Huawei Ascend Mate 7 hands on

Don’t start looking for any connection between the new Huawei Ascend Mate 7’s name and previous Huawei hardware, because there really isn’t one. Yes we’ve seen Mate series phones before, but the last one was the Mate 2. Think the number 7 relates to the screen size? Think again — it measures 6 inches. Go figure.

But wait, what’s that? You read right: The Ascend Mate 7 has an enormous 6-inch display.

It makes the phone a bit of a monster, but it’s nowhere near the size it could have been if Huawei hadn’t taken the time to slim down the bezels. Instead, it’s quite compact — relatively compact, at least — and is about the same size as the 5.5-inch HTC Desire 820, and smaller than the 6.1-inch Ascend Mate 2. It’s lighter too, at 185 grams, and the device is constructed almost entirely from metal. Yep, it’s a premium Huawei phone.

Power-sipping 6-inch display

There’s a look reminiscent of the similarly premium HTC One M8 about the Mate 7, right down to a subtly curved rear panel, which makes it comfortable to hold, despite being a very large smartphone. Huawei was also inspired by HTC One Max’s rear-mounted fingerprint sensor, and has fitted one right below the camera lens too. Sadly, it wasn’t ready for testing on the device we tried out, but we’re promised it’ll be versatile enough to not only unlock the phone but also recognize different prints, so multiple accounts can be set up. Some of these accounts can be restricted to running certain apps, so it’ll be safe to make one for your kids.

Related: Check out Huawei’s flagship phone, the Ascend P7

The 6-inch screen has a 1080p resolution, and it’s a Japan Display IPS-NEO panel, which is supposed to consume less power, but retain a high contrast level for a striking visual experience. It looked good on the show floor, but without the ability to test it against many other phones in more varied environments, it’s impossible to say if the higher contrast was really noticeable. To make the massive screen a little easier to use with one hand, Huawei has added an easy access single-handed mode, where the keyboard and even the Android buttons below the screen shift over to one side.

This feature is part of Android 4.4 KitKat with Huawei’s new EMUI 3.0 interface installed on the Mate 7. Huawei has removed the app drawer, so all installed apps show up on a home screen, just like an iPhone. It’s all distinctly unusual looking, and there are six different themes from which to choose, each one customizing the wallpaper, fonts, colors, and even the standard icon images. They completely change the operating system’s style, but it’ll be down to you whether the alterations are for the better. For us, it was slightly frustrating not to instantly recognize often standardized icon images, but we can appreciate that it would become obvious enough fairly soon.

Octa-core chip, and up to 3GB of RAM

A quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor powered the Mate 2, but inside the Mate 7 is a Kirin 925, one of Huawei’s own octa-core chips with 4G LTE connectivity. The OS was fast, but then, so was the Ascend Mate 2 when we tried it out at first; when we fully reviewed it, the performance wasn’t quite up to standard. Hopefully the octa-core Mate 7 won’t suffer from the same problems. Huawei will produce two versions of the Mate 7, a black or white 16GB phone with 2GB of RAM, and a gold colored 32GB model with 3GB of RAM. The former will cost 500 euros ($650), and the latter 600 euros ($780).

You may have seen pictures of the Ascend Mate 7 with a pair of headphones attached. These are noise-canceling earbuds produced by Huawei, and they’re are designed to work with it although they don’t come packaged with the phone. The noise-canceling function requires a battery to work, which is fitted into a small clip on the headphone’s cord. By plugging them into the Ascend Mate 7, it automatically recharges, a feature not available on any other device. Similarly, the gigantic 4,100mAh battery inside the Mate 7 will also lend power to other hardware and should keep the phone operating for more than two days.

Related: Here’s our review of the Ascend Mate 2

The Ascend Mate 7 is another in a string of attractive and well-made Huawei smartphones, with both the Ascend Mate 2 and the Ascend P7 impressing in these areas. However, the firm’s weak point has always been software optimization and overall performance, which are difficult to assess without spending more time with the device. We like what we see so far, but are wary of being overly positive at this early stage.

We asked whether the Mate 7 would be coming to the U.S. through the same online channels as the Mate 2, but there are no current plans to sell it this way. Here’s hoping.

Product Review

Mediocre battery and a big notch slight Google's otherwise perfect Pixel phone

Google’s Pixel 3 XL has two big flaws: The gigantic notch on the front, and mediocre battery life. That being said, this is the best Android experience you can find in a smartphone today.

Google's Wear OS update 'H' promises battery life improvements

Google has rebranded its Android Wear operating system to Wear OS. Removing the Android name may help people better understand Google-powered smartwatches, which also play nice with iOS devices. 

T-Mobile's new Revvl 2, Revvl 2 Plus are now available for purchase

Last year, T-Mobile launched its own line of branded smartphones. As a follow-up to their predecessors, the carrier has unveiled the Revvl 2 and Revvl 2 Plus -- complete with a sleeker design. Here's everything you need to know.

Google, Samsung, OnePlus, and Huawei face off in an Android battle royale

The good news is that there are some great options in the Android smartphone market right now. The bad news is that too much choice makes it tough to decide. We compare the Pixel 3 XL, the Galaxy Note 9, the OnePlus 6T, and the Mate 20 Pro.

Uber rolls out rewards program that lets its most loyal riders lock in prices

Uber launched a new loyalty program today called Uber Rewards. It offers frequent riders credits to Uber Eats, car upgrades, and the ability to lock in prices on their most traveled routes.

15 tips for keeping your vault-dwellers alive in ‘Fallout Shelter’

The wasteland can be an unfriendly place, if you don't know what you're doing. Here are 15 tips that will help your vault thrive in Fallout Shelter, including information on questing.

Motorola Moto G7: Here’s everything we know

The Moto G6 range is still relatively new to the market, but rumors have already started about the Moto G7, which is expected some time in 2019. Apparently, a G7 Power version will be joining the G7, G7 Play, and G7 Plus.

How to take great photos with the Pixel 3, the best camera phone around

You’ve scored yourself a new Google Pixel 3 or Pixel 3 XL, and you want to take advantage of that incredible camera. We’ve got everything you need to know right here about how to snap the best photos with your Pixel 3.
Smart Home

Huawei could soon take on Google and Amazon with a new digital assistant

According to a report from CNBC, Huawei is working on a new digital assistant that could try to take on the likes of Google and Amazon's Alexa. Huawei already has a digital assistant in China, but the new one will be aimed at markets…

Leak shows a third, budget Google Pixel 3 with a Snapdragon 670, headphone jack

The Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are considered to be two of the best Android smartphones, but it looks like Google could be prepping a third. A budget Pixel 3 device that boasts some of the best features of the other two has been leaked.

Use multiple phone numbers on one device with Verizon’s ‘My Numbers’ app

For those who have separate phone numbers and devices for your work and personal lives, Verizon wants to help you get more organized. With its new "My Numbers" app, you can use up to four additional phone numbers on a single smartphone.
Smart Home

All the best Amazon Black Friday deals for 2018

Amazon may be an online-only retailer, but that doesn’t mean its Black Friday sales are anything to sniff at. In fact, due to its online status, Amazon has huge flexibility with the range of products and deals it can offer. Here's our…

Need a quick battery boost? Try one of our favorite portable chargers

Battery life still tops the polls when it comes to smartphone concerns. If it’s bugging you, then maybe it’s time to snag yourself a portable charger. Here are our picks of the best portable chargers.

Instagram tool accidentally exposes user passwords. Were you affected?

Instagram's Download Your Data tool accidentally exposed the passwords of a small number of users. Here is the explanation on what happened, and how to find out which Instagram accounts were compromised.