Who needs 6.1 inches?

Do we really need something this big?

Do we really need something this big?

Huawei Ascend Mate Review

Author: Craig Jones

With its imposing appearance and mammoth battery life the Huawei Ascend Mate has raised the bar in the increasingly competitive “Phone/Tablet” market.

Overview
Huawei’s offering into the already blurred world of the “Phablet” see’s the release of the Ascend Mate. Bringing it’s Goliath 6.1 inches of screen real estate to the table, giving Samsung something to worry about when defending their title of “Outrageously Large Smartphone” which is currently held by the wildly popular Galaxy Note II (2). Taking design cues from both Apple and Samsung, the Ascend Mate looks set to make a lasting impression with its familiar looks and friendly UI (User Interface).

Likes

  • Large Screen
  • Battery Life
  • Collapsable Softkey Drawer

Dislikes

  • Large Screen
  • Emotion UI (Skin)
  • Lack of AppDrawer


Product Description

Huawei are relatively unknown when it comes to the smartphone game, but with success stories such as the Ascend G330 and Ascend G600, the Chinese company is fast becoming a household name. With the Ascend Mate, Huawei have taken some inspiration from other devices on the market, with it’s looks being similar to that of Samsungs Galaxy S3 and Note II (2), it’s sleek design is reinforced with the addition of Corning Gorilla Glass making this phone as tough as it is large.

With no physical buttons on the screen, the front face is completely clean in design with the exception of the speaker, front facing 1.0 megapixel camera and proximity sensor. The power button and volume control are placed on the right edge of the device, with only a microSD slot occupying the left edge, with the SIM card and 3.5mm audio jack taking residence on the top edge, and micro USB and microphone living at the bottom edge. Sadly the graceless plastic flaps that cover the microSD and SIM slot, further distance the Huawei Ascend Mate from that desirable unibody feel. But the option for expandable memory is very welcome in a device that should prove to be excellent for the multimedia experience. Finally on the back cover we find the 8.0 megapixel camera, flash and rear speaker.

Size and Screen
Weighing in at 198g (grams) and it’s measurements being 163.5 mm x 85.7 mm x 9.9 mm, the Ascend Mate is not too dissimilar to the BFG (Big Friendly Giant). It wasn’t too long ago that we thought that the 5+ inch form factor was too large, but unless you are wearing some typical 90’s baggy jeans, you may feel the need to hire a caddy while out and about with this device.

With a more than generous screen size the Ascend Mate tips the balance past the sweet spot that we have seen from other phablets. Even those of us with larger than normal hands will still have issues using this phone with just one hand. But Huawei (like Samsung before them) have made sure that  like any super wide smartphone, the device offers the one-handed UI option, which is necessary when you want to operate the phone in the traditional sense.

Although having all of that extra space isn’t all bad. The 6-inch HD LCD display (1280×720) may not be as crisp as the 443 ppi display featured in the Huawei Ascend D2 smartphone, nonetheless, it offers a great image quality with deep contrast, allowing for an immersive experience when watching video or gaming. Additionally, the display can be operated even if the user wears gloves, a capability that Huawei calls “Magic Touch”, which is perfect for those winter months.

Software
Running Android Jellybean 4.1 out of the box, which is a little disappointing considering there are some devices that come pre installed with Jellybean 4.2. But that doesn’t mean to say that come release day, we might see that be the case for this phone. Huawei’s Emotion UI coupled with the silky smooth goodness that is Project Butter, makes for a pleasant experience when zipping around Huawei’s unfamiliar skin. With its interface somewhat reminiscent of the iPhone, doing away with Androids popular App Drawer, and instead opting for a more traditional approach with apps being stored in user created folders instead.

Huawei have been sure to include some intriguing features that at first may seem a little arbitrary but in retrospect seem to be born out of the mind of a creative genius. In trying to allow the user to maintain full use of the enormous 6.1 inch screen, the soft keys are cleverly hidden until swiped up from the bottom edge (similar to that of a Windows 8 tablet feature) and can be dismissed by tapping an icon located next to the “back” key. Also included is the “Easy Panel” a Universal Quick Panel that can be accessed anywhere. It gives very quick access to most often used Applications that include Notes, Messages, Calculator and Video Playbacks. Ok, so not ground breaking, but nice touches nonetheless.

Processor
Under the hood the Ascend Mate is powered by a 1.5GHz quad-core Krait processor, which is manufactured by Huawei themselves. Backed up by 2GB (Gigabytes) of RAM (Random Access Memory) and coupled with Jellybean 4.1 means that the Ascend Mate will be anything far from sluggish in the performance department.

Internal storage comes in at 16GB, with expandable memory accepting another 32GB, making this device a heavyweight contender for the way we access our entertainment. The addition of a graphics accelerator means that video playback will be nothing short of impressive.

Camera
Sporting an 8 megapixel sensor, surprising as 13-megapixel Sony sensor cameras are becoming more commonplace in new phones. Not that 8 megapixels is to be scoffed at. Although one reasoning Huawei may have decided to include a lesser spec camera is they aren’t expecting people to be taking too many photographs with this device, with it’s size being an obvious disadvantage in that respect.

Battery
Boasting the largest battery capacity for a smartphone to date with a whopping 4050mAh (milliamp hours) Huawei is certainly intending their new handset to last as long as you do, for all situations, toting some impressive stats for the estimated battery life. For continuous video playback Huawei are claiming it should be 10 hours 8 minutes and an astounding 22h 13 minutes of talk time. Their stats for web-browsing comes in at 14 hours, compared to that of the Galaxy Note 2 measuring up with a slightly less impressive 11hours 27 minutes, but I would think that would have something to do with LTE not being present in the Ascend Mate.

Who is it for?
Anyone who either can’t see the point of having both a Smartphone and a Tablet, or just wants a device that is going to last all day and not have to compromise on functionality.

Value for Money?
The price point for this behemoth is still to be confirmed, but I would expect it to be comparable to that of most other high end smartphones currently on the market.

Final Thoughts
The product design quality is similar to that of the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 except for the lack of stylus, additionally, the display offers a comparable image quality. I am a little concerned that there is a tipping point where the user experience might stop to be agreeable with this type of form factor.The line between smartphone and tablet continues to blur and the Huawei Ascend Mate does nothing to help the situation. Huawei wants you to ditch your tablet in favour of the Ascend Mate, which in its eyes can double as both a slate and a phone.

The Huawei Ascend Mates redeeming quality though is its impressive 4050 mAh battery capacity, with a powerful processor and with such a large display to run, the hardware certainly needs it to provide a long battery life.

 

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Tech enthusiast, with a passion for the written word.

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Posted in Reviews, Smart Phones
2 comments on “Who needs 6.1 inches?
  1. I’m very happy with my Note II screen size of 5.5. It’s the max pocket size for me. Anything larger is not truly portable any more and I would consider a full on tablet. I got the Note II because it got right in the middle ground with just enough tablet size, but still small enough to carry around as a phone.

    • It really is monster of a phone. Definitely not pecketable. The only thing that Huawei could have done to make me buy this phone is give it a Full HD screen like they did with the Ascend D2. Incedentley, I have a review for that device here too.

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