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Phones for Goldilocks: hands-on with the S, M, and L-sized handsets of Huawei

By Leigh D. Stark | 5:29 pm 15/01/2013

Huawei has been making a name for itself with budget mobiles for over a year, and at the Consumer Electronics Show last week, the company was about more than just the low end, showing off phones for the small, medium, and large hands out there.

Smaller hands will appreciate the first Windows Phone on offer from Huawei, which we played with, offering up competition in what is becoming the interesting third ecosystem of choice.

That model continues the Ascend name already used by Huawei for its handsets, but starts the “W” range, presumably for “Windows” in the form of the W1, this model offering up Windows Phone 8, a dual-core 1.2GHz, Adreno 305 graphics chip, 512MB RAM, a five megapixel camera, and a 4 inch IPS display.

No 4G on offer in this phone, and from the specs, it’s reasonably comparable to HTC’s Windows Phone 8S model, which we’re reviewing at the moment.

In the hands, it’s comfy and quite light, though it does feel a touch plasticky for us, though this could be something fixed when the handset reaches full production cycle.

Middle ground was set with Huawei’s Ascend D2, a 5 inch handset offering a Full HD 1080p IPS+ (plus) screen, and a whole bunch of technologies inside that could put it at the top of the pile if it ever makes it down to Australia.

The D2 features what we assume is Huawei’s own quad-core processor clocked in at 1.5GHz, Android 4.1 “Jelly Bean”, 32GB internal storage, a massive 3000mAh battery, 13 megapixel rear camera, and 2GB RAM which should help to make Android quite fast.

No word on 4G in this model, though that’s hardly surprising given that CES is an American show, and the US equivalent of 4G LTE is a little different from our own.

In fairness, we didn’t get as much hands on time with it as we’d like, but from the initial experience, it’s a big phone that feels a little chunkier than you might expect, sitting at a hefty – by flagship standards, anyway – 9.4mm thickness.

And then there was the big phone, with possibly the most sizeable handset we saw across the show.

Hinted at before the show began, Huawei’s Ascend Mate is massive, featuring a 6.1 inch screen showing a HD 720p resolution. While it’s a big screen, it’s not the best resolution on offer, and doesn’t even compete in clarity with the previously mentioned Ascend D2, which manages 440 pixels per inch, compared to the 240ppi on the Mate.

That said, it’s not a terrible pixel rating, but doesn’t quite go near the quality of Apple’s iPhone, and with a bigger screen, will likely make you notice the pixel details more.

Mind you, this phone boasts the biggest battery we’ve seen on any handset yet, with a 4150mAh battery on board, while the phone uses the same quad-core 1.5GHz processor as the 5 inch Ascend D2 handset.

Playing with it, the Mate feels very much like a plastic handset, but is quite slender, managing a truly svelte 6.5mm thickness.

It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, mind you, and we weren’t too enthused about the positively huge size, which is bigger than Samsung’s already-big second-generation Galaxy Note.

As with all things CES, Huawei has nothing to say on local availability on any of these, though given we’d expect to hear something from March onwards.

Leigh D. Stark traveled to CES as a guest of LG Electronics Australia.

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