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CES: Huawei Ascend Mate hands on review

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LAS VEGAS: Chinese phone maker Huawei took the word 'phablet' to a whole new level at its CES press conference on Sunday, with the launch of its gigantic Ascend Mate smartphone.

V3 was lucky enough to get its mitts on the 6.1in Ascend Mate handset following the event to check out whether such a massive device can actually work in the real world.

We must say, it really is enormous. We found it difficult to hold the cumbersome smartphone with one hand. It's plenty slim enough at just 6.5mm thick at its slimmest part, but the handset's 6.1in screen meant we found it difficult to wrap our hand around the device. It's quite a weighty device too, tipping the scales at 192g.

Huawei Ascend Mate hands-on

In fact, the Huawei Ascend Mate is so big that we're struggling to view it as a smartphone, as it feels much more like a tablet device. For example, we'd feel pretty stupid holding the device up to our ear while making a call, and it would be pretty much impossible to squeeze the Ascend Mate into a pocket.

However, we're not going to let the size of this device spoil our view of this phone, because in terms of performance it's very exciting.

For starters, the 6.1in screen is absolutely gorgeous, albeit not quite on par with the iPhone 5. That's no doubt thanks to its 1280x800 IPS screen, which looked extremely impressive even under florescent lighting.

This screen also comes with Huawei's new Magic Touch screen technology, which means that - much like on the Nokia Lumia 920 - it can be operated while you're wearing gloves. We have yet to test this feature, but will be sure to do so in our full Huawei Ascend Mate review once we're back in the UK.

Huawei Ascend Mate with Android 4.1

The Huawei Ascend Mate is an extremely slick device to use too, due to the 1.5GHz dual-core processor under the bonnet. Swiping through homescreens was impressively nippy, as was firing open applications, and although we were unable to test the browser due to the flaky Wi-Fi at CES, Huawei assured us that web access is just as lightning fast. Well they would, wouldn't they?

Another reason the Ascend Mate is fast is due to Huawei's stripped down user interface that Huawei calls its Emotion UI. Turn the device on and you're greeted with a panel of applications and widgets, which didn't appear obtrusive during our time with the giant phone. Another cool software feature is Huawei's live updating wallpapers, which means that your device could look different every time you switch it on.

Speaking of looks, we were pleasantly surprised by the casing of the device. Sure, it's huge, but the phone's glossy plastic casing - also available in black - felt much more robust that the casing used on Samsung's competing smartphones.

Huawei boasts that this casing is waterproof and resistant against drops and tumbles too, so we'll be sure to give this a thorough testing in our full review of the handset.

While we're not convinced that a 6.1in smartphone is a great idea, the Huawei Ascend Mate is a great phone if you look past its ridiculous size. It looks like Huawei is ready to take on the big names in the mobile industry, and if it starts putting out such highly specified devices it might be able to do in 2013.

08 Jan 2013

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