It's tough for smaller manufacturers to make a splash in the US market, especially when their handsets aren't sold by one of the four major carriers. But Huawei is going to try anyway, allowing consumers to pick up the Ascend Mate 2 at a friendly off-contract price of $299. This means you get a 6-inch screen, 13MP camera and impressive battery life without being tied to a contract. While it has its upsides, the Ascend Mate 2 has faults that keep many critics from recommending it over worthy competitors.
The Ascend Mate 2's display makes it a real behemoth of a phone, and Phandroid says that it's "hard to imagine" using the Mate 2 with one hand, as it can be "burdensome" to use. However, Android Central says it's "so large you'll never try to use it one-handed, which cuts down on frustration." On the bright side, MobileBurn notes that "you can comfortably grip the phone in one hand thanks to the way the back has a subtle bend."
When a phone has a screen this big, you expect a high resolution display for watching videos and browsing the web. Unfortunately the Mate 2's display sits at 720p, falling behind a lot of its competition. At least Anandtech finds "it's surprisingly acceptable" and Laptop Magazine says the display "offered clear, vibrant images and videos." Text didn't fare as well, with as PC Mag finding that "once you load up a text-heavy site ... you'll start to notice cramped and pixelated smaller text."
The lower resolution display does have one big benefit, and that's in the battery life department. Slashgear says the Mate 2 pulls "out more than a day" of juice, and CNET says Huawei's claims of 25 hour battery life seem "on the money."
Besides its low-light camera performance, the Mate 2's biggest issue is its nicer and more readily-available competition. It's easy enough to pick up a Moto X from one of the big US carriers, especially at its new lower price. And while not that easy to find right now, the OnePlus One offers a better phone at the same price. The Mate 2 is a good first attempt from a company trying to market itself better in the US, and it serves its niche market well -- if you're the type who hates contracts and likes walking around with a monolith for a phone.