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With the Harrier, EE has managed to get the combination of specifications, build quality and price pretty much spot on. Stock Android is very much welcome, especially compared to some of the frustrating homescreen replacements found on other budget handsets. And thanks to the octa-core processor, there's not a hint of slowdown.
I would have liked to find a louder speaker in a better position, and the lack of notable features means it won't stand out from the crowd, but there's genuinely a lot to like about this own-brand handset, especially with the alluring sub-£200 price tag.
If you're looking for a handset that won't cost the earth on a monthly contract, the EE Harrier is most definitely a capable 4G phone for full HD gaming and movies. There's also the EE Harrier Mini with a slightly slower processor and lower resolution screen, but at just £50 less, I'd recommend holding out for the fully fledged handset.
Overall the performance of the Harrier is very good, while the high-resolution screen is pretty impressive, making videos and photos look clear and crisp.
Despite not being removable, the battery has a good capacity and can easily last a full day without having to be conservative. MicroSD storage is a welcome addition, too.
Stock Android is very welcome indeed, and I'm glad EE didn't choose to employ any kind of cheap overlays or themes to spice up Android Lollipop – an aesthetically pleasing OS that feels very fluid thanks to the octa-core processor.
The speaker is a bit of a disappointment. It sounds hollow, lacks any real punch, and is in a poor position, so you'll need headphones to make the most of movies or music.
Camera quality is not ground-breaking, and indoor shots suffer from graininess unless you leave the LED flash on continuously.
Also, despite the favourable stock Android experience, it's a little marred by the non-removable apps from Amazon and others, although you can disable any you don't intend to use.
EE has squeezed all that is currently possible into a £200 smartphone, and the Harrier doesn't have any major downfalls as a result. The performance is comparable to phones at least £100 more expensive, and overall the feature list doesn't miss out anything you would expect from any handset below a flagship.
If you're looking for a speedy 4G handset with good battery life, crisp screen and expandable storage for plenty of media, then the Harrier might just be worth a punt. Gone are the days where choosing a carrier-branded phone meant accepting second best. This bird does EE's brand proud and is ready to leave the nest.
First reviewed: April 2015