Hands-on review: EE Harrier

Introduction, design and display

The EE Harrier is one of two new smartphones bearing the 4G network’s name, and it’s the hero product of the duo with the Harrier Mini coming in at a lower price point.

While the Harrier Mini replaces last year’s EE Kestrel, the larger Harrier is a new product for EE as it looks to tackle the tricky middle market.

At £199.99 on PAYG the Harrier appears to be reasonably priced, and you can get it for free on contracts starting at £23.49 per month.

For that you get a sizable 5.2-inch full HD display, 1.5GHz octa-core Snapdragon 615 processor, 2GB of RAM, 13MP rear camera, 2MP front snapper and Android Lollipop.

EE Harrier review

Oh, and of course 4G connectivity and EE’s new seamless Wi-Fi calling service that lets you make calls using Wi-Fi when mobile signal is not available.

It means the EE Harrier is up against the likes of the 5.7-inch Microsoft Lumia XL, 5.5-inch Huawei Ascend G7 and 5-inch HTC Desire 620.

EE has switched manufacturers from Huawei last year who produced the Kestrel to Ben-Q for the Harrier and Harrier Mini this time around.

Pick up the EE Harrier and the metal effect finish on the rear doesn’t fool you, this is a decidedly plastic handset and at 124g it does feel light for its size.

EE Harrier review

The volume rocker on the right has been shifted down a little to make it easier to hit during one handed use, I just wish the same had happened for the power lock key on the left.

It’s just a little too far up the side, especially for those with smaller hands, and it means you have to shuffle the Harrier in your hand. That’s a potentially dangerous game as the glossy plastic rear offers little in the way of grip.

I also found the Harrier wasn’t the most sturdy, with a surprisingly level of flex in the body, so much so the back cover started to unclip itself as I bent the handset.

At 138 x 67.9 x 9.5mm the EE Harrier is slightly more compact than the Sony Xperia Z3, although it is also a little chunkier – but that allows for a generally positive one-handed operating experience.

EE Harrier review

The curved sides and slightly curving rear means the Harrier sites pretty nicely in the hand.

The front is dominated by the expansive 5.2-inch display, and almost unheard of at this price point is the Harrier’s full HD resolution – specs which a usually reserved for flagship handsets such as the HTC One M9 and Xperia Z3.

I found the screen to be very good, especially when you consider this is a £200 device, and while the colours may not pop in the same way as Samsung’s Super AMOLED offerings you’re highly unlikely to be disappointed with the Harrier’s screen.

EE Harrier review

On the rear the camera lens is surrounded by a yellow metal ring, which looks rather nice, and below that is a single LED flash.

Towards the bottom of the Harrier, and below the mirrored EE logo, is the silver speaker which isn’t particularly well placed. I found my hand covered the speaker from time to time, muffling the sound, which was a bit annoying.

Interface, performance, camera and verdict

There’s good news for Android fans as the EE Harrier arrives with pretty much the latest offering from Google with almost no tinkering from the network.

That means you get almost stock Android Lollipop 5.0.2, with the only additions from EE being its own application, Deezer, Lookout and a wallpaper.

An octa-core processor has been stuffed inside the Harrier – Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 615 – and it’s backed up with 2GB of RAM, but that doesn’t appear to transfer into raw power.

EE Harrier review

Press the power/lock key and there’s a slight delay before the screen fires up – it’s just long enough to make you question whether you’ve hit it or not, which is a little annoying.

General navigation is pretty fluid, but considering the power under the hood I was a little disappointed at the lack of fluidity on the Harrier.

I didn’t get a chance to perform any heavy lifting tasks with the EE Harrier during my hands on, so you’ll have to wait for the full review to see how it gets on.

EE Harrier review

The 13MP camera on the rear is another standout feature for this sub-£200 device, providing a decent level of detail and quality for your snaps.

The camera app opens up pretty quickly and the interface is pretty straight forward, if not the most attractive offering on the market.

There are a limited number of options including night mode, HDR and slow motion video capture, but for anyone hoping for a whole suite of options you’ll want to look elsewhere.

EE Harrier review

The removable plastic rear is easy to take off and gives you access to the microSIM slot and microSD port, allowing you to build on the 16GB of storage – of which around 10GB is actually available to you.

You can’t remove the 2500mAh battery though, and you’ll have to wait for the full review to see how well it lasts.

Early verdict

The EE Harrier is relatively well priced for the level of specs and features on offer, which will make it attractive to anyone looking for an affordable 4G handset.

It’s never going to compete with the big guns in the market, but it doesn’t have too, and if the interface can be streamlined a little more then this could be another success for EE.