Huawei go all-in with a premium smartphone priced to embarrass its competitors.
There’s not much this stunning device doesn’t do to impress. The 6-inch screen fills almost all of the chassis, trumping the similarly sized, but smaller screened Galaxy Note 4. It’s as good an Android implementation as you’ll find, stacking it up well against the iOS iPhone 6, which is also similarly sized, but $300 more expensive, and also with a smaller screen. The aluminium case is slim, light, feels great to hold, and yet contains a whopper-capacity 4,000mAh battery. It’s good for up to two days of hard use, very impressive indeed.
The fingerprint scanner actually works, and does so reliably every time. That’s a first for any device. It reads your finger from any angle and instantly brings the phone to life. At last, gimmick gives way to function you’d use every time.
It’s a dual-sim handset, too, though with an unusual implementation. The main slot takes a regular microSIM card, and the secondary can fit either a NanoSIM, or a microSD (standard onboard storage is 32GB). We’re not hugely bothered that you can’t run 2 x SIMs and a microSD all at the same time, as it is it’s a better arrangement than many of its competitors.
Huawei went for a bog-standard 1920 x 1080 resolution on its screen, which is one area it falls short compared to some of its QHD competitors, but in daily use unless you’re intimately familiar with using a QHD screen it’s as sharp as you’d want, and it’s unlikely to ever disappoint. Another potential weakness is the speaker placement, having it on the rear of the device so it’s all too easy to muffle the sound with your hand, where devices like the HTC One m8 and its dual forward-facing speakers do a much better job of delivering a cinema experience in the palm of your hand.
The CPU is perfectly quick, and its implementation is a little different to the usual Snapdragon CPU we commonly see. The Ascend Mate 7 has a Kirin 925 quad-core CPU @ 1.8GHz, as well as a 1.3GHz Cortex chip. Less demanding tasks are send to the Cortex for processing, sparing the use of the more powerful Kirin CPU for tasks that really need it, thus extending the already impressive battery life.
We’ve been using the model with a gold finish, while the black version only has 16GB of storage. The gold actually looks very nice, and not as showy as you might expect. Out of the box it’s matched by a gold theme which sets it all off nicely. A bunch of other themes are included, and it’s clear Huawei has spent more than an average amount of time dressing the Mate 7 up to look like the premium model that it is.
Even the Huawei logo on the front is small, and in a thin silver font at the bottom of the case that blends in elegantly. As far as a branding exercise goes, Huawei has shown admirable restraint, holding back any urge to spoil the look with too much logo embellishment.
I can’t see how anyone would be disappointed in this device. It has stellar performance, amazing battery life and lets you know every step of the way that it’s a product made with care and pride. Huawei now must battle the perception it has of being largely a budget phone company, but another way of looking at it is that this is a budget-premium device, and your friends will certainly cast envious gazes when you plonk this beauty down on the table and buy them a round of drinks with the hundreds of dollars you saved by not buying an iPhone 5.