There are some phones out there that you can’t find by walking into your favorite carrier store. These phones are a great advantage to those of you who don’t wish to dedicate 2 years at a time to a single cellular carrier, by signing a contract. Most of those type phones, however, are rather low end, or don’t have the pep of a great top tier device from a manufacturer you recognize by name. But I want to help you understand that the game of contract free wireless is changing. Almost all mobile manufacturers are releasing budget friendly smartphones with mid to higher end specifications. Some of which could compete with those names you know by heart, even though they are built to do so.
|AnTuTu Benchmark: MT2L03 is the Mate2|
The Ascend Mate2 is available in black or white. Both only have 16GB of memory for applications and pictures. But it does support a micro SD card for up to an extra 32GB of storage. The cellular radios installed on the Ascend Mate2 allow you to connect this phone to any GSM carrier of your choice such as AT&T or T-Mobile, or one of the many contract free wireless carriers. It does also support higher speeds on HSPA+ and/or 4G LTE. All that pretty much means Verizon and Sprint customers are out of luck.
The Ascend Mate2 does have a removable back plate, which is where you’ll find the SIM and micro SD card slots. However, the 3,900 mAh battery is non-removable. They advertise it as lasting 2.5 days (or 60 hours) on a single charge. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to execute a satisfactory battery test. Because this phone works on GSM networks, and I only have a Verizon account (CDMA network), I wasn’t able to make phone calls, send text, or browse the web unless I was connected to wifi. The mobile services really eat away at the battery life. You actually save battery life by connecting your phone to wifi whenever possible. With that in mind, this battery performs like a beast. The 3,900 mAh gave me just over 24 hours of usage while gaming, watching movies, and using it instead of my 7″ tablet. I guess you can say I used it as if it were a tablet. After all, it’s screen is pretty close to that already.
Along with the phone, the box will include a wall charger, a 2 foot micro USB data/charging cable, a few warranty and user manuals, and lastly, a screen protector, pre-installed. Nice touch!
The front camera on the Ascend Mate2 is pretty nice at 5 MP. And the rear facing camera comes in at 13 MP. Both of those round out fairly well in comparison to higher end phones from other manufactures. The picture taking experience is very clean. Settings are organized well and preset camera options are not overwhelming. Admittedly, not having cellular service and its size meant I didn’t carry it around with me everywhere I went. This sample pics turned out nicely though and the macro shots aren’t have bad either, such as the remote control or the markers.
Huawei sure does put their own little spin on things. The first and most noticeable software difference in their homescreen user interface, and they call it EmotionUI (EUI for short). If you are an Apple user, you’ll already be used to the way EUI works. All app shortcuts appear on the homescreens because there isn’t an app drawer, which is not common for Android. You still have the capability to group app shortcuts into folders, mostly used for grouping “like” apps: social apps, media apps, games, google apps, so on and so forth. This will help keep the homescreens looking clean and organized. But unlike Apple phones, this floaver of UI still has widgets. If you’re an Apple fan, you might not know all about widgets. They are small windows that sit on the homescreen that allow you to use the parent app it was built for, without actually opening the app itself. Very useful. Back to EUI, you can add more screens, remove them, arrange them in different orders. Make the 1st screen your main screen or make the 3rd screen the main one. Lots of typical Android customization options.
|Huawei W.O.W. (Windows on Windows)|
There are a few homegrown applications for Huawei as well, such as W.O.W., or Windows on Windows. We’ve seen similar apps on Samsung and LG, and I’m not exactly sure who did it first, but this neat little app lets you open certain applications in small windows on top of any other app currently open. It is limited in which apps you can open in those small windows though, such as calendar, calculator, and text message. One major difference, however, from Samsung or LG is the implementation. Turning on the W.O.W. setting places a small translucent bubble on the screen. This bubble remains on top of any screen you open. When you touch it, 5 more small bubbles appear: home, back, w.o.w, lock, and memory cleaner (symbolized by the small broom.) The home, back, and lock bubble do exactly what you think they would, take you to those desired locations or locking your phone. The memory cleaner closes all open applications to clear the RAM memory. Presumably to speed up the phone, but that’s a different argument for a different time. And then there is the W.O.W bubble. Pressing the W.O.W bubble removes the first five bubbles and shows 4 different bubbles, the ones mentioned before: notes, calendar, calculator, and text message. It would be useful to have more than just these few options. Including phone, contacts, or browser would be a nice addition in a future iteration.
- Simple Homescreen Style
- A theme which enlarges the shortcuts for all the common built-in applications. You can add some of your own to the mix as well.
- One Hand UI
- On such a large screen, the ability to move the keyboard and the dialer to one side or the other and make it easier to reach, comes in very “handy”. (Did you see what I did there?)
- Gloves Mode
- Exactly what it sounds like. Keep those gloves on in the snow and the cold. Turn on Gloves Mode so you can still answer that call without taking off the glove. Actually do any type of normal interaction with the Mate2 while still wearing gloves.
The design of the phone is great in my opinion. The Mate2 has very little bezel around the edges of the screen. This means the phone is as small as it can be with a screen this large. Aesthetically, it fits as good as could be expected in the hands. Come on, it’s 6.1 inches and not going to be a solely one-handed device. I’m going to withhold judgement on how one may look holding a phone this large to their ear to make phone calls. But if you don’t mind that some people may stare at you because of that, you probably aren’t the kind of person to worry about what other people think about how you look holding a phone this big to your ear.
The speaker is loud. The ear piece speaker is clear. Battery life seems pretty amazing, but again, I wasn’t able to test that fully. The software Emotion UI took some major getting used to, that app drawer is so useful. I don’t prefer it though. I would probably end up downloading a launcher from the Google Play Store which would replace the Emotion UI homescreens. That way I could get the app drawer back and more custom options.
The camera quality is very nice. Both the front and the back take larger and high quality pictures. Being that it is restricted to GSM cellular carriers such as AT&T or T-Mobile will be a deal breaker for some of you. But you can’t beat the price. It’s a pretty decent phone for only $299 which is low considering some carriers may charge $299 for a similar device plus a 2 year contract. You can avoid that by buying it from Huawei directly though, through their website.
Have you ever owned or used a Huawei device? How does your experience differ from mine? Sound off in the comments. And as always, tell me what you did or did not agree with in this review.