-to-edge display, without the infamous notch. The smartphone flaunts a 6-inch AMOLED QHD display running at a resolution of 2880×1440 pixels, 18:9 aspect ratio and pixel density of 538ppi. The SIM card slot is on the left, while the volume rocker and power / sleep button are on the right.
At the bottom, you get a USB Type-C port for charging and data transfers. And sadly, the Mate RS also misses out on the legacy 3.5mm headphone socket, and you’ll either have to rely on the Bluetooth headphones or on Type-C headphones. Huawei has also bundled a Type-C to 3.5mm audio connector with the box, allowing you to use your existing headphones with a 3.5mm headphone plug.
Turn to the back and you have the Leica-branded triple-camera sensors vertically placed at the center. Below the camera sensors, you also have the fingerprint sensor. Overall the Porsche Design Mate RS does not have a radically premium design compared to what we have already seen on the Samsung Galaxy S-series, but the ‘Porsche Design’ branding is what earns it the luxury price tag.
Two fingerprint sensors
Over the past three years, the fingerprint sensor has become quite common even on affordable smartphones that are priced under Rs 7,000. With full-view displays on new smartphones, the fingerprint sensors have moved from the front to the back. In-display fingerprint sensors will be the next big thing in the smartphone industry, which will use ultrasonic waves to scan the fingerprint from under the display and unlock the smartphone. Vivo recently launched the X20 UD and X21 UD with an under-display fingerprint sensor, and the Porsche Design Huawei Mate RS is another Android smartphone to get such an implementation.
But just when you thought that the smartphone brings technologically advanced features, it takes a strange step back. Along with an under-display fingerprint sensor, you also get a circular fingerprint sensor at the back. Now I don’t know why Huawei did this, but yes, you have the previous generation and next generation technologies in one device. Perhaps the under-display implementation has not yet been completely perfected
Triple camera setup
The highlight of the Huawei P20 Pro is the Leica-branded triple rear cameras, and the same continues with the Porsche Design Huawei Mate RS. Out of the three cameras, one is a 40-megapixel RGB (color) sensor of aperture f/1.8, the other is a 20-megapixel monochrome sensor with aperture f/1.6 and the third is an 8-megapixel telephoto lens with aperture f/2.4 which offers 3X optical zoom functionality along with adding DSLR-like bokeh effects to your photos.
Huawei has also added AI chops to the camera which can detect over 500 scenarios in 19 categories. For instance, if you are clicking photos of your pets, it will adjust the contrast, brightness and sharpness among other levels to help you capture a good photo.
The 40-megapixel sensor also enables ISO levels of 102,400, which is something that you can only find on professional cameras such as Canon 5D mark, among others. The combination of OIS (optical image stabilization) and EIS (electronic image stabilization), along with AIS (artificial intelligence stabilization) lets you capture blur-free long exposure shots without a tripod.
You also get slow-motion video capture at 960fps, something that we have already seen on the Galaxy S9 and Sony Xperia XZ-series smartphones. I have already taken the P20 Pro for a spin, and initial impressions about the camera are very positive. And with the Mate RS boasting the same camera setup, I’m sure, you can expect the same level of photography on it.
Mate RS specifications
The P20, P20 Pro and the Porsche Design Mate RS are powered by Huawei’s homebrew AI powered Kirin 970 octa-core SoC. The only thing that changes between the smartphones is the RAM and onboard storage. The Mate RS comes with 6GB of RAM and 256GB or 512GB onboard storage. The smartphone also gets IP67 certification for water and dust resistance. On the software front, the Mate RS runs on Android 8.1 Oreo with a layer of EMUI 8.1.
A few years ago, when we talked about luxury smartphones, they often came with a few compromises here and there. But that’s not the case with the Porsche Design Mate RS. You get a premium design, top of the line hardware and the best camera on a smartphone, as claimed by DxOMark and Huawei.
Whether or not the cameras actually live up to the potential is something that we can only know in the long run. With a starting price of Rs 136,250, which is more than the top variant of the iPhone X, the smartphone is for those who seek luxury, and have enough money to splurge.
Disclosure: The correspondent was in Paris for the P20-series launch event on Huawei’s invite. Huawei took care of his travel and accommodation in Paris.