The last Huawei phone we tested, the Ascend P7, caught me by complete surprise - so Huawei provided a second device: the mid range Ascend Mate2.
Model: Huawei Ascend Mate2
Size and Weight: 6.34 x 3.33 x 0.37 inches, 7.13 oz
Display: 6.1”, 1280x720 LCD, 241ppi
Camera: 13 MP rear camera with LED flash, 5MP front
Platform: Android 4.3 JellyBean with Emotion UI 2.0
Performance: 1.6 GHz Cortex A-7 processor, 2GB RAM, 3900 mAh battery
Memory: 16GB internal storage, expandable via microSD card to another 64GB
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth® 4.0, aGPS, NFC
Price: ~$300 unlocked
As is usually the case with phablets, the Mate 2 is HUGE. It’s got a 6.1 inch screen - over an inch larger than its P7 compatriot we just tested. The screen is only 720p, but does a good job for a mid-range offering. Honestly, you won’t notice the resolution drop off unless you put it next to a premium phablet like the Galaxy Note 3.
Since it’s not in that premium tier though, the Mate2 is cheap. Really cheap - $300 right now, unlocked. To put that into perspective, owning a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 would set you back over $500.
And the cheap price doesn’t mean Huawei has built the phone from Happy Meal-grade materials. There’s surprisingly little flex in the Mate 2 body, and all the plastics are well put together. Where it lacks aesthetic flair, it makes up for it with utilitarianism. And it still does 4G.
US versions pack a monstrous 3900mAh battery (though some versions abroad get a 4050mAh unit) - combined with the low draw of the 720p screen, the Mate2 is an endurance beast. After three days of normal use and gaming, it was still showing 50% battery life.
It’s running on an older version of Huawei’s Emotion UI, version 2.0. It lacks the plethora of themes that Emotion 2.1 comes with, and the UI refuses to let you remove certain widgets from its pages (just like iOS). The stock launcher is passable, but it’s still RAM-hungry -- perhaps Nova Launcher or Apex would be the first thing you’d install.
There’s a quad core processor inside, but it’s only clocked at 1.6GHz so don’t expect miracles. Perhaps more annoyingly, you only get 16GB of internal storage. In the price segment it’s fine, but power- and storage-heavy.users will want to look elsewhere.
You can’t get the Mate 2 through a contract in the US right now, so if contracts and acquiring new phones through stipulated upgrades is your thing, this won’t excite you.
You can’t escape the innate problem that all phablets face: You look like an idiot talking on one.
Huawei continues to impress me. If you like phablets but don’t like contracts or the high prices of the premium stuff, the Mate2 could be exactly what you’ve been looking for.