Huawei's Porsche Design Mate RS smartphone dials up the luxe factor

Huawei's limited-edition Porsche Design Mate RS smartphone is unabashedly overpriced, branded and out of reach for most consumers, but the Chinese smartphone manufacturer wants it that way.

The $2,298 price tag is due to the Porsche Design branding, which follows a partnership between Huawei and the lifestyle arm of the German sports car brand. The Mate RS takes its name from the Porsche 911 GT3 RS sports car, but that is where the similarities end.

The smartphone is not a superphone that outperforms every other phone in the market. It is functionally a Huawei P20 Pro, with some aesthetic and hardware tweaks.

Huawei nailed a premium finish by essentially copying the front display of a Samsung Galaxy S9, down to the notch-less display (unlike the P20) and the curved edges.

The Mate RS has a slightly better screen than the P20 Pro, with higher pixel density. It comes with double the storage, from 128GB to 256GB.

The other difference is more interesting. The Mate RS is, so far, the second phone sold here to have a fingerprint scanner built into the display, after the Vivo X21.

This gives the phone two fingerprint sensors - it also has a conventional sensor at its rear. The in-screen scanner is just a bit slower than the rear sensor, but it is still quite intuitive and responsive.


    PRICE: $2,298

    PROCESSOR: Kirin 970 (Quad-core 2.36GHz, quad-core 1.8GHz)

    DISPLAY: 6.0-inch, Oled, 2,880 x 1,440 pixels, 538 ppi pixel density

    OPERATING SYSTEM: EMUI 8.1 (Android 8.1)

    MEMORY: 256GB, 6GB RAM

    REAR CAMERA: 40MP RGB (f/1.8), 20MP monochrome (f/1.6) and 8MP telephoto (f/2.4)

    FRONT CAMERA: 24MP (f/2.0)

    BATTERY: Non-removable 4,000mAh


    FEATURES: 5/5

    DESIGN: 4/5




    OVERALL: 4/5

The Mate RS sports the same triple-camera set-up on its rear as the P20 line, with the lenses made by Leica. The set-up comprises a monstrous 40-megapixel (MP) RGB camera, a 20MP monochrome camera and an 8MP camera with telephoto lens.

Picture quality is identical to that of the P20. The cameras capture lots of detail and colour, excelling in landscape, outdoor and even low-light shots.

However, the phone's over-zealous post-processing makes some pictures look too smooth and featureless, which is particularly noticeable on human subjects. There is a slight unnatural quality to some shots, resulting in hard-looking photos that are over-sharpened.

The 10x digital zoom remains a work of wizardry, letting you zoom into signs and billboards at a distance and still be able to make out what is written on them.

• Verdict: The Mate RS is a good phone, much like the P20 Pro. But it makes no qualms about how overpriced it is and how those who buy it know they are paying a premium for the Porsche Design brand embossed on the front of the phone.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 30, 2018, with the headline 'Dialling up the luxe factor'. Print Edition | Subscribe