Huawei Mate S with Force Touch hands-on

by: Nirave GondhiaSeptember 7, 2015

Apple is widely expected to deliver Force Touch in its upcoming iPhone 6S smartphone, but Chinese company Huawei beat them to the punch by announcing the Force Touch enabled Huawei Mate S at IFA 2015 earlier this week.

As we covered in our Huawei Mate S hands on, Force Touch is only available on the 128GB model of the Mate S, which Huawei is calling the Luxury Edition, and in a room at the company’s IFA 2015 stand, we managed to get our hands on the next-generation smartphone.

What is force touch and what can you do with it? Join us as we take a closer look.


At the moment, Huawei’s implementation is very limited indeed and one of the gallery specific features that the company showed off during its press conference won’t be available until the Mate S Luxury Edition hits the shelves later this year. That feature let you preview images by applying additional pressure when scrolling through the gallery, but while this isn’t available at the moment, you can still zoom into images by applying pressure to the display when viewing an individual image.

This zoom feature works by magnifying the image when force-touched and the amount of magnification depends on how much pressure you apply to the screen. It works pretty well but it can be a little difficult to precisely get the exact amount of magnification you are looking for although this may be caused by pre-release hardware and will likely be improved by the time the handset is released.


Force Touch also converts the top corners and the bottom part of the display into additional features, which Huawei calls Magic Corners and Magic Bottom. Instead of having the Android navigation keys always showing at the bottom and taking up precious screen real estate, you can hide them away and anytime you need them, just force touch the corresponding areas.

So, if you want to go back, you would force-touch in the bottom left, the middle for going to the home screen and the right for showing the recent apps menu. This feature works mostly well and does help to improve the experience by freeing up the area where the navigation keys would normally reside.


The Magic Buttons feature works in pretty much the same way and force touching these areas will launch you into either the camera (the top left) or the web browser (the top right). Sadly, these features don’t seem to work quite as well as the navigation keys and getting the buttons to trigger was very cumbersome, with an almost unnatural hand placement required to trigger the shortcut. It took many more attempts that I would have liked to actually get them to work and it’s likely this isn’t a feature you’ll use too often.


Force Touch can also have a fun and somewhat intriguing aspect, with Huawei deciding to turn the handset into a portable scale. In the Fun Scale app, the Mate S can approximate the weight of an item placed on the display by the amount of pressure it exerts but since it requires a certain amount of pressure, the item needs to weigh a minimum of 100 grams and a maximum of 400 grams. It’s not the most useful feature in the world but it’s handy if you need an approximate weight of something at a moment’s notice or if you want to show off the cool feature to your friends by weighing an item.

Without doubt, Force Touch will play an important part of the future of the smartphone industry and in being first to announce a Force Touch handset, Huawei is aiming to set a benchmark for others to surpass. While the Magic Buttons, gallery and scale features are certainly interesting, there’s not an awful lot you can actually do with the device.


That being said, this is clearly a first generation product and Huawei has assured us that it is planning additional features for Force Touch, which will be announced in the coming months. It is also reaching out and asking users for suggestions on features it can create for the Force Touch display – you can submit your ideas here – and this is a great way to ensure that Force Touch becomes a feature that can be as useful to as many people as possible.

Force Touch is only available on the 128GB Mate S Luxury Edition model, which is launching later this year and although the price is yet to be confirmed, it’s likely to exceed €749 before taxes and subsidies. For more on the other features of the handset, check out our Mate S unboxing and first look for an in-depth view of everything Huawei’s latest smartphone has to offer.

What do you think of the world’s first Force Touch display and do you plan to use the force (pun intended)? Let us know your views in the comments below guys!

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  • Xavier_NYC

    I like the idea of using force touch nav buttons instead of having on screen buttons. Helps you make better use of screen real estate. The zoom function is nice as well. .

    • John Ross Ewing

      With screens going to 6 inches and above, how much real estate does those arrows and home button really take up?

      • Xavier_NYC

        Makes a big difference and for people that complain about phones being too big that little real estate can mean that much more.. Look at the G4 for example, look how much screen real estate is being taken up by the nav buttons.. Immersive mode helps but for apps that don’t support it makes it more noticeable.

        • John Ross Ewing

          I get what you’re saying, to a point. If they’re complaining about how big the phones are, having those buttons should make it easier to navigate the screen rather than harder. This phone coming with a 6 inch screen and no buttons at the bottom would seem to be more difficult for those who complain about large screens. Oh and it looks like the bottom bezel with the LG logo takes up more space than the on screen buttons.

          • Xavier_NYC

            Yes it would be easier but it would also be easier/better if those buttons weren’t visually there at all but still had the functionality via force touch.. I personally prefer phones with a 5.5-5.7 inch screen and a phone that is 6 inches may seem like 5.7 because of the on screen buttons.. But like you said, it depends on the bezels as well. The Note 5 and S6 edge+ are a good example. Excellent bezels all around which allows both with a 5.7 inch screen to be smaller than the Iphone 6+ with a smaller 5.5 inch screen.

  • Arpan Ghosh

    Nice concept!

  • 3223

    And soon there will be cases of cracked screens due to excessively hard pressing… :p

    • John Ross Ewing

      It seems like a gimmick. I wonder what type of glass will be able to handle the extra hand pressure and what if someone can’t press hard enough for the feature to work?

      • 3223

        Though the force touch for the menu buttons is quite nice, I can imagine people pressing harder and harder on the wrong part of the screen, only for it to suddenly crack.. There’s force touch for you. :p

        I doubt there would be people who aren’t strong enough to press the screen hard enough, but the concern is always pressing too hard till something goes ‘pop’…


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  • Tjaldid

    Well I am a believer, let this technology roll out.

  • Unique

    I see a good use cases for the force touch tech – I especially like hidden nav buttons

    • John Ross Ewing

      I wonder about a good case or screen protector for this phone. Imagine how much more pressure you would need to press to get the function to work.

      • Unique

        good point – I really hope we can do away with screen protectors with the enhancement of sapphire and gorilla glass (wont stop the drop and crack scenario)
        but great to see the technology getting kick-started and it’s early stage implementation isn’t too shabby

  • Rushing it huh? Not too impressive

  • Chizusyo

    1. They willl be a rise in the number of cracked screens this year
    2. Apple will somehow find a way to market this better and make more profit off it

    • Darktanone

      This is Apple’s invention. These guys are just trying to get the jump on Apple.

      • Cheese

        Apple didn’t invent it. Just….stop.

      • Chizusyo

        hmmm, then how did they get the tech first

      • Why the hell are all these Apple fanboys all over Android Authority?

        I don’t get it.

  • Darktanone

    The Apple Watch is the world’s first force touch display for any device. This is merely a sad and poorly implemented attempt to ape Apple on this feature. The real force is coming in a few days.

    • ahoxha

      Blackberry Storm had it before (2008) and better implemented (the screen bends like a button press to give real press feedback). Also Android had support for it since 2009 in its API ( like getPressure() which doesn’t require special hw but acts based on the area covered by your finger). It works the same as dedicated hw because when you press harder on a flat surface, you cover more area with your touch (it’s almost proportional to the force you apply, at least till a certain point). Of course, with dedicated force touch hw you could make it more sensitive to hard pressure than sw, but it will be useless on this case, unless you wanna use your phone/tablet as a scale.

  • crutchcorn

    No thank you

  • Arol Wright

    Let’s do some balance here, we complain that iOS takes features from Android, but then these guys rip off iPhone 6s/Apple Watch main new feature and it’s OK.

    • Can’t really say they ripped off the iPhone when they brought it to the market first.

      • Arol Wright

        They brought to the market the Apple Watch, which had Force Touch in it, 1 year before Huawei.

        • And BlackBerry did it years before that with the BB Torch

  • TabS2IsBoss

    These definitely worthless features

  • Force Touch , to have or not to have

  • aaloo

    It’s funny how Apple copies little things like notifications drop menu from android, while android OEMs copy game changing things like Siri (s voice, cortana, Google now), 64 bit processing (no one whining about lack of minimum 4gb anymore), TouchID (no more atrix and s5 style swipe sensors anymore), now force touch. Pretty obvious who the innovator is.

    • Siri, 64 bit processing and touch ID aren’t apples innovations. They’re third party products.

  • Juan Paolo Garcia

    Force Touch + Samsung Galaxy Note Series = <3

  • Gibbs

    I tried the macbook and the touchpad is so awesome! i would love to see it on phone!(with the clicking) It feels so awesome! You can’t tell its not a button!