(Pocket-lint) - Huawei might not be the first name that pops into many people's heads when they think of phone manufacturers, but the Chinese brand has been gaining speed in the phone market. Its recent Ascend P7 smartphone did a pretty good job of positioning itself as an affordable flagship that was slim and attractive.
Now there's the special edition P7 Sapphire Edition model, raising the bar when it comes to material choices and finish. We got our mitts on at the IFA trade show in Berlin to see just how different it looks and feels.
In the hand the P7 Sapphire doesn't feel drastically different to the standard 5-inch-screen model. The rear panel is ceramic, which isn't the most grippy or surfaces to hold. It's also really bad at picking up fingerprint - mere minutes into the Huawei touch and try centre being open and it was caked in marks, despite us being among the first to handle the device.
The big deal with the special edition P7 is - and as it's name suggests - the sapphire glass front panel. One of the toughest materials in the world, and one that recently we've found donning phone camera lenses for scratch-resistance, the entire front screen raises things above and beyond even Corning Gorilla Glass.
The sapphire panel didn't look or feel any different to our eyes, but we did give it a cheeky rubbing with some house keys and, yet, no marks to be seen. This is one tough cookie.
The metal edging has also transformed from its silver-like colour to a new rose gold finish. We were skeptical by the description, but actually the pink isn't too pink - it's more a pink-bronze finish that looks quality. Plus the Huawei P7 is a mere 6.5mm thin, which avoids that colour choice being a brash centrepiece - it's a subtle, well considered finish.
Under the hood the device is the very same as the original model, although the one we saw was a China Mobile LTE 4G device.
That means the special edition P7 otherwise has the same specs as original handset, including a 1080p screen, 13-megapixel camera, and a quad-core 1.8GHz Cortex-A9 processor backed by 2GB of RAM.
Our complaints are similar to the original model (read the full below by following the link below): the curved section to the base of the device (held in portrait orientation) is still plasticky and doesn't adjoin the rest of the device too well; the battery life is a bit of a stinker; and, new for the Sapphire Edition, that ceramic rear marks with fingerprint way too easily.
READ: Huawei Ascend P7 review
Whether we'll see Huawei release the P7 Sapphire Edition in the UK is yet to be established. Therefore, for now at least, there's no final word on pricing or availability. But sapphire glass isn't cheap, so we anticipate it being a chunk of cash more than the original model.