Huawei Ascend G7 review

Huawei launched the Ascend G7 back at IFA in September 2014, but it's only just arrived in the UK (it was originally supposed to go on sale in November). It's a 5.5in mid-range smartphone with a metal chassis and - on paper - decent specifications for a sub-£200 phone. Here's our Huawei Ascend G7 review See also: Best smartphones 2014

Huawei Ascend G7 review

Huawei Ascend G7 review: Price and availability

You can buy an Ascend G7 right now, but it's not yet widely available which means prices could drop quickly from the circa-£200 they are now to as low as £150.

The price makes the Ascend G7 cheaper than the OnePlus One and around £50 cheaper than the Google Nexus 5. It's roughly £50 more expensive than the 2nd Gen Moto G, and the same price as the new Acer Liquid Jade Z and HTC Desire 620.

Huawei Ascend G7 review: Design

Thanks to its aluminium chassis and chamfered edges - those so beloved of Jony Ive - the Ascend G7 looks like a more expensive smartphone than it is.

The back and sides are metal, with a slightly curved shape to the back that feels comfortable in the hand. There are iPhone 5-like plastic inserts at the top and bottom and the Apple compliments continue with Huawei's colour naming: the G7 comes in Horizon Gold, Moonlight Silver and - get this - Space Grey.

Huawei Ascend G7 review

We prefer the white and silver model over the black and grey model whose plastic sections make it look like a cheaper phone. However, the front-mounted sensor and camera are almost invisible on the grey model and their asymmetrical locations on the white model are slightly annoying.

Huawei has also kept the bezels around the 5.5in display nice and thin, as well as the actual thickness of the phone itself, at just 7.6mm – the same as the iPhone 5S. It weighs 165g, though, which is heavier than you'd expect, but gives it a reassuring heft.

You even get a thin plastic shell-style case in the box.

Huawei Ascend G7 review

Huawei Ascend G7 review: Display

The 5.5in IPS display found on the Huawei Ascend G7 has a resolution of 1280 x 720, giving it a pixel density of 267ppi. That's a bit disappointing when compared with some of its rivals such as the Nexus 5's 445ppi and even the cheaper, second-generation Motorola Moto G, which has a 293ppi display. And although totally out of the G7's league, the LG G3 and iPhone 6 Plus also have much higher resolution 5.5in displays.

However, it's a bright, decent quality IPS screen, and we'd rather compromise on the resolution than the actual quality of the screen, so it's an acceptable trade-off here. The large display is ideal for TV and YouTube videos, though.

Huawei Ascend G7 review

Huawei Ascend G7 review: Performance

Inside the Ascend G7 is a quad-core 1.2GHz processor, which is not particularly powerful for a mid-range smartphone but it's 64-bit ready for Android Lollipop - if Huawei chooses to offer the update. Handily there's 2GB RAM to work with: many close rivals only offer 1GB, and this isn't really enough for 64-bit Lollipop.

The bad news is that KitKat doesn't run all that smoothly on the G7. We saw plenty of lag and stutter when navigating around Android, using the task switcher, camera and other apps.

We thought it was down to Huawei's own launcher, but it still wasn't perfect after installing the Google Now launcher.

In our benchmarks we saw some relatively unimpressive scores. Geekbench 3, for example, returned results of 482 (single-core) and 1448 (multi-core). Those are almost identical to the HTC Desire 820: not surprising given both phones have the same Snapdragon 410 CPU.

In SunSpider, the browser tests finished in 1483ms which is a middling result.

Forget playing the most demanding games at their highest quality settings: the Ascend G7 could muster only 1.8fps in Manhattan and 4fps in the T-Rex tests within GFXbench.

Huawei Ascend G7 review: Storage and connectivity

There's 16GB of internal storage with a microSD slot, but you'll only be able to add an additional 32GB which might not be quite enough for some people.

When it comes to connectivity, you'll find 4G (something the new Moto G lacks), 802.11n Wi-Fi, GPS and Bluetooth 4.0. There's also NFC and a built-in FM radio.

Huawei says that the Ascend G7's 3000mAh battery will last up to “1.2 days of power on a single charge” with heavy use. There's an ultra power saving mode which should mean an extra 24 hours of battery even if you've got just 10 percent of charge remaining.

Huawei Ascend G7 review: Cameras

Huawei Ascend G7 hands-on review

On to cameras now, and Huawei has given the Ascend G7 some rather impressive snappers for the price. It has a 13Mp rear camera with an aperture of f/2.0 and an LED flash, and on the front is a 5Mp camera that selfie fans will no doubt appreciate.

They're paired with some software features including HDR, quick capture, the ability to capture panoramas using the front-facing camera for some 'groufies', and some facial-enhancement capabilities that Huawei calls beauty mode. There's also a nifty 'all-focus' shooting mode which lets you take a photo and then choose what you want in focus later. It actually works, too.

Here's the same photo, but with focus first set to the mug in the background, then the quad-copter in the foreground:

Huawei Ascend G7 review

Huawei Ascend G7 review

Here's our usual shot of St Pancras, resized for your screen (photos are 4MB each at native resolution)

 Huawei Ascend G7 review

Here's a 100 percent crop of the original image so you can see the excellent level of detail the 13Mp camera captures:

Huawei Ascend G7 review

The rear-facing camera is capable of recording video at 1080p. It isn't stabilised, which is a shame, but detail and sharpness levels are good for the price.

Huawei Ascend G7 review: Software

As we've seen already with previous Huawei phones, the G7 comes with Emotion UI over the top of Android KitKat (there's no word of a Lollipop update).

EMUI, as it's called, makes it look like the G7 is running Lollipop by changing the three icons at the bottom of the screen. It's very customisable with a nice selection of themes, but all the icons look a bit dated and twee.

Because there's no app tray, all apps are put on home screens like iOS - there's clearly been quite some effort in making the G7 as iPhone-like as possible. Even the camera app looks similar: you swipe between the three main shooting modes.

Huawei Ascend G7 review

There's a lot of what I'd call 'crapware' pre-installed such as the Bitcasa and Highlights app, while others may or may not appeal, such as the mirror and magnifier apps which use the front- and rear-facing cameras respectively. You get Kingsoft Office and a file manager app which has a built-in 'safe' that lets you move photos from the camera roll so they're private and password protected.

Huawei also includes a phone optimiser that clears out junk files (but not the crapware), closes apps to save power and free up memory.

The downside of EMUI, it would appear, is a performance hit as even after using the optimiser app the interface was still a bit laggy.

Huawei Ascend G7: Specs

  • 154x77x7.6mm 165g 5.5in HD720 display (1280x720 pixels, 245ppi) Qualcomm Snapdragon 410, 1.2GHz, quad-core, 64-bit 16GB storage + MicroSD for up to 128GB 2GB RAM 4G LTE 13MP rear camera 5MP front camera 1080p video recording Bluetooth 4.0 Wi-Fi (802.11n) 3000mAh removeable battery
  • 154x77x7.6mm 165g 5.5in HD720 display (1280x720 pixels, 245ppi) Qualcomm Snapdragon 410, 1.2GHz, quad-core, 64-bit 16GB storage + MicroSD for up to 128GB 2GB RAM 4G LTE 13MP rear camera 5MP front camera 1080p video recording Bluetooth 4.0 Wi-Fi (802.11n) 3000mAh removeable battery

OUR VERDICT

If you're after a large-screen 4G phone and you know you want Android, the Ascend G7 fits the bill. It has a decent screen, but not the highest resolution. The cameras take decent photos and reasonable video, too. Build quality is also good. The main problem is performance. Not only does the interface stutter and lag, but our benchmarks show that it just isn't that fast. However, it's hard to find a better deal - the OnePlus One is the closest competition but it's at least £30 more.

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