Conclusion

Having spent plenty of time with the Mate 7 I think I've build quite a good opinion of the device. Huawei's new flagship remains polarizing as it offers some quite positive aspects while carrying some big compromises. Huawei again impressed me with their software implementation of Android - they're delivering extremely innovative and useful features with EmUI 3.0 while still packaging it in an attractive presentation that doesn't compromise the user experience. I really wished more OEMs would follow suite in offering such substantial additions to the OS. The security and privacy features on the Mate 7 really left a mark on me as things such as blocking off select galleries or apps with help of a security code or with ease of the fingerprint sensor really made me wonder why we haven't seen this already years ago as it makes so much sense in a mobile device.

While I've had very little criticism towards their software stack, it's on the hardware where we find the Mate 7's weaknesses. And it's not the build of the phone that I'm talking about. The phone itself is very sturdy and with even though it's wider than the Note 4 for example, it makes up in terms of ease of use due to comfortable edges and a thinner design. Speaking of design - there's nothing to object to the Mate 7. It's a traditional phablet industrial design which tries to differentiate itself with help of small distinctive features such as the lips of the phone or back features like the fingerprint sensor and the camera housing.

Rather than any build quality issues, the Mate 7's weaknesses are primarily centered upon component choices. I understand Huawei wanting to try to achieve vertical integration for their products, but I think it's too early for the HiSilicon SoC to be a viable alternative to solutions from dominant suppliers such as Qualcomm. Even though the 4100mAh battery is large enough to push the device towards the top of the battery charts, it's more due to brute force of the battery capacity itself than due to efficiency of the platform.

Outside of the power and thermal management configuration issues, we see issues with the GPU, NAND and camera performance. I'm convinced the first and the last would have been an non-issue had Huawei made a pass on its in-house SoC, and the NAND performance could have been fixed with a slightly higher investment in a better quality eMMC solution.

I've mentioned that I still haven't done objective tests due to my network limitations, but Huawei's integrated modem was an aspect that many people were looking forward to being investigated. I don't think Huawei delivered anything groundbreaking here - battery performance under mobile connectivity suffers visibly in my subjective usage.

I find myself in a eerily similar situation while writing this as when I was doing the conclusion for Honor 6 review. The Mate 7 is an overall good device with some major drawbacks. It's the price which decides if this is a worthy purchase or not. At 499 and 599€ official price points (and now can be found for down to 450€ for the 16GB version) it's not worth the money. If you spend that much, you might as well get a Note 4 for an additional 150€ and enjoy a device that is better in almost every aspect. 

Here's hoping that Huawei continues to improve as they've again showed that they have the potential. They're on the right track with the ideas, but still stumbling on execution.

Camera and NAND Performance
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  • Laststop311 - Tuesday, December 2, 2014 - link

    Wish we could have some american phones with battery life like this. Reply
  • arsjum - Tuesday, December 2, 2014 - link

    Andrei,

    Any chance you'll be reviewing Galaxy Note 4 exynos version?
    Reply
  • Andrei Frumusanu - Tuesday, December 2, 2014 - link

    I've been working on the article for 2 weeks, it's coming. Reply
  • DanD85 - Tuesday, December 2, 2014 - link

    Thanks for reviewing this Huawei phone, anandtech. These days, Chinese manufacturers have much more interesting devices compare to the old players. Anandtech has been my favorite tech review site for more than 10 years and you guy offer the most in depth review on the whole interweb. Keep up the great work! Reply
  • Sicariase - Wednesday, December 3, 2014 - link

    Seriously Andrei, thanks for this review. I've been tossing up between the note 4 and this for a couple of weeks, and just decided to get the huawei (didn't think the differences were massive from other reviews) when this review came out. You've potentially saved me from a world of disappointment. Reply
  • Bondurant - Wednesday, December 3, 2014 - link

    As with other reviews on this site, the problem in this review is that there is no corresponding reference to real life usage. Just lots of numbers but for example why not a real life gaming comparison between Mate 7 and Note 4 ? NAND performs horrible in benchmarks but if in real life there is barely any noticeable change, than does the benchmark score even matter ? How about comparing the photos with other 13MP IMX214 phones ? Also frustrating i found is there is no explanation as to what exactly is the cause of poor battery performance of Mate 7, is it the fault of GPU or their modem or that it does not use a amoled screen like Note 4 ? Is it a fixable issue with rom updates ?

    Ofcourse ideally Huawei could have simply thrown in some Qualcomm and so on like Samsung does, but it prevents the development of Hauwei's own innovations and implementations. HiSilicon from its last year K3V2 to this years Kirin 925, there is huge improvement and they are already releasing their 64bit chip kirin 930 this December and a Kirin 950 in June.
    Reply
  • Andrei Frumusanu - Wednesday, December 3, 2014 - link

    Basically the cause of bad battery life is that power consumption of the Kirin SoC is too high - I've explained this in the review of the Honor 6 where I took an in-depth look into the chip. Reply
  • Bondurant - Wednesday, December 3, 2014 - link

    But a comparison between Honor 6 and Samsung S5 (both the Qualcomm and Exynos version) battery life don't show Kirin SOC having such suspected high battery drain problem, although yes you did mention ways battery life could have been improved but nothing to say of a huge problem.

    The case with Mate 7 on the other hand with 1000mAh more battery than Honor 6 does seem weird that the battery life improvements are only marginal.
    Reply
  • Andrei Frumusanu - Monday, December 8, 2014 - link

    I did point out that the Honor 6 is less efficient than competing devices. Reply
  • johnny_boy - Thursday, December 4, 2014 - link

    Are you serious? I own an Honor 6 and I'm getting two days of battery life under normal usage (YouTube, Gmail, Gcal, pdf reading, etc.) Under light usage I can get 2.5-3 days. This is with wifi on and auto half brightness, which I find comfortable. I'm even using Firefox for Android with adblock for browsing which is likely worse on the battery than Chrome. Some REALISTIC battery life numbers would be pretty useful--like how long were you getting under what you deem light/normal/heavy usage? Reply

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