Huawei's new best Mate has big screen, low price but no 4G

Huawei Ascend Mate Android phone available through Harvey Norman from 20 April

Huawei has unveiled its Ascend Mate Android smartphone in Australia, with the 6.1in-screen device set to go on sale from Saturday 20 April.

Read our preview of the Huawei Ascend Mate

The company officially lifted the lid on the Australian model of the Ascend Mate at a media launch event in Sydney today. The phone features a 6.1in display, making it larger than Samsung's popular, oversized Galaxy Note and Galaxy Note II devices.

The Australian variant of the Huawei Ascend Mate is almost identical to European and Asian models, but includes NFC connectivity and has 1GB of RAM rather than 2GB.

However, the Ascend Mate is not compatible with Australian 4G networks used by Telstra and Optus and will not be sold through traditional carriers Down Under.

Instead, the device will initially sell through Harvey Norman retail stores across the country before being available through other mass retailers at a later date.

Huawei's Australian sales manager for retail, Minh Phan, told PC World Australia that while the company is technically capable of producing a 4G-compatible device for the Australian market, the Ascend Mate is accessible to everyone.

"Australia is the most challenging network market in the world, especially when you look at the land mass and then you add LTE on top of that. You're in a situation where you want to try and support everybody."

"We looked at the capabilities of our business and we are absolutely capable of launching a 4G product. That's not to say we're not going to launch one soon, but at this point in time we wanted to bring this device out into the market."

Phan said the fact that the Ascend Mate is "accessible to everyone" is key for building the Huawei brand in Australia.

"We believe mass retail was the right choice as we are offering it to everybody. You can still put your Telstra SIM card, your Optus SIM card, your Vodafone SIM card into this device and you'll be able to access all those networks on a device that can support whatever the carrier requirements are based on 3G."

The Huawei Ascend Mate has an IPS+ LCD screen which is similar display technology to the one used by Apple on its iPhone 5.

The 6.1in screen doesn't have a full HD resolution, instead making use of the more common 1280x720 resolution found on most of last year's flagship devices.

Huawei says the Ascend Mate is "designed to fit comfortably in a single hand". The phone is 6.5mm thin at its narrowest part, but 9.9mm thick overall. It weighs almost 200g so it will immediately become one of the heaviest smartphones on the Australian market.

The Ascend Mate is powered by Huawei's own 1.5 GHz quad-core processor and has 1GB of RAM and 8GB of internal memory. The company says the 4050mAh, non-removable can last up to two days of "ordinary usage" on a single charge.

Other features of the Huawei Ascend Mate include a microSD card slot, an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera with HDR and a 1-megapixel HD front-facing camera for video calls.

The Australian model of the Ascend Mate will come with Google's Android 4.1 Jelly Bean operating system but includes Huawei's Emotion UI overlay. The latter includes features such as sound and user profiles, a range of home screen widgets and a home screen that abolishes Android's traditional app drawer.

Phan said the Ascend Mate may be upgraded to the latest version of Android, 4.2 Jelly Bean, but only if the upgrade immediately benefits the consumer.

"It's [Android 4.2 upgrade] definitely within the device capabilities but we have to look at that. On previous experiences, it's nice to have, but sometimes it's not always the best way to go because you might upgrade to another version of Android but you don't get any additional benefit, and that's really the key."

"Jelly Bean vs. Jelly Bean with Emotion UI is a totally different experience. It's definitely within our capability to do it, but we need to see what the pros and cons are. If it doesn't benefit the consumer in terms of additional capabilities then it may not be worth it."

The Huawei Ascend Mate will be available in crystal black through Harvey Norman stores from Saturday April 20 for $429. A Boost Mobile $40 prepaid starter kit will be included with all sales.

Are you interested in the Huawei Ascend Mate? Is the trend of smartphones with huge screens blurring the line between smartphone and tablet? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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Tags android phonesHuaweiHarvey Normanmobile phonessmartphonesEmotion UIJelly Bean 4.1Huawei Ascend MateAndroid smartphones

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Ross Catanzariti

Ross Catanzariti

PC World
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