Huawei Mate 7 takes aim at rivals - review

Cape Town - Huawei makes a big point with the Mate 7 phablet - and the Chinese manufacturer is on a mission to drive its message home in SA.

From the way the device is packaged to the colour palette of its home and app screens, Huawei is taking aim at premium competitors as it seeks to stand out from the so-so crowd.

The Ascend Mate 7 is an elegant device despite its 15.2cm display, but despite that size, it doesn't feel heavy or unwieldy in the hand - although it must be said that this reviewer has large mitts.

There are no buttons on the face of the device, creating a clean elegant look that is repeated in the design of home screens that boosts uniform look and feel for native applications.

While Huawei is known for producing budget devices with lower spec hardware, the company has departed from that philosophy with the Mate 7.

Neat trick

It is powered by an octa-core processor mated to 2GB of RAM which is more than capable of running any of the latest performance apps with no discernible lag.

As expected, the Huawei phablet is powered by Android, but in keeping with the latest trends, the operating system has been designed to be cleaner - light on bloatware and all the apps live on the home screens. There are also neat folders that house system tools for easy access.

However, you can still organise your applications into folders and widgets can be organised and customised the way that makes the most sense to you.

A neat trick is that system management is native on the Mate 7, eliminating the need for third party applications to free up RAM, check network data usage and battery power.

A rear mounted fingerprint reader is ergonomically clever. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)

The Mate 7 is unique in Huawei's range because of its fingerprint reader mounted on the back of the device. This is a clever design because you finger naturally falls on the reader when you pick up the device.

It lowers the barrier to using the biometric reader which works better than high priced Samsungs and iPhones. The reader works no matter which angle you place your finger and is so quick, you often don't even realise the device has been unlocked.

The Ascend Mate 7 has a 13 megapixel camera and 5 megapixel selfie shooter but that doesn't tell the whole story.

Refined smartphone

As you would expect, bright environments deliver clear and sharp pictures, though not quite at the level of the industry leading Samsung Galaxy Note 4.

Dimly lit images are somewhat more challenging for the Mate 7, but with patience (and built in filters) you can create pictures that have acceptable upload-to-Facebook quality.

The selfie camera defaults to a Beauty setting that looks a bit misty in low light, reminiscent of the picture on those TV soaps from the 80s.

For people absolutely focused on a South Korean and Californian brand, the Huawei may not be an ideal device.

But the Huawei can be had in single or dual SIM, though you have to press sales staff to show you the 185g phablet which is hidden away in retail stores.

The Ascend Mate 7 though more than delivers a refined smartphone experience at a lower price than premium devices from high priced brands.

The device is available from Cell C on contract for R439 per month with 1GB of data or from the Orange store for R5 690.

-  Follow Duncan on Twitter

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