Review: Huawei Ascend Mate 2
The Ascend Mate 2 from Huawei represents an interesting choice. This big-screened Android smartphone isn't being sold by US carriers, but it is available unlocked and on the cheap from Huawei itself. Here is Phone Scoop's full report.
Is It Your Type
The Ascend Mate 2 costs just $300 and is being sold directly by Huawei unlocked. If you're looking for an out-of-the-way bargain that's perfect for no-contract situations and is big on performance to boot, the Ascend Mate 2 should be on your short list.
The Ascend Mate 2 is a big, big phone. It's about the same size as the Samsung Galaxy Mega, which is probably also its closest competition in terms of specs and price. With a six-inch screen, the Mate 2 borders on tablet-esque dimensions. It is large, heavy, and often requires two hands.
Visually, the Mate 2 is a fairly non-descript phone; a black slab with little personality. The front and back surfaces are solid black. Only a band around the edge, which is dark chrome, breaks up what would otherwise be a solid chunk of inky blackness. The Mate 2 is bereft of design flourishes and is conservative almost to a fault. Since it has almost no individuality, it will fit in just about anywhere. Only individuals stand out, and the Mate 2 is part of the crowd.
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Large phones are often cumbersome to use, and the Mate 2 is no different. It's more than six inches tall, more than 3 inches wide, and nearly a full centimeter thick. It is weighty in both your hand and your pocket, if it fits at all. I found it barely squeezed into some of my jeans pockets, though my cargo shorts offered plenty of room. A lot of people like to go with the biggest device they can afford, but there are practical limits to this ideology. Phones as big as the Mate 2 push those limits. Though it offers some software tricks to help, one-handed use is nearly impossible. I often had to hold the phone in one hand and poke at the screen with the other. Those with small hands will almost always need to use two hands.
The materials are acceptable, but certainly not high quality. The glass on the front feels good under the thumb, as do the slippery side edges. I'm not the biggest fan of the rear cover, which has a microscopic pattern to it. Your skin can't really feel it, but if you slide a fingernail across it you'll feel the texture. It has a dull look to it thanks to the matte finish.
The bulk of the front surface is of course the display. The side bezels are nice and thin, though there are black bars - about 1 cm thick each - above and below the screen. The Mate 2 makes use of on-screen buttons, so there are no dedicated controls on the front of the hardware itself. There's a notch carved into the top of the glass for the earpiece grill. There is the slightest rim around the screen to protect it when placed face down on flat surfaces. It didn't irritate me as some do.
Buttons and controls are really kept to a minimum. Both the screen lock and volume toggle are on the right edge of the phone. The screen lock button is placed about in the middle and has a good profile and good travel and feedback. The volume toggle is closer to the top, and also has a good profile and travel/feedback. Huawei did a great job with the buttons. The stereo headphone jack is on top and the microUSB port is on the bottom. The left edge is an unbroken, smooth surface. There is no camera button.
The rear cover is a cinch to remove. It peels right off thanks to a notch for your thumb. I'd call it a bit flimsy, though. Worse, despite the fact that the rear cover comes off, the battery is not accessible at all. The SIM and memory card slots are both easily accessible once the cover is removed.
There's nothing offensive about the Mate 2, but there's nothing really special about it, either. It is functional, no doubt.
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