Huawei's latest Mate is a definite step up from the last

IFA 2014

At its Berlin press conference, Huawei made the new Ascend Mate 7 official. And honestly, we're pretty impressed. Need more? OK, sure. It's a 6-inch, 1080p, octa-core phone constructed from a single piece of aluminum. It's got a 13MP camera round the back where you also find a single-touch fingerprint scanner with big claims behind its accuracy and its speed.

We've got one in for review right now, so stay tuned for that in the coming weeks. But while we're here in Berlin we had to crack open the box and take a quick look.

As we already mentioned, the Mate 7 is aluminum right through. A single – albeit large – piece construction, and it's really, really nice. It's slim, too, so despite its size it doesn't feel particularly unwieldy to hold and use. There won't be any one-handing going on here, but it's not as large as it might have been with that 6-inch display.

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Huawei Ascend Mate 7

That in part is due to the 83% screen to body ratio. The side bezels on the Mate 7 are virtually invisible while the top and bottom are used for things such as the earpiece, selfie camera and the Huawei logo. But as LG has done with phones like the G2 and the G3, Huawei has packed a ton of screen into a device that feels a little smaller than the display size would have you believe.

The display is a Full HD, 1080p panel, no QHD craziness here. But it's perfectly OK. The colors are bright, text is sharp and all in all it's a pleasure to look at. The Ascend P7 that came earlier this year had a display that surprised us a little with its quality, and the news is every bit as good here.

Huawei Ascend Mate 7

So, coming to the fingerprint scanner. Huawei CEO, Richard Yu, made a big deal of this during the introduction, particularly by claiming its faster than Apple's Touch ID. That's another post for another day but Huawei has one-upped Samsung on in the fingerprint scanning arena. It's a single touch scanner which means you can unlock your phone from screen off and locked just by placing your finger on it.

And it works. So far accuracy has been almost perfect, and with full 360 degree recognition you don't even have to be that accurate with your own finger placement. Unlocking takes about a second, but it's certainly fast enough, and the placement of the scanner has to be given some praise. Much like LG seems to manage with its back buttons, Huawei has positioned the fingerprint scanner in pretty much the ideal location to land your finger on it every time you pick up the phone.

A couple of other things worth noting at this early stage. The software has had another redesign, we're now up to EMUI 3.0 and while the homescreen is basically the same as the P7 – no app drawer, still – elsewhere throughout the phone there's a definite minimalist feel. The camera also seems pretty good so far, though we're going to have to spend a lot more time shooting pictures with it to get a real feel for it. The P7 camera was excellent so we're hopeful.

We'll be posting a full review of the Mate 7 in the coming weeks.