Huawei Ascend Mate 7 first impressions: High end aluminum design and solid performance

Huawei announced the Ascend Mate 7 at IFA and after several days of use, it is clear Huawei is serious about competing at the high end.

Huawei Ascend Mate 7 first impressions: High end aluminum design and solid performance
Image: ZDNet/CBSinteractive

IFA kicked off in Berlin at the beginning of this month and one of the more interesting devices that was announced was the Huawei Ascend Mate 7 . I have been using one for the past several days and am once again impressed by Huawei's Android smartphones.

The Ascend Mate 2 is a fantastic low price, big screen option and the Ascend Mate 7 offers a more refined option.

Hardware

WP_20140928_16_46_02_Pro
Image: ZDNet/CBSinteractive

The Ascend Mate 7 is very well made with aluminum construction and stylish beveled edges, reminiscient of the HTC One and iPhone 5/5s. You will find a large six inch display, but with an 83 percent screen-to-body ratio that large display comes in a package you can handle. The display has a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels with a 368 ppi. The side bezels are only 2.9mm and there is small top and bottom areas above and below the display.

The Ascend Mate 7 is only 7.9mm thick with slight curvature on the back edges. It is 157mm long and 81mm wide with a weight of 185 grams.

The Ascend Mate 7 is powered by an eight core Hisilicon Kirin 925 processor and supports LTE Category 6. There is 2GB of RAM and 16GB of integrated storage. A microSD card is provided for further memory expansion.

There is a 13 megapixel rear camera and 5 megapixel front facing camera. A 4,100 mAh battery is present for long battery life.

IMAG0318
Image: ZDNet/CBSinteractive

Centered below the rear camera is a fingerprint scanner and I am pleased to say it is the first Android fingerprint scanner that actually works. Unlike others, you do not have to slide your finger. You simply place it on the scanner, there is no button to press, and unlock your phone. It actually works even better than the iPhone scanner.

Software

Screenshot_2014-09-26-05-54-19
Image: ZDNet/CBSinteractive

Like the Huawei Ascend Mate 2, the Ascend Mate 7 runs the Emotion UI. I handed the Ascend Mate 7 to a coworker and the first thing he said was that it looked like an iPhone. There is no app drawer like Android users are used to. All apps appear on the home screen panels where you can further organize them into folders or also enable widgets. I personally find this approach to be useful and more efficient than managing app shortcuts multiple times.

The review unit is a SIM-free model with no carrier apps or bloatware installed. Huawei has made some apps landscape aware so when you rotate the device the display will change to offer you more content in this orientation. For example, when you are in Calendar a twist to landscape shows you a week view.

Huawei included all the standard Google apps, Polaris Office for Office docs, Zinio, various games, and tools. A FM radio is included.

There are some handy settings, quick controls, and more to help make the device efficient.

Initial thoughts on usage and experiences

So far I am enjoying the Huawei Ascend Mate 7 and look forward to seeing what the SIM-unlocked price will be when it hits the street as it may be reasonable given what they did with the Mate 2.

This version of the Ascend Mate 7 supports LTE and HSPA+ on T-Mobile and AT&T so I am enjoying it on T-Mobile's LTE network.

The device has been very responsive, allows me to make and receive good sounding calls, is extremely well designed, and has a useful level of customization.

I haven't yet spent much time with the camera and plan to spend more time comparing it to other smartphones. Is there anything specific you want to see me address?