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EE Harrier Mini review

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Summary

Our Score:

8

Pros

  • Great value for money
  • Very lightweight

Cons

  • Cheap design
  • Struggles with intensive gaming

What is the EE Harrier Mini?

The EE Harrier Mini is the Android phone follow-up to the excellent EE Kestrel and smaller sibling to the 5.2-inch EE Harrier. Just like last year's handset, the 4.7-inch Mini offers an almost vanilla Android experience and fast connectivity all for an £100 SIM-free price.

It's a phone designed to give a high-end feel without costing hundreds of pounds, but it also has some decent specs as well. There’s a quad-core processor powering the Harrier Mini, similar to the one in the Moto E (2015) and the Windows Phone-running Lumia 640. Both of those phones reviewed well. It also has an 8-megapixel camera and a 720p HD display, so it holds up pretty well against the competition, at least on paper.

Some may be put off because it’s a carrier-branded phone, but the Harrier Mini is manufactured by consumer electronics outfit BenQ, a company that's been making phones for over a decade. If you’re looking for a first smartphone or need a capable device on a budget, the Harrier Mini is positioned among some of the best in the sub-£100 category. But does it hold up well to scrutiny? Let’s take a look.

SEE ALSO: Best Cheap Phones Round Up

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EE Harrier (left) next to the EE Harrier Mini (right)

EE Harrier Mini – Design & Features

If you've already read our Harrier review, then much of the same applies here. The Mini is by no means as ugly as some of the phones at this price point. Its design is basic and predominantly plastic with a removable back that features a very prominent, deep grey brushed-metal effect finish. The back has a slight curve offering a more ergonomic grip and generally feels like a nice phone to hold and use. At 9.5mm thick it's not super slim like the Galaxy S6 or iPhone 6, but it does mean it's not chunky as a first gen Moto G (11mm). Weighing in at 124g, it is light and should give you no problems using one-handed for long periods.

Behind the removable back, there's good news and bad news. The good is that alongside the micro SIM card slot, there's also a micro SD card slot giving you the option to expand beyond the 8GB internal memory. The bad is that for those who care about it. you can't take out the battery. If you run out of battery, you can always invest in one of those EE Power Bars of course.

Up front, things begin to feel more like the cheap Android phones we're more used to seeing. There's a slim black bezel down the sides of the screen with some pretty chunky ones above and below eating up potential screen estate. It makes less sense that there's so much bezel when you realise that the extra space is not even reserved or a set of physical or capacitive touch buttons. Up top at least you do get room for one of the phone's two speakers. The other sits around the back and is surprsingly loud with good clarity even cranked up to the max. Something we're not great fans of either is the power button on the left and volume rockers on the right-hand sides of the phone. While they're nicely positioned to reach, they don’t push in convincingly enough

But it’s obvious these little bones of contention are the result of economic manufacturing. It is a budget phone after all, so the trade-off between function and form isn’t a deal breaker. It’s a very light phone and is comfortable to use one-handed, which is the most important thing.

The Harrier Mini benefits from the EE WiFi Calling service that allows you to send and receive texts and calls even when you have no network signal, provided that you’re connected to a WiFi network. For some people who live in areas where signal is a big issue, this may be an advantage over many of the other options in the affordable phone category.

SEE ALSO: Mobile Phone Buyer's Guide

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EE Harrier Mini – Screen

While the big Harrier gets a Full HD screen, the Mini has to make do with a 4.7-inch 720p HD one instead. When you consider this is an £100 phone, that's still pretty impressive. The similarly priced Moto E 2 in comparison only has a 960 x 540 resolution screen.

What the screen lacks in exceptional brightness, it makes up for with impressive sharpness. Icons look well defined on the Harrier Mini’s display and text is easy to read at default sizes. The colours produced by the phone are somewhat muted and flat, lacking any real punch. But that said, pictures and video content still look decent enough and deliver better clarity than the majority of the phones at this price point.

The viewing angles aren't particularly great with the Harrier Mini, though – unless viewed straight on, the screen looks as if the brightness has been dropped to zero. But perhaps this is a feature benefit if you don’t appreciate nosy people reading your messages during the commute.

SEE ALSO: Best Android Phones Round Up

Carrier pricing updates & information supplied by WhistleOut

iFrank

June 12, 2015, 2:02 pm

Nice one! EE. Better late than never.

David Thomas

August 6, 2015, 12:54 pm

I'd strongly advise those reading this article to consider another mobile. Though you get a fair spec phone for a budget price it has some serious issues. We ordered these for our organisation and 40% of the phones had to be replaced as the other party cant hear you during a call.
Also they suffer terribly from the known Android 5.x memory leak bug until the fix is released they will slow to unusable levels without a daily restart. Avoid!

lucy bowers

June 23, 2016, 11:03 am

I would never buy this product again because of all the problems that it has had. I have only owned it 6 months, but within the first week it started the problems.

One of these being that it will take a very long time to send a text and when the text finally goes through it wont just go through once but multiple times, the record is currently 14 times, I went to the shop to try and get it sorted, however this was no help, I was told the phone would be reset and that would work, if not to get a new sim and then it will defiantly work, however that was not the case, even though the messages don't go through as many times now but still do multiple times.

Another problem is that it can no longer download apps or update existing ones, every time I try to do this it says there is no storage space, however I looked and there was only 1/10 of my storage taken so was loads of room. I deleted all of my photos and music to see if this made a difference but it never.

I am now saving for a new phone after such a little amount of time because of how unreliable this one is and I would never recommend this phone to anybody.

Gul Diken

September 2, 2016, 4:50 pm

I purchased this phone over 14 months ago. In that time figures couldn't indicate how many headaches it has given me. Its not only turned my hair grey, I feel as though I could be a professional cricket baller with the amounts of times I have thrown it with disgust. As regards to taking it to the EE shop and discussing the issue at hand they were as much use as an ashtray on a motorbike. When they finally agreed to send it away for a 2 weeks repair, they told me they could not download the contacts, apps etc on a replacement phone they were going to give while my phone will be in repair. I demanded to see this replacement 'phone' and upon taking my first glance at it, it looked like a gadget from star trek, they were going to give me an ancient flip phone with NO CHARGER. For all those unfortunate souls who got a hold of this harrier mini phone I wish you all the best. As for those thinking of buying it, DO NOT BUY IF YOU WANT TO REMAIN SANE.

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