The CyanogenMod team continues to develop builds for new phones, and today we get support for two budget-oriented options that are popular with the unlocked crowd. The Moto E 2015, a phone with a relatively small screen and a tiny price, and the Huawei Mate 2, a phone with a relatively enormous screen and a price that's still pretty small, both have CyanogenMod 12.1 (Android 5.1) ROMs waiting for them on the official download site.
Huawei has had a complicated relationship with the Ascend Mate2 and its software update. It originally announced that the device would stay on Android 4.3 last year, but then reversed itself and said the Mate2 would jump straight to Lollipop. It's taken a long time, but there's finally a public version of this update, but it's still technically a "preview."
Huawei took a lot of heat when it told North American customers a few weeks ago that the Ascend Mate2 would not be getting the promised KitKat update. The original post was removed after the comments got ugly, and now Huawei is backtracking. After "reassessing" the decision to cancel KitKat on the Mate2, Huawei will go all the way to Lollipop, but not until some time in the first half of 2015.
Buyers of the Huawei Ascend Mate2 in the US are fuming today over news that there won't be a KitKat update for this device. It's not unusual for older devices to be left in the dust, but the Mate2 was announced in early 2014 and only went on sale for US consumers in June of this year. Huawei has shown some interest in breaking into the US market as of late, but the Chinese OEM is going to have trouble if this is the kind of support we can expect.
I know there are more than a few American readers who took a chance on this post, clicking on the headline even though they know the presence of Huawei's name likely means that everything they're about to read won't apply to them. The Ascend Mate 2 is one device that runs counter to this expectation. Huawei sells the phone directly to consumers online, including folks who live in the US.
Huawei is making an effort to extend its reach into the US market by selling to consumers directly. Last week the company put the Ascend Mate 2 up for pre-order on its site priced at an affordable $299. Now the handset is available via Amazon Prime as well, and it's shipping right away.
For the price, the Ascend Mate 2 is a monster of a phone. You're looking at a 6.1-inch 720 by 1280 display, a 13MP rear-facing camera, and a massive 3900mAh battery.
Huawei is huge in China, but their footprint in the US smartphone market is tiny, and not helped because they tend to be on the low end of any carrier lineup they do manage to snag. That ends today, as the company is now selling directly to consumers in the United States for the first time. The Ascend Mate 2, a big-screen, big-battery midrange phone, is up for pre-order on GetHuawei.com.
After yesterday's Huawei press event, I had an opportunity to briefly go hands-on with the company's newest super-sized phone, the Ascend Mate 2 4G. The original Ascend Mate also made its debut at CES, and this newest iteration really doesn't break the mold its predecessor set.
The new Mate 2 does boast a smaller size overall than last year's model, giving it a screen to bezel ratio that Huawei claims is the industry's best among large phones.
Huawei has been trying to break into the US market for years, but the current trend towards inexpensive, off-contract smartphones may be in their favor. That would explain why the company stated that it plans to bring the Ascend Mate II to American shores in its CES press conference. This big-screen, mid-range phone has a trick up its sleeve thanks to an oversized battery.