LAS VEGAS--As expected, Huawei announced two new super-premium Android smartphones at CES 2013, the Huawei Ascend Mate and the Huawei Ascend D2.
I got a chance to see them before the press conference kicked off. Let me just start by saying that these are exactly the products that Huawei has needed to gain attention in the U.S., a market it's strongly focused on right now.
Both are large, quad-core efforts that run Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and come in glossy black-and-white colors to complement tall, very thin, shingle-like shapes.
The Huawei Ascend Mate has a whopping 6.1-inch HD display, which looked clear and colorful in my very brief time with the phone. It has an 8-megapixel camera, a front-facing camera, and a microSD card slot. The biggest spec on the sheet, though, is the whopping 4050mAh battery, which Huawei claims can provide 48 hours of power.
This battery capacity, by the way, smashes records. Up until now,has been the reigning champ with a 3,300mAh battery.
I won't lie to you -- 6.1 inches is a massive handful. More than any other large-screen phone I've seen, this is much more tablet than phablet, and it overwhelmed my hand -- for a phone. For a tablet, it's still on the smaller side.
For its part, the Ascend D2 is slightly smaller at a 5-inch screen, but it also has a 3,000mAh battery and that 1.5GHz quad-core processor. Also, it comes with a more powerful 13-megapixel camera. The standout feature, though, is this device's resolution. At 1080x1920 pixels with a pixel density of 443ppi, this device's screen specs are even more impressive than the Samsung Galaxy S3's and iPhone 5's.
Both Ascend handsets have a few software tricks to show off. The UI of the larger Mate is optimized for one-hand usage, as it shifts the keyboard to either side of the device (sound familiar, Galaxy Note users?) Also, there is the very neat Smart Reading feature, which can define or translate words as you highlight them. Floating Windows is another Samsung steal; as far as I can tell, it opens isolated thumbnail browsers or app windows that you can drag and shut down. the feature is intended for more temporary use.
As of now, Huawei isn't announcing carrier partnerships for the U.S., but the phones are seeding in China and Europe. Huawei will still sell devices online unsubsidized, regardless of carrier. Since there's no carrier info, Huawei also has no pricing to share, but with specs like this, expect the $600 range.