Huawei launched its first truly high-end Android phone at CES 2012. It’s the Ascend P1 S, and claims to be the world’s thinnest smartphone.
Slim is in, and has been for some time. However, it can come at the expense of ergonomics and comfort. Handling the Huawei P1 S, we found that it doesn’t suffer at the hands of its slimness obsession. Its curved edges give the handset a less severe feel than the Motorola Droid Razr, whose angles were a little intense for our liking.
At its slimmest point, the Huawei P1 S is 6.68mm thick, but – as usual with these painfully slim phones – a couple of points along its frame bloom out beyond this measurement. The bottom of the back and camera lens housing are a couple of millimetres chunkier, but the former in particular helps the phone to feel comfy in-hand. The backplate is plastic rather than metal, but like Samsung’s top-end phones it nevertheless conjured a top-end, premium feel. We also got to check out the P1 S’s slightly thicker twin too, the P1, which is 7.69mm thick, but otherwise virtually identical.
Ascend P1 S on the left, P1 on the right. Both pretty slim, eh?
Seemingly no connectivity sacrifices have been made to get down to this slim frame either. There’s a microSD slot on its side, covered-up with a plastic flap, and the microUSB data/charging socket is MHL-compliant and can effectively double-up as an HDMI video output. Expandable memory is a must here, though, because there’s just 4GB of internal memory – where phones like the Samsung Galaxy Nexus often offer 16GB or more. That said, we’d rather have less internal memory and a card slot than more internal memory and non-expandable storage, especially if it results in lower cost.
Another element that points towards a price lower than the very top dogs of the smartphone world is the screen. The Super AMOLED panel is bright, intensely colourful and wonderfully sharp, but the 960 x 540 pixel resolution is a step down from the 720p screens we’re starting to see in the latest Android phones. As such, it won’t quite offer iPhone 4S levels of sharpness, but with 256dpi pixel density, it’s crisp enough for all but the most pedantic of screen fiends.
Around the back, there’s an 8-megapixel camera supported by a dual-LED flash. We didn’t get to try this feature out during our time with the phone, but the software tweaks here are just as notable as its decent megapixel count. Huawei includes an HDR (high mode) and face detection, which aren’t included with Android phones as standard.