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Huawei Ascend Mate review

Andrew Williams




Our Score:



  • High-quality screen
  • Solid camera focusing
  • Giant battery


  • Size causes practicality problems
  • Over-processed photos
  • Occasional performance issues
  • Irritating keyboard

Key Features

  • Android 4.2.1 with custom UI
  • 8GB internal memory
  • 2GB RAM
  • Quad-core Huawei 1.5GHz CPU
  • 6.1-inch IPS+ 720p screen
  • Manufacturer: Huawei
  • Review Price: £335.00

What is the Huawei Ascend Mate?

Many a loving person would tell a partner who has put on some weight that there’s simply “more to love.” However, everyone has a limit.

The question is – has the mobile phone obsession with screen size gone overboard with the Huawei Ascend Mate? It has a 6.1-inch screen, making it much bigger than giant phones like the Samsung Galaxy S4.

It’s a bold device with a high-quality screen and a huge battery, but we’re not convinced that its screen size has enough merits to outweigh the issues for most people.

Huawei Ascend Mate – Video Review

If you want a closer look at the Huawei Ascend Mate, check out our video review below.

Huawei Ascend Mate – Design

The Huawei Ascend Mate is a huge phone. It has a 6.1-inch screen, which Huawei claims is the largest a phone can get before becoming too big. But it would say that, wouldn’t it?

To be fair to the Ascend Mate, it is a phone that most will be able to hold one-handed comfortably enough, although stretching a thumb from one end of the screen’s bottom to the other feels like finger aerobics. Huawei Ascend Mate 7

Huawei has made a few small nods to those who do not suffer from gigantism, by placing the volume rocker buttons and the power button a way down the right edge – within reach for most. However, there’s no getting away from how huge the phone is.

It’s 85mm wide and 163mm long. That’s 20 per cent longer in each direction than the Galaxy S4, which is already a large mobile. At 9.9mm it’s not desperately slim, either. It’s a real pocket-filler.

In-use what we found much more worrying than the inconvenience of its size is the inherent danger of treating the Ascend Mate like a normal phone. As it’s such a enormous slab, your grip over it is much less sure than with a smaller mobile, which led to many moments when we almost dropped the thing.Huawei Ascend Mate 6

However, the Huawei Ascend Mate is a well-made phone, with no sign of creakiness or worrying gaps around seams. But it’s not made of particularly snazzy materials either. Its non-removable rear plate is slightly-curved, textured plastic, and its sides are slightly ‘champagne’ colour plastic. The rear is has a soft-touch finish, though, which is comfy on the fingers.

There’s no metal on show and the square body shape doesn’t leave the Huawei Ascend Mate with a distinct style. As there are no hardware nav buttons, the front is even more innocuous. It’s just a curiously giant expanse of black, when the screen’s off. Huawei Ascend Mate 3

Hardware-wise, the Ascend Mate is defined by its size and little else.

The Huawei Ascend Mate has microSD and microSIM slots, which sit on the phone’s left edge and top under non-showy plastic flaps. They don’t have the immaculate feel of the pop-out trays used by the iPhone and Nokia Lumia phones, and don’t have the waterproofing of the Xperia Z’s flaps either.

Huawei Ascend Mate 13

The Huawei Ascend Mate – it’s big, but not particularly clever, design-wise. It’s partly true on the inside too, as the phone cuts out NFC and 4G to offer all those screen inches for under £350.

It also doesn't have masses of storage, with 8GB in our review model that's wound down to just under 5GB of accessible storage.

Huawei Ascend Mate – Screen

On to the main event, the screen. The Huawei Ascend Mate has a 6.1-inch screen, but surprisingly it’s lower in resolution than many of today’s top smaller phones.

The Samsung Galaxy S4, HTC One and others have 4.7-inch to 5-inch screens that are Full HD resolution, but the Huawei Ascend Mate is ‘only’ 720p.Huawei Ascend Mate 16

However, unless you look very close and strain your peepers, you wouldn’t know the difference. Display quality is strong too, using an IPS-plus panel whose images pop with excellent colour reproduction, great brightness and nigh-on perfect viewing angles.

There’s a vital immediacy to the Huawei Ascend Mate’s images that silences most complaints about resolution. Text on a high-contrast background is noticeably less smooth than it would be on a higher pixel density screen, though.

The big question is whether the size of the screen has benefits that negate the problems of the sheer girth of the phone. We’re not convinced it does.

It has no digitser layer, so is not compatible with pressure-sensitive styluses, and its size increment over the 5.5-inch Galaxy Note 2 does make it a good deal larger.

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February 11, 2013, 2:07 am

I'm really pondering whether to get a smaller phone and a 7" tablet, or a huge phone. I currently have a Note 1, and love it. I'd love it more if it were bigger though, and indeed I don't use the pen at all (handwriting recognition is not as good as the soft keyboard nor even voice recognition).

I also have a 7" Nook Color that's very long in the tooth though it works well enough except for HD video. I'm not using it a lot because it's sandwiched between the phone I always have on me and the 10" tablet that's so much more comfortable to use, and both the 7" and the 10" require 2 hands or a table.

So I guess I'm interested by the Mate, especially if the price is right, and depending on what the Note 3 is like.


May 27, 2013, 8:10 pm

A 'big' mobile, for me, is all about the screen. I love the Note 1 because I can use it as a full web browser, no need for 'mobile' version of web pages, and can mostly read the pages without zooming. That works because as well a being big, the screen is hi res (1280 x 800). So the BBC news home page is fully readable.

A tad bigger screen would be helpful, even so, but not at the expense of resolution. A bigger screen with a lower resolution just makes no sense - it is effectively just like zooming in, only without the option to zoom back out! A bigger screen with the same resolution, that would be easier on the eye. A bigger screen with a higher resolution, that would be the best.
The comments about the 'usability' deficit of larger phones should be contrasted with the usability deficit of smaller phones tasked with reading a full web page, or writing an email or document, or using it for sat nav, or viewing photos. In short, the bigger phone may be more difficult to range your thumb across single-handed, but the smaller phone simply doesn't do the job.

I think that overcoming the ergonomic challenges of a larger phone is less of a problem than trying to achieve the same purposes with a smaller phone.

Angus McKinnon Young

June 20, 2013, 5:40 pm

If you have the money buy smaller (4 inch range) phone and a tablet. That's the best option. Large phone (I would place the line over 5 inches) makes as much sense as small tablet (under 5 inches).

James Arnold

August 12, 2013, 10:26 am

android 4.2? why is mine Android 4.1.2


October 19, 2014, 5:26 pm

sir kindly upgrade your firmware. If u purchased the phone on an earlier date, the default version is really 4.1.2..
kindly download link on the internet to upgrade your android version

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