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Huawei Ascend Mate 7 32 GB Zoom


Huawei Ascend Mate 7 32 GB Prices

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Rs 42,499
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Rs 43,699
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Rs 49,999
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Rs 56,990
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Rs 81,999
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Specifications

GENERAL
2G Network GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 - SIM 1 & SIM 2 - MT7-TL10
3G Network HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1700 / 1900 / 2100 HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100 - MT7-TL10
4G Network LTE band 1(2100), 2(1900), 3(1800), 4(1700/2100), 5(850), 7(2600), 8(900), 20(800), 28(700), 40(2300)
Sim Micro-SIM Hybrid Dual SIM (Micro-SIM/Nano-SIM, dual active) - MT7-TL10
Announced 19/09/2014
Status Available. Released 2014, October
BODY
Dimensions 157 x 81 x 7.9 mm (6.18 x 3.19 x 0.31 in)
Weight 185 g (6.53 oz)
DISPLAY
Display Size 6.0 inches, 98.7 cm2 (~77.6% screen-to-body ratio)
Resolution 1080 x 1920 pixels, 16:9 ratio (~368 ppi density)
MultiTouch yes
Protection Corning Gorilla Glass 3 - Emotion UI 3.1
SOUND
AlertTypes Vibration; MP3, WAV ringtones
LoudSpeaker yes
3.5mm jack Yes - DTS sound - Active noise cancellation with dedicated mic
MEMORY
CardSlot microSD, up to 256 GB (uses SIM 2 slot)
Internal 32 GB, 3 GB RAM
DATA
GPRS yes
EDGE yes
Speed HSPA 42.2/5.76 Mbps, LTE-A Cat6 300/50 Mbps
WLAN Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, dual-band, DLNA, Wi-Fi Direct, hotspot
Blue Tooth 4.0, A2DP, EDR, LE
NFC yes
USB microUSB 2.0, USB Host
CAMERA
Camera Primary 13 MP (f/2.0, 28mm), autofocus, LED flash
Camera Features Geo-tagging, face detection, HDR, panorama
CameraVideo 1080p@30fps
CameraSecondary 5 MP (f/2.4, 22mm), 720p
FEATURES
Processor Cores Octa-Core
OS Android 4.4.2 (KitKat), upgradable to 5.1.1 (Lollipop), planned upgrade to 6.0 (Marshmallow)
CPU Octa-core (4x1.8 GHz Cortex-A15 & 4x1.3 GHz Cortex-A7)
Sensors Fingerprint (rear-mounted), accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass
Messaging SMS (threaded view), MMS, Email, Push Email
Browser HTML5
Radio FM radio
GPS Yes, with A-GPS, GLONASS
Colors Obsidian black, Moonlight silver, Amber gold
Others - DivX/XviD/MP4/H.264/WMV player - MP3/eAAC+/WMA/WAV/Flac player - Document editor - Photo/video editor
BATTERY
Battery Non-removable Li-Po 4100 mAh battery
StandBy Up to 648 h (3G)
MISC

Reviews

Review: Huawei Ascend Mate 7

Indroduction

Phablet devices are big business right now. It's courtesy of devices like the Apple iPhone 6 Plus, Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and this; the Huawei Ascend Mate 7.

It's the Chinese company's latest flagship device, but proffered as a large-screen alternative to (rather than a replacement for) the Huawei Ascend P7.

Coming in as a successor to last year's Ascend Mate 2, the Ascend Mate 7 is actually smaller in terms of screen size. It measures 6 inches with a full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution, compared to the Mate 2's 6.1-inch display. And you haven't missed Ascend Mates 3 through 6. Huawei has jumped straight to Mate 7 to bring the new device in line with the G7 and P7.

Huawei has upped its quality considerably over the last few years when it comes to flagship devices and the Ascend Mate 7 has been given the same thoughtful treatment.

It boasts an aluminium unibody that immediately brings to mind the HTC One M8 while a rear-mounted fingerprint scanner and new-look UI round out the headline features. Additionally, you can use the microSD port as a secondary SIM slot for dual-SIM functionality, but more on that later.

Pricing isn't perhaps what you'd expect. The Chinese company is offering the 16GB base model with 2GB of RAM for €499 (around £400, US$650, AU$690) with the 32GB version coming in at €599 (around £480, US$780, AU$830). The latter ups the RAM to 3GB, but also forces you to accept the handset in gold.

Huawei Ascend Mate 7 review

The Ascend Mate 7 not only has a slightly smaller screen than its predecessor, but also a thinner body and minimal screen bezels. Any 6-inch phone is still massive in your hands, but Huawei has done a good job of cutting away excess flab. The handset itself is 157 x 81 x 7.9mm while the screen-to-body ratio is 83% - which is ahead of Samsung's 80% ratio on the Galaxy Note 4.

Turn the Ascend Mate 7 over and you're greeted with the device's 13MP lens - protruding slightly from the chassis - and the fingerprint scanner. Mostly thanks to Apple's Touch ID, the scanner has become the de rigueur addition to modern smartphones.

On the Mate 7, the scanner can be used to awaken the phone instantly without having to hit the power switch first - a feature that really makes sense and works well in practice.

Huawei Ascend Mate 7 review

Like other phone companies, Huawei keeps the data from the fingerprint scanner encrypted and on the device. It can be also be used to open certain apps, although the information is never passed to third parties.

The back of the Ascend Mate 7 is slightly curved, although this is really only noticeable at the edges of the handset as you try to extend your fingers around its impressive frame. Huawei has done a good job on the weight, keeping it down to a respectable 185g despite the size. The metal unibody is sleek and cool to touch, which gives it a nicely premium feeling.

The feeling doesn't quite continue to the Ascend Mate 7's software, which is handled by the company's Emotion UI skinned over Android 4.4 KitKat. It's the third version of Huawei's home-grown UI and features a couple of slight tweaks that will take some getting used to.

There's no app drawer listing all your apps. Instead, they're on the homepages. Huawei has also added the Android Lollipop-style navigation buttons to the bottom of the screen, even though the handset is still running KitKat.

The Mate 7 is powered by an octa-core Kirin 925 processor made up of a quad-core 1.8GHz Cortex A15 chip and a quad-core 1.3GHz Cortex A7. As mentioned before, RAM comes in either the 2GB or 3GB flavours depending on whether you opt for the 16GB or 32GB model.

Huawei Ascend Mate 7 review

Huawei has tucked a non-removable 4100mAh battery into the Mate 7 which, as you'd expect, is a pretty serious power source. Unfortunately, the 6-inch full HD screen is a hungry beast and you'll not want to venture too far from a power source. But more on that later.

Like them or not, phablets are a legitimate phone category now and Huawei's given us a good one with the Mate 7. It's not perfect though, and faces strong competition from the iPhone 6 Plus, Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and Nokia Lumia 1520.

Design

Size prohibits this phone from being one you operate one-handed, but Huawei has done what it can to help. That includes placing the power switch and volume selectors on the right hand-side of the phone so you can get to them with either your index finger or thumb, depending on which hand you're using.

There's also an option to activate the one-hand UI feature that lets you tilt the Ascend Mate 7 to reposition the soft-touch Android navigation keys to one side. And Glove mode adjusts touchscreen sensitivity so you can use the phone while wearing gloves.

But let's talk sizing specifics for just a second, because the Huawei Ascend Mate 7 is a biggie. The length of the handset is 157mm. In comparison, the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is 153.5mm. The iPhone 6 Plus just pips it at 158mm in length, but Apple's screen size is only 5.5 inches while Huawei has managed to cram in a 6-inch display.

Huawei Ascend Mate 7 review

The reason for that is the Chinese company has worked to remove almost any trace of bezel around the 6-inch 1080p screen. There's still a small black edge to the display itself but if you're using a black UI theme it's quickly forgotten.

Perhaps to offset the size somewhat, Huawei has opted for curved corners rather than an industrial, blocky design. The back of the phone is also curved to allow it to rest comfortably in your palm. There's minimal space above and below the screen - just enough room for the Huawei logo below and the front-facing 5MP camera and speaker above.

Huawei Ascend Mate 7 review

This has both benefits and drawbacks. As Huawei no doubt intended, it means the screen takes up the maximum amount of space and is the real centrepiece of the device. The drawback comes in the form of sound.

Rather than the front-facing dual speakers employed by the HTC One Max, the Ascend Mate 7 pushes the grill behind, meaning you're liable to cover it with your fingers when holding the device in landscape mode. It means that, while video looks great, the sound suffers.

The top and bottom of the device are given over to the 3.5mm headphone jack and the microUSB charging port respectively.

Huawei Ascend Mate 7 review

On the left hand side is where you'll find the nano SIM and microSD slots, both requiring a SIM ejector tool to spring open.

Unlike Samsung's Note series of phablets, Huawei hasn't included any kind of stylus, so you're going to be using your fingers with this one.

Huawei Ascend Mate 7 review

It's hard not to be appreciative of Huawei's approach. The company's worked out from its competitors what good design is - just look at the similarities between the Ascend G6 and the iPhone 4S.

I want premium metal finishing and a robust heft, without feeling like a phone will fall apart at the slightest knock, and that's what you get with the Ascend Mate 7.

Of course, no amount of elegant design choices can stop the Ascend Mate 7 from dominating any hand or pocket, but that's a size issue - and one that doesn't detract from the overall appearance.

Key features

Fingerprint scanner

The small indented square on the back of the Ascend Mate 7, just below the camera lens, is the device's fingerprint scanner. Like the Samsung Galaxy S5 or the iPhone 6, this can be used to unlock the device, as well as provide authorisation for various apps.

The Ascend Mate 7 will support up to five different fingerprints and upon first setting up, you'll be asked to press your finger at various different angles until you feel a slight vibration. Once you've done this, you're able to wake the phone up with a quick press. It works well, and after a while I found myself automatically going to the fingerprint scanner over the power switch.

Huawei Ascend Mate 7 review

It's also fast - the phone takes about a second to detect your fingerprint and wake up, which is invaluable given how often we check our phones. Another nice touch is the ability to set one of your five fingerprints to automatically open visitor mode. This lets you open the phone in a protected mode and hand it to someone else to use without worrying they can access your collection of intimate selfies.

Huawei bills the scanner as a 360-degree capture. As such, when imprinting your digits, the phone will ask you to focus on each part of your fingertip from the centre to around each edge.

Huawei Ascend Mate 7 review

This improves the accuracy so that even when coming at the scanner from an angle (an inevitability given that everyone has different sized hands) it picks it up without any trouble.

Emotion UI

Huawei's Emotion UI is now in its third iteration and the custom-made skin continues to divide opinion. You've got plenty of choice when it comes to themes and the elements of those themes - wallpapers, icons, widgets - have grown up well.

Huawei Ascend Mate 7 review

One of the early criticisms was that the UI was a bit cutesy. Well, now you've got deep blues, blacks and mahogany style themes that look more mature. You can browse plenty of them in the pre-installed Themes app which has them sorted by categories.

It's all deeply customisable and you can go as far as deciding which transitions you want between homescreens, how many apps you want to appear on the grid and where you want to add widgets. Like most other smartphones, you can also group apps into named folders.

Given the amount of screen real estate you've got to play with, there are hours that can be spent simply getting the appearance of the Huawei Ascend Mate 7 the way you like it. There are other elements to the Emotion UI that affect the usability, but I'll talk about that in the next section.

Dual-SIM

The option to dual-load SIM cards isn't something you find on a lot of consumer-focused smartphones, but it has its uses - chief of which is the ability to use one handset as both your work and personal phone. In an increasingly BYOD world, this might be appealing for the cubical warriors among you.

Huawei Ascend Mate 7 review

The Huawei Ascend Mate 7 uses the microSD card slot as its second SIM home, letting you slide in a nanoSIM to accompany the microSIM in the main tray.

Both slots are 4G compliant so you can take advantage of speedy tariffs on either card. A word of caution though: both slots require a SIM ejector tool to open and Huawei only gives you one. So don't lose it.

Interface and performance

A phone of this size requires some muscle to keep it going and Huawei hasn't pulled its punches when it comes to the innards.

The Ascend Mate 7 is decked out with an octa-core Kirin 925 processor (made up of 4 x 1.8GHz A15 cores and 4 x 1.3GHz A7) which harness the big.LITTLE architecture. This ensures the Mate 7 has plenty of power behind the scenes, but only uses it when it's really required.

It's a processor that was developed by Huawei's own subsidiary, HiSicon, and goes up against the better known chips from Qualcomm's Snapdragon stable.

Huawei Ascend Mate 7 review

How does it work in black and white? Well, I ran the processor through the GeekBench 3 benchmark program and recorded a multi-core score of 3,287. Doesn't mean much on its own, but when compared to the 2,911 of the iPhone 6 Plus or the 2449 of the LG G3, you start to see that Huawei hasn't shied away from maximum power.

There's 2GB of RAM providing backup to the processor and global LTE Cat 6 and HSDPA support for mobile signal. Meaning a download speed of up to 300mbps, if your network supplies such generous speeds. In theory, that means you'd be able to download a three hour movie in 2.2 minutes according to Huawei.

Although it's possible to get the larger version of this phone with an extra 1GB of RAM, I found the standard 2GB more than adequate for my day-to-day usage. There wasn't any glaring lag during navigation, so getting to where I wanted to go didn't take too long. The phone wakes up instantly from sleep mode and takes about a second to register a fingerprint and log in.

If you find things are moving a little slowly, then Huawei has given you a handy Phone Manager app to diagnose the problem. Fire it up and you're given various ways of optimising your phone, from the process manager memory scan to the storage cleaner and the power saving battery mode.

Huawei Ascend Mate 7 review

The app will tell you exactly how much memory other apps are using and let you close down anything that's hogging your precious RAM. You can also set a notification to alert you when the memory or CPU usage is adversely affecting the phone.

If you're feeling particularly sensitive, you can enable (or schedule) the do not disturb mode, which means you'll only receive calls and messages from designated contacts.

Bloatware on phones is a touchy subject and, along with its own UI, Huawei has added a fair few apps to the interface - some useful, some not so much. While the aforementioned Phone Manager is very helpful, the Mirror and Magnifier apps don't add much in terms of usefulness.

But then, Huawei has given you an outlet for bloatware-fuelled rage with the HiCare app. This gives you not only the service policy and manual for the Ascend Mate 7, but also the opportunity to send feedback to Huawei via email or call the company direct through a link to its service hotline.

Huawei's Emotion UI interface has found its feet a little bit with the third iteration. The main sticking point is the removal of the app drawer. To just about any smartphone user, this is quite an abrupt change. Every app has to feature on one of the homepages, of which you can add up to nine.

This isn't as much of an issue as you might think however. Partly, that's due to the amount of screen real estate and the level of customisation you're afforded. But it also helps that you can group apps into folders to make things easier to find.

Huawei is keen to market its themes, and there are plenty included on the Ascend Mate 7, letting you find an appearance you like and stick with it. A gateway app takes you to the selection, and Huawei keeps it regularly updated with new offerings.

Huawei Ascend Mate 7 review

As with other Android handsets, a key area of the interface is the notifications panel you can pull down from the top of the screen. On the Ascend Mate 7 it's presented as a timeline, giving you the time at which items were either sent to you or you performed actions on the phone. A quick tap of the shorcuts key at the top will bring you to custom settings like Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or Aeroplane Mode.

In order to deal with the issue of size, the Ascend Mate 7 makes use of motion control for actions like moving icons and widgets or muting a call. These are a good idea but too often in practice subtle gestures weren't picked up. It was often easier or quicker for me to just use my other hand to quickly mute a call or pull down the notification bar.

Huawei's Emotion UI didn't appear to impact performance during my time with the device, which is a key reason for disliking skins over stock Android. Ultimately though, I enjoyed the different look and the variety of the themes – even if some of the pre-loaded apps were a little superfluous.

The only thing I didn't like is the Android Lollipop-style navigation keys, which strikes me as a little sneaky on Huawei's part.

Battery life and the essentials

Battery life

As you will no doubt have gathered by now, there's a lot of strain being put on the power pack inside the Huawei Ascend Mate 7. The Chinese company has loaded the handset with a non-removable 4,100mAh battery.

That's a significant boost over, for example, the 2,800mAh battery inside the Samsung Galaxy S5. But then again, the bigger they are, the harder they fall. So how did the Ascend Mate 7 cope?

Huawei Ascend Mate 7 review

Surprisingly well, as it turns out. An intensive, 90-minute video with all the bells and whistles (NFC, Bluetooth, screen brightness) turned up/on dropped a fully charged battery to only 91%. With moderate day-to-day usage on conservative settings, I was actually able to eke out just under 36 hours between charging.

This was helped, in part, by the wide variety of options Huawei gives you to limit the battery consumption through the power saving options. Notably, the ability to switch off juice-sucking apps or a quick flip to access the Ultra saving mode when I knew I wasn't going to be using the phone for a while.

And even if you can't be bothered to optimise everything all the time, a quick scan through will automatically let the phone sort it for you and add a couple of extra minutes to the battery life.

But, and there's always a but, you'll note that I mentioned "conservative use" in the paragraph above. Because, like all smartphones, if you really hammer it, the Ascend Mate 7 won't last the day. Gaming and movie-watching are obviously big draws because of the power drain of the 6-inch HD screen.

I feel it's right to point out at this juncture that if you're looking for optimal battery life on a handset, buying a phablet is probably not the right way to go.

Calling

Getting past the point that talking using this handset makes it look like you're holding a small baking tray against your face; the Ascend Mate 7 isn't bad. It uses a dual antenna will automatically scan and detect the strongest signal in your vicinity and lock onto it.

During my time with the handset, I never experience a dropped call while I had even a slice of signal. Which, in 2014, is really not saying much – it's about the most minimal thing our modern smartphones have to do. In-call volume is suitably impressive and works not only for handset calls but when you're using speakerphone as well.

The contacts app is basic but functional and also builds in your text messages which you can view by swiping right. Swipe left, and you're given a dial pad so large that a bear could operate it.

Messaging

Given the size of the Ascend Mate 7's display, running off a quick message can either be extremely easy or quite frustrating depending on how many hands you're using. Cradle the handset in both paws and you can use your thumb to fire off essays of text in no time at all. But try doing it one-handed with just your thumb and it'll take a mite longer.

This can be alleviated slightly with Huawei's one-handed mode which, as with the notification keys, will shift the keypad to whichever side of the screen is most convenient for the hand you're holding it in.

Huawei Ascend Mate 7 review

The default keyboard is competent enough at picking up my speedy texts, and it also includes a swipe-to-text feature if you prefer gliding over the keys. Obviously, if you're a lover of SwiftKey, or any other third-party keyboard, then you can get it through the Google Play store.

Huawei's messaging app isn't the nicest to look at, but chances are you'll be using Whatsapp, Google Hangouts, Skype or Facebook Messenger as well, so no harm done. As an aside, predictive messaging was pretty much spot-on during my usage, which is a definite positive.

Browsing

The Ascend Mate 7 comes with Google's Chrome browser and its own in-house option. The latter, like the messaging app, doesn't look particularly attractive but offers all the functionality I expect. The options are located along the bottom, rather than at the top near the address bar as they are in Chrome. Again, with the size of the screen, this is a useful change.

There's tabbed browsing, as well as the option to bookmark, share a page or copy a link. Also thrown in are useful features like incognito browsing and the find on page feature that lets you scan a web page for a particular word or phrase.

Chrome's ability to sync with the desktop version is undoubtedly a popular feature that will probably edge out Huawei's own offering. Chrome was marketed on the strength of its speed, but as far as I could tell, there wasn't much difference between the two when it came to loading up pages.

Camera

It might be a bit unwieldy, given the size, but the Huawei Ascend Mate stands up well as a camera. The Chinese company has added a 13MP rear-facing lens capable of snapping at a 4128 x 3096 resolution.

The front-facing 5MP camera will take reasonable selfies as well as providing 720p video calling via Skype, Google Hangouts or any other video calling client.

Huawei Ascend Mate 7 review

The usual array of effects and settings are included – the ISO range stretches from 100-800 with Huawei boasting better low-light performance with the added LED flash.

The HDR mode and auto focus worked well when I took the Ascend Mate 7 for a stroll around the park and there are some useful touches, like voice or fingerprint-activated shooting.

Huawei Ascend Mate 7 review

Also included are the options to geo-tag pictures and face detection. Something else that Huawei has included in previous phones, like the Ascend G6, is the Beauty level slider to improve selfies by smoothing out the skin and enlarging the eyes.

You can take a panorama mode for sweeping vistas or, if you're taking shots of fast-moving items, the best photo mode. This is essentially a burst mode that works like the Zoe feature on HTC's smartphones; taking several pictures very quickly and allowing you to select the best.

I played around with the various settings and filters and you can see the images below.

Huawei Ascend Mate 7 review

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Huawei Ascend Mate 7 review

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Huawei Ascend Mate 7 review

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Huawei Ascend Mate 7 review

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Huawei Ascend Mate 7 review

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Media

Screen size and quality means that whether you're playing a game or watching a movie, the Ascend Mate 7 shines when it comes to the visuals. The Full HD display is clear and detailed when you're watching YouTube clips, Netflix movies or your own files saved onto the 32GB native storage.

Huawei Ascend Mate 7 review

Colours and shading look great thanks to the in-plane switching although it doesn't compete with the Super AMOLED screen offered up by the Samsung Galaxy Note 4. Similarly, Samsung's latest phablet boasts a pixel density of 515 compared to the 368 on show here. When it comes to video, it's not really a problem, although it is noticeable when browsing image and font-heavy websites.

Sound quality is well handled – the Ascend Mate 7 has on board Dolby DTS - but it's hampered by the speaker placement. Rather than the front-facing speakers on the likes of the HTC One Max, the Ascend Mate 7 tucks the speaker grill around the back, in a place easily covered by your hand when you're holding the phone in landscape mode.

Huawei Ascend Mate 7 review

If you're looking for a handset for gaming, then I'm happy to say that Huawei's new phablet is a great choice. It comes with a small selection of Gameloft games pre-installed, letting you play for a certain amount of time before inviting you to download the titles.

The octa-core processor kicks into gear along with the 2GB RAM to keep games running fluidly on the 1080p screen and 3D games like Asphalt 8 are really well represented. Also, because of the larger screen size, the on-screen controls are much easier to use than on smaller-sized handsets.

Huawei Ascend Mate 7 review

When it comes to music, Huawei has added its own music player that lays things out in a simple, if basic package. The actual playback display is nice, with the album art displayed in a circular picture in the middle. Swiping left during playback takes you to the tracks on your device while swiping to the right displays lyrics - if they've been downloaded from the web to correspond to the file.

Like other Android phones, you've also got Google Music to take advantage of. This lets you upload your own music to Google's cloud storage and access it anywhere you've got Wi-Fi. Similarly, you can use Spotify, Rhapsody or any other streaming client if you don't want to use up the phone's internal storage with MP3 files. Although, given that you can load up a microSD card and use that, the storage argument is largely moot.

Some would argue that another benefit Android has over iOS is the ability to place widgets on your multitude of homescreens. With the Ascend Mate 7 you can add music widgets for Google Music or Huawei's own player on the homescreen for quick access. Music playback also shows up on the lockscreen so you can skip tracks or pause playback without unlocking the device.

A quick word on the headphones though, as the pair that appeared alongside our review unit didn't bear any resemblance to the pair shown off on the Ascend Mate 7 page on Huawei's site. Rather than the sleek, black pair with the in-line remote pictured, I found a mediocre white Apple-alike pair of in-ear buds. The sound was serviceable, but nothing like you'd get from a decent pair of headphones.

Comparisons

Samsung Galaxy Note 4

Huawei Ascend Mate 7 review

For a relatively new segment of the mobile phone market, there are already a good number of decent plus-sized handsets to choose from. The original master is, of course, Samsung's Galaxy Note series.

The latest iteration boasts improved S-Pen functionality that includes two separate modes for the infamous stylus accessory: calligraphy and fountain. The fountain option is the more interesting, coming closer than ever to matching your own handwriting on the screen.

I don't feel a stylus is as necessary a tool as Samsung seems to think it is and the Huawei Ascend Mate 7 doesn't come with one – although you can pick up a third-party option cheaply enough. Simply speaking, it's a nice touch, but don't allow it to sway you away from the Ascend Mate 7.

While the Galaxy Note 4 boasts a fingerprint scanner, and the ability to assign apps to a registered fingerprint, the feature doesn't seem as well thought out as Huawei's offering. The Chinese company has added the scanner as a physical feature with haptic feedback and placed it nicely on the back of the phone. I feel it's more accurate and easier to use than Samsung's version – which itself feels like a bit of a knee-jerk reaction to Apple's Touch ID.

While the Ascend Mate 7 may win over in terms of features, it doesn't really compete on terms of spec, specifically, the display. Samsung's screens have always been great and the QHD Super AMOLED screen on the Note 4 is excellent. It's smaller than Huawei's, at only 5.7 inches, but there's a higher pixel density and sharper colours.

Moreover, Samsung's take on Android 4.4 is easier to get to grips with than Huawei's. Although I would argue that the Emotion UI actually looks nicer.

Sony Xperia Z Ultra

Huawei Ascend Mate 7 review

Sony's entry into the phablet market is looking a little dated now, but it still has some interesting features going for it. Notably, the fact that it boasts IP58 water and dust proof certification – so you can take it out into the wild should you wish.

It's also massive, with a 6.4-inch Full HD display. It's larger than the Ascend Mate 7 and, I would argue, too big for a phone. But then, if you're really just looking for the biggest screen you can get, it's worth a look.

Sony's screen and camera tech have always been highlights and the Xperia Z Ultra uses the X-Reality Engine from Bravia TVs in its display. The image is sharper and colour reproduction is better than Huawei's Ascend Mate 7.

Meanwhile, the 8MP camera, although less than Huawei's 13MP beast, does provide similarly good pictures and the front-facing camera on the Xperia Ultra will hit 1080p compared to the 720p managed by the Ascend Mate 7's.

However, this isn't a phone for future-proofing, and that's where it shows its age. The Huawei Ascend Mate boasts LTE Cat 6 with speed for 300mbps downloads while the Xperia Z Ultra is reliant on LTE Cat 4 with download speeds of 150mbps.

Given that you're looking at, potentially, a 2-year contract with this handset, it's something to take into account. I'd have to say the Ascend Mate 7 is the better choice here.

iPhone 6 Plus

Huawei Ascend Mate 7 review

So, here it is: Apple's plus-size iPhone with 5.5-inches of iOS 8 goodness waiting for you at just the price of a mid-range laptop. The iPhone 6 Plus is, I'm afraid, simply a much more premium phone than what Huawei is offering.

The design is excellent and the way it integrates with iOS 8 means that you can pick one up on a 24-month contract safe in the knowledge that it'll be running just as smoothly come 2016.

The app selection is fantastic and Apple's features, from Touch ID to HealthKit and Apple Pay are well thought-out and not mere gimmicks. The full specifications don't match up to the Ascend Mate 7 – there's only 1GB of RAM in the iPhone 6 Plus and no expandable storage but you do get a better user experience.

Unfortunately though, it's a user experience you're going to have to pay for. If you're on a budget and want a plus-size phone at a reasonable price then the Ascend Mate 7 is certainly where you should be looking. If money is no object then I would suggest looking at the iPhone 6 Plus as a contender.

But, the very fact that Huawei is now making a device that can legitimately be compared to Apple's flagship phone is, in and of itself, a sign of how very far the company has come.

Verdict

Any manufacturer is now likely to be toting a phone with a larger screen. Whether its 5.5-inches or 6.3-inches, the appeal of larger handsets isn't going away any time soon. To its credit, Huawei has created a phone that is more than just a blown-up version of its Huawei Ascend G7 premium device.

The Ascend Mate 7 is the kind of phone you'll come to reluctantly at first. Undoubtedly pre-judging it as a Chinese approximation of what the best tech companies are producing. But spend a bit of time with it and that impression is redefined.

Actually, the fingerprint scanner really does work well. And the aluminium casing really does have the right balance between heft and lightness. And actually, that battery life isn't quite as bad as you thought it would be. See what I mean?

We liked

The fingerprint scanner is a great feature that really adds something here. With a phone this size, it's easier to use it than the power button on the right hand side. The ability to lock apps is also useful, meaning you can hand your phone round to friends for them to look at pictures and know they can't go breezing through your emails.

I also liked the ability to dual-load two different SIMs into the Ascend Mate 7. As someone who regularly carries around too much tech, the idea of a single device to manage both a work SIM and personal one is appealing.

Ultimately though, I just appreciated the way the phone is put together. The metal casing and lack of bezels meant the 1080p screen was given its due. While the slightly curving, thin design and light weight meant that it was comfortable to hold for a long time. Even if I did nearly drop it once. Okay, twice.

We disliked

The Emotion UI still doesn't feel quite as intuitive as iOS 8 or native Android. I kept going for the app drawer, only to realise it isn't there. The level of customisation and selection of themes on offer are both great, but I have to ask myself how often will the average person really use them? Probably not that often, but at least it's grown up a bit from previous versions.

Sound is a bit of an issue with the Ascend Mate 7. In that I kept placing my finger over the speaker grille when holding the phone in landscape mode. Given that I'm going to want to use that big screen for watching movies and playing games, this was a bit of a distraction.

Lastly, and it's a bit of a weak point, I concede, but I just think 6-inches is too big for a phone. The size creates issues that Huawei has tried to solve with a one-handed usage setting and motion control features. But really, I'm just not that way inclined to such a big handset. But hey, at least the battery holds up alright.

Verdict

Emerging from the shadows cast by the likes of Apple and Samsung, Huawei has given us an excellent plus-sized handset to consider. The rear-facing fingerprint scanner is well implemented and other useful features like dual-SIM support through the microSD slot show the Chinese company is innovating nicely.

At its core are a decent cabal of specifications that keep the handset running quickly, if not quite as smoothly or intuitively as its native Android or iOS counterpoints. But the sticky issue of battery life is handled very well by a thorough power management app that lets you tweak and optimise to your heart's consent.

It also remains to be said that in terms of value, Huawei has given us an attractive proposition with the Ascend Mate 7. It's a well-crafted handset and doesn't at all invoke the Chinese knockoff image that many might associate with the brand.

If you've got money to burn then Apple's iPhone 6 Plus or Samsung's Galaxy Note 4 will edge out the Huawei Ascend Mate 7 as the more popular option. But I enjoyed my time with Huawei's phablet and can easily say that the Chinese firm is now on a level with those aforementioned brands.

First reviewed: September 2014








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