Huawei Ascend Mate 6.1-inch smartphone official, we go hands-on

Huawei has now officially announced the Huawei Ascend Mate, forging new ground in the phablet wars. With the 6.1-inch IPS 720p display, what it lacks in resolution, it makes up for with inches.

Picking it up, the first thing you notice is how big the device is. Forget big hands, this feels much more like a tablet than a phone.

The Ascend Mate is the largest screened smartphone in the world at the time of writing. That screen certainly is impressive, with its sheer size being difficult to ignore. The 720p resolution still looks sharp although it would have been nice to see a 1080p display to really make the most of the size. The pixel density drops slightly, coming in at 240ppi.

Keeping the display ticking over is a 4050mAh battery, which should see the device through the day.

Inside is a 1.5GHz quad-core chip which, in our brief hands-on session, made the handset feel snappy enough. This is helped along by Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and Huawei's own Emotion UI, which from the looks of it isn't hugely interfering.

Emotion UX incorporates things such as floating windows and a special one-handed UI that lets you use a single finger to operate the phone, leaving maximum screen space to view content. It is impressive and a some touches lifted from iOS, such as hover zooming on text, fill a few gaps in Android.

Huawei seems to have taken inspiration from plenty of places and combined them into one phone - whether or not all of them work perfectly remains to be seen. 

There's an 8-megapixel camera on the back and a 1-megapixel on the front. So although the Ascend Mate has the largest screen size, it doesn't carry the same high-end specs as the Ascend D2, launched at the same time.

READ: Huawei Ascend D2: 5-inch Android 1080p smartphone announced, we go hands-on

The phone will ship in either black or white. Of the two we played with, the black model was definitely the better looking. Both are wrapped in a shiny plastic shell with a silver band around the phone. It feels high enough quality and the phone has a respectable weight, giving it a slightly more premium feel.

The size will definitely appeal to those who want to abandon the idea of a tablet altogether, but holding it up to your ear does feel a touch ridiculous.

Huawei has done a good job pf reducing the bezel on the phone to the minimum, so it isn't vast. It is also 6.5mm thin at its narrowest part, so it isn't a pocket hog either. 

The Ascend Mate is definitely a good effort from Huawei and feels surprisingly premium. Things like Magic Touch technology so you can use it with gloves, or its quick battery charge time are nice touches. One to keep your eyes on.

The Huawei Ascend Mate initially go on sale in China in February 2013, with global availability in March.