- HD screen
- 4G support
- Excellent battery life
- Decent, fast camera
- Chunky design
- UI irritants
We review Huawei’s great-value Ascend G7, a 5.5-inch 4G blower that boasts incredible battery life and impressive value for money.
Last year’s Huawei Ascend G6 4G was one of our favourite affordable 4G handsets, packing LTE support and all-round excellent design for just a shade under a hundred quid. That’s why we positively creamed our pants when Huawei launched the Ascend G7, an updated model with a bigger screen and even more features, although the price has also bumped up to around £150 here in the UK.
So, is that extra cash worth it?
The all-new Ascend G7 is a serious handful. While the Ascend G6 4G was a pleasingly dinky 4.5-incher, making one-handed use simple and comfortable, the Ascend G7 boosts the screen to a whopping 5.5-incher. Add in some thick bezels above and below the display and this thing was jutting out of my pocket constantly (and on two terrifying occasions, in a car and on the sofa, slipping right out).
LG’s G3 just about got away with its 5.5-inch screen thanks to its tight, slender and perfectly curved body. However, the Ascend G7 does feel quite boxy despite a reasonably slender 7.6mm design. We’d recommend using two hands at all times.
Despite its bulk, the Ascend G7 is a nicely designed handset. The back and edges are a smooth silver plastic, giving way to a white glossy front that is pleasingly smudge-resistant. It’s a heavy bugger at 165g (that’s 50g heavier than the Ascend G6 4G and also heavier than similarly sized phones such as the LG G3), but it’s not obscenely heavy and it helps the phone feel more rugged and premium.
The back plate is welded on so you can’t prise it open to access the battery. The SIM card and your memory card therefore slot into tiny drawers on the right edge, accessed with a dinky pin.
Screen and media
One of the best parts of the Ascend G6 4G was its bright and bold screen, and the Ascend G7 doesn’t disappoint either.
A 5.5-inch IPS screen packs 720p visuals, keeping your high-def movies crisp (although you obviously shouldn’t expect the same beautiful sharpness of more expensive handsets like the G3). The screen exudes pleasingly subdued colours, but if you’re not a fan of the colour warmth you can manually tweak it in the settings, to make things more vibrant.
My only real complaint is that it’s not the brightest panel around and I did struggle a little in extreme brightness to see what was going on. But for the most part, it’s a great budget display.
The Ascend G7 comes packing 16GB of storage, but only 11GB of that is actually usable for media and apps. Thankfully you can slot in a microSD memory card if you want to carry around a load of movies or music.
Features and user experience
Huawei’s Emotion UI sits on top of Android 4.4 KitKat, changing up the look and feel of Google’s OS – although it’s a bit of a mixed bag. We like how you can quickly and easily change up the desktop themes and personalise the handset, while there are tons of handy shortcuts in the (editable) notifications menu. However, we still can’t believe that Huawei has removed the apps tray, so you need to clutter your desktops with all of your installed apps like an iPhone.
We also noticed the odd annoying quirk, such as not being able to unlock your phone until you dismiss all of your notifications from the lock screen. They’re minor irritants at best, but we still hope Huawei fixes them in an update soon.
The Ascend G7 is a solid all-round handset but when it comes to bonus features, it’s quite no-frills. You won’t find any fingerprint scanners, heart rate monitors, infrared blasters and so on, but you do get NFC and the phone also packs dual antennas (at the top and bottom of the handset), which are switched between automatically to keep reception and data connectivity as strong and consistent as possible. I didn’t notice any drop-offs even when travelling about on trains or in cars, so something’s definitely working.
And of course you get full 4G support, so you can stream media to your heart’s content (whenever you’re in a 4G hotspot, natch).
Performance and battery life
The Ascend G7’s quad-core Snapdragon processor deals easily with everyday tasks and can also handle the latest games and apps without too much panic. I saw the occasional little judder in some more demanding titles, but nothing intrusive.
However, one of the most thrilling features of the Ascend G7 is its ridiculous battery life. At 12pm on Thursday, the phone was fully charged. We used it as our full-time handset, checking emails, texting, taking snaps, piddling around with apps and all the usual gubbins. Most phones would be dead by Friday evening, but the Ascend G7’s 3000mAh battery kept on going strong until Sunday morning before finally giving up the ghost.
That was a typical performance too, making the Ascend G7 one of the best phones around for battery life. Even caning it with non-stop video streaming was a success, with the phone lasting just over seven hours before death. That’s a solid two hours more than the average result.
The 13-megapixel rear camera is another highlight of the Ascend G7. The camera app loads almost instantly and you can even quick-launch when the phone is hibernating, by double-pressing the volume down button. From locked to ready-to-shoot camera usually takes just under two seconds, which is a good little effort.
You can take photos just as swiftly thanks to the nippy shutter, which quickly locks onto your subject (and can even track them, if you turn on the option in the settings). It’s easy to add filters if that’s your bag, while Huawei has limited the extra modes to a handful: HDR, Best Photo, Panorama and so on. You can also add your own instant watermark if you’re publishing online.
If you’re stuck in a gloomy interior or it’s generally dark, you’ll want to turn on the flash or your photos will end up grainy and a little ugly. However, my daytime shots came out crisp and bright, even when shooting into the sun, and the HDR mode helped with any tricking outdoor lighting conditions. Colours are naturally reproduced and wide scenes are well focussed. I didn’t struggle with up-close macro shots either.
You can shoot Full HD video, and you also get a sharp 5-megapixel front-facing camera for selfies and video chats.
Huawei’s Ascend G7 is a bit of a handful, but it’s also a truly brilliant mid-range mobile. A powerful combination of 4G support, sharp HD screen and incredible battery life makes it one of the best portable entertainment machines you can buy, without shelling out four to five hundred pounds.