Review Price £399.00
Huawei Ascend P2 Hands-on
Huawei is trying to establish itself as a top-end maker of smartphones. In January 2013 it launched the Ascend D2 superphone, but now it’s trying to address a slightly wider audience with the upper mid-range, 4G-ready Huawei Ascend P2.
Huawei Ascend P2 – Design and FeaturesWe half-expected the Huawei Ascend P2 to be a higher-end alternative to the Ascend D2, but it has turned out to be something quite different. This is a high-end, sleek Android but stays clear of the very top-end , with a 720p screen and quad-core processor, where other phones this year will offer 8-core chips and 1080p screens.
Using ever so slightly lesser specs has allowed the Huawei Ascend P2 to slim down an impressive amount, though. Although plastic-bodied, it feels well-made, light and yet reassuringly dense. It’s also slim at 8.4mm thick.
However, there are few design flourishes here. It’s a fairly sharp-edged, rounded-backed rectangle of plastic with some modest silver trim, and particularly subtle navigational soft keys. This isn’t a phone that people will recognise as soon as you take it out of your pocket.
It features the standard array of power and volume buttons on its sides, as well as a plastic flap that covers the microSIM slot. It also has a physical camera shutter button. The Huawei Ascend P2 doesn’t have the immaculate styling of something like the iPhone 5, but this should reflect in its price - hopefully. In Europe, it'll cost 399 Euro.
Huawei Ascend P2 – ScreenAs is the case with virtually any higher-end phone these days, one of the HUawei Ascend P2’s most important features is its screen. As we’ve already said, it stays away from the 1080p resolution its brother, the Ascend D2 offers, sticking with 720p. Huawei claims that packing-in any more pixels just wastes battery life, without offering noticeably improved sharpness.
The Huawei Ascend P2 uses a traditional LCD-based display, meaning there are none of the sub-pixel array issues you get with many OLED phones.
It’s a mite smaller than the top phones of 2013 too, at 4.7 inches. However, this will make the Huawei Ascend P2 more accessible than the Ascend D2, which is quite literally a bit of a handful. As with many of today’s phones, the screen is topped with second-generation Gorilla Glass.
Screen quality seemed solid in our hands-on time with the phone, but it was somewhat overshadowed by the Ascend P2’s EmotionUI interface.
Huawei Ascend P2 – Software and InterfaceAt the time of writing, the Huawei Ascend P2 runs Android 4.1.2, narrowly missing out on the latest 4.2 version of the Google OS. However, this means it benefits from the speed increases made in Jelly Bean 4.1, which is the main thing.
The custom EmotionUI 1.6 interface Huawei has pasted on top of Android makes some pretty serious changes to the way the system works. It melds the Huawei Ascend P2’s apps menu and home screens, piling core features into folders in a way that’s quite iOS-like.
EmotionUI is also replete with animated transitions and custom icon graphics, which don’t look particularly classy compared with, for example, the HTC Sense 5 UI of the new HTC One. There are a few neat features, though, such as Smart Reading, which brings up a bar whenever a word is selected, letting you translate it or search the web and Wikipedia.
However, we also expect that the software will slow down the system a little, although in its virgin state (i.e. not crammed to the gills with apps) its 1.5GHz quad-core processor and 1GB of RAM were enough to make the Huawei Ascend P2 more-or-less lag-free. We’ll test the phone out thoroughly in our full review.
Huawei claims the Ascend P2 is the fastest phone in the world, but this relates to things other than CPU speed – primarily that it’s the first phone to support LTE CAT4, which enables connectivity up to 150Mbps. It won’t do us much good in the UK, though, where 4G is still only just getting off the ground.
Huawei Ascend P2 – CameraThe Huawei Ascend P2’s main camera offers a 13-megapixel BSI sensor, in line with the top phones of 2013 so far including the Sony Xperia Z. It’s backed by the standard LED flash, and is set in a pedestrian-looking silver housing offset from the centre of the phone’s rear. Level pegging with the latest top-end phones, the P2 offers HDR video capture – a feature we’re yet to properly test.
As already mentioned , there’s a dedicated camera shutter button on the phone’s right edge.
The Huawei Ascend P2 also has a 1.3MP user-facing camera. We didn’t get too assess the phone’s camera abilities during our hands-on, but it wouldn’t surprise us if the phone uses exactly the same Sony sensor as the Xperia Z. We’ll be back with more in our full review.