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Huawei Ascend Mate Hands-on
As the Huawei Ascend Mate was unveiled, the air was thick with a sort of gloopy competitiveness that you can't clean our of your airways. It's a clear attempt to beat the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 at its own game, a giant phone-tablet hybrid. It has a bigger screen, a faster processor and – quite possibly – a lower price. However, it loses out on the magic equation Samsung struck by the Note 2.
Huawei Ascend Mate DesignThe one lone word than can accurately describe the Huawei Ascend Mate is “huge”. With a 6.1-inch screen, this phone is unavoidably gigantic. If you have even a hint of an issue with large screen phones like the Samsung Galaxy S3, this is not the device for you.
Even those with large hands will not be able to reach from one end of the screen to another with a thumb. Huawei has put some software tweaks in place to help, but the sheer scale of the device does bring about some inescapable problems. The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 fits surprisingly well into most pockets but the Huawei Ascend Mate is a real pocket-filler – not helped by the use squared-off edges rather than as slender curves as the internals would allow.
The Huawei Ascend Mate is a plastic-bodied phone, and it feels it. Lacking the dense quality of immaculately-constructed mobile devices, it doesn't give the impression of something solid and full of gadgety goodness. However, most larger plastic devices are affected by this to some extent, and there are no signs of poor construction here.
Hardware-wise, it doesn't compare too well with the Huawei Ascend D2, launched at the same time. There are graceless plastic flaps that cover the microSD and SIM slot, further distancing the Huawei Ascend Mate from that desirable unibody feel. It's more successful from a purely functional perspective – expandable memory is very welcome in a device that should prove great to watch films on.
Huawei Ascend Mate ScreenYou might think that with a huge 6.1-inch screen, the Huawei Ascend Mate would offer the very latest display tech, but it actually lags behind the latest phones. With 720p resolution, it offers fewer pixels than the smaller 1080p Huawei Ascend D2. Pixel density is a “mere” 241dpi, which isn't high enough to provide the “you can't see the pixels” density of phones like the iPhone 5.
However, we shouldn't put too much emphasis on this lacking element, especially if the Ascend Mate is keenly priced. Images are far from blocky, with no jaggedness at normal viewing distances. General display quality is great too.
The Huawei Ascend Mate uses an IPS-type screen, offering excellent viewing angles, and both solid contrast and colour reproduction. It's not cutting edge, but it's far from a resounding tech fail.
Huawei Ascend Mate SpecsWhere the Huawei Ascend Mate doesn't fall behind the new breed of phones is in raw power. It uses the quad-core 1.5GHz Krait processor, with 2GB of RAM. This is more than enough power to make Android and its most demanding games fly, and is on-par with the Ascend D2's spec.
Huawei Ascend Mate CameraBack to the spec compromises, we come to the Huawei Ascend Mate's cameras. It offers an 8-megapixel main sensor, where 13-megapixel Sony sensor cameras are popping up in several new phones.
One reasoning behind using a lesser-spec snapper is that a near-tablet-sized device like this is not something most people are going to want to take too many photos with. We certainly wouldn't want to, and even if you do, eight megapixels is hardly a weakling resolution. We'll find out what its pictures are like once we get an Ascend Mate in to review.
Huawei Ascend Mate Missing FeaturesThe Huawei Ascend Mate hasn't exactly gotten through our wringer without criticism, but one of the most significant issues here is not a step-down feature but one that's missing entirely. Unlike the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, the Huawei Ascend Mate does not have a digitiser layer. There's no stylus, and if you do want one you'll likely have to make do with a capacitive model.
Ascend Mate - pre-loaded with ladies, apparently
Capacitive styluses aren't pressure-sensitive, making this tablet-phone an unremarkable sketching toy/tool. However, when we reviewed the Note 2 we found we didn't use the stylus all that often day-to-day, so it's not necessarily a deal-breaking issue.
However, we remain unconvinced by the Huawei Ascend Mate. It has a big, huge, massive screen. But isn't it too big? We've leaped over many screen size hurdles over the past four years, but when you need to start wearing surfer shorts to accommodate a new phone, isn't that something else? Perhaps we'll learn to love the Huawei Ascend Mate in time, but for now we'll stick to our Samsung Galaxy Note 2s.
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