Huawei Ascend Mate Phablet hands-on preview and photos

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Chinese phone manufacturer Huawei has been one of the rising brands in the rapidly changing world of mobile devices manufacturers where brand loyalty is quite often a vacuous term as companies come up with different features, in terms of hardware, software and services to lure new customers. Fidelity, it seems, is only ephemeral when we talk about smartphones.

The device manufacturer, which is one of the biggest in the world, has sent us its Ascend Mate smartphone/tablet. The Ascend Mate was unveiled earlier this year at CES in Las Vegas and back then, it was the second biggest smartphone on the market (the biggest are, of course, the 3G version of the original Samsung Galaxy Tab tablet which was capable of doing voice calls and the Asus Fonepad).

The Ascend Mate comes with a USB cable, power plug and earphones with the same white finish as Apple’s iPhone but no manuals or booklet. It is worth noting that the box is sturdier than the type that houses entry level smartphones (we previewed the Ascend G510 recently and can attest).

It is a bigger version of the Ascend P2 with whom it shares many features (and which costs roughly the same). There’s a quad-core Hisilicon K3V2 system-on-chip clocked at 1.5GHz (and based on the Cortex-A9 architecture), an Intel XMM6260 modem )that can support five frequency bands, 2GB of RAM, 16GB onboard storage, a microSD card slot, an 8-megapixel rear camera, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and, its main USP, a massive 6.1in display with a 1,280 x 720 pixel resolution (that’s a pixel density of 240ppi, almost half that of the HTC One).

The Huawei Ascend Mate can be purchased from Expansys for £340. In comparison, the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, its most obvious competitor, costs around £100 extra with similar specs but comes with a bundled S Pen Stylus. We can only suspect that its price will fall even further once Samsung unveils the Galaxy Note 3 later this month as expected.

In the short time that we spent with the Ascend Mate, we couldn’t help but be impressed by its finish. The fact that it has a non-removable battery (a 4,050mAh model, one of the biggest on the market) means that it can afford a sealed chassis which in my view, gives it a better feel compared to the likes of the Galaxy S3.

Display quality is excellent with the Gorilla-glassed covered IPS+ screen dealing with photos and videos with aplomb. Huawei mentions that the screen-to-body ratio, which is, we suspect the percentage of the front surface area that’s used as “effective” display, stands at nearly three-quarters.

When it comes to performance, its processing power was roughly on par with the Samsung Galaxy S3 (according to AnTuTu’s benchmark) at 15,640 points and faster than any Tegra 3-based devices. Coupled with a decent of memory, the Ascend Mate should have enough resources to tackle future Android updates for a foreseeable future.

Will I buy the Huawei Ascend Mate? No because it is way too big for my taste. But then again, the Mate may appeal for the tens of millions of potential customers that don't have any qualms talking to a device that's around the size of an A6 sheet (take an A4 sheet and fold it in four to get an idea).

A full review of the Huawei's big smartphone will come shortly.