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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  • Andrei Frumusanu - Monday, December 8, 2014 - link

    Here at AnandTech we post objective and reproducible benchmarks, this includes the battery test.

    Of course the phone will last 3-4 days if you use it lightly, but this all depends on your personal usage, your environment, the brightness of the screen and a plethora of other variables.
    Reply
  • Bondurant - Friday, December 5, 2014 - link

    Interesting to note also that phonearena's battery test results puts Mate 7 to be better than Note 4

    HUAWEI ASCEND MATE7 9h 3 min (Excellent)

    SAMSUNG GALAXY NOTE 4 8h 43 min (Excellent)
    SONY XPERIA Z3 9h 29 min (Excellent)
    HUAWEI ASCEND MATE 2 4G 11h 26 min (Excellent)
    Reply
  • Andrei Frumusanu - Monday, December 8, 2014 - link

    The Mate 7 also leads the Note 4 in our tests, but only by 12%. Considering the Note 4 powers a QHD screen and has 900mAh higher battery capacity, means that the Mate 7 is much less efficient. Reply
  • Ethos Evoss - Wednesday, December 24, 2014 - link

    because they like slagging chhinese mobiles and they ar isheeps so they dont want look bad bcos they own all iphones.. Reply
  • Bondurant - Wednesday, December 3, 2014 - link

    With regards to the UI, you mentioned the theme also customized the buit in apps, but if you notice carefully even by a basic change of the wallpaper, the whole UI and in built apps cleverly adapts to the color of the wallpaper in an elegant way. I love that aspect on the Emui3.0 and is way advanced then the amateurish theme implementation to come on Samsung.

    There are a plenty of other aspects you UI you didn't mention, like swiping down from anywhere in homescreen you get a indepth search option, or the double click vol down on screen off for 0.6 second quick shot photo or the pretty gallery interface and other minor aspects like the addition of a button on navigation bar to bring down notification panel, their one hand UI unique implementation of moving keypad to a side by motion gesture, long press of multitask navigation button to switch quick between last two used apps (they have also added split screen functionality in their latest update of Emui3.0 in China).
    Reply
  • Andrei Frumusanu - Wednesday, December 3, 2014 - link

    EmUI 3.0 has a huge amount of features like the one you mentioned, but I can't allocate several pages just to mention every small feature found in the phone. Things like the configurable navigation buttons are for example visible on my screenshots, and much more if you look at the UI gallery. Reply
  • Hrel - Wednesday, December 3, 2014 - link

    "5.9” Stopped reading.

    Stupid phablets, can I get a 5" phone again? PLEASE?!
    Reply
  • Ethos Evoss - Saturday, December 6, 2014 - link

    yeah get honor 6 Reply
  • Arbie - Thursday, December 4, 2014 - link

    Especially on a big-ticket item like this, I see a non-replaceable battery as a major negative. I don't mean non-swappable; I mean not user-replaceable at all.

    There are years of experience with such things by now, especially among the folks on this forum. What are people doing when their tablets or high-end phones won't charge anymore and they can't replace the battery themselves? Send it in to the manufacturer? Throw away a $500 item? Are there reliable US third-parties that do it quickly and cheaply?
    Reply
  • spixel - Saturday, December 6, 2014 - link

    So did you actually do a real gaming test on this phone, or just basemark? Because I don't play basemark and neither does anyone else.

    You should put more emphasis on the real life performance of the phone and not results from benchmarks.
    Reply

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