We've just wrapped up at the Huawei press conference here at CES 2013 in Las Vegas where the Chinese OEM announced the Ascend Mate. This device has been rumored some time as the super large competitor to the likes of the Galaxy Note II and Optimus Vu, and Huawei didn't disappoint when it announced this 6.1-inch behemoth. As you would expect, the Ascend Mate is borderline when it comes to what we call a "phone," but they're positioning it as such nonetheless.

The hardware on this device is quite a departure from previous Huawei phones, stepping up to a stainless steel frame and solid plastic accents. Even the power and volume keys are stainless, and set well into the frame. The 6.1-inch screen is surprisingly manageable considering its size, thanks to very small bezels and on-screen navigation buttons, but this is far from one-handed use friendly. The panel itself is only 720x1280, although at first we thought it must be a typo because there really aren't any noticeable pixels. It's just a bit puzzling considering it's sibling the Ascend D2 has a 1080x1920 display at just 5-inches. Nevertheless, under the hood we see the same specs as the D2, with a 1.5GHz quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage.

On the software front, Huawei has also made some big changes coming from its previous builds. This is its "Emotion UI" set of customizations, which combines many of the stock Jelly Bean features, with its own added tweaks and style. In the keynote, CEO Richard Yu noted that their software has "fixed 200 problems with Android." This is indeed Jelly Bean 4.1.2 under the hood, but it doesn't necessarily feel like it in normal navigation. Most items have received visual tweaks -- from the app icons to the settings menu -- and Huawei has even opted to remove an app drawer from its default launcher. It's something quickly fixed from a download in the Play Store, but it hurts this device's out-of-the-box appeal for some.

The Ascend Mate is expected to launch in China starting in February, with international availability thereafter. There was no pricing given, but Mr. Yu explained that the devices would be for sale to other markets online.

Be sure to stick around after the break to take a look at several pictures and a hands-on video we've got for you straight from CES.

 

 
There are 25 comments

Largg says:

If this thing sells somebody will make a 7 inch phone.

Lexord says:

LOL! sounds crazy, but its true :|

MERCDROID says:

Haha for sure. Someone will do it just to say that they did.

MobilePhile says:

huh...the nexus 7 or galaxy tab is already a 7" phone

Linebarrel86 says:

That b!+$h is HUGE!

zhantshen says:

First impression: its ipad mini!

barondebxl says:

This is ridiculous, its a tablet!

MobilePhile says:

mini-tablet

MobilePhile says:

mini-tablet

Traplord says:

Just what I always wanted!

MERCDROID says:

I know! It has monster specs for sure! Seeing how awesome it is makes me wonder what the Note 3 will be like.

rayosx256 says:

My GN2 is all the phone I need. ... 5.5 was pushing it but you get used to it. .. 6.1... C'mon Man!!!

ReggieTee says:

4.8 on the SIII was pushing it. Anything larger is just ridiculous.

randyw says:

If phones get to 7 inches they may as well just put a dialer in my Nexus 7. Heck I can use it now to make calls on Skype.

MobilePhile says:

...and on Google Voice with groove ip

garfnodie says:

I'm actually considering dumping a regular phone for a +/-7in tablet only when my contract is up in a year. Right now, I'd probably get a Nexus 7 and pop a T-Mobile data only card in it, use GrooVe IP and and I have a tablet turn phone. This however would be the one time where not having a camera on a tablet would suck, I use my phone for photo's often enough that not having a decent rear camera would suck. Now if this Huawei thing has a decent rear camera, I'd still get a data only SIM from T-Mobile and now a have exactly what I'd need.

eszklar says:

I'm doing that already here in Toronto with a Wifi+3G Nexus7 and Mobilicity. Its fun but the novelty drops off quickly. Don't miss the rear camera but I see your point.

Maxey05 says:

The definition of smartphone should have a limit on how big a phone should be in order for it to qualify as a smartphone.. This device is ridiculously HUGE to be a phone... Just imagine someone making a call on that thing... Lol

kinster02 says:

As long as it doesn't brother him/her, who gives a sh!t what someone else thinks. Don't buy this phone if you are concerned about what everyone else thinks. I used to think I would be embarrassed using my Note 2 in public, not even once. In fact I want people to look at it and ask questions, they are usually impressed by it. I would love the Note 3 to have a 6" screen if they can squeeze it in the current phones footprint. These big phones will be the norm soon for those who only want one device and everyone else will have to get an iphone.

113 says:

I own a Galaxy Note 2, and that Ascend Mate is a straight up TABLET.

zachavm says:

All of you haters need to stop if you haven't actually used a phablet. Also, if the device sells, then th. Most important critic has been satisfied. The gn2 is and I bet this will too

I wonder how long until someone comes out with a bluetooth 3.0+ handset that will be pocketable so that the phablet can remain in your manbag/purse/whatever. I could see a super thin early 2000's esq "flip phone" be a popular peripheral. Use the bluetooth 3.0+ connection to allow it to place/receive calls and display text messages and emails while tethered to the device. No need to look like a tool with a giant tablet up to your face.

I already do something similar with my smart watch, except that it can't take/receive calls. With the bluetooth 3.0+ it shouldn't use a ton of battery life either.

zachavm says:

I'm calling it now. We will see a phablet ADDED to the nexus lineup next year that complements the existing nexus.

ps4rh says:

I'd like to see a Nexus 6. Partially because I like the size, but mostly just to make Blade Runner references.

eszklar says:

Are you seeing this Dell? Bring back the Streak7.