Hands on: Huawei’s 6.1-inch Ascend Mate dwarfs every other phone, but does it work as one?

The big screen smartphone trend isn’t slowing, but there comes a point where trying to top the competition with a bigger display goes from awesome to ridiculous. Huawei may have gone over that cliff with its new 6.1-inch Ascend Mate, or it may be right at the edge of what works for a phone.

Our first impression of the Mate is that, even though it’s huge, we can see holding it in one hand – that is, if you have average or large hands. The curved back and sides fit comfortably in the palm, making it easier to forget that the phone is so large.

Still … this phone is huge. It’s so big it makes the Galaxy Note 2 look small.

If any phone truly approaches tablet size and functionality, it’s the Ascend Mate. And that raises the question of whether it even works as a phone. After the press conference here at CES, we saw plenty of people holding the Mate up to their ears and posing comically, just like when the Galaxy Note first came out. And it’s even more strange looking with a bigger phone. Most people will probably opt for a wired or wireless headset for calls.

Huawei Ascend Mate next to the Galaxy Note II

For its size, the Ascend Mate isn’t overweight. It’s around 7 ounces and doesn’t feel heavy or unbalanced. Though there are some software tricks that help with one-handed operation, this is a two-hand device. People who appreciate this – especially a keyboard that offers plenty of room and big keys – will like all the screen real estate the Mate offers.

Speaking of the screen, if you’re going to have a phone this big the display has to be exceptional, and so far that seems to be the case. Full HD plus rich colors plus a lot of brightness make it possible to imagine using this as gaming system, an e-book reader, and a work companion. The quad-core processor inside makes gaming a particularly nice prospect, especially since the screen size means more detail than your average Android phone.

Another nice aspect of the display is that it features Magic Touch, which ups the sensitivity of the capacitive technology so you can use the display even with gloves on. This can be both a blessing and a curse. If you carry your phone in your pocket and the screen comes on, you might unlock it just by walking. Still, it’s a cool feature.

The Ascend Mate will ship with Android 4.1 and also comes with a skin. The Skin looks pretty extensive and reminds us of Samsung’s TouchWiz – not in looks, but in how involved it is. Aesthetically it’s quite good-looking, and didn’t seem to slow the system down at all.

We’re looking forward to seeing how long the Mate will last on a charge. It boasts a 4050mAh battery (the biggest smartphone battery in the world, according to Huawei) that should run for two or three days without needing a charge.

Huawei says that the Ascend Mate is coming to the U.S. “this year,” though no carrier partnerships have been announced. We won’t know pricing or availability until we know that, and the wait could be several months. Until then, check out our gallery and hands-on video.

Mobile

Get $100 discount on the Razer Phone 2 for a limited time

The Razer Phone 2 is finally here, and it's got upgraded specs, that super-smooth 120Hz display, and an updated design. Here's absolutely everything you need to know about the Razer Phone 2.
Mobile

The Note 8 and S8 range now have access to the Android Pie beta

Android 9.0 Pie has been released. But is your phone getting Android 9.0 Pie, and if so, when? We've done the hard work and asked every device manufacturer to see when their devices would be getting the update.
Mobile

On a budget? We found the best affordable smartphones you can buy

Here are the best cheap phones for anyone working with a tight budget, whether you're a fan of stock Android or marathon battery life. Find out what you can get for under $500 or far, far less as we round up the best budget smartphones.
Mobile

We tried all the latest and greatest smartphones to find the best of 2019

Smartphones are perhaps the most important and personal piece of tech on the planet. That’s why it’s important to pick the best phone for your individual needs. Here are the best smartphones you can buy.
Mobile

Sony is showing something off at MWC -- will it be the Xperia XZ4?

Sony may have released the Xperia XZ3 in the past few months, but already it's preparing to release a follow-up, the Xperia XZ4. We're learning plenty about the phone now some details have started to leak out, and it's getting exciting.
Mobile

Is this the first image of a Galaxy S10 being used in real life?

It won't be long now; With 2019 underway, the Samsung Galaxy S10 is almost here. Before it arrives, here's absolutely everything you need to know about all three of Samsung's next flagships.
Mobile

Do these Geekbench results accurately represent the Moto G7?

The Moto G6 range is still relatively new to the market, but rumors have already started about the Moto G7, which is expected some time in 2019. Apparently, a G7 Power version will be joining the G7, G7 Play, and G7 Plus.
Wearables

Omron HeartGuide brings blood pressure monitoring to your wrist

High blood pressure leads to heart attacks, strokes, and many other health problems, so it's important to keep an eye on. Omron's HeartGuide is a fitness tracking watch that can also monitor your blood pressure from your wrist.
Mobile

Learn how to play YouTube in the background on iOS and Android

We show you how to play YouTube in the background with apps such as Opera, Chrome, and Firefox -- along with the premium offerings like YouTube Premium -- whether you have an Android or iOS device.
Mobile

Android vs. iOS: Which smartphone platform is the best?

If you’re trying to choose a new phone and you’re not sure about the merits and pitfalls of the leading smartphone operating systems, then come on in for a detailed breakdown as we pit Android vs. iOS in various categories.
Mobile

Verizon’s deal could get you a free iPhone XR — but there’s some fine print

Verizon launched a new deal for its smartphones aimed at encouraging customers to open a new line. If you're willing and you want two new phones, you could get a free Samsung Galaxy S9, iPhone XR, or Pixel 3.
Business

Google is buying mysterious smartwatch tech from The Fossil Group for $40 million

Google is about to step up its smartwatch game. The company has agreed to buy an unnamed smartwatch technology from The Fossil Group for a hefty $40 million. Considering the acquisition, it's clear Google is serious about smartwatches.
Social Media

Here’s how to save someone’s Instagram Story to your phone

Curious about how to save someone's Instagram Story to your phone? Lucky for you, it can be done -- but it does take a few extra steps. Here's what you need to know to save Instagram Stories on both iOS and Android.
Mobile

5G phones make a lot of promises. Here’s what to really expect

There has been a lot of marketing copy expounding the potential benefits of 5G networks, but a lot less on the practical implications of 5G smartphones. There's a reason for that.