Huawei Ascend P2 review

Huawei_Ascend_P2You should have heard of the Chinese manufacturer, Huawei, by now. It produces a wide variety of telecommunications and networking equipment. If you have a TV box from TalkTalk then it was made by Huawei. The company also makes smartphones, in fact, according to IDC, Huawei was fourth in the worldwide smartphone market for the first three months of this year and it has not been resting on its laurels. The latest flagship release is the Ascend P2 and it claims the title of the “world’s fastest 4G LTE smartphone”.

That title is down to the Ascend P2’s ability to offer download speeds of up to 150Mbps. The trouble at the moment will be finding a network that can actually deliver that speed. Luckily, top quality LTE isn’t all it has to offer, so let’s take a closer look.

Design

Huawei has produced some budget devices in the past, but the Ascend P2 is a step up in quality. It is constructed from glossy plastic, but it looks relatively stylish. It measures 136 x 67 x 8.4mm, and it weighs in at 122g. It’s a fairly standard design with a headphone port and micro-USB up top, volume rocker on the left spine, and a power key on the right. There’s a small metallic frame on the back where you’ll find the camera lens and LED flash. Since the back doesn’t come off, you’ll also find the micro-SIM port on the right alongside a dedicated camera key for taking photos quickly.

It’s a decent design, but nothing special. The super svelte Huawei Ascend P6 trumps the design as it’s just 6.18mm thick, but it doesn’t offer the same specs.

Display

You’ll find a 4.7-inch display with a resolution of 1280×720 pixels. At 315ppi (pixels per inch) it’s pretty close to the iPhone 5 at 326 ppi, but many of the latest Android flagships, including the Galaxy S4, are boasting 1080p resolution now. There are no buttons and the bezel is thin, so the front of the Ascend P2 is all screen. It’s a decent display, but it isn’t going to wow you.

Hardware

If we look beyond the aforementioned super-fast LTE CAT 4 connection we find decent specs for a mid-range phone. There’s a 1.5GHz quad-core processor, 1GB of RAM, and 16GB of internal memory. There’s no microSD card slot so you’ll have to fit everything on the 12GB that’s actually available. That should be manageable for most people, but it may put a few off. As will the inaccessible battery. At 2420mAh it should see you through the day on moderate use, but if you want to take advantage of that fast LTE and watch a lot of streaming video you can expect to be reaching for that charger sooner rather than later.

You’ll also find the usual support for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, and GPS. The pre-installed DLNA app is a nice touch that makes it easy to share your photos and videos on the big screen.

Camera

The 13-megapixel camera with LED flash is a definite attraction in a phone at this price. The dedicated camera key also encourages you to take advantage, and it’s a smart move. The camera app includes various shooting modes, filters, and effects. Picture quality is very good. The single LED flash struggles with shots in low-light environments, but that’s pretty common with cameras in phones. There’s also a front-facing 1.3-megapixel camera for video calls.

Software

It’s a bit of a disappointment to find Huawei’s Emotion UI running on top of Android 4.1.2. You would expect it to get updated at some point. As for the Emotion UI it does offer some neat customization options, but it also ditches the traditional app drawer, forcing you to have all your apps on one of your home screens (you can have up to nine). The keyboard is far from great – you should really download SwiftKey as it’s well worth the £2.99.

Huawei’s UI also doesn’t look very inspired. The big multi-purpose widget on your main home screen is ugly and none of the themes really look classy. Stock Android would have been better, and it would have enabled faster updates.

The Verdict

If you were to compare this to the latest wave of Android flagships like the Xperia Z, the HTC One, and the Galaxy S4, it would be found wanting, but that’s not really a fair comparison because the Huawei Ascend P2 costs £299 SIM-free, or you can pick it up at Three with no cash down on a £20 per month contract. If we compare it to similarly priced mid-range phones it looks like a decent option, especially if that 4G LTE speed is going to be important to you.

There are definite limitations here, but overall the Ascend P2 offers great value for money.

About Simon Hill

Simon is an experienced tech writer with a background in games development. He has been covering the world of mobile technology for several years now and writes for a variety of popular websites.