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EE Harrier review

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  • Recommended by TR

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Summary

Our Score:

9

Pros

  • Stylish design, great display
  • Exceptional performance
  • Impressive battery life
  • 4G/LTE support

Cons

  • Camera struggles in low light
  • Would prefer metal build

Key Features

  • 5.2-inch Full HD screen
  • quad-core chip
  • 4G/LTE
  • 2,500mAh battery
  • Android 5.0
  • 8MP camera
  • EE Wi-Fi Calling
  • Manufacturer: EE
  • Review Price: £199.99

What is the EE Harrier?

The EE Harrier is a formidable entry in EE’s second round of branded handsets, landing as a budget 5.2-inch Android smartphone.

Most know EE as the market leader for the UK’s 4G cellular networks, but don’t let that put you off the company’s mobile phone efforts. Manufactured by BenQ, the Harrier is a well-built and versatile handset. It’s aimed at those looking for an impressive device but aren’t willing or able to tread into flagship territory.

EE charges £199.99 on PAYG for the Harrier, although you can get its scaled-down spin-off, the Harrier Mini, at a cheaper £99. You can also pick up the Harrier on a 4G plan starting from £21.99.

For your money, you get a 5.2-inch smartphone with a 1080p display and Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 615 mobile chip clocked at 1.5GHz. The Harrier runs on Google’s latest Android 5.0 Lollipop OS, and there’s a 2,500mAh battery inside that we found seriously impressive.

We think the EE Harrier shows off impressive design, reliability, and solid performance, but is it worth the price tag? Read on to find out.

Related: Best Android Smartphones 2015

EE Harrier – Design

The first thing you notice about the EE Harrier is that it looks half-decent for a cheap smartphone. Too often, sub-£200 devices look like they’d be better suited as a Happy Meal gift, but EE makes very sensible design choices.

The handset is built almost entirely from smooth plastic, which is fairly typical for cheap devices, as it minimises production costs. The plastic chassis keeps the Harrier’s weight down too. The phone weighs an airy 145g, which is exactly the same as a Samsung Galaxy S5.

It’s not bulky either, with a thickness of 8.9mm. That puts it below the 11mm profile of Motorola’s rival budget smartphone, the 2nd gen Moto G. It’s also thinner than the equally value-focused Karbonn Sparkle V, which is 9.2mm thick. The device is big – we’re talking a 5.2-inch screen – but most users will be able to touch the top of the display with their thumb with ease.

EE Harrier 17

EE went for a faux brushed aluminium finish on the rear casing – think LG G3 or Asus ZenBook UX305 – which drastically improves the appearance of the Harrier. The sides of the bezel are slim, while the thicker top and bottom portions are perfectly sized for holding the device in landscape. The trim bezel makes the screen look large and impressive, too.

Opting for aluminium grilles for the front and back speakers was also a good design choice. On the rear side is a glossy, mirrored EE logo that thankfully looks more premium than tacky. The camera lens is encircled by a yellow-gold ring, which adds character to the device. That’s important in the low-end smartphone market, where smartphone design is often too prosaic.

Button and port placement is mostly standard on the Harrier. A Micro USB port is centered on the bottom of the device, while a headphone jack is positioned on the top. The volume rocker is on the right side, while the power button is on the left – that will take some getting used to for those more familiar with right-hand-side on/off buttons.

Lest we forget, the back of the phone is removable. Power users wanting to carry a spare battery, rejoice! Or so we thought, until we realised that it’s impossible to get the battery out. In fact, the only use for the removable casing is to access the SIM tray and microSD slot. Boo, hiss!

Related: Best Smartphones 2015

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EE Harrier – Screen

The screen on the EE Harrier is great. It’s a Full HD display, which trumps the lower-resolution 720p panel on the Harrier Mini. A 1080p display is a great addition to a budget handset. The resultant sharpness and clarity adds heaps of value to the Harrier, and means buyers can watch hi-def content – on Netflix, for instance – natively.

The Harrier’s panel reproduces colours accurately and vividly. This is important, because some handsets are guilty of having aggressive screen settings, leaving on-screen content looking oversaturated. That can be a pain when you share photos and they look different on everyone else’s devices or on your computer screen.

The Harrier, however, seems to get hues spot on. Perhaps the only issue is that we wish the phone’s brightness could be cranked up a bit more, as very bright, direct sunlight can make the screen tough to view.

Carrier pricing updates & information supplied by WhistleOut

shnatiw

May 21, 2015, 8:59 am

Good review for what seems like a really decent phone. It does have generic looks, but then that is common these days. It kind of reminds me of my old S2 from the front. Which is no bad thing. But it is nice to see the effort with the accents and finish on the back. Processor, GPU, screen, camera, microSD, and battery, all seem exceptional for the price. It's pretty remarkable that performance is close to one of last year's flagship phones. Thankfully EE has kept the Android skin unobtrusive but its a shame they still have apps that can't be uninstalled. Clearly Amazon has done a deal with EE here, in much the same way my S6 Edge has a number of Google and Microsoft apps that can't be uninstalled. At the end of the day though I have to agree with the author's verdict that this is 'as good an all-rounder as they come at the £200 price point'.

Webby

May 22, 2015, 11:24 am

£200 for a budget phone? Not for me - I'd rather look at paying £100 for the UMI Hammer, which seems to offer a lot more for a lot less.

Mere Adviser

May 25, 2015, 8:20 am

£200? Erm, no, it's £99.99:

http://shop.ee.co.uk/mobile-ph...

Mere Adviser

May 27, 2015, 1:37 pm

£200? The price is actually £99.

Evan

May 29, 2015, 2:00 pm

That's the EE Harrier mini. Review for that coming soon.

Joe

January 3, 2016, 10:04 am

How does it compare to the £115 Vodafone Smart ultra 6?

Worth saving £85 to get the Vodafone or does the Harrier offer a better package?

Fred Jackson

July 13, 2016, 11:16 pm

this phone is a nightmare do not buy it i have had one nearly a year the rating are right great features works great but if you have it for a length of time it is crazy i have had 3 exchanges still the bleeding same here's whats wrong with it
you can not talk and do anything else unless you are left handed and insane or just really insane
holding it in your left hand while doing something with your right hand is impossible
1)the on off button is where you put your thumb (turns on and off while speaking)
2)the volume is where you put your fingers (volume go up and down)
{not too bad so far you say sorry you can not avoid it after a year }
3)while on a call the touch screen still works on full sensor )
4) if you touch it with your ear it will go on a second dial up screen which will either put you on hold or leave you talking with no way of loud speaker,mute, etc
{not that bad yuh }
5)the settings are set so if you hit the stand by button it is still connected so if you get the answer machine it is on until the next call EE said it was my fault 1000 minutes £240 extra
{it getting worse }
great phone everything works great 9 out of 10
6) if you put it to your ear upwards it brings the notifications bar down
{ i here you say so what if you have notifications ok just swipe up )
7)if no notifications it brings the extra setting down {good luck} if you touch airplane mode it will cut you off there is 9 that one is the good one
THIS LIST GOES ON IT CRASHES YOU HAVE TO WAIT 4 DAYS FOR THE BATTERY TO DIE SO ON AND SO ON IF THIS HAD A RATING FOR COMMON SENSE IT WOULD BE 2 NOT 2 OUT OF 10 BUT 2 YEAR OLD'S DESIGN

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