Huawei Ascend Mate7 review: Raising the phablet bar
The best value for money phablet. Period.
- Well implemented finger scanner
- Long lasting battery
- Metal body
- Dual-SIM capable
- Performance hardware
- Undercuts rivals on price
- Camera performance
- Heavy at 185 grams
- Awkward to make calls
Price$ 699.00 (AUD)
Huawei has taken off the gloves with its Mate7 phablet. The 6-inch smartphone wraps a bevy of cutting-edge tech in a coat of metal armour and tops the recipe off with simplistic software inspired by none other than Apple.
The Mate7 is all screen. The front is dominated by a 6-inch display that has a Full HD resolution. It is a vast amount of real estate primed for the consumption of content.
The bordering bezel has been shaved down, grounded until the expansive display could fit into a body that is as tall as the 5.5in iPhone 6 Plus. It brings to mind the feat achieved by LG’s G3.
Sealing the deal is the quality of the panel. Each inch is populated with 367 pixels, the viewing angles are wide and the colours are vibrant.
The body warrants more praise for 95 per cent of it is cold, hard metal. The design follows function and form, but even at its immense size, it’s a good looking smartphone.
Little details add to its charm. On the side are two metallic trays: one for 4G SIMs and another for expandable microSD memory. People who are content with the on-board 32GB of storage can make use of the memory tray as a secondary 2G SIM slot. Space for a second SIM means one can be used solely for voice calls, while another can be set to handle your Internet connection.
Located on the back of the Mate7 is a finger scanner. Up until now Apple alone has nailed this form of biometric security. Other renditions from Samsung and HTC have left us wanting for a reader that is more accurate and easier to use.
The finger scanner gracing the rear of the Mate7 easily rivals what’s found on Apple’s iPhone 6. Activating the screen and unlocking the smartphone happens in one swift motion. This is the finger scanner Android deserves. No gimmick here: it’s the real deal.
Large displays with rich resolutions are often accompanied by horrid battery life. The usual benchmark manufacturers strive to achieve is 24 hours. Many fall short. Huawei has tended to this gripe by integrating a 4100 milliamp-hour battery.
Good Gear Guide found the Ascend Mate7 could hold charge for 33 hours under heavy use. Switching on the ‘smart’ power saving mode helped us squeeze more than 48 hours of use from the smartphone. No doubt this phablet inherits battery life from its tablet side.
Two versions of the Mate7 will be released in Australia. The version reviewed by Good Gear Guide is the premium model, which has more RAM and internal storage at 3GB and 32GB respectively. Both models share an 8-core CPU developed by Huawei subsidiary HiSilicon. It consists of four economical 1.3GHz cores and another four powerful 1.8GHz cores. A ninth core clocked at 230MHz is featured for non-demanding tasks, such as music playback.
These numbers tell a good story. The 6-inch display proves ideal for gaming and the CPU works with a Mali-T624 GPU to make sure the on-screen action runs smoothly. Playing Real Racing 3 was genuinely enjoyable, characterised by immediate response time and plenty of volume from the rear speaker. A couple of frames were dropped over long gaming sessions, but we nonetheless maintain the Mate7 can handle heavy games.
It handles the operating system with finesse too. The Huawei runs 4.4 KitKat coated with a heavy overlay the company calls EMUI. The overlay is visually pleasing and, weirdly, has the texture of Apple’s iOS.
The Mate7 combines the application draw with its homescreen, so that widgets and icons rest besides one another. Swiping down at any time on this homescreen initiates a search styled much like Apple’s Spotlight. This is the most blatant imitation of Apple’s software to be found on the Mate7, although other subtleties too source inspiration from Apple.
Wanting software like Apple is akin to wanting to look like Brad Pitt — it’s hardly a crime. Huawei deserves commendation for differentiating its EMUI from Android so well. We only worry about future software support, which is often delayed or abandoned when smartphones carry such heavy overlays.
Huawei’s Mate7 might run Android, but between the finger scanner, the iOS inspired software and its size, this smartphone is proving a worthy alternative to the iPhone 6 Plus.
There is a downside to the Mate7, although we don’t fancy its shortcoming a deal-breaker. The smartphone packs 13- and 5-megapixel cameras that can’t compete with the best from Apple and Samsung. Most photos are free from fatal flaws; however, high contrast situations suffer, with details flushed out in whites or hidden in a uniform black.
Videos can be recorded in Full HD resolution by both cameras on the Mate7. The quality echoes the performance of its still photos, although the microphones used to record audio are easily overwhelmed by wind and other interferences.
Right now customers are spoiled for choice in the smartphone space with fantastic flagships from Apple, Sony, HTC, Nokia and Samsung. This is a space Chinese newcomer Huawei is struggling to compete in, and this is in spite of its noteworthy efforts with the Ascend P7 and G6.
But the phablet space…
Apple and Samsung are the only real hallmarks in the phablet space, and the Mate7 is a good enough phone to give the iPhone 6 Plus a run for its money. It even stands a chance against the pioneering Note 4 with a far superior finger scanner and fantastic battery life. The reality is fans of the phablet category should lend serious consideration to the Mate7, even more so than usual as the top-of-the-range model retails for $250 - $300 less than its Samsung and Apple rivals.
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Gadgets & Things
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Star Wars Death Star Bluetooth levitating rotating speaker review
- 2 Finally! LG OLED TV 2016 range review
- 3 Fetch TV Mighty review: Better than Foxtel
- 4 Fetch TV Mini review: Make your TV a smart TV
- 5 Panasonic Viera DX900U UHD 4K smart TV review
Latest News Articles
- Low-end Android phones could get VR with new Imagination GPU
- Android device updates: the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge are finally getting Nougat
- HTC's U Ultra flagship attacks the high end with a glass back, an AI companion, and a second screen
- The iPhone turns 10: Apple CEO Tim Cook promises 'the best is yet to come'
- Nokia returns to smartphones at long last, but you can't buy it (and probably don't want to)
GGG Evaluation Team
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.
The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.
My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.
- The top 10 best and worst tech gadgets and products of 2016
- Best phone of the year 2016
- TV of the year award 2016
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- FTBrand Marketing Manager - Premium Entertainment BrandNSW
- FTSenior Technical Consultant - SQLACT
- CCBusiness Analyst Finance & Lending - Brisbane Based RoleNSW
- CCICT Contracts ManagerSA
- CCSystems EngineerQLD
- CCProject Manager - EDRMS ProjectQLD
- FTSecurity Solutions Architect - Consultancy - Permanent - Sydney CBDNSW
- FTManager - Field ServicesVIC
- FTSenior .Net DeveloperVIC
- FTTrading Systems EngineerNSW
- TPInfrastructure ArchitectVIC
- TPMobile Application DeveloperWA
- FTFunctional ConsultantNSW
- FTSenior AEM Consultant - Public SectorACT
- FTSolutions Architect - Data Centre/ NetworkACT
- FTInfrastructure Solution ArchitectSA
- TPSoftware EngineerWA
- CCSenior Technical Specialist - AIXVIC
- CCWeb Architect - Ruby, Python, Java, Open sourceNSW
- CCNetwork EngineerACT
- FTNode.js/API DeveloperNSW
- FTSAP BW ConsultantACT
- CCMaster Planner /SchedulerQLD
- CCJunior BI / Data Analytics Analyst - contract - SydneyNSW
- FTIT Project CoordinatorVIC