Huawei has launched the Ascend G7, a new 5.5in mid-range smartphone with a metal chassis and decent specs. Here's our Huawei Ascend G7 hands-on review from IFA 2014 in Berlin. See also: Best smartphones 2014
Thanks to its brushed aluminium finish, Huawei has managed to make the Ascend G7 look like it carries a higher price tag than £250. The back and sides of the smartphone are metal, with a slightly curved shape to the back that feels comfortable in the hand. There are slim portions at the top and bottom of the back case that have a slightly different finish and are presumably plastic, which makes us prefer the iPhone 5S-like white and silver model over the black and grey model that makes those plasticky sections look cheaper.
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 still weighs 165g, though, which is not uncomfortable to hold but is at the heavier end of the smartphone spectrum.
Huawei Ascend G7 hands-on review: Hardware
The 5.5in IPS display found on the Huawei Ascend G7 is 720p at 1280 x 720, with 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 much cheaper, second-generation Motorola Moto G, which has a 293ppi display. It's also disappointing for such a large display, which would be ideal for watching movies and TV on the commute if it was just a bit sharper.
Inside the Ascend G7 is a Qualcomm Snapdragon Quad-core 1.2GHz processor, which is not particularly surprising for a mid-range smartphone but it is 64-bit ready for Android L when it arrives later this year. It has 2GB RAM to work with too, while many close rivals only offer 1GB.
During our hands-on time with the Ascend G7 we didn't notice any lag or lack of responsiveness, but we'll have to hold out judgement on the speed of the device until we've got it back to our labs for full testing.
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, WiFi (though not the faster 11ac standard), GPS and Bluetooth 4.0. There's no NFC or IR blaster, but that's not surprising for a mid-range device.
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, but we'll have to put that to the test when we spend some more time with the smartphone. There is a smart energy saving mode, though, that should mean an extra 24 hours of battery even if you've got just 10% carge remaining.
Huawei Ascend G7 hands-on review: Cameras
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 are going to love. We'd rather have seen a better display and less impressive cameras on the Ascend G7 if we'd been given the choice, but for individuals that are into smartphone photography those cameras will be a real boon.
They're paired with some features including HDR, auto focus, a quick capture feature, the ability to capture panoramas using the front-facing camera for some epic selfies (which is a bit like the feature Samsung introduced with the Note 4), and some facial-enhancement capabilities that Huawei calls beauty mode.
The rear-facing camera is capable of recording video at 1080p, too.
Huawei Ascend G7 hands-on review: Software
Finally, let's take a look at the software on the Huawei Ascend G7. It's running Android 4.4 KitKat with Huawei's own Emotion 3.0 user interface, which has an overall look and feel that's reminiscent of Apple's iOS 7.
We quite like the ability to change the theme of the software, which will not only change the background and colour scheme but also the stock app icons to suit your personal tastes.
Buying Advice The Huawei Ascend G7 is a reasonably good-looking mid-range smartphone with some stand-out features including the camera and the slim design, but also some big disappointments such as that 720p display. It's definitely worth investigating, but it has some solid rivals including the OnePlus One, the Nexus 5 and the HTC Desire 610.