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

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?
Written by Andrew Nusca, Contributor


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?

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