Huawei may be scaling back its efforts to sell network equipment to U.S. telecoms, but the Chinese company isn't giving up on the American smartphone market. At International CES 2014, Huawei announced its latest handset—the Ascend Mate2 4G. And the company hopes the new version of its mammoth-sized phone will raise the profile of Huawei's brand with U.S. consumers.
Ascend Mate2 4G
Huawei Consumer Business Group CEO Richard Yu unveiled the phone on Monday, and CMO Shao Yang showed us the Mate2 during an interview.
Measuring 6.3-inches tall by 3.3-inches wide and weighing about 7 ounces, the Ascend Mate2 4G (like its predecessor) is definitely an oversized phone. Honestly, I consider devices this large phablets, like Samsung's Galaxy Mega.
The U.S. and global versions of the Mate2 have a 1.6GHz quad-core Qualcomm (MSM8928) processor, while the Chinese model comes with a quad-core chip based on ARM's Cortex-A9 processor and manufactured by Huawei's own HiSilicon. The Mate2 has 2GB RAM, 16GB of storage (upgradeable to 32GB via a microSD card), a 13-megapixel rear-facing camera, and a 5-megapixel front-facing camera. It supports WiFi 802.11ac/a/b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0.
And then there's the a 6.1-inch eHD IPS display (1280x720). According to Huawei, the low temperature polysilicon (LTPS) LCD is 20-30 more power efficient. It also uses a content adaptive brightness control (CABC) system that produces sharper fonts, is easier on the viewer's eyes, and further lowers power consumption.
Like the screen, the Mate2's 4,050mAh battery is also massive. In comparison, the Galaxy S4 has a 2,600mAh power cell, the iPhone 5S has a 1,560mAh battery, and the even larger Galaxy Mega only has a 3,200 mAh battery. When combined with the phone's low-power screen and software also designed to help the handset sip energy, Shao said the Mate2's battery should last about 2 days under normal use. With all that energy, you can also use the Mate2 to charge another smartphone.
The Mate3 ships with Android 4.3 and Huawei's Emotion UI. During the launch event, Yu said that Android is a bit more complicated to use than to iOS and that Emotion makes it easier.
Hands on with the Ascend Mate2 4G
I spent several minutes trying out the Mate2 and enjoyed the experience more than I expected. It felt solid, was comfortable in my hand, and the extra screen real estate (compared my iPhone 5S) was definitely noticeable.
Big plans for a big phone
And like the Ascend Mate2 4G, Huawei's plans are also big. Consumer Business Group EVP Colin Giles, said the company has a target of shipping 80 million smartphones in 2014. That number is nearly 54 percent higher than the 52 million smartphones the company shipped in 2013.
Nevertheless, Huawei has high hopes for the Ascend Mate2 4G. Internal research shows that consumers want better screens, more powerful CPUs, better apps, and better battery performance. The company is definitely trying to address all these needs with the Mate2, but given their lack of brand awareness in the U.S., selling consumers on the Mate2 will be an uphill climb. Concerns by member of the U.S. Congress that the company could use its networking equipment to spy for the Chinese government don't help either.
The Ascend Mate2 4G is scheduled to launch, starting in China, by the end of the first quarter. Pricing has yet to be announced.
Bill Detwiler has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop support specialist in the social research and energy industries. He has bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Louisville, where he has also lectured on computer crime and crime prevention.