Isn’t this the phone that people have been asking Samsung for since… forever? Huawei’s Ascend Mate 7 is a mostly-metal 6-inch handset, pushing it into phablet territory, that packs one of the most impressive processor setups I’ve seen in a Huawei device to date.
But Huawei’s phones do suffer from a perceived lack of quality, something that isn’t in evidence here. The Mate 7’s display offers a high degree of quality, build overall is sturdy and the phone itself is speedy – pity that Huawei’s Android skin leaves something to be desired.
The Ascend Mate 7 is a 6-inch phone – weird name for a 6-incher but there you go. Huawei opted for an HD display with this handset, somewhat below the 2K screens that Samsung and LG are favouring these days. Even so, it’s clear, bright and there’s plenty of space for watching video, if that’s your thing. Apps looks fantastic, at the very least.
The whole handset is encased in metal, bar metal-coloured plastic strips at the top and bottom of the phone. The volume rocker and power switch are on the top right, the top left is home to the SIM and microSD slots, which sit flush with the body and require a paper-clip to pop out. Or an actual tool, if you’re feeling snooty. Charge port at the base, headphone at the top and then there’s the fingerprint scanner in a depression at the rear, under the 13MP camera lens.
Looking on the inside (not recommended, so take my word for it), there’s the HiSilicon Kirin 925 processor, a chip in the vein of Samsung’s Exynos octa-core chips. It features a 1.8GHz quad core and 1.31Ghz quad sandwiched together and boosts the Ascend Mate’s speed up when needed. I’ll get to that in a moment.
The Ascend Mate 7 for review featured 16GB of storage (a bit over 11GB available) and 2GB of RAM. There’s a 32GB storage/3GB RAM variant but Stuff wasn’t supplied with that model so we had to make do. Even with the lack of an extra gig of system memory, the Mate 7 is fast, whether it’s launching apps, switching between tasks or posting impressive benchmark results.
On The Bench
Speaking of benchmarks, I put the Mate 7 through its paces with both Geekbench 3 and AnTuTu. The Geekbench result was a bit odd, seeming to only account for the smaller of the quads available to the Kirin 925. Even so, it posted Snapdragon 800-worthy single-core results and stomped all over the Galaxy S 5 in multi-core performance.
AnTuTu was a bit more specific, giving the Mate 7 a final score of 44,239. The handset comes in below the Galaxy Note 4 and the OnePlus One in terms of performance, if you’re looking for a more basic explanation.
The Mate 7 has a 5MP ‘selfie’ cam, so you can get your hair just right before snapping shots of you and your food. The 13MP rear camera is actually a decent shooter in casual hands, almost across the board. Extreme conditions will result in snaps that aren’t up to snuff but, to make up for it, there’s an easy-to-use filters feature for artistic restaurant photography.
But the hero we deserve (heh) has to be the battery. Huawei have decided that a non-removable Lithium Polymer battery is the way to go and they’ve dropped in a 4,100mAh monster. It’s going to take some doing to run this down in a day – I’m not actually sure it’s possible without a lengthy battery-test happening somewhere around midday. I’ve seen tablets that don’t have a battery this large and it’s not like Huawei’s powering anything too resource hungry. In this case, overkill is just fine with me.
There are negatives here, mostly to do with the OS. Stock, the Mate 7 features Android 4.4.2 which is somewhat dated and I’m not especially fond of the skin that Huawei have used here. Icons have all be changed and the stock Android settings menu rendered into something a lot harder to navigate. But that doesn’t change the fact that the Ascend Mate 7 is the best Huawei phone that passed Stuff‘s doors. It’s not going to dislodge our current leaders but it’s a huge step in the right direction for Huawei.