Huawei has been around for a while in the smartphone market but has mainly produced low end devices in the past. The Ascend P1 is Huawei’s attempt to break into the upper end of the market with it’s impressive device that has some lovely features. The main question that everyone wants to ask is, is it enough to contend with the like’s of Apple, HTC and Samsung? Lets have a look.

 

Key Features

  • Dual-core, 1.5GHz Cortex A9 processor
  • 4.3-inch super AMOLED display
  • 4GB internal storage
  • 8 megapixel camera
  • 1080p video recording at 30fps
  • 7.7mm thick
  • 110g weight
  • Android Ice Cream Sandwich
  • 2000mAh battery

Design and Build Quality

The design of the Ascend is pretty odd when you first see it, it has rounded edges and features a shiny and slippery plastic body. Huawei claim that the device is only 7.7mm thick but as you can see from the slide show above the camera and bottom lip protrude out from the rest of the body meaning that this measurement is not totally accurate but it is super thin elsewhere. Holding the handset in your hand certainly gives a sense of a slim phone so the protruding parts are not to much of a concern.

The handset weighs in at 110g putting it up there with the lightest devices around and it certainly feels like the lightest we have ever tested. The P1 has a 4.3-inch display but when you look at it, it seems as if it is larger due to the rather bulky bezel around it, especially the bottom of the device where it is rather excessive. Another bad point about the design has to be the amount of dirt the bezel picks up. It protrudes outwards meaning that it is a magnet for dust and anything else that hangs around in your pocket and removing it can be quite challenging at times we had to use a cotton bud to get it cleaned up.

The P1 features a Sim slot and micro-SD slot and using them can be pretty scary. They have to be pulled out and are constructed by a rather flimsy looking plastic, meaning that i would hate to have to access these on a regular basis in case they came off. Overall the design of the Ascend P1 could be better but we have to remember this is a budget device.

Features and Performance

The P1 makes up for the sketchy design when it comes to features especially as it runs Android 4.0 straight out of the box. By that I mean there is no overlay you get what Google intended and I am a huge fan of this as I feel overlays sometimes ruin a device and I find myself having to root just to get what I want. The Ascend P1 also features a 1.5Ghz dual-core processor with 1GB of RAM and a lovely 8 Megapixel camera. This may not be as awesome as the quad-core devices we are starting to see but it is decent.

A device with a processor like this will be more than capable of performing any day-to-day tasks you throw at it. Simple fast paced games like TempleRun run smooth with no lag noticed but web browsing is where we noticed the Huawei struggled. When we were visiting any large sites webpages seemed to take a while to load which was pretty disappointing for us as a device like this should handle web pages with no trouble. The P1 manages to navigate menus and applications with no trouble as well and the transitions are nice and fluid.

One major problem that we found with the Ascends feature’s is the lack of internal storage. The P1 only has 4GB compared to other high end devices which are often available in multiple options like 8GB,16GB,32GB and even 64GB. There is however the micro-SD card slot that will allow you to expand the device’s storage to suit your needs and can take up to 32GB cards.

Screen

The screen on the Ascend is an area where I don’t have many complaints. It’s a responsive 4.3-inch Super AMOLED touchscreen with tough Gorilla Glass and it really compliments the P1’s design. It may only have a 256 pixels per inch density but it’s certainly very pleasing on the eye. Colours look fantastic and watching YouTube clips is a pleasure. Viewing in daylight isn’t a problem as long as you tweak the settings but the viewing angles aren’t great.

The touchscreen performs as expected and give’s the P1 a nice quick and snappy feel. Overall the screen is great and we think it is the best part of the P1

Operating System and User Interface

I don’t often go into detail when it comes to a device’s OS and UI but i feel the Ascend P1 deserved this. The P1 runs stock Android Ice Cream Sandwich and it runs perfectly on this device. Being stock Android you will get the same experience as those who have purchased any of the Google Nexus range. One strange part to the user interface worth mentioning is the ability to switch between several themes developed by Huawei if for some strange reason you would rather not use stock Android 4.0.3.

The additions Huawei have included are pretty awful especially there “3D Home” option which by the way is not 3D but instead adds widgets that fake depth. I would avoid even looking at this option to be honest. Huawei have made a few other changes to Android 4.0’s usual features and have like HTC ignored the multitasking button and have implemented a long press of ‘Home Key’ instead to get access to your previously used apps and menu screens. We really like this feature as it sets it apart from other devices but it may also mean that some people may never know how to access this feature.

The lock screen is another area Huawei have chosen to customise and comes with 4 icons sitting around the edges of a circle. Three out of the four of these icons can be customised by entering the devices security menu so you can have three of your most used apps here for easy and quick access. I f you don’t like Huawei’s options which include another “3D” version you can always use Google’s standard face unlock feature which utilises the Ascend’s front-facing camera and unlocks the device within a few seconds of recognising you. Failing all of that you could simply use the more conventional PIN/password options if the above is all just to exciting for you.

Overall the user interface and OS are a huge selling point for the P1 and you will not be disappointed.

Camera and Video

The Ascend P1 features an 8-megapixel shooter and I must say that it does produce some nice images. The camera also features the ability to capture full HD 1080p video so if you plan on using this feature an SD-card is a must have accessory. As you may or may not know the standard Android 4.0 camera has been criticized many times for its rather bland and boring camera app but Huawei have taken notice and made plenty of customisations.

The app itself features a slide down or out menu depending on the orientation of the camera and has loads of image effect filters, face distortion tools (which are hilarious), or for the Pros we have the more technical options like ability to amend white balance, ISO, exposure, saturation, contrast and brightness.

As with all filters there are the usual useless negative effects there are plenty of other options that can add plenty of pleasing effects to your pictures giving them more depth and making them more interesting. One mode that is a tad annoying is HDR mode. When taking a picture if you aren’t completely still the outcome is often blurry so best saving this mode for when your sober. On the other hand when you do get it right the outcome is great and it will boost contrast and brightness significantly.

Burst mode is another part of the camera software that let’s it down. Rather than the usual selection process after using the mode the P1 actually saves every last image leaving you to troll through them all and manually delete them afterwards. For me this takes the fun out of burst mode.

We have included a slide show below of all the images we captured and screenshots of the different modes and filters available.

The 1080p video recording is outstanding on this device but be aware you will use about 200MB for just a minute’s recording. There wasn’t much to complain about with the recording as it handled everything we threw at it the only gripe could be the auto-focus. I felt that sometimes it could have been a little faster to focus.

Battery Life

The Ascend P1 features a non-removable 1670mAh battery so as you can imagine it won’t last as long as some devices out there. We manged to squeeze just under a day out of it with heavy use so the standard user will have no problems with the battery life. The main reason for battery drain was due to the Super AMOLED screen but as it look awesome we can hardly complain. With many portable plug and play battery chargers are available on the market, these days no one should really have a problem with battery life.

Connectivity and Multimedia

The Ascend P1 has all your usual connectivity options with WiFi and Bluetooth, 3G compatibility, FM radio and WiFi direct for easy setup. With no HDMI output on the Ascend P1 I was happy to see that the device was MHL compatible, meaning with the appropriate cable I was able to hook it up to my television.

One thing missing from the Ascend P1 that other high end smartphones have is NFC support.This probably isn’t a big deal for most people as out of all the people I know who own a device with this capability I would be surprised if a handful of them use it.

When it comes to multimedia the P1 again features all the usual suspects and can play a variety of video formats including MP4 and AVI which is awesome as if like me you have a huge video library you will have no trouble with playback on this device. Huawei have also given users the option of two different music player apps, we have the standard Google Play music app and Huawei’s own Music+ app which includes the ability to use Dolby sound effects. The Dolby option definitely gives the music a boost but sound output is far from the best on this handset but it is certainly decent.

Verdict

Huawei’s Ascend P1 isn’t by any means the best high end device we have reviewed but starting at ¬£25/month on contract with a free handset it should not be overlooked. It may not look awesome compared to what else is out there but as a complete package this device is really good. One of the best qualities of this device is that Huawei gives the user a lot of options when it comes to the user interface to ensure you can set your device up how best suits you rather than the usual you get what you’re given scenario. Couple that with the fact it runs pure Android Ice Cream Sandwich and you are on to a winner. This device would be perfect for those who have never really owned a high end device before and are looking to break into the Android market. If you like the look of the device and want to find out more have a look on Phones 4 u.

I would like to give a huge thanks to Dialaphone and Phones 4 u for given us the opportunity to review the Huawei Ascend P1.

 

 

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Ryan Oneill

Editor In Chief

BeginnersTech was an idea I had one Sunday when I was bored. It is now not only a website but a successful YouTube channel that takes me all over the world. Don’t ever let anyone discourage you. Chase those dreams.