Despite being a name that no one can pronounce properly, recently Huawei has earned itself a larger market share with the release of the Ascend P2 and their Ascend Mate, the latter of which we will be reviewing today thanks Vodafone UK who sent us this smartphone to review, you can find their price plans for the Huawei Ascend Mate here.
Packing a 6.1 inch screen, the Ascend Mate has one of the largest screens on the market, in fact the only smartphone with a screen larger than the Mate is Samsung’s Mega 6.3.
The Huawei Ascend Mate also includes a custom quad-core processor, that was said to be the fastest in the world when it first launched, according to Huawei anyway, of course this may no longer be the case with the release of new smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S4.
READ THIS NEXT: Samsung Galaxy S4 phone review.
[divider] Design [/divider]
However the Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3 is probably more of a competitor to the Mate, sized at 163.5 x 85.7 x 9.9 mm the Mate is about 4mm smaller than the Mega, and is about 3mm thinner, however it does turn out at about 1.9mm thicker, which does mean the Mate can be a little harder to hold than the Mega 6.3.
A true ‘phablet’, the Mate weighs a hefty 198 grams, which makes the phone a little heavy in the pocket, which added to the size of the phone, the Ascend Mate can sometime be a little hard to hold and carry around, and sometimes taking a call can be a chore in itself.
However this could be seen as a worthwhile tradeoff when you take the screen into account, sized at 6.1 inches, the Mate is perfect for watching movies, with a bright IPS 720p HD display, colours look great and blacks turn out clear.
All of which is displayed with a brilliant viewing angle, and images remain clear and easy to see even at the weirdest of angles.
About halfway down the side of the phone you will find the power and volume buttons, which have been placed this way to make them easy to locate them when using the phone with only one hand, a must due to the size of the phone.
And those buttons are the only ones you will find on the phone, with no actual navigation buttons, the back, home and multitasking buttons are shown along the bottom of the screen when the display is on.
On the top of the handset you will find both the 3.5mm headphone socket and a the micro-SIM slot, then on the side there’s also a microSD card slot for expandability up to 8GB.
On the back the Mate is covered with soft-touch black/ white plastic, that makes the phone nice to hold, but does make the phone feel a little cheap, which is only backed up by the rest of the silver/ white plastic covering the side.
Also as there’s no removable back, the battery is non-changeable, which could be off-putting to some people, however it doesn’t really bother me.
[divider] Software [/divider]
Using a new overlay called Emotion UI, he Huawei Ascend Mate has a unique design to that off any other Android handset, but is it better?
In my opinion, not really with options simply allowing you to customise things within a theme like to wallpaper, icon etc, things within the phone tend to look a little tacky if I’m honest, and personally, I would prefer the phone better if there was an option to simply disable the theme, and revert the phone to the default look of Android.
This is mainly due to the fact that the themes available don’t really go with Android itself, and apps on the homescreen start to look a little out-of-place.
Alongside that, for some reason Huawei have also decided to get rid of the application drawer in favor of showing icons for apps on multiple homescreens with the ability to add folders, the whole experience is similar to that of iOS.
When you first turn on the phone a lot of the included apps are included within these folders, bunching apps like those from Google to keep the screen a bit tidies.
Huawei have done one brilliant thing however, and that is the amount of settings you can change within this phone, options like hiding the navigation bar, and turning on one-handed operation can make the phone a lot easier to use.
There’s also another interesting feature called the “Suspend Button” which places a hovering grey ball on top of any running app. Once pressed this button will then show a circular row of apps surrounding it, that allow you to launch other apps like the note-taking application, SMS app or access the camera. calculator quickly.
[divider] Calling and Messaging[/divider]
In terms of design, I enjoyed some aspects of Emotion UI, particularly apps like the calling and contacts app, which features a very minimal and clean design, with a simple and easy to use interface that makes calling and great process.
Within the app you can select which contact to call that is either stored on your SIM card or your attached Google Account, and each contact can include user data such as their email or even Twitter handle.
However the problem with this is that you can sometimes end up with a ton of contacts that cannot be stored, so you end up with a list of contacts that can become congealed with a number of e-mail accounts that has no number attached to it.
Placing and receiving calls is as you would expect, with a clear enough quality from both the caller and person we were calling.
The minimal theme of the contacts app continues on with the messaging app on the Ascend Mate, which uses the same easy to use interface that we liked the contacts app so much for, with a row of icons along the bottom that show buttons to do stuff such as writing messages, search messages and view the settings for the app.
Typing out a message is extremely simple, as with most smartphones the Mate uses a similar text messaging app to that of other Android smartphones.
The one-handed setting also works with this app, allowing you to make the keyboard smaller and either stick it to the left or right hand side, allowing you to type out messages easily, no matter the positioning of your hand, auto-correction and spelling is shown across the keyboard, allowing you to quickly spell check yourself.
The keyboard also has its own settings, allowing you to change the keyboards onscreen height with four sixes from small to large to choose from, the keyboard can also be switched between a QWERTY and a T9 keyboard.
[divider] Internet and Connectivity [/divider]
Thanks to the 6.1 inch screen, browsing the web is a great experience, allowing you to view a large section of the website you are viewing, almost like you are using a tablet, photos look great and articles with heavy text are an easy read on the Mate.
However I would recommend not using the default browser as it’s a bit clunky and I found that some aspects of websites wouldn’t even load on the browser, the Google Chrome app is probably a better option.
To get online, the Mate has HSPA+ connectivity with support for 850/900/1700/1900/2100Mhz networks, allowing you to connect to 3G networks across the world.
However there’s no 4G connectivity, but with support for dual-band WiFi connections, browsing at home can be quite speedy with the right setup.
.[divider] Camera [/divider]
For some of their smartphones and devices you find pretty crappy camera equipment if I’m honest, however it seems Huawei have finally released a smartphone that doesn’t seem as much of an afterthought than it previously has been.
Fitted with an 8 megapixel sensor, the Mate comes in with some pretty decent features in terms of camera specs, with a fast shutter speed and great performance under low light conditions the Mate has a pretty decent camera.
To boost this camera Huawei have also added various colour filters and distortion effects that could keep Instagram users happy without the app for a while.
In our tests we mostly found ourselves happy with a lot of the photos that we taken using the camera, often with a sharp focus, and good colour reproduction, photos are decent enough for sharing on most social networks.
However there defiantly not for the photo album, as when you actually transfer these photos to a computer you soon find their imperfections.
[divider] Performance and Battery Life [/divider]
Aside from the screen, one of the best features of the Ascend Mate is its battery life, which is frankly outstanding, and I often found that the battery life easily lasted a couple of days when using the phone in normal everyday conditions, something that doesn’t happen with many smartphones around today.
However, sadly I cannot say the same about the performance from the Ascend Mate, featuring a homemade K2V3 quad-core processor, the smartphone just doesn’t cope with today’s applications.
The user experience of the phone is generally lagging, mostly when opening and closing applications, or even when doing something as simple as loading up an image.
his becomes even more noticeable when you start playing a game, which I often found to be a terribly slow experience.
And this comes to light when you start checking the phones benchmarks, here’s the numbers.
[divider] Overall Verdict [/divider]
Overall the Ascend Mate seems to be neither here or there, some of its features we really enjoyed, but a lot of the time these features became outweighed by the number of things wrong with this smartphone.
The 6.1 inch screen is great, with great viewing angles, and a nice spectrum of colours, it seems to perform well with most tasks, although a higher resolution could be an improvement.
Alongside this, the phone has an outstanding battery life, and is actually one of our favorite features about the phone.
However the Ascend Mate has a massive problem when it comes to performance, and is one of the reasons we wouldn’t recommend this phone to someone looking for a smartphone replacement.
Don’t get us wrong, if you want something just to call people or surf the web, the Ascend Mate could be a pretty decent option, however for the power user, it doesn’t make it to the top leagues.