Huawei finally launched its Ascend Mate 6.1-inch phablet in India today, and on paper, it has a lot going for it as it has the specs and it has a cracker of a price of Rs 24,900 to back it up. Having said that, it will compete with the mighty Samsung Galaxy Mega, which basically is the most recognisable brand in India, which could make things difficult for Huawei even in the niche 6-inch phablet segment. We went hands on with it to see if it matches up to the Galaxy Mega 6.3. Read on for our first impressions.
While many will just obsess about the price of the Ascent Mate, which we believe to be very competitive, the moment one latches on to it, it became clear that it also feels more premium than Samsung’s slimy plastic. Obviously, the unibody design helps keeping it slim at 9.9mm. There is a matte finish on the back and a faux chrome finish on the side spines. We think the faux chrome finish will wear off pretty quickly, but still overall the build felt solid.
Coming to the display, we felt that the 720p resolution was a bit low for such a large screen but then again the viewing distance also increases because of the larger size, so the pixel density was not much of an issue. The display brightness was not very high, and we found the display to glare a lot especially in natural light, which obviously is not a good thing for legibility in direct sunlight. On the back it also has a 8-megapixel shooter, which we did not test in great detail, and it also sports a 1-megapixel camera.
Internally, it is powered by Huawei’s own ARM Cortex A9 quad-core CPU which is clocked at 1.5GHz. Additionally, there is 2GB of RAM, 8GB of internal storage, and there is microSD card slot on the side spine that allows expansion up to 32GB. This means basically, the user experience is very smooth and at least for the short period we tested the device, it hummed along serenely.
Huawei claims that the 4,050 mAh battery on the Ascend Mate delivers better performance than batteries that are larger than 5,000 mAh. Obviously, we could not test this claim, yet it is a significantly larger battery than that on the Galaxy Mega 6.3.
On the software front, it runs on Android 4.1 Jelly Bean on top of which Huawei implants its own Emotion UI. This means it is running an older version of Android than the Galaxy Mega, but this should not be a big deal for most as the 4.2 update does not add a wealth of features. That said, the aesthetic of the Emotion UI is something we are not big fans of and that’s something one will need to live with once the device is purchased.
Huawei has borrowed a lot from Samsung’s playbook in terms of software enhancements. For instance there is a keyboard for one-handed use as well as a multi-window multitasking menu, like we have seen on Samsung smartphones.
When one takes a look at the price and the superior specs, one does realise that the Ascend Mate offers a legitimate challenge to the Galaxy Mega 6.3, but the question remains if it can as reliable as a Samsung product. We’d suggest waiting for our review to make the final call.
Photographs: Harshita Rastogi