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Huawei Ascend Mate - Software, Apps and Games

Andrew Williams

By Andrew Williams



Our Score:


Huawei Ascend Mate – Software Tweaks for Screen

The phone runs a customised version of Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean. And some of the tweaks applied try to make the giant screen a little easier to live with.

Perhaps the most important is the custom Huawei keyboard. A button in the Settings menu lets you enable a keyboard designed for one-handed use, because the screen is simply too wide to navigate across with a single thumb.

The keyboard is shrunk down to occupy about three fifths of the screen in portrait, making every key accessible with the one thumb. It doesn’t look great, but it does work. The dial pad gets the same treatment, and you can switch between either the full-size or shrunken keyboard in Settings at any time.Huawei pics 2

A slightly more dynamic accessibility feature is the suspend button. This is a widgety button that hangs around on a spot at the edge of the screen – you choose where – that, when clicked, brings up shortcuts to the messenger, gallery, note app and calculator.

Huawei Ascend Mate – Software

As well as making some mostly-successful stabs at tweaking the operation of that mammoth screen, the custom Huawei interface also changes how Android operates in a very significant way. It ditches the apps menu entirely.

Huawei Ascend Mate 17

All of your apps, including basics like Settings and the Dialler, are laid out on your home screens. They’re initially dropped into folders, and anyone who has used Android a lot before is likely to find it initially disconcerting.

You can even make the software nav bar hide itself if you really want to confuse yourself and others.

There are a few of these curious choices, whose execution is less-than-perfect, and they ensure that the Huawei interface feels a bit wonky in use.

One of its neat features, though, is how much you can tweak its appearance. The Huawei Ascend mate comes with 20 themes, which alter the lock screen, the background, the clock widget and the app icons. None fundamentally change how Huawei’s take on Android works, but they certainly do look different. Huawei pics 1

And, like the optional disappearing nav bar and the lack of apps menu, the altering of icons can be massively confusing. Is that the dialler or the messenger app? Or maybe the calendar?

The Huawei Ascend Mate’s UI can certainly do ‘cute’, but it’s also pretty good at ‘confounding’ if you don’t watch your fiddling.

Huawei Ascend Mate – Performance, Apps and Games

With a quad-core Huawei-designed K3V2 quad-core 1.5GHz CPU processor, the Huawei Ascend Mate has a pretty powerful chipset. And it matches the top phones of today with 2GB of RAM.

However, we did notice a few real-life issues with the phone’s performance. Some games displayed serious graphical issues that we wouldn’t expect with a better-known phone. Real Racing 3, for example, has serious texture distortion and a worse frame rate than we’d expect from a phone of this grade.

Huawei Ascend Mate 19

It’s likely that some of these issues will be ironed-out before too long, but show that this probably isn’t the phone to get if gaming is high-priority for you. As an abstracted test of what the Ascend mate is capable of, we put it through a handful of benchmarks.

In the AnTuTu test, it came out with 15,616 points – comparable with the Galaxy Note 2 and its quad-core 1.6GHz Exynos 4412 CPU. Its chipset architecture isn’t as advanced as the Krait and Cortex-A15 CPUs found in the very latest phones, though. Once again, it’s one step behind the top mobile players, but then it does cost a good £150-200 less than they do.

Huawei Ascend Mate – Web Browsing

The slightly disappointing performance carries on when browsing the web, which should really be a low-intensity task. Using the stock browser, there was occasional baffling lag when entering text to the address bar, and backing this up the Sunspider javascript benchmark came up with inconsistent results between the ho-hum 2,000ms and a frankly terrible 4,000ms.

There are other annoyances in the way the browser operates, such as the iPhone-apeing insistence of making you insert web addresses only rather than keywords into the address bar – by not letting you insert spaces. This is actually down to the way the Huawei keyboard works, but it's nevertheless annoying.

The keyboard also takes an all-too-aggressive approach to predictive typing, leading to the creation of unwanted new sentences if you don't tap its predicted words. Thankfully, the keyboard can be replaced using third-party apps.

Other than the stock browser, Huawei Ascend Mate also comes with the Chrome browser installed, a standard feature of Android 4.1.2. It performs a little better in-use than the standard browser, with less lag. However, its Sunspider results were disappointing too, at around 2,000ms when we’d expect a processor of the Ascend Mate’s grade to score closer to 1,200-1,300ms.

Carrier pricing updates & information supplied by WhistleOut


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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