If there are two phablet devices that have really stood out during the IFA 2014 show here in Berlin, for me it would be the Samsung Note 4 (of course) and the Huawei Ascend Mate 7. Both devices extend beyond the current 5 inch smartphone standard to offer larger screens and considerable battery capacities that should make them real contenders for those of us you enjoy a fuller mobile experience. Mobile Geeks place the two side by side to give you a better, clearer impression of the pros and cons involved:
Before you read on, make you sure to check out the video below, shot on the floor show of IFA 2014:
The Samsung Galaxy Note 4
The Galaxy Note series from Samsung has long been regarded as the pinnacle of phablet design with both the previous gen Note 3 and recently released Note 4 arriving with substantial 5.7 inch screens. On the Note 3 we saw a Full HD 1080p screen, but on the new Galaxy Note 4 we see Samsung using a QHD, 2560 x 1440 display for the first time. As we have now come to expect from Samsung, the Super AMOLED display is absolutely stunning, with devastating brightness levels, crisp deep colors and superb viewing angles. It would be difficult for any vendor to really compete when it comes to displays, with the exception of perhaps Sony and LG who also manufacture leading-edge AMOLED panels.
In terms of build, the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 follows the company’s penchant for removable plastic back covers. This time around we do get a solid aluminum frame, but the back cover feels as plastic as ever, if a little less rubbery than what we saw on the Galaxy S5. It feels good in the hand and is a quality build, but the plastic texture remains the elephant in the room for me personally.
The processor inside the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is real killer, with the latest system-on-chip from Qualcomm. Introducing the Snapdragon 805, a quad-core processor that is clocked at 2.7GHz and arrives with the new Adreno 440 graphics processor. This bleeding edge silicon is accompanied by a generous 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. There’s also the option to add an MicroSD card.
In terms of cameras, the Note 4 is furnished with a 16MP camera that we expect will be very, very effective at taking great snaps. The Galaxy S5 is one of the best cameras we have ever used on a smartphone, so expect an impressive showing with the Note 4. Other features include a heart-rate sensor integrated into the camera’s LED Flash array, plus a fingerprint reader that is integrated into the home button. The device has a 3,220mAh battery.
The Ascend Mate 7
The Mate 7 arrived just a day or two ago and immediately made an impression. Although it uses a larger 6 inch display, the device itself is actually only a few millimeters longer than the Note 4. Huawei have done an excellent job of maximizing the devices screen to body ratio, in fact claiming an 83% screen to body ratio compared to the Galaxy Note 4 at 80%. The vertical bezels on the Mate 7 are extremely thin indeed, but due to the chassis deign there is little in the way of fragility. The display itself is an IPS LCD panel manufactured by JDI (Japan Display Inc.) and it has a much more standard Full HD resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels, compared to the QHD display on the Note 4. In terms of brightness, this IPS panel struggles to compete with the Note 4 and its incredible Super AMOLED penal, but it is still a really good looking panel, with great viewing angles and impressive colors.
The build quality of the Huawei Ascend Mate 7 is actually pretty stunning, using a uni-body aluminum shell that is reminiscent of the HTC One Series. It feels great in the hand – very durable and very solid. This means it is a little heavier at almost 200 grams (compared to 178 grams on the Note 4), and the battery is non-removable as result, but these are compromises that you will forgive once you pick it up.
The hardware that drives the Ascend Mate 7 is very interesting, in that Huawei actually have their own in-house developed silicon that is branded Hisilicon. The Hisilicon Kirin 925 is an Octa-core processor that uses ARM’s big.LITTLE architecture and employs four low power Cortex A7 cores for less demanding tasks like calls and messaging etc, and four more powerful Cortex A15 cores to take care of the heavy lifting. We have yet to really push the Kirin 925 to see what it is capable of, but I would be very, very surprised if the Kirin could keep pace with the Snapdragon 805. Having all those cores should make for some decent multi-tasking performance however.
The Ascend Mate 7 has 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage (there is also a microSD slot) but the company will also be offering a Gold edition with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. This ‘blingier’ version will cost 10 Euros more. The Huawei Ascend Mate 7 has a rear 13MP camera that uses a 4th generation Sony Exmor lens, a BSI sensor and LED flash, which sounds good but I will be very surprised if it out-performs the Note 4, such is Samsung’s prowess in this area.
Interestingly, the Mate 7 also has a fingerprint reader on the back.The company claims it will work in any direction, even with wet fingers. Finally, we should also note that the Mate 7 has a mammoth 4,100mAh battery that Huawei claims will give you two-three days standard use. Impressive indeed.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 will be the company’s new flagship device (excepting the Note Edge of course) and will command a price of over 700 Euros. The standard, non-Gold Edition Huawei Ascend Mate 7 will retail for a considerably cheaper 500 Euros. The Note 4 will most likely beat the Mate 7 hands down in terms of raw performance and cameras, but the superb build quality of the Mate 7, coupled with its cheaper price point will make it a favorite with many phablet users.
I would probably lean towards the Huawei at this stage. We will be putting both devices through their paces in our full and detailed review process, so we will have a much more complete picture at that stage. Let me know in the comments below if you have a preference either way.