A fingerprint reader that is worth having!
Great design.
Solid performing camera, plus the inclusion of an 8MP front facing camera.
EMUI is smooth and intuitive.


Without an app drawer, Emotion UI not for everyone.
Only 24GB of stated 32GB available.

Our Rating
Bottom Line

With a great design, a top class display and an excellent fingerprint reader, Huawei proves it has what it takes to build a true flagship device.

Our Rating
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editors choice award

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The Huawei Mate S was officially unveiled at IFA in Berlin and from our unboxing and first look it is clear that Huawei’s latest handset builds on many of the foundations that made the Mate 7 such a great phone. And now in this in-depth review, we take a closer look at what that means for the Huawei Mate S!


The Mate S features a similar full metal body design to past Huawei high-end devices, but comes with an updated build including a curved rear and 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass 4. Huawei says that the curvature has allowed it to thin the edges and yet keep an overall profile of just 7.2mm. The result is a handset which is great to look at and surprisingly easy to hold.

Looking around the device, the volume rocker and the power button are found on the right side of the device. All the buttons are very responsive, easy to press, and offer a good amount of tactile feedback. Although the phone comes with a double-tap Knuckle gesture to switch the phone on, this becomes redundant once you have the fingerprint reader configured, but we will talk more about that in a moment.

Up top is the headphone jack and a microphone, and at the bottom is the microUSB port, flanked by two grills, giving the appearance of a dual speaker setup, even though it is actually only a single speaker on the right side. Above the display is a speaker grill, along with an 8 MP front-facing camera with a flash. On the back is the 13MP camera sensor, coupled with a dual-tone LED flash, and the fingerprint reader.



The Mate S features a 5.5-inch AMOLED Full HD display with a screen color saturation of 105 percent of the RGB gamut and a contrast ratio of 1.8M:1. We’ve seen Huawei border on the ridiculous with contrast ratios before (the Huawei P8 offered 15000:1), but the Mate S contrast ratio does reach a particular extreme. Viewing angles are good, and the display is bright enough for comfortable outdoor visibility.

Hauwei has also built-in a way to change the color temperature of the display. Personally, I think the default is spot-on, however if you want to make the colors colder or warmer then the option is available under Settings->Display.

While Quad HD is the buzzword at the moment, the Full HD resolution with this size is more than enough, and no one will have any complaints with regards to the viewing experience. The display adds to the overall great experience, and the AMOLED technology brings with it the deep blacks and vivid colors you’d expect.



Under the hood, the Huawei Mate S packs an octa-core HiSilicon Kirin 935 processor, with four Cortex-A53 processors clocked at 2.2GHz and four more clocked at 1.5GHz. This is backed by a Mali-T628 GPU and 3 GB of RAM. Performance is as smooth as you would expect from this Huawei-made processing package, and very rarely will there be any signs of stutter or lag. Moving through the various elements of the UI is smooth, and opening, closing, and switching between applications is also fast and snappy. The device also handles gaming pretty well, save for the most graphically-intensive games, where you might notice dropped frames.

According to my tests, the Mate S can run Epic Citadel at 35.6 frames per second in ultra high quality mode, and 56.7 fps in high quality mode. As for AnTuTu, the Mate S scored 51397.


The Mate S comes with 32GB or 64GB of internal storage, and this can be expanded by another 128GB via microSD card. There is also a 128GB variant which includes a pressure-sensitive screen (i.e. Force Touch), however this model will be only available in certain markets.

Although the entry-level model is quoted as having 32GB of internal storage, only about 24GB is usable. This basically means that 8GB of the flash memory is used for the system. This figure is a little excessive and it also explains why 32GB is the entry point and not 16GB.

The device comes with a standard suite of connectivity options, as well as NFC and 4G LTE. Looking at the bands supported by the two different models (CRR-UL00 and CRR-L09), it is clear that Huawei intends for this to be internationally available.

As mentioned, there is a fingerprint scanner on the back, placed within easy reach of your index finger. As with the Mate 7 before it, the fingerprint reader on the Mate S is of exceptionally high quality. I have never really liked any of the smartphone fingerprint readers. Personally I think Samsung have done a bad job with the fingerprint reader on the S6 and on the Note 5. However the fingerprint reader on the Huawei Mate S is a joy to use. Sure, it is definitely one of the fastest I’ve used, and it is also very accurate and rarely failed to read the fingerprint. But the critical point is how it is used. Huawei’s implementation is second to none.


Using it is easy. You just need to register a fingerprint under Settings->Fingerprint ID, and then set which options and gestures you want activated (e.g. take photo, stop alarm and so on). I registered the index fingers from both my left and right hands, which means that I can pick the phone with either hand and just press the reader on the back to switch-on and unlock the phone.

Also, the sensor is not solely a fingerprint scanner, but it also supports swipe gestures. A swipe down pulls down the notification panel, touch and hold to take a photo, you can even use it to answer a call. You can also use it for apps like the gallery to swipe through your photos.

Moving on to the audio, the quality of the speaker itself is certainly quite good for a single speaker. It can go very loud, in fact almost too loud, I found that for listening to music I had to reduce the volume to almost half. But for those who like it loud, the good news is that even at the highest volumes the sound doesn’t distort.

As far as the battery is concerned, the Mate S packs a non-removable 2700 mAh unit, that allows for excellent battery life, with around five to six hours screen-on time during a typical day that involves watching videos, lots of internet browsing, responding to messages, and taking pictures.

I did some individual app tests using GameBench and you will be able to stream YouTube video over Wi-Fi for around 5.5 hours and play 3D intensive games for around 4 hours. The bottom line is that you will get a full day’s use from this battery without having to worry about how you have been using your phone.


There is a little confusion about if the Huawei Mate S has quick charge functionality. At the launch event Huawei mentioned quick charge and even said that the device can be charged for just 10 minutes to make up to two hours of phone calls. However what is strange is that all quick charger technologies rely on using a voltage greater than 5V. The supplied charger with the Mate S is certainly not a quick charger and it is only rated for 5V output. I charged the phone from 3% to 100% using the supplied charger and it took 2 hours 15 minutes to reach full charge, and the voltage did not go over 5V.

However, if I charge the phone with a Quick Charge 2.0 adapter then the charge speeds are vastly improved.


The Huawei Mate S comes with a 13 MP rear camera that includes a 4-color RGBW imaging sensor and Optical Image Stabilization. Also, the camera housing is scratch proof thanks to sapphire protection.

The camera app includes some nice features to enhance the shots you can take like super night mode, panorama, HDR, and time-lapse. slow motion, a food mode to make pictures of food look more appetizing, and more. There is also a light painting mode, for long exposure shots. The built-in filters include car light trails, for capturing the trails of lights made by moving cars at night; light graffiti, for capturing trails of light in a dark environment; silky water, for silky smooth effects from running water; and star track, to capture the trails of stars and galaxies in the night!

Image quality is excellent and the camera is capable of taking some really good shots with a good amount of detail and saturated colors. As with most smartphone cameras, the best results comes from well-lit environments however, indoor and low-light shots from the Mate S are actually quite good. If there is one weakness it seems that the image processor reacts too strongly to bright red. If you look at the gallery you below you will see what I mean.

The handset is capable of videoing Full HD in 16:9 from both the front and rear cameras, however, as you would expect, OIS is only available via the rear camera. The 8 MP front-facing camera is coupled with a flash, which is more like a dim flashlight, but can be good to get a little bit of light into the shot. The quality of shots possible with the front camera is also impressive, with nice colors and lots of detail, but as expected, some graininess is seen in poorly-lit environments. There is a whole set of beauty mode features, so the selfie lover will not be disappointed by what can be achieved with a little bit of digital magic.

Here are some sample shots so you can see for yourself:


The Mate S is running Android 5.1.1 Lollipop with the latest version of Huawei’s Emotion UI on top (EMUI v3.1). This is a deliberate choice by Huawei and gets rid of the app drawer, leaving you dependent on folders to keep things organized. Some people insist on a stock Android experience (only to install a custom launcher later, yes I know who you are), however personally, I found EMUI to be a joy to use.

The notification shade is divided into two sections – Shortcuts and Notifications. Although it would have been nice to have these two sections combined, the notifications section is quite nice with a little timeline on the left side keeping your notifications very organized. There is also a theme engine available to change the look and feel of the UI to better suit your liking.


Besides the software to manage the fingerprint reader, there are a few other built-in bits of functionality. One is a simple always-on speech awareness system that allows you to place calls by saying “Okay emy, call joe”. Another is a set of motion controls like flip to mute and the Knuckle gestures. There is also a one-handed layout mode which temporarily reduces the size of the UI so that it is can be used with one hand. Finally EMUI has some support for dual-windowing, mainly for use with some of the stock apps like gallery, notepad, videos, and so on.

Overall, Huawei’s take on Android is certainly different from the stock experience, however it is very sleek and is well designed.


Display5.5-inch AMOLED display, 1080p resolution
ProcessorHiSilicon Kirin 935 (4 Cortex-A53 cores @ 2.2GHz + 4 Cortex-A53 cores @ 1.5GHz), Mali T-628 MP4 GPU
Storage32GB, 64GB or 128GB. Expandable microSD up to 128GB
Camera13 megapixel rear camera
8 megapixel front camera
SoftwareEMUI 3.1 based on Android 5.1.1 Lollipop
ConnectivityGPS, Bluetooth 4.0,
Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n, NFC


Final thoughts

So there you have it for this in-depth look at the Huawei Mate S! Overall, the Mate S is a really good phone, with its beautiful display, good battery life, and great camera. Performance is smooth and snappy for the most part, and while EMUI isn’t like stock Android, the slew of shortcuts and gestures available enable a good experience. And when you include what is probably the most useful fingerprint reader in a handset, it is an easy decision to give the Huawei Mate S our Editors’ Choice Award.

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  • TechGuy

    Was hoping this might be a dual-sim phone.

    • Andreas

      you would had needed a bigger battery in the phone for dual sim functionality.

    • There is a dual-sim version but I think it is only for Asia.

  • Daggett Beaver

    This looks like a great phone. I don’t know how it can get 5-6 hours SoT with that battery, though.

  • Daggett Beaver

    “Some people insist on a stock Android experience”

    • Hussein Abdullah

      why do you hate stock a so much dude

  • Flavio Augusto

    The Kirin 935 is a very poor performer in the benchmarks and get smoked even by good old snapdragon 800 from 18 months ago in gaming performance. It uses an 2013 mali GPU. I hope things will improve with Kirin 950 with the mali T880. At least all models should have force touch. It’s an underwhelming device.

    • Daggett Beaver

      Thanks for that link. Yeah, looks like the 935 isn’t very good. I guess the value of this phone would depend on its price, then. Unfortunately, no price is listed (or I missed it somewhere).

  • Andreas

    I have had Mate 7 for about 1 year. I can see from these videos that Mate S suffer from the same slow animations this can be solved with installed Apex laucher. But one thing that I can stand is their multi task button it is not pure lollipop multi tasking.. the multi tasking function on this device and mate 7 is worthless and is harder to fix with 3rd party apps..

    From the sample photos I can see that the camera perform about identical to the Mate 7, it still creates alot of shadows in the pictures, which can be fixed with 3rd party HDR software such as PrefectlyClear

    I think this phone would not had been released if it wasnt for the delay of kirrin 950.
    The processor and GPU is still the wekeast link in this phone. the reviewer say that there is no lag etc.
    But when multi tasking many apps etc switching between them etc it will lagg, but it can once again be improved with 3rd party launcher.

    I will pass this mostly for the weak battery and cpu, if it would had kirrin 940 or something I would maybe have got, but like it is now I will wait for Mate 8 which will have a edged amoled screen like galaxy edge.
    Lets hope they will give us a bigger battery in Mate 8.

    Also I notice the reviwer used wifi all the time, this explain a little bit also why you get better battery life, imo if you would had used
    4G for data as most people do most of the time the battery would not last as long and the screen on time wold probably cloud around 3 hours blank.

    I seen similiar numbers with Mate 7 where people have got like 6-7 hours screen on time but the reason for that was because they did use wifi data instead of 4G data.

    • MSi_GS70

      Mate 8 will be beast

  • Andreas

    One thing I want to add though, swiping with the finger print reader is a genius idea, especially for ergonomic reasons ,when using a big device like 6 inches etc you notice the OS is not adapted for using big display optimized for one hand use, where you want as much of the things on the right and at the bottom, no menus are there.. google play store the menu are on the top to the left etc etc.
    However scrolling with fingerprint reader have huge potential I think especially for ergonomical reasons, but as it seem now it is on working in a few apps..if they did get it to work in chrome/web browser this would be really good for the finger ergonomically..

    • SamG

      I do agree with you it is in genius indeed I wonder if it’s the same as honor 7 interface…

    • chanman

      Adopted feature from Oppo about 2 or 3 years ago

  • Not1Not2Not3

    So the only thing I’ve seen that force touch is useful for so far is to measure the weight of fruit or cupcakes.

    • Daggett Beaver

      Pretty handy if you make cupcakes and they all have to be a specific weight, and you can’t afford a $10 scale. Or something.

  • Kamen Minkov

    You haven’t learned not to multiply clock frequencies by core counts, have you?

    • eh?

      • Kamen Minkov

        Look at the specifications table.

        • Nope, I still don’t get it. The Kirin 935 is an octa-core processor with 4 Cortex-A53 cores running at 2.2GHz and another 4 Cortex-A53 cores running at 1.5GHz.

          • Kamen Minkov

            Yes, it is, but it’s not “4 times 2.2 GHz plus 4 times 1.5 GHz”.

          • You would rather 4 cores @ 2.2GHz + 4 cores @ 1.5GHz? The use of the * is directly from Huawei’s web page:

          • Andy Roid

            4 cores @ 2.2GHz would have been clearer. The way you wrote it does make it sound like you are multiplying them.

          • OK, so I have changed it to @… but still when you talk about “4 of something” isn’t it normal to say “4 x Cortex-A53” or even “4 * Cortex-A53”???

          • Airyl

            Technically, they’re both the same thing. It’s just a matter of preference. Sort of like how some people eat pizza crust first.

          • Kamen Minkov

            Yes, I would. And yes, a manufacturer can also be wrong. It’s not a factual error, it’s rather a wrong expression.

  • JGaLaXY

    how much is this and can I get it in the states?

    • MSi_GS70


      • C Lo

        Yikes, way too expensive

  • mrjayviper

    seems all of the major Chinese players prefers having no app drawer (ala Apple). Coincidence? I honestly doubt it

    can easily be fix of course

    • Andreas

      To further more improve the price and value they should just use a 3rd party launcher like apex in stock instead.. why waste time on this crap ? EMUI is really slow.. compared to apex and some other launchers. Biggest problem with Huawei phones I have seen so far is the app animations for opening and switching between apps, these animations are not as fast as they should be and there is no 60 fps animations, however using 3rd party launcher like apex and use non-system animations it goes a lot faster.

      It seem like most manufacture spend a lot of time on their own interface but in all honesty, the coolest thing people say about EMUI is that it have themes, this is nothing new for most good 3rd party launchers, my recommendation is that manufacture stop creating their own interfaces instead just install a good 3rd party launcher which is most likely faster have millions of users and have been developed during many years…

      Thankfully android allow that you use your own launchers this is really one of the reason that makes android so good.. it does really make REAL difference, and can make a slow and laggy phone with slow hardware really fast and enjoyable to use.

    • Andreas

      I really hope Huawei will step up the hardware with Mate 8. Sure you fool a lot of people to to put make up on a pig. But really what it is it is a mid range phone but in luxury packaging. Huawei understand the importance of screen to body ratio this is one of the reason I choose them, but they really need to step up in the hardware derpartment. and drastic improvment of the camera and processor. the Kirrin 950 that will be in Mate 8 most likely is faster than samsung s6 according to leaked benchmarks..
      I hope Mate 8 is not too far away..
      Regarding software I have no high hopes for Mate 8 or any EMUI driven phone but luckily with android you can customize it the way you want.. unfortunately kirrin based phones have not as much community support so it is less roms and harder to root usually..that is also one of the negatives.

      Anyway I am ready to live with a lot of these negatives aspect, but there is one thing though, ever since P8, huawei phones have gone up drastically up in price, why on the outside it looks like a real luxury phone it fools the eye since the inside spec are mid range. if Huawei keep incerasing the price as they do I think their existance on the market in the western world is not as justified..
      What made me dis samsung note 4 was the abusrd price so I got the Mate 7 instead, however mate 7 had av very good value it is still a lot cheaper then p8. My Point is, if Huawei is going to feel people with good metal body and elegant design and medicore insides then they need to lower the prices a lot.. Mate s have a riduculis price if ask me for these specs.. what you pay for is this “luxurious look” that look like a real flagship killer on the outside but on the inside it is just mediocre in todays standards.

      The finger printscanner is amazing and hard to live without when you have you have gotten used to it..but yeah I stilll think Mate s is an after construction it was never meant to be released see it as a prelude to Mate 8, which will also futre some of the same things.. such as amoled screeen.

  • Derek923

    Wow, AA. I was waiting
    seriously for the review of this thing. I can see Huawei paid you guys a lot of
    money. Or since Huawei is making the Nexus 6 P, you guys have decided to favour
    them by giving a good mark to this thing. You have not even included the poor
    battery life in the Cons with no fast charging. AA, stop being bias. It’s
    not helping us. The only thing good in this phone is the form, the
    display and the finger print scanner, the rest is just as crappy as other Chinese
    phones. And the worse is the prices. €649 in Europe is a no buy.

    • No, wrong, nobody paid us for this review, I wish they did because then with the “lots of money” we would get I could retire to Malibu. Sorry buddy, you are just plain wrong. Everything I wrote here is my opinion, uninfluenced by anyone, not even by others on the team. If you don’t like it fine, but please don’t slander me.

      • Andy Roid

        Why respond to trolls? It’s a great review

    • Rien Soewardji

      I’m the owner of mate s and it has fast charging. 50% in about 30 minutes with the stock charger.

      It has the Bluetooth headset battery level detector as well.

  • rocketryan

    The back is pure htc one.

    • MSi_GS70

      Noo pure mate 7

  • Shane Hazlewood

    As a U.S. citizen I find it hard to buy a device made by a company who solely operates out of a communist country. Yeah, I know, just about everything is made in China these days but at least by sticking with non Chinese based companies you aren’t supporting a regime that doesn’t even allow the play store. Also, do you really trust that their OS doesn’t include back doors into your personal information? Yeah, I might be paranoid but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

    • Andy Roid

      Yes, American governments and corporations would never include backdoors and spy on your personal information.
      You are a good U.S. citizen, well done. Now go back to sleep.

      • Shane Hazlewood

        Better my own government than a foreign one. We could get into the trade deficit and how workers like me have had their jobs outsourced to other countries like China, but people would rather buy the cheapest products they can then support their own economy and workforce, so it falls on deaf ears anyway.

        • Anon

          Buying your own country’s products when they are lousy is protectionism and encourages the domestic companies to continue being inefficient and uncompetitive. That goes against the capitalist principle, ironically for you.

          • Shane Hazlewood

            Well I can tell you this… more and more aerospace companies are having parts made in China but they supply the raw materials as the the Chinese manufacturers can’t be trusted to make the parts out of the required, certified materials. The day they allow them to make everything is the day I never step foot on an airliner again. You can also look at the recent explosion in Tianjin as an example of how they disregard basic safety protocols and regulations. If you want to support a country that provides an environment the breeds unethical business practices than its your money, have at it!

          • Anon

            Nothing special or surprising in international economics really. The US had its fair share of industrial accidents years back. It had bridges that totally collapsed. I do not see that in china today. We were laughing at japanese cars in the 70s, look what happened. The same thing is repeated over and over and all developed countries went through the same phase. After China is done and developed with high safety standards and products, look out for India.

          • Airyl

            Haha, you’re really a special one.

    • Hussein Abdullah

      like the USA is not a Regime, the fucking US bombed about half of the eath already you idiot

      • Shane Hazlewood

        This has nothing to do with the discussion and your targeted personal attacks only shows your ignorance.

  • Abhishek

    Hmm I think that with that 2700 MAh battery its kinda hard to get 5-6 hrs of screen on time with average usage.

    • No not really.

    • C Lo

      1080p screens are MUCH more efficient than a 2k screen. Batteries don’t have to be extra large to provide a solid days usage.

    • Huawei Mate S gets about 3.5-4hrs of screen on Time.

  • SamG

    Wow 5stars really? I don’t think even note 5 gets it

    • 喻勇

      I think so, The huawei brand of smartphone is trash!! The EMUI was clone of MIUI!shit!

  • Mohammed

    I cannot understand how the battery is not a disadvantage! no Quick Charge nor big battery! I wish someday I can understand why the stupid companies cannot focus on developing the battery even if sacrificing 1 or 2 or even 3 mm thickness. I don’t care if my phone is 8mm or 11mm as long I have great battery! G4 and Moto x Style and Mate s are all victims for this stupid policy

  • MSi_GS70

    best smartphone on the planet

    • Hussein Abdullah

      are you high?

      • MSi_GS70

        ar u on drugs ?

  • Hussein Abdullah

    No fast charging, poor battery life, weak ass soc, even weaker gpu, no updates garanteed since huawei sucks big time in updating their phones (even their flagships) and the most con is defenitally the Price of 650€ in europe, for that I get much much better Options, true hard Facts sorry

    • Andreas Larsson

      Actually great SoC, just gpu that is weak and it has fast charging (try reading the review at the top of the page)

  • Daggett Beaver

    No wireless charging?

  • C Lo

    This is what the new Nexus 6P should have been, minus the price.

  • Spruce Cycle

    Huge and hideous!

  • This is such a amazing budget smart phone. But i want to know only one thing that does it support Lolipop OS??

  • Daggett Beaver

    I’d take this over the 6P. Slap Smart Launcher Pro on it, and it would be great.

  • Maria A. Crosbie

    ilove the new phone and i love your smartwatch too i’d love to win both of them,first the ophone,then when you have a giveaway for your smartwatch i’d love to win it.

  • sm1704

    1. How good the camera picture quality compared to S6/note 5?
    2. Camera FOV compared to s6/note 5 for rear and front camera?

  • 5eyez

    The Huawei Mate S product video. Looking pretty nice.

  • 5eyez

    Check out the product video of the Huawei Mate S

  • Skinny_Windows_Baby

    Does it have a replaceable battery?
    SD slot?
    100% waterproofing?
    Can make purchases at 100% of the stores even without NFC?
    Can it control my TV?
    100% unbreakable back?

    What would I give up so many existing features… for a “new phone” that does far less?

    • boss

      Does it have a replaceable battery?
      –> new phones now available with non-replaceable batteries, if it’s not enough, you can buy a thing called ‘power bank’

      SD slot?
      –> of course it’s available, it’s not apple or new model from samsung (line note 5) which doesn’t have sd card slot

      100% waterproofing?
      –> tell me other phones which is waterproofed besides sony or rugged-type phones

      Can make purchases at 100% of the stores even without NFC?
      –> what is the function of your wallet or credit card? and yes it can, even without NFC, just make payment online or send money from internet to their bank account with ur phone

      Can it control my TV?
      –> that depends on your TV, does your TV support it? (wifi, bluetooth, internet, etc)

      100% unbreakable back?
      –> of course yes, it’s metal backside, duh!? it won’t break, although bending is possible, but it’s still tough compared to bendable iphone

  • anast

    i have a question.Does this camera really deservers 9 rating? Is it better than honor 7 and p8’s cameras?Because those photos dont look very good enough(at least or the $$)

  • anand kumar

    Ohk… guys ….. I am in a confusion actually what to go for. …whether g4 or the mate s……..but I’m a bit hesitant to go for the g4 when I heard about the bootloop issue (don’t wanna take risk)…….but still I would like to know which is better the g4 or mate s ……especially about the battery life , performance , camera (I’m not so worried about the camera , I don’t use it much….very rarely)……….so can u guys please recommend….please.

    Android Authority…. …I would like if you could do a review on lg g4 vs huawei mate s….please.

  • Huamei

    Wow I’m seeing a clone war here. Mate S is looking and feeling like a love child of Xiaomi’s two flagship killers Mi4 and Mi Note. Add in the back finger print sensor of the newest Redmi Note 3. Plus look at that notification bar. Totally MIUI 6 right there.

    Its good. Lei Jun already said it was about time people copied off of them. Don’t be shy though. Admit to it when you do it. Don’t be Apple or Samsung.

  • balcobomber25

    So the only con here is something that can be fixed with one of a hundred different launchers?

  • Ycel Salazar

    after 6 months of using ,,the audio of my huawei mate s sucks big time