The Ascend Mate7 comes with an eight-core HiSilicon Kirin 925 chipset, homemade by Huawei itself. The chipset’s base is a processor with a type of dual architecture, offering four Cortex-A15 cores running a 1.8 GHz clock for more advanced and complex processes and four Cortex-A7 cores running a 1.3 GHz clock for less demanding ones. The phone also includes a Mali-T628 GPU, but without any official specification regarding the number of cores.
As mentioned above, the phone has two models with different storage and memory capacities: the smaller one comes with 16 GB of memory and 2 GB of RAM, while the more powerful 32 GB version comes with 3 GB of RAM. Clearly, the former was produced to keep the Mate7’s starting price somewhat low. The good news is that its storage space can also be upgraded with a microSD card.
We tested the Mate7 with 2 GB of RAM and came away with very few complaints about its performance. In practice, this version of the phablet worked fluidly, performing comparably if not totally on the level on competing flagships. Apps load quickly enough and swiping through Huawei’s UI yields no major issues. The lacking graphics unit isn’t up to some tasks, however, often taking longer to load and render complex games than we’d like. If you can afford it, the beefier 3 GB RAM model (which costs €100 extra) might be worth the investment for heavier users.
The 4100-mAh battery, on the other hand, is one of the Mate7’s greatest assets. Huawei says it can get you three full days on a single charge, and while that’s a bit of a stretch if you’re a demanding user – and those who purchase a phone like this usually are – you can surely count on two full days of juice however you use the device. Even if better battery life is a typical selling point for phablets, this is still fantastic.
The Huawei Ascend Mate7 comes with Android 4.4.2 (KitKat) — a slight step down from the 4.4.4 build that’s still on most third-party Android phones — and is augmented with the Chinese giant’s Emotion UI 3.0, which we’ve previously seen on other high-end Huawei phones like the Ascend P7. Just as it did on that device, Emotion on the Mate7 largely emulates iOS both visually and functionally (though it does give you the welcome ability to change the UI’s theme), but that’s still not much of a bad thing.
Perhaps the most attractive peculiarity of Huawei Ascend Mate7 is its fingerprint reader, located right under the rear-facing camera’s lens. You only need the gentlest of touches to get it to work, with minimal pressure and movement of the fingertip across the scanner to activate the lock screen or any other task that’s been tied to it. The phablet can be “introduced” to up to five different fingers, making it so family members can also unlock the device.
Interestingly, Huawei has come up with additional applications for the fingerprint scanner. By touching it, for instance, you could make it so it automatically takes photos while the selfie camera is on. All in all, the Mate7’s fingerprint reader is more practical, and has been better realized, than Apple’s TouchID or similar solutions on Samsung or HTC phones.
Speaking of the front-facing camera, it offers a maximum resolution of 5 megapixels, with software that enables panoramic selfie shots. It produces sharper and livelier selfies than most other secondary shooters out there. The back camera offers 13 megapixels, and allows for photos with good detail and generally accurate colors, though darker hues tend to be more dominant than their counterparts.
The camera is one aspect of the Mate7 that isn’t great technically speaking, as it doesn’t offer 4K video recording or 1080p videos with 60 fps. Altogether the rear camera performance here is just okay for a device in this class, while the selfie camera is still among the better ones on the market.