Huawei Unveils the Ascend Mate Phablet With 6.1″ Screen

huawei-ascend-mate-richard-yuI don't normally cover smartphones on this blog, but today I read about one which I can't ignore. The Chinese gadget maker Huawei has just released a few photos showing a massive smartphone with a 6+ inch screen.They're calling it the Ascend Mate, and while the specs are still up in the air, it will run Android on a quad-core 1.8GHz K3V3 chip. Screen resolution is reportedly a whopping 361 ppi. Retail is currently expected to be around 3,000 yuan, or about $481.

Huawei is a confirmed exhibitor at CES, which is now only a couple weeks away. They're expected to show off the Ascend Mate, and I plan to check out this phone and perform a drop test. I think this could be the first smartphone which is big and heavy enough that it could break a bone in someone's foot.

In other news, govt spokesman have confirmed an unexplained epidemic of thigh bones being thrown in to the air. No explanation as been given, but I cannot help but wonder whether it is related to this new phablet.

Samsung-Galaxy-Note-II-vs-Galaxy-Note-07-jpg[1]I'm not sorry for the flippancy and jokes; I can't help but look at this phone and wonder what they were thinking. I know that the Samsung Galaxy Notes (with the 5.3" and 5.5" screens) is a moderately popular premium Android smartphone, but doesn't there have to be an upper limit to these things?

I would argue that this new Huawei phone crosses the line from phone to tablet. It's no longer a hybrid; it's a 6" tablet which makes calls. And it is clearly a portend of what comes next. I would not be surprised to learn next Spring, when Apple reveals the new iPad (assuming it's not done in the Fall), that they added phone functions to the iPad Mini and rename it the iPhone Maxi.

What, do you think that is so ridiculous that it is impossible? Perhaps it is. But I would have said the same about a 6" Android smartphone, and look where we are now.

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About Nate Hoffelder (11591 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader:"I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

9 Comments on Huawei Unveils the Ascend Mate Phablet With 6.1″ Screen

  1. Umm you wrote “it’s a 6? tablet which makes calls” as if that is utterly absurd. But this is exactly what some people want. Given that many people make very few voice calls but spend hours reading ebooks, this would allow them to replace 2 devices (their phones and 6 inch Kindles) by one. Stick a Kindle app on it and you’re done. The resolution is astonishing. Instead of dissing it as a phone, how about approaching it as a great little tablet that also lets you ditch your phone.

    • It’s just that I can recall the times of the brick smartphone and when it was replaced. I’ve seen smartphones get smaller and smaller, and now the trend is reversing – fast.

      I have a bunch of 7″ tablets, and I have a cell phone. I just can’t imagine using one to replace the other. It strikes me as being too awkward.

      • No reason to be surprised, really: you *know* how second and third tier consumer electronics vendors operate. They saw Samsung hit a homerun with the GalaxyNote and they want a piece of the action. And they figured that if big is good, bigger might be better. With all the data use some customers get out of their smartphones–and remembering that pen-enabled tablets have always been bigger in Asia than in the west–a Phablet makes ample sense for a lot of people. Hence the success of the GalaxyNotes.
        Coupled with a good earbug, a Phablet can stay in the coat pocket, purse, or on the desk when used for phone calls–and only come out when it is needed for computing or data access use.

        Try this: instead of thinking of it as an oversized phone, think of it as a tablet with voice capabilities, reduced in size to maximize portability. And since 7in tablets are just a bit too large for some coats and purses…

        Now, it may be that 5in is the optimum size for this particular market or that this particular product turns out to be a bad design. But the idea by itself is not a total loser. They may be throwing darts at the wall to see what sticks but they *are* throwing them in the right direction: a tablet with voice capability.

        We may in fact see this on the bigger (9-10in) tablets. If you need a productivity tablet to start with, why not roll in the phone? It’s one less gadget to worry about. Just improve the Bluetooth earbug that goes with it. Maybe build in a dock.

  2. I’ve been using a Note for a year and I can’t imagine going back. It fits every trouser pocket just fine, it’s not uncomfortable at all. I know phones can become physically bigger and still fit in my pockets.

    Would 6.1 inches be too big? Honestly, I won’t know until I use it. Everybody thought 5 inches was too big and now it’s increasingly looking like a standard size. Of course 6.1 inches will be too big for children, but for adults, why not?

    There is no product on Earth that is “for everybody”, all products are niches within niches. All the techno-bloggers said the Note could not achieve widespread popularity, it was a very specific device, but I say: specific for whom? There doesn’t seem to be any pattern within Note users. They’re just normal, adult people – and 99.9% of them will tell you that size is an advantage, not a drawback. Users are nearly unanymous.

    As for the whole “but one hand” thing, it’s ridiculous. Everybody uses one hand for some activities – calling, listening to music, etc. It’s the same with big phones. And everybody, including those with small phones, uses two hands for other activities – messaging, pinch to zoom, shooting fotos and video, gaming and so on. There is, in real life, very little difference between handling 3 inches and handling 5.

    So color me excited. Phablets hit it big in 2012 and are set to get much bigger in 2013, with more vendors joining the race and even larger screens in the pipeline. Successful innovations get copied and imitated, and that’s a wonderful thing.

    PS: having a phone this big also makes that $300, 7-inch tablet pretty much redundant. I absolutely need a phone, but the rationale for tablets gets very weak if it’s a phone like this.

  3. What makes a phone a phone and a tablet a tablet, assuming both have cellular capability? I guess at a minimum a speaker on the front at the top and a microphone at the bottom. However, my Samsung Galaxy S wifi 5.0 has that configuration without cellular capability.

    Interesting that Engadget considers a 4,000mAh battery “massive”, although I would expect that any 7 inch tablet to have that size battery at a minimum, so why not a 6 inch device?

  4. Another Samsung Note fan here. The Huawei thing is hard to judge without seeing it in person—not least because, as we’re finding out, almost anybody can build a slab phone now; it’s the software which makes or breaks a device in the marketplace. After several years of using iPhones, I tried Samsung’s first Note & liked the hardware … but Android 2.x was awful. The Note 2 shipped with Android 4.1, which is somewhat better, though not near the level of consistency & polish as Apple’s iOS.

    I agree with the second commenter, above (“User”): 6.1″ is not inherently unusable. I rather enjoy using my 5.5″ Note 2 as a small tablet-cum-ereader. It’s easier to fumble than a phone with a 3.x–4.x-inch screen, so a tough case is advisable. But the compromises which result from relying on one doodad are counterbalanced by the convenience—& I have a 4th-gen iPad, too.

    So I’m willing to consider a phone with a 6.1″ screen; I’m leery that an OEM of lesser US marketshare, like Huawei, could deliver an Android interface which is significantly better than Samsung’s or HTC’s or Google’s. The capacitive-glass+slab config has become generic—once again, Apple served as the R&D lab for an entire industry—so the software will be the main issue.

  5. As I use a phone but for a few minutes at most per call, the size appeals to me in that I can not have the advantage of a small tablet to browse the web and retrieve/send emails. Sounds like a great idea to me.

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