Huawei Mate Se Review – Budget Phone, Budget Performance [2020 Update]

With a HiSilicon Kirin 659 processor, and a 5.9” HD LCD display, not only are you guaranteed a tolerable performance but also rich viewing clarity at any given time. These points alone make this phone extremely attractive, but let’s take a deep dive into the Huawei Mate Se review, as we delve deeper into its tech specs and other features.

Key Specs

Device Specifications:


Display Size

 5.93” LCD Display

Processor chipset

 HiSilicon Kirin 659

Memory Capacity

 4GB

Internal Storage capacity

 64GB

Front-facing Cam

 8MP

Rear-facing Cam

 Dual camera setup (16MP & 2MP)

Battery

 3340mAh

Software

 Android 8.1 (Oreo)

Other Features

 Fingerprint scanner, 2 nano sims

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk about some of its key features.

Design & Display

If you have been following Huawei phones and their competitors, you would have realised that the Honor 7X was released shortly before the Mate SE. The shape and build are quite similar in the two phones. However, the Mate SE can be considered as an improved and faster sibling.

Being a mid-range smartphone, Huawei decided to go with an all-aluminium frame, which allows for a nicer, more sleek finish and a modern design aspect.

The 5.93” LCD display is housed in a thin slice of glass. This also adds to the slim bezels of the phone, which make the design look even better. Fitting the phone with an LCD display helps reduce the manufacturing cost when compared to a full AMOLED display. Nonetheless, this should not be seen as a downgrade as it does not hinder the user experience.

The Mate SE comes fitted with a proximity sensor located right next to the earpiece. What the proximity sensor does is avoid unnecessary keys being pressed and reduces the power consumption by switching off the display when the phone is being held near the user’s face.

The device supports a microUSB charging port, 3.5mm jack port, and a stereo speaker on the bottom.

The design and layout of the power buttons and volume controls are quite standard, as they are all located on the right-hand side of the shell. Additionally, the Mate SE houses a microphone on top of the phone as well, making it easier for you to make phone calls.

Huawei decided to keep the fingerprint sensor on the back of the phone.

And the good news?

This allows for smoother operation and easier access when you hold your phone in one hand.

Huawei Mate Se

Software & Processing Power

When the release of the phone was initially announced, a quick look at the Huawei Mate SE specs would have told you that it would be shipped out with Android 7.0 (Nougat).

Nevertheless, this was true for the first few phones to be released. However, with the new update, Huawei has begun sending the phone out with the new and improved Android 8.1 (Oreo). The update was made available for the previous releases as well.

As one would expect, the Android user interface is extremely user-friendly and reliable. Huawei outfits their phones with EMUI (formerly known as Emotion UI), which is a custom user interface designed solely for their line-up of mobile devices. This user interface can become tiring at times as some features of the interface can be annoying. It also takes time to get used to if this is your first Huawei phone.

EMUI is Huawei’s version of the standard Android launcher. You are still able to use different launchers and customise the look of the software to suit your needs.

When talking about processing power, it has 4GB of RAM. This is still a reasonable amount when compared with the latest phones today.

On the other hand, what is quite underwhelming is the HiSilicon Kirin 659 processor, which cannot even be compared to the performance and reliability of a Snapdragon processor. The processor finds it quite stressful to manage multiple apps at one time and begins to stutter and lag at times. This is also due to the low cost of the phone as the target market for this line-up does not include power users.

This phone is more than capable of handling day-to-day tasks perfectly but will start to show signs of lagging when faced with challenges such as gaming or prolonged use at high power.

Camera

The Huawei Mate SE camera is one of a kind among its line-up and competitors. It is fitted with two cameras at the back allowing for different styles of pictures to be taken. The device comes with a 16MP primary rear-facing camera as well as a 2MP secondary rear-facing camera. The 16MP camera does all the heavy work and takes magnificent pictures, while the 2MP secondary camera allows for images to be taken in portrait form.

One aspect of the camera which Huawei has mastered is the adding of the “bokeh” effect. This is the aesthetic quality of the blur produced in the out-of-focus parts of an image produced by a lens. By mastering this effect, you can add more designs and effects to your pictures.

The Mate SE cannot keep up with the quality of cameras fitted on flagship smartphone models, but it does perform significantly better than its competitors.

There are also different modes to try out and experiment with allowing you to add effects and change some settings which make for a better picture overall.

Considering that most phones in this price range do not have great selfie cameras, the 8MP front-facing camera can hold up its end of the deal. After reviewing the Huawei Mate SE camera, the pictures taken with the selfie camera were not only crisp, but the clarity was almost unmatched amongst its competitors.

 This blew our mind as we were not expecting the quality of the front camera to be as great.

Usage & Performance

When we tested the phone for our Huawei Mate SE 4G LTE review, it performed as we expected. The battery lasted all day with normal use and was not completely drained at the end of the day which is always a win in my book.

Once again as expected, we encountered some lag while changing between apps as the HiSilicon Kirin 659 was not built for hardcore users. However, when considering the average user, the Mate SE works smoothly and comfortably with little to no problems and is a very reliable phone. 

When discussing the Huawei Mate SE battery life, it performs as expected from a phone in this range. The 3340mAh Li-Ion battery pack can last an entire day on one charge and functions well throughout the day providing you with a lasting charge for your work.

The Mate SE supports a micro USB charger, however, it does not support fast charging. This does not prove to be a problem as one full charge will last a day, requiring you to charge your phone only once a day.

Now that you’re familiar with how the phone works, let’s discuss whether you should buy it or not.

At a budget price,  the device is an absolute steal for its specs and build quality. If you feel that the price is still too high, have a quick look around for other offers and discounts available.

Huawei has been one of, if not the main front-runner in terms of budget smartphones. When comparing it to its direct competitor the Honor 7X, the Mate SE overshadows the 7X by miles. Simply put, it is far superior in all aspects.

If you are to purchase the Mate SE you need to understand that it will not perform like a typical flagship model. However, Huawei is doing everything in their power to try and close that gap by increasing performance and reducing the prices of their phones.

It is also important to know that the Mate SE was released in 2018 and was at its peak during that time. Phones and technology have significantly improved since then. But the Mate SE stands the test of time and comes at an affordable price.

So go ahead and buy the Huawei Mate SE if you are looking for a reasonably-priced smartphone.


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