Are Huawei's brawny new smartphones ready for the enterprise?

Are Huawei's brawny new smartphones ready for the enterprise?

Summary: Huawei's new Ascend Mate is the largest, longest-lasting phone on the market. The new D2 is brimming with high-res, hard-nosed features. Are either "the one" for the workplace?



LAS VEGAS -- Finding the right business phone is akin to the search for the holy grail. Ever since the first Google Android device came out, colleagues and readers alike would ask: "So, is this the one?"

What's the one for the workplace, you ask? Long-lasting battery life, tethering, handles business apps with ease, secure, et cetera. At least, that's what it used to be.

Devices have come a long way since that first Android device. Those early days are hard to believe now. But the arms race continues: bigger, better, faster, awesomer. In the original sense of the word.

Moments ago here at the Consumer Electronics Show, Huawei -- the controversial Chinese electronics company -- made a big entrance by unveiling two new devices: the Ascend D2, a five-inch smartphone that it says is the "most powerful" on the market, and the Ascend Mate (pictured, above), a 6.1-inch behemoth that offers tons of UI tidbits and optimized conference call capabilities.

During the press conference, Huawei executive Richard Yu made it very clear that the company sought pole position in the race for your pocket. He claimed Huawei's devices were better than the rest -- "The best smartphone is from Huawei," he said, "not our competitors" -- and backed it up with a bunch of features.

For the Ascend Mate:

  • 6.1-inch display
  • 4050 mAh battery
  • "Magic Touch" so you can use phones with gloved hands
  • "Guiding Wizard" so you can navigate with augmented reality overlay
  • "Smart Reading" so you can look up or translate words by selecting them
  • "Floating Windows" so you can multitask on the same screen

For the Ascend D2:

  • 5-inch screen (443 ppi; 1080x1920)
  • 13 megapixel camera
  • 3000mAh "two-day" battery
  • Water resistance
  • Metal frame

So: are either of these "the one"?

Huawei made it clear that it was aiming for the high-end of the smartphone market -- an area where many business power users play, and an area it has avoided in the U.S. market but pursued elsewhere.

Without pricing information, we can only evaluate these new devices based on features like the above. So here's the big question: now that smartphones are becoming more mature, what make for the best business phone? Are there must-have features, or is overall execution the differentiator? Is bigger really better?

Topics: CES, Consumerization, Mobility, Smartphones, Huawei

Andrew Nusca

About Andrew Nusca

Andrew Nusca is a former writer-editor for ZDNet and contributor to CNET. During his tenure, he was the editor of SmartPlanet, ZDNet's sister site about innovation.

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  • Sure they are.

    that is if you want all your company secrets sent to China, too.
    William Farrel
    • Re: that is if you want all your company secrets sent to China, too.

      Isn't that where Apple makes its phones?
      • China is where just about every device is made

        and that includes Android devices and the MS Surface. So, what's your point?
      • That's where most of not all phones are made

        So you were saying?
    • Yeah bad enough to have google rifling though all your personal and

      corporate data. Don't need to have huawei send it to the choicoms as well. If they want it they'll have to continue stealing it from google :)
      Johnny Vegas
      • What is your point

        You mean it is OK for MS to do that and also let in million virus do that. Don't you think you are hypocrite and your fanboy attitude blinds your senses.
        Van Der
    • Huh??

      Do you have any proof on that?
      Michael Alan Goff
      • YES, there is proof Huawei installs spyware

        Do you not keep up with the news? Just Google: Huwawei backdoor

        routers waking up in the middle of the night to transmit information back to the mothership.

        Oct 2012

        Chinese routers from Huawei and ZTE are "a threat" for the United States, or even the world, according to a U.S. Congressional intelligence committee report made public on October 8. The committee suspects that these machines, which transmit Internet communications, could be working for the Chinese government.

        With this report, the American Congress has launched its own attack against the two Chinese telecom firms, already singled out by the U.S. Department of Defense, as well as, in France, by Senator Jean-Marie Bockel.

        After a yearlong investigation, the congressional committee concluded that two the telecom giants are a real danger to American security. Their recommendation is simple: Huawei and ZTE must not be allowed to sign contracts or make acquisitions in the United States.
        The House Intelligence Committee's conclusions are stark. "Based on available classified and unclassified information, Huawei and ZTE cannot be trusted to be free of foreign state influence and thus pose a security threat to the United States and to our systems."
        • Ouch

          That ... isn't good at all.
          Michael Alan Goff
    • Huawei, built-in backdoors and the Chinese military

      from 4 months ago:

      Concerns about Huawei Technologies continue to Rise
      American businesses got a wakeup call this month from the House Intelligence Committee about everyday risk to their intellectual property and other confidential data. Let’s hope they heed the call.

      Earlier this year, concerns began to emerge over a possibly overly intimate relationship between Huawei Technologies, a top maker of telecom equipment, and the Chinese military. The founder of Huawei, Ren Zhengfei, retired from the Chinese military in 1984, and started the company three years later.
  • Doesn't matter our pols already caved in.

    LONG ago some U.S. weapons carried Sony components...I thought that was bad enough.
    The politicians are good at window dressing, but when the dime hits the road they know which way the dollar blows....or we wouldn't be lacking tens of millions of jobs..
    I must admit they are good products, but you can hardly get a U.S. manufactured product anymore.
  • Paranoia

    Why do Americans always have such a hatred for Chinese made devices? If it were not for the Chinese and the Japanese advances in technology you wouldn't have half of the things we all find "cool". The world isn't out to get you and the communists aren't hiding under your bed to kill you in your sleep because they tapped into your Huawei phone and found your stash of Chinese porn. The American economy is greatly benefited by import products and many of these companies also have head offices in the USA employing tens of thousands of people. Stop your paranoid whining.
    • Not paranoia when they are out to get you

      Yes, American companies like Apple make products in China but to their own specifications. Then Apple engineers can check all the code and test the hardware.

      Chinese electronics companies like Huawei and ZTE make products to their own specifications, have Chinese military connections and no one can double check their code.

      And you want to buy one of their phones?

      The nightmare backdoor , reflections on the case Huawei
      • I am not a tin foil hat guy

        and I have owned Huawei and ZTE products. What are they going to steal from me? Do they really need to know that my wife needs me to pick up toilet paper on my way home from work?

        That said, as for these devices being "Enterprise ready," there is no way that I would recommend these for my employer.
    • Just because

      .. your paranoid doesn't mean there is noone out to get you!

      Seriously though, at the hardware level I don't think it would be easy for Foxconn, etc to add componets that Apple or whoever would be unaware of to capture your corporate secrets. It's the software that is more important in this case so I'm not worried about iPhone, etc.

      Unfortunately the Chinese governement is very much interested in stealing corporate (and government) secrets. With Huawei I'd have zero confidence that corporate secrets are safe.
  • That's a phone?

    From that pic, it looks about ipad mini sized...
  • Ummm,,,

    How about a HINT as to the OS it runs....
  • Silicon Valley the next Detroit

    The only thing the Chinese could learn from you Yanks is how to stuff things up.
  • Back door boy

    Too late, I just purchased the Huawei's 6.1" mega phone (not a tablet because it is pocketable) with expectation that all my dirty little secrets will be sent to the Chinese military by some back door method and who are obviously on course for World domination.
    I don't subscribe to any social media, Facebook in particular, because of privacy concerns. The Chinese military hasn't been commercialised yet to my knowledge.
    What a beast of a multimedia device and only $289 cheaper than the Note 2.
    The Stav