New Huawei Ascend Mate 2 is a Big Deal

Publisher�s Outlook

New Huawei Ascend Mate 2 is a Big Deal

By Rich Tehrani, CEO, Group Editor-in-Chief, TMC  |  March 17, 2014

Do you remember when the best phone was the smallest and slimmest? It’s funny that at one time car keys were small and cell phones were big, and then around 10 years ago German car companies in particular started to make keys a bit shy of the size of some flip-phones. Then the market shifted directions when smartphones finally allowed decent web browsing.

It’s gotten to the point where many say when it comes to smartphones, bigger is better. I agree – you should get the largest phone you can stand. Some will say they don’t want a phone that is a tablet, and while I understand the sentiment, there are many times when the small screen of a typical phone is far too limiting and a large comfortable screen overflowing with pixels is a better place to view your HTML e-mail and play your games.

Right now the war between the smartphone companies is being fought only seriously between Samsung (News - Alert) and Apple, and I dare say that if Apple made larger phones, Samsung would be in a far weaker position. But for the many years I have suggested Apple (News - Alert) design a much larger phone, the company has decided the time wasn’t right. This means the companies making the large phones have the market to themselves – for now.

The Samsung Galaxy S4 and Note 3 are some of the nicest devices on the market in my opinion, but after spending time with the Huawei (News - Alert) Ascend Mate 2, I have to admit the 6.1- inch screen and 1.6gHz quad-core CPU made quite an impression on me. The device is thinner than the previous model and boasts a best-in-class 79 percent screen-to-body ratio. Moreover, the company claims more than two days of use from the phone on a single charge, and if you’re feeling generous you can even use it as a battery to charge your friends’ devices. One of the neat features on this phablet is a front camera, which can produce panoramic selfies. The 13Mp rear camera, being produced by Sony, doesn’t skimp on quality either.

I spent some time using the phone while talking with William Plummer, vice president of external affairs for the company, at CES (News - Alert) 2014. This is an important device for Huawei because the company is looking to expand its business to retail smartphones. That's why this phone needs to stand out to be taken seriously, and it should be taken seriously given its 4050 mAh battery and capability to download at 150mbps. The company’s Emotion UI is very simple to understand, and there is a setting that allows one-handed operation. It is worth mentioning that I don’t find one-handed operation too useful on this phone or the Galaxy Note 2.

I asked Plummer about competition from Samsung and Xaomi, the Chinese company providing inexpensive devices which are backed by services. He said there is lots of room in the market for competition. I don’t disagree. Frankly I believe the world is very ready for ever-larger phablets, and I can even fit an eight-inch tablet fairly comfortably in my suit jacket and a bit awkwardly in my back pocket.

I really like Ascend Mate 2, which will be available in the U.S. this year. It has enough unique features like glove mode for winter that consumers should want to purchase it in substantial numbers. If there is a downside, it is the 1280x720 resolution, which yields about 241 PPI versus the 5.7-inch Note 3, which gives you a much clearer 386 PPI. At about $445 you can make a strong argument for this phablet, which will function as a tablet, smartphone, and battery back-up device for your other gadgets.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi