This is our first time testing a device from Huawei so we hoped for great things after reading reviews of these devices on other websites. As you may know we received two devices for testing, the Huawei Ascend Mate and the Huawei G615.
First off, the Huawei Ascend Mate was presented in January 2013 and was released in March, it still is as big now in October as it was back then.
Design and Ergonomics
The Mate, which I will call phablet just for the sake of it, is very big for a smartphone, almost to big to work with just one hand but it is also too small to be a useful tablet, so phablet fits well.
As it is the Mate stands with 163.5×85.7×9.9 mm, which both make it big and possibly the thickest device we have had in for reviewing thus far. Weighing at about 198g it is probably the heaviest as well.
Putting measurements aside the Mate is a decent looking device, mostly due to the rim around the sides with a different color, giving it a more enterprise look.
The back of the Huawei Ascend Mate has a rubberized feel that we have come to see a lot in more recent smartphones and tablets alike. The rubberized back not only feels good to the touch but it also does a great job of keeping this phablet from slipping through your hands.
And if you’re one of those people who hate smudge marks on your phone, you will be grateful that this is a rubberized back and not a plastic one as smudges are barely noticeable on this surface. Such a thing does not happen with the screen as a single touch will leave a smudge on it.
On the left side of the Mate you have the microSD card slot that you will probably need since you only have about 4.7GB of storage available from a total of 8GB. On the top you have the microSIM slot and the usual 3.5mm phone jack.
The right side is home to the lock/power button and the volume rocker while the bottom houses the micro USB cable slot and the microphone. The back is almost flat, the only disturbance being the camera and its led flash and the loud speaker near the bottom.
On the front of the Huawei you have the massive 6-inch screen along with the front camera, luminosity and proximity sensors and the speaker. Yes you are probably wondering why haven’t we mentioned any buttons, it is because they don’t exist.
The usual back, home and recent app buttons are imbedded into the software itself, they are not even touch button, but more on that later.
The Mate feels very sturdy in hand and it also looks the part, as if it wouldn’t even be scratched if you would happen to let if fall. One inconvenient is that if something were to happen to the 4050mAh battery you wouldn’t be able to swap it out, like you would do on a Note II for example, as it isn’t removable.
Well this is definitely one of the high points of the Mate as the 6.1inch screen has a resolution of 720x1080px followed by 241ppi. This allows you to see perfectly what is displayed on the screen even if you’re outside.
Besides portraying images beautifully, you can also count on the display being protected against scratches on account of Gorilla Glass.
The IPS+ will make an amazing effort outside in order for you to see what’s currently being displayed on the screen but due to smudge marks that work will be thrown out almost completely.
Performance and Software
The Huawei Mate comes with Android 4.1.2 that seems to be upgradable to 4.2.2, but we don’t have that upgrade available here in Portugal yet so you will have to bear with us.
I don’t know how many of you have heard about Emotion UI but it is definitely different from the stock Android UI we have been used to.
Emotion UI doesn’t have an application or widget menu for you to scroll through. In similarity to the iPhone all of your installed applications appear on your homescreen.
You can customize your homescreen by long pressing it. When you do this you have 3 options: add widgets, change the background, change transitions between homescreens.
You also have several themes available that change not only the background but also the lockscreen and the application icons. There is a fairly good amount of themes to choose from, mainly because you can also customize your chosen theme.
Emotion UI is mostly intuitive but will most likely be a pain if you are used to the stock Android UI or pretty much any other UI overlay out there. I kept catching myself looking for the menu button in order to check what applications were installed.
The keyboard is very easy going and due to the massive screen you have more than enough room between the keys to avoid hitting one by change.
Like any Android device you have to have a notification bar and the Mate has this as well also with an overlay to match the rest of emotion UI. Besides the notification area you have some custom settings options on the top that allow you to turn on or off the most mundane features like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, sound and so forth.
Alongside the common options you have the profile button that allows you to quickly switch from the current profile settings to another profile whose settings you have preset. You can customize the profiles from the profile application on your homescreen.
For example Night Time mode turns on vibration for every alert and turns off the sound for every notification apart from the alarm clock. It also turns the brightness down to 7%. All connectivity services are also turned off by defaults as well as GPS.
The outside mode puts everything up to max and turns the vibration on for calls, messages, emails and every other event possible.
Besides customization provided by Emotion UI you can count on very few pre-installed applications and one of them is Kingsoft Office that allows you to create/edit and read office documents such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint files.
As usual we made some benchmark tests on the Mate and we played a few games with it. This time around we also took the change to test a few application and games on it as well. All the applications and games we reviewed on the Mate ran pretty close to flawlessly.
The Mate performed well when you take into consideration interacting with the interface and performing the most basic tasks. It froze up occasionally while using chrome and trying to scroll, at the same time the back, home and recent apps stopped working as well which is not good.
The Mate heated up a bit on the back next to the camera when you push it with benchmark tests and games but not enough that it would be uncomfortable to hold.
Playing Fruit Ninja revealed some lagging between transitions in the menus, but nothing noticeable during gameplay. Dead Trigger is a big player when it comes to pushing you hardware to the max, and thus the Mate heated up a bit, I must say I was disappointed when the Mate lagged throughout gameplay on this one.
Fair enough the Mate isn’t a recent device but it still packs 2GB of RAM and a 1.5GHz QuadCore A9Cortex CPU, so it shouldn’t be lagging with Dead Trigger, specially with all the effects turned off, although it is a given it doesn’t have a dedicated GPU.
Connectivity and Battery Life
Well when battery is taken into consideration the Mate has a big one without question. The 4050mAh battery will definitely take care of all your needs for at least a work day. Without having the Mate fully charged and constantly testing games and applications on it as well as running some benchmarks it took it 48 hours to complain of low battery, at 15% capacity.
As is to be expected of a battery this large it took a while to fully charge, but given the time it took to discharge, fully acceptable.
When it comes to connectivity you have the usual suspects in play: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Wi-Fi Direct, Wi-Fi Hotspot, Bluetooth, GPS with A-GPS support to help you through your endeavors wherever they might be. The range of the Wi-Fi was good and it went to great lengths to grab even to the tyniest signal available.
The camera UI is very much intuitive all the way and all the basic Android camera effects are present.
The rear 8MP camera with LED flash takes pretty decent pictures although the auto focus might not be the best sometimes, it will still beat the same 8MP camera of the Ascend P6.
The frontal 1MP camera also takes pretty decent pictures when light conditions are good.
Indoor Video Sample:
Indoor Low Light Video Sample:
Indoor Low Light Flash Video Sample:
Video Review Part 1:
Video Review Part 2:
The Mate is without a doubt a massive smartphone, and the smallest Tablet around. Overall it behaved quite well and we somehow got used to the Emotion UI that comes with it. The UI is very intuitive and everything is at hand where you can actually see what it does.
Performance wise it definitely isn’t the greatest on the market nor it will ever be the gamers favorite, but for work it will do well with its massive screen to enable you to quickly make modifications in an excel sheet or presentation.
Overall, taking its pros and cons into consideration the Mate is a good device while maybe it still is a little bit overpriced at 500€ (at the time of writing) given it doesn’t have a dedicated GPU. Its closest competitor is the Samsung Mega 6.5 that only has a Dual Core processor and 1.5GB of RAM, which is priced at 599€.
Review by: Cátia Sofia @ Android Emotions