A great phone on PAYG with its Full HD display, fast internals and decent camera, but the EE Harrier isn't such good value on contract
Processor: Octa-core 1.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 615, Screen Size: 5.2in, Screen resolution: 1,920×1,080, Rear camera: 13-megapixel, Storage: 16GB, Wireless data: 3G, 4G, Size: 147x74x8.9mm, Weight: 145g, Operating system: Android 5.0.2
As last year’s Kestrel prepares to fly the coop, EE’s own-brand handsets now have a new pecking order for 2015. Ruling the roost is the £200 Harrier, but it’s also joined by the smaller £100 Harrier Mini. At a glance, both phones look almost identical: each has the same grey metallic finish and yellow highlight ring on the rear camera to give a bit of character, and both run vanilla Android 5.0.2, which makes a pleasant change from Huawei’s Emotion UI on the outgoing Kestrel.
Both have the power button on the left side, which is slightly awkward for right-handed users, but that’s where the similarities end. The 5.2in Harrier has a much more ambitious, high-end specification than its 4.7in brother. It not only has a higher resolution screen, but a faster processor, bigger battery, more storage and a better rear camera as well. It’s also a fraction slimmer, measuring 8.9mm compared to the Mini’s 9.5mm. It’s a small difference overall, but it does give the Harrier a slightly more upmarket feel compared to its shorter, chunkier sibling.
One of the Harrier’s stand out features is its 5.2in 1,920×1,080 display. It’s not often we see this size or resolution on a £200 phone, as even our current mid-range favourite, the HTC Desire 820, only has a 1,280×720 resolution spread across a much larger 5.5in display. This gives the Harrier a massive pixel density of 424ppi, putting screen sharpness in the same ball park as some of this year’s flagships, such as the Sony Xperia Z3+.
It’s a shame that image quality doesn’t hit quite the same accuracy levels, but we were still reasonably impressed by an sRGB colour gamut score of 88.2%. This puts the Harrier roughly on par with Motorola’s 2nd Gen Moto G, and while red coverage was a little lacking, our test images still had plenty of punch.
Likewise, a contrast ratio of 900:1 ensured that plenty of detail was present at a variety of angles and a peak brightness of 383.17cd/m2 is just about high enough to see the screen clearly in bright sunshine. A high black level of 0.42cd/m2 had a tendency to lose detail in darker areas of images, but it’s certainly no worse than other £200 handsets we’ve tested recently.
Powered by an octa-core, 1.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 processor and 2GB of RAM, which is the same chip used by the £260 HTC Desire 820, the Harrier is much faster than its similarly priced competitors. In GeekBench 3, for example, its score of 642 in the single-core test and 2,361 in the multicore test puts it way out in front of the Moto G, which scored just 341 and 1,156 in the same test. This translated into faster app loading times and we didn’t have to wait so long for the Settings menu to open either.
Likewise, a score of 737 in FutureMark’s Peacekeeper browser test isn’t that far behind the LG G4, which scored 818. Indeed, the Harrier showed only a minimal amount of stutter as pages loaded up on complex news sites such as the Guardian. Otherwise, scrolling was smooth and lag free, and images loaded very promptly.
Graphics performance was decent, too. It might only produce 370 frames in GFX Bench GL’s incredibly demanding onscreen Manhattan test and 350 frames in the offscreen test, equating to about 5fps, but other phones like the HTC Desire 820 and Huawei P8 produced roughly the same scores. Likewise, a quick game of Blizzard’s Hearthstone showed the phone was more than capable of handling high-intensity games without too much judder.
|Octa-core 1.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 615
|Memory card slot (supplied)
|Price SIM-free (inc VAT)
|Price on contract (inc VAT)
|Free on £22-per-month contract
|Prepay price (inc VAT)