EE Har­rier

Tech Advisor - - REVIEWS -

The fact the £199 Har­rier is avail­able on EE’s 4G net­work is ex­cit­ing not only be­cause it’s fast, but be­cause later this year the phone will also ben­e­fit from EE’s Wi-Fi Call­ing ser­vice. This elim­i­nates mo­bile sig­nal prob­lems by al­low­ing you to route calls and texts over Wi-Fi, with­out you even re­al­is­ing it’s hap­pen­ing.

At this price, you can’t ex­pect a pre­mium build. On the plus side, the bezels are ex­tremely thin, the phone is rea­son­ably slim for a bud­get model and also light­weight, and the 5.2in full-HD (1920x1080, 424ppi) screen is fan­tas­tic un­der £200.

With an IPS dis­play, the EE Har­rier of­fers re­al­is­tic screen colours, de­cent view­ing an­gles and it’s use­fully bright. At 5.2in – large but not too large – it’s also a great fit for watch­ing movies and view­ing photos, which isn’t of­ten some­thing we can say about phones at this price point. (Gam­ing, not so much, but ca­sual games will play fine on the Har­rier.)

EE has made an ef­fort to spruce things up, with a brushed-met­al­ef­fect rear (it’s still plas­tic) and a gold cam­era sur­round; as an own-brand phone you’ll also find a sil­ver EE logo on the back cover. The slightly curved rear and rounded corners make the Har­rier fit nat­u­rally in the hand, too.

But a few things give away this phone’s mid-range price. First and fore­most, it’s en­tirely plas­tic, and that brushed-me­tal-ef­fect rear does lit­tle to con­ceal the fact. The re­mov­able cover adds to this cheap feel, with the Har­rier creak­ing a lit­tle in use. Given that the bat­tery is not re­mov­able, we’d have pre­ferred to have seen a side­load­ing tray for the Mi­cro-SIM and mi­croSD card, and a fixed rear.

The but­ton place­ment is bizarre. Un­usu­ally, EE Har­rier is far more com­fort­able to use in the left hand than it is in the right. Held in your left hand, the thumb falls nat­u­rally over the power but­ton and fin­gers over the vol­ume rocker; held in the right hand, the dis­tance be­tween the two is sim­ply too great, and all the steps EE has taken to make the phone com­fort­able to use in one hand quickly be­come for­got­ten as you strug­gle to adopt the awk­ward hand con­tor­tions nec­es­sary to op­er­ate the Har­rier. Sadly, for EE, this re­viewer is right-handed, but left­ies will love it.

Hard­ware and per­for­mance

On the in­side, the Har­rier is equipped with a 1.5GHz Qual­comm Snap­dragon 615 octa-core pro­ces­sor, 2GB of RAM and 16GB stor­age, which can be ex­panded via a mi­croSD slot – and you’ll want to do so. Hav­ing in­stalled our bench­marks less than half the ca­pac­ity was avail­able (and they re­ally aren’t that big). A 2500mAh non-re­mov­able bat­tery keeps it all go­ing.

That sounds like a rea­son­able spec­i­fi­ca­tion for a mid-range phone, but dur­ing test­ing we found that the Har­rier would take a sec­ond or two to think be­fore do­ing what­ever you had asked of it, whether that was launch­ing an app or open­ing the Set­tings menu. Re­mem­ber, though, that this is a £200 phone. We’re used to re­view­ing su­per-fast hand­sets such as the Sam­sung Gal­axy S6, which cost three times the price, and what seems like an in­ter­minable wait to us an av­er­age user wouldn’t bat­ter an eye­lid at. For that rea­son, we also mea­sure per­for­mance us­ing sev­eral bench­marks.

In our bench­mark­ing of the Har­rier, we found per­for­mance sim­i­lar to that of Chi­nese phones such as the ZTE Blade S6 and S6 Plus, Doogee F1 Turbo Mini and Blu­boo X6. Some of these de­vices are sig­nif­i­cantly cheaper than the Har­rier, but while you might save money buy­ing phones from China (the EE Har­rier is also made in China, but sold in the UK through EE), you could also get hit with ad­di­tional cus­toms charges, and if you need to re­turn a faulty de­vice you could have trou­ble. By buy­ing di­rect from EE, you should be able to get any prob­lems sorted rel­a­tively quickly and easily.

In Geek­bench 3, which mea­sures pro­ces­sor per­for­mance, the EE Har­rier recorded 640 points in the sin­gle-core test, and 2042 in the multi-core one. That makes it a lit­tle slower than the ZTE Blade S6 (2420) and S6 Plus (2095), but faster than the Doogee F1 Turbo Mini (1947) and Blu­boo X6 (1940). Com­par­ing it to some other phones with which you may be more fa­mil­iar, it’s slower than an LG G2 (2271), but faster than the HTC De­sire 816 (1503) and new Moto E 4G (1463). Im­por­tantly, it’s much faster than EE’s pre­vi­ous own-brand 4G phone, the Kestrel, which recorded 1152 points (at half the price, mind).

Next up is SunSpi­der, which mea­sures JavaScript per­for­mance (and in which a lower score is bet­ter). We run this bench­mark in Chrome to en­sure a fair test across phones, and saw 1275ms for the Har­rier. That places it very much in Mi­crosoft Lu­mia or Win­dows Phone ter­ri­tory, with the 640 scor­ing 1201ms, the 735 1217ms, the 435

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