New Huawei Ascend Mate 2 is a Big Deal

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 ten 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 email and play your games.

Right now the war between the smartphone companies is being fought only seriously between Samsung 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 design a much larger phone, they have decided the time wasn’t right. This means the companies making the large phones have the market to themselves – for now.

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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 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% screen to body ratio. Moreover, the company claims more than 2-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 friend’s devices. One of the neat features on this phablet is a front-camera which can produce panoramic selfies. The 13Mp rear camera doesn’t skimp on quality either being produced by Sony.

I spent some time using the phone while talking with William Plummer VP External Affairs for the company at CES 2014. This is an important device for Huawei because they are looking to expand their business to retail smartphones. It’s why this phone needs to stand out to be taken seriously and it does with a 4050 mAh battery and the capability to download at 150 Mbps. The company’s Emotion UI is very simple to understand and there is a setting which allows one-handed operation. It is worth mentioning 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 (hint hint).

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I really like Ascend Mate 2 – it will be available in the US this year and 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 1280×720 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.

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