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Mate, it’s big: Huawei’s 6.1 inch $429 phablet reviewed

By Leigh D. Stark | 12:56 pm 02/05/2013

Big phones are all the rage, but they generally come with price tags that put them in the upper echelon of mobile spending.

Huawei’s first big phone is bigger than Samsung’s own Galaxy Note, and coming with a 6.1 inch screen and a price tag well under $500, it might just prove to be the budget phablet you’re looking for.

Features

Huawei’s first phablet, the Ascend Mate attempts to steal some of the market from Samsung, a brand which currently dominates the big phone space in Australia with its two Galaxy Note handsets, number one and number two (of which only the latter is currently available).

This handset features some similar specs that we’ve seen in at least one Huawei handset before, and that includes a homegrown (or built by Huawei) quad-core processor clocked at 1.5GHz, 1GB RAM, 8GB storage, and a 720p display.

There’s also an 8 megapixel rear camera, 1 megapixel front camera, and your typical selection of connectivity options, including Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n, microUSB port, and a 3.5mm headset jack.

While all of those specs line up with Huawei’s Ascend quad-core D1, the major separation seems to be the screen and battery sizes, with the Ascend Mate jumping to a massive 6.1 inch display (running 1280×720) and a 4050mAh battery.

Corning’s scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass protects the display from keys and nails, and some enhancements through the touch panel technology make it more receptive to gloves.

Android 4.1 is the operating system being used here, though Huawei has made some changes over it, with the use of what it calls “Emotion UI,” the company’s own Android overlay.

Unlike the Ascend D1, this handset takes a microSIM, not the miniSIM, which most people know as a regular SIM.

It's a big phone, and there's a camera on the back, so you can take photos on your big phone.

Performance

Out on the streets, we’re seeing many a big phone, so much that it’s an area that has taken off in ways that some companies just didn’t see coming.

We’ve seen many a person with a Galaxy Note, and now it’s time for Huawei to try a middle-ground solution, a phablet (we still hate that word) with a price tag for $429.

Let’s get this out of the way, because it’s important: this is a big phone.

Proof the Huawei Ascend Mate is so big, with a size comparison. From left to right, it's the Huawei Ascend Mate, Samsung Galaxy Note 2, Samsung Galaxy S4, and the Apple iPhone 5.

You’d think that saying the Huawei Ascend Mate is a 6.1 inch phone would get that point across, but this handset is so big that the statement needs to be reiterated, again and again and again, if only to cite the obvious.

In fact, the Ascend Mate is so big that it looks silly in smaller hands, and downright ridiculous in the pants of this reviewer.

Euphemisms aside, there’s only so much room to keep six inch units, and when that six inch product is spread out over the shape of a rectangular prism, it’s even more difficult.

Sufficed to say, make sure your pants don’t have slim, skinny, short, or tight pockets, because this handset just won’t fit.

It will sit inside a jacket pocket, a handbag, or a backpack quite comfortably, but it’s worth noting that due to the behemoth size of the Ascend Mate, pants, jeans, and shorts don’t seem to be the best place to store the ginormous device.

When you do take it out (again, no euphemism, we’re talking about the phone), this is a heavy handset. Just shy of 200 grams, it’s one of the heaviest phones you’re likely to consider buying, although with credit to Huawei, the weight is spread out over the 6.1 inch size quite well, and as a result, doesn’t weigh you down as much as you think it might.

This phone is so big, it warrants at least one crotch shot. We have three.

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Price (RRP)

$429

Pros & Cons

Product Pros

Massive screen; Huge battery means two days of life are easily possible; Upgradeable storage; Huawei's decision to skin overlay without apps menu means it's easy to understand if customers are coming from an iPhone;

Product Cons

Slower system performance than it probably should have; Looks ridiculous in a pocket; If you're coming from regular Android, can take a little longer to get used to thanks to the changes Huawei's overlay uses; No 4G; Low 3G speeds;

Ratings

Overall

Features

Value for money

Performance

Ease of Use

Design

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