The theme during the first day of this year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) seemed to be bigger, faster, and stronger.
Bigger television sets are always fun and cool, but people expect those. What really caught the attention of attendees Tuesday were two smartphones that had nearly twice the screen size of the average iPhone or Android device.
China's Huawei debuted Ascend Mate, a 6.1-inch smartphone with strong battery life and HD display. (Apple's iPhone 5 has a 4-inch screen.)
"Smartphone and tablets are kind of converging," Huawei's Craig Jaycox told Yahoo! News. "From consumers to the carrier companies themselves, everyone seems to be asking for larger screens."
Of course, there were giant tablets on display as well, including Panasonic's 4K 20-inch tablet. While it's portable and powerful, it isn't much smaller than some home television screens.The TVs are getting even bigger too. Samsung, for example, wowed attendees with its 85-inch 4K Ultra HD LCD TV.
The 7-ounce Ascend Mate also comes with a built-in 8-megapixel camera, Dolby Surround Sound speakers, and a water-resistant screen that held up even when an entire glass of water was poured onto its surface during a demonstration.
Another Chinese manufacturer, ZTE, displayed its own mega-smartphone, the Grand S. It comes with an even more powerful camera than the Ascend Mate's and shoots images at 13 megapixels. Huawei does offer a smaller phone with a 13-megapixel camera, and it has other functions the Ascend Mate and Grand S do not.There are some obvious advantages to larger smartphone screens: They are more user-friendly for gamers and for those who use Skype or other video-chat apps.
But the screen isn't the only big thing on the Ascend Mate. It has an incredibly powerful 4,040-milliamps battery that reportedly can function for up to six days in standby mode. Huawei was reluctant to say exactly how long the battery life is when streaming video or running other power-draining programs. But the company did say the battery represents a 20 percent to 30 percent improvement in efficiency over earlier models.
Jaycox said Huawei has not yet set up carrier deals with U.S. providers, but if the response at the first day of CES is any indication, you can expect to see the smartphones stateside in the near future.
And what exactly is the motivation behind making larger smartphones instead of smaller ones? Jaycox said the tablet and smartphone markets are going through a test phase as consumers search for the sweet spot, looking for a portable device that meets all their computing needs.
"What's that device size where people truly feel like they have an all-in-one?" he said.
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