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Huawei Ascend Mate 7 review: A huge metal phone with the battery life to match

Processor and battery performance

The Mate 7 has an octa-core processor, made up of two quad-core units. One, slightly less powerful, is used for basic tasks, while the phone switches to the more potent side of the silicon when it needs more power for stuff like gaming or image processing. The switchover is seamless -- you won't be alerted when it goes into the high-powered mode.

It's a very powerful processor. It scored 4,468 on the Geekbench benchmark test, putting it above the extremely capable Samsung Galaxy Alpha (4,350). On the Quadrant test, however, the Mate 7 only managed a score of 11,401 -- less than half the score the Samsung Galaxy S5 achieved (23,707). Benchmarks aren't always a reliable measure of performance though, and the vast difference between those tests shows that something else is at play here.

In general use, I found the phone's performance was decent. Gaming was handled well -- Dead Trigger 2, Asphalt 8 and N.O.V.A 3 all played smoothly -- while photo editing in Snapseed and Adobe Photoshop Express was a breeze. High-definition video playback and streaming was great and the interface is generally responsive, with apps and the camera quick to open.

That massive body has made room for a capacious 4,000mAh battery, which performed extremely well on my tests. From a full charge, it lasted 17 hours on our video looping test, making it one of the best performers we've seen. By comparison, the iPhone 6 lasted just over 10 hours on the same test, while the Galaxy S5 achieved 15 hours.

Your own times will vary considerably, of course. If you keep that bright screen on throughout most of the day, then you'll see the power ebb away fairly quickly. It holds its charge extremely well in standby -- I left it in standby for nearly a fortnight and found it still had power remaining -- so if you're careful about what you do, you could probably get a couple of days use out of it.

Camera

The Mate 7 has a 13-megapixel camera stuck to its back that's capable of taking some great shots.

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Huawei Ascend Mate 7 camera test (outdoor, scooter) Andrew Hoyle/CNET

My first shot of this scooter in Berlin looks great, with good colours, an even exposure and plenty of detail at full screen.

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Huawei Ascend Mate 7 camera test (outdoor, sweet chestnuts) Andrew Hoyle/CNET

The colours are lovely too on this shot of sweet chestnuts hanging from a tree. Again, there's loads of detail at full screen.

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Huawei Ascend Mate 7 camera test (outdoor, landscape) Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Colours are far less impressive on this landscape scene; in fact I'd go so far as to say it's very drab. On the upside, it has a very even exposure, which isn't easy when there's such a bright sky to compensate for.

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Huawei Ascend Mate 7 camera test (outdoor, flower) Andrew Hoyle/CNET

The focus on this close-up flower has led to a pin-sharp shot, with rich tones on the petals.

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Huawei Ascend Mate 7 camera test (outdoor, no HDR) Andrew Hoyle/CNET
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Huawei Ascend Mate 7 camera test (outdoor, with HDR) Andrew Hoyle/CNET

There's an HDR mode as well, which has helped bring up some of the shadows on this building, as well as tone down some of the brightness in the sky. It's dulled some of the colours however, particularly in the blue sky, so I'd want to give this shot a saturation boost in Snapseed before posting it online.

Conclusion

The Huawei Ascend Mate 7 has much to brag about. Its vast screen is sharp, bright and bold, making it brilliant for movies on the go, while its octa-core processor provides oodles of power. The real cherry on top, however, is the capacious battery, which will easily last a day, if not quite a bit longer.

Its size certainly won't appeal to everyone though, and Huawei's software is still mostly a confusing mess that needs to be removed. Even so, the Mate 7 has plenty going for it and if it ends up with a reasonable price tag attached too, it'll definitely be worth a look.

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