Just in case you guys missed it, just the other day we have analyzed how well the Huawei Ascend Mate fares against the current Android phablet king, the Samsung Galaxy Note 2. To no surprise for our regular readers, the Galaxy Note 2 is still the top phablet out there, but shortly after finalizing the previously mentioned article, I came to realize one interesting fact: the difference in size between Samsung’s and Huawei’s phablets is so big, that it actually made a comparison between the Huawei Ascend Mate and the Google Nexus 7 not only possible, but outright recommended.
The ASUS manufactured Nexus 7 tablet was, for better or worse, Google’s response to the commercial success met by Amazon with their Kindle Fire line of budget tablets. Google took Amazon’s pricing model (sell the device for little margin and then try to make a profit via the content you sell) and applied it to the Android ecosystem.
Google’s efforts materialized in the most popular Android tablet of all time, a 7 inch tablet that has managed to ignite interest in the one area where Android was trailing behind its rival, Apple’s iOS. Instead of battling Apple’s iPad line in the high-end segment, Google’s Nexus 7 has managed to draw in millions of customers thanks to its impressive bang for buck ratio.
In the other corner we have the Huawei Ascend Mate, a device that is considered to be the largest smartphone (phablet) ever announced, although there are plenty who consider it to be the smallest tablet out there, albeit one that can make calls. As I have mentioned in the Huawei Ascend Mate vs Samsung Galaxy Note 2 article, Huawei took the bold decision of announcing an Android device that is similar to none. Kudos to them for not limiting their efforts to pure Samsung clones.
But how well does the Huawei Ascend Mate fares against the Google Nexus 7 in terms of display, design, footprint, internal hardware and Android implementation? Join us as we take a deep look at both the inside and the outside of these two devices and come up with an answer!
The Huawei Ascend Mate features a display that really stands out in the Android ecosystem. We are looking at a 6.1 inch IPS display working at a 720 by 1280 pixel resolution and thus featuring a 240 PPI.
In our time spent with the Huawei Ascend Mate at CES 2013, we came to learn that its display features above standard quality, although far from being the best display available on an Android device. It’s nothing that will take your breath away, but not something to pick on either.
In the Google corner, the Nexus 7 also runs at a 800 by 1280 pixel resolution (very close to 720p), but since it measures 7 inches across its diagonal, the PPI ratio drops to 215. At launch, the display on the Nexus 7 was at the front of the pack, but after modern 5 inch 1080p panels (443 PPI) launched (we’ve talked about them in more details here), the Nexus 7 display is now commonly considered a mid-ranger.
Quality-wise, there is little to differentiate the displays on the Huawei Ascend Mate and the Nexus 7, although the latter is less crisp. The one thing that separates these displays is the size: while the Huawei Ascend Mate and the Nexus 7 are both equally hard to operate with just one hand, the latter rewards for this inconvenience with its extra 0.9 inches across the diagonal.
Verdict: Arguably a draw: the Nexus 7 has a larger display (better suited for consuming media), but the Huawei Ascend Mate has the crisper display of the two.
The front of Nexus 7 is dedicated to the 7-inch display, although it can be mentioned that, while the side bezels are thin by modern standards, the top and bottom bezels are larger that what you’d expect from a current design. On the flip side, these larger bezels at the top and bottom give Nexus 7 users something to hold on to when using the tablet in landscape mode.
The Google Nexus 7 measures 198.5 x 120 x 10.5 mm (7.81 x 4.72 x 0.41 in) and weighs in at 340 grams.
One additional plus the Nexus 7 features when it comes to maneuverability is the soft touch plastic used on the back. Google said that the goal was to mimic driving gloves, thus maximizing the grip on the tablet. It’s a personal opinion, but Google appears to have hit the nail straight on its head. In addition, the rounded corners of the Nexus 7 give it a more playful look, not as rigid as that of other Android devices out there.
In the other corner we are looking at a very boxy device; the Huawei Ascend Mate has straight corners that give it exactly that rigid feel we have discussed earlier. Unfortunately for those interested in the Huawei Ascend Mate, the combination of straight corners and glossy back gives it a weird plasticky feel.
The Huawei Ascend Mate measures 163.5 mm x 85.7 mm x 9.9 mm (6.5 inches x 3.4 inches x 0.4 inches) and weighs in at nearly 200 grams.
Pocketability is going to be an issue with both of these devices, as it is not likely you’ll hold one in your jeans pocket and feel comfortable while walking.
Verdict: Although it is considerably lighter and has a smaller footprint, the Huawei Ascend Mate feels more like a budget device in terms of design and build quality than the Google Nexus 7.
Now that we have properly discussed the outsides of both the Google Nexus 7 and the Huawei Ascend Mate, it is time to take a look at the inside of our contenders.
GPU, CPU & RAM
As most of you guys already know, the Google Nexus 7 uses a slightly underclocked version of the popular NVIDIA Tegra 3 System on a Chip (SoC), one that pairs a 1.2 GHz quad-core ARM Cortex A9 processor and an NVIDIA ULP GPU alongside 1 GB of RAM. At 2013 standards, the Tegra 3 chipset is as mid-end as they get.
On the other hand, Huawei uses its in-house Hi-Silicon K3V2 processor, one that features a quad-core 1.5 GHz processor. This is basically an upgraded version of the Hi-Silicon K3V1 processor that can be found inside the Huawei Ascend D Quad (released back in September 2012).
We’re still waiting for benchmarks to roll in, but theoretically, these two devices should pack similar processing power, one situated considerably below the top-end sector currently occupied by the Exynos 5 Dual and the Snapdragon S4 Pro chipsets, but more than enough to ensure a smooth experience overall.
Internal & Expandable Storage
When Google had originally launched the Nexus 7 there were two versions available: an 8GB version and a 16GB version, but Google has since introduced the 32 GB version and has made rid of the 8 GB version. In pure Nexus line tradition, the Google Nexus 7 does not feature a microSD card slot for expandable storage.
The Huawei Ascend Mate comes in just one version: 16GB of internal storage, with no microSD card slot included
3G, 4G & Connectivity
Ok, the above title can be a little misleading, seeing as none of our two contenders can work with 4G LTE networks. However, the Nexus 7 comes in a variant that can work with 3G networks, as does the Huawei Ascend Mate. Placing calls is not possible on the Nexus 7, although I’m sure most of you can use Skype as a workaround for that.
Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are both available on these devices, but only the Nexus 7 offers NFC functionality.
When it comes to the battery capacity, the Huawei Ascend Mate and the Google Nexus are quite evenly matched: the first uses a 4050 mAh battery, while the latter uses a slightly larger battery of 4325 mAh. Both are built-in, although they are likely to hold through the day even with heavy usage.
Verdict: The ASUS Google Nexus 7 and the Huawei Ascend Mate are locked in a close draw when it comes to the internal hardware they feature.
The Google Nexus 7 currently runs Android 4.2 Jelly Bean with vanilla Android UI (a favorite among hardcore Android users). As most of you guys already know, Nexus Android devices are superior to all other devices in this segment since new Android versions usually arrive on Google’s devices within weeks of their official announcement.
The Huawei Ascend Mate currently runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean with Huawei’s custom UI (called the “Emotion UI”) layered on top. Unfortunately, it is likely that new Android OS updates will reach the Ascend Mate with a fair degree of tardiness. While the Emotion UI does feature some interesting software tweaks, a large percentage of Android users will find it to be inferior to the vanilla Android user interface.
Although the Nexus 7 is arguably the better tablet of the two, the Huawei Ascend Mate remains a very interesting device.
The Huawei Ascend Mate really creates a category of its own: it is a smartphone / tablet combination that larger than what is considered to be a phablet but still noticeably smaller than even the most compact of tablets.
While it will be very interesting to learn the price at which the Huawei Ascend Mate will become available at, as well as a release date for western markets, I’m even more interested in learning whether anyone would buy such an odd device. If Huawei had Samsung’s marketing leverage, maybe they would have a chance to pull off such a stunt. But are Android customers ready for a new Android device category, especially since it is introduced by a relatively unknown manufacturer?
What do you guys make of the Huawei Ascend Mate? Can it be used as a replacement for a compact tablet? Or is the size of the Nexus 7 exactly what the doctor ordered for Android devices that are not smartphones? Let us know which way you swing in the comment section below!