Return of the Phablet: Huawei Y Max First Impressions

“I don’t think it will fit”, I said to myself begrudgingly as I unsuccessfully tried to fit the Huawei Y Max into the phone holder in my car. Too bad, I thought, because the large display would have made using Google Maps much easier. To say that the 7.12-inch display is gigantic would be apt, but the Y Max is much more than just another phablet.

UNBOXING

Before anything else, let’s watch the unboxing of the Huawei Y Max:

DID YOU JUST SAY ‘PHABLET’?

Yes I said “phablet”. I’m resurrecting an archaic term from half a decade ago to describe the Y Max because it’s just that much more screen space than what you’d find in your usual 6-inchers. For small-handed users, and even those with larger hands, the Y Max might be too cumbersome to use. As for me, it’s a welcome challenge for that sweet extra screen real estate.

But enough about the size because the display itself has a lot more going for it. The IPS panel means it has great viewing angles and color accuracy. Sunlight legibility turned out excellent, as well as how dim the display got at the lowest setting. Plus, Huawei did a great job of minimizing the gap between the panel and the glass, and this makes UI elements like icons and text really pop.

ITS POWER IS MAXIMUM

Dragon Ball Z references aside, knowing that you’ve got 5,000 mAh in your pocket just provokes you to have carefree day with your phone. I’ve been using the Y Max for about 4 hours now and I’ve only used up around 20% of the battery. Theoretically then, I could use it for two straight days without having to recharge at all! Not that the Y Max will take forever to charge, because Huawei has got you covered there as well. Included in the package is an 18W (9V/2A) quick charger, which should make charging that massive capacity battery not a headache at all.

There are clever software bits to help preserve battery life too. Huawei’s iWare 2.0 smartly manages background processes so that they don’t eat up precious battery life when you’re not looking. Couple this with the energy efficient Qualcomm Snapdragon 660, and you’ve got a combo to keep up with your busy work day.

IS THAT LEATHER?

Short answer: no. Long answer: Yes it’s faux leather with faux stitching along the edge. It’s a surprising design choice from Huawei since, to my knowledge, they haven’t done this before. In fact, no one’s done a smartphone back like this since the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and 4.

Anyway, it’s Amber Brown and I personally like it since it’s a unique and it has that Gucci look, although the regulatory labels could have been more subtly placed. It might not be for everyone especially if you prefer metal, glass, or even plastic backs. But kudos for Huawei for trying something different.

BUT IS IT FAST?

The octa-core Snapdragon 660 is probably the sweet spot for mid-range phones. The Adreno 512 GPU delivers solid performance for gaming. I’ll have to verify this further using Game Bench, but Mobile Legends played smoothly at around 50 – 60 fps.

Huawei’s EMUI 8.2 sitting on top of Android 8.1 Oreo may be a heavy skin with no app drawer, but there are no performance hiccups to speak of when navigating the UI. The rear fingerprint reader wakes up the Y Max quickly, and the camera app launches without a fuss as well.

HOW’S THE CAMERA?

The 8 MP selfie camera has beauty mode turned on by default which dulls out imperfections on your skin and lightens it. Turning it off, there’s still some smoothing of skin texture, but otherwise still good.

For the rear cameras, you can turn on AI scene detection. It’s a little aggressive with the color saturation, but we’ll have to give it a fair trial in the full review before passing a complete verdict. But turning it off results in more natural looking images.

I have exciting expectations with the Y Max for the coming days. The large battery gives me confidence, the large screen is truly mesmerizing, and the faux leather is sure to turn heads wherever I go. I sure hope I don’t get spoiled along the way.

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