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Huawei Ascend P2 – Hands On
BARCELONA – It may not be the rumored octa-core smartphone we were expecting, but Huawei is calling its latest device, the Ascend P2, “the world’s fastest smartphone.” We have no way to be sure about that yet, but it sure looks nice. We got a chance to check it out here at Mobile World Congress.
“Today is the day that Huawei really grows up,” Amy Lou, Huawei’s global brand director, said this afternoon at the manufacturer’s press conference. That statement may have been more appropriate at CES, when Huawei introduced the gigantic 6.1-inch Ascend Mate The Ascend P2, on the other hand, is smaller, trimmer, and more refined. It’s the kind of phone I’d personally choose over the Mate, and yet something about it just didn’t quite wow me.
The Ascend P2 is made entirely of high-quality plastic, with a second-generation Corning Gorilla Glass display. At 4.7 inches and 1,280-by-720-pixels (that’s 315 pixels per inch), it’s a bit lower in resolution than the 1080p displays we’re starting to see in phones like the HTC One. It still looks sharp in person, if not quite as eye-catching as HTC’s latest flagship device. It is capable of reaching 500 nits of brightness, so it does get very bright.
The Ascend P2′s predecessor, the Ascend P1 was billed as the world’s thinnest smartphone when it was launched last year at CES. Smartphones keep getting trimmer, but the Ascend P2 still manages to cut a lovely 8.4mm figure. Huawei says it could have made the P2 even thinner, but that wouldn’t have left enough space for its 13-megapixel camera. Outfitted with BSI 3 and HDR, it snapped photos very quickly when I tried it. But as we’ve seen on a number of phones, like the LG Optimus G on Sprint, more megapixels don’t necessarily equal a better picture. Of course, we can’t be sure about the camera’s performance until we can truly put it to the test in the PCMag Labs. The photo gallery has built-in face recognition, which is a nice touch.
Everything else about the phone is clearly high quality, if a little bland. It has a fairly standard slab design, available in either black or white. Huawei claims that LTE Cat 4 support allows the phone to reach 150Mbps download speeds. Of course, that largely depends on your network. There’s also NFC support and a 2420mAh battery, which should provide plenty of power.
The phone is running Android 4.1.2 (Jelly Bean) as opposed to the newer Android 4.2.2 (still Jelly Bean), and Huawei has made a number of customizations to the OS with its Emotion UI. It has added a “theme manager,” with over 100 built-in themes, as well as the ability to create and save your own. There are also data and power management apps included, which are always welcome. I’m not sure if the software here is final, but I wasn’t able to locate the Apps menu.
Curiously, processor speed was never mentioned in the presentation. But as you can see in the slideshow, it looks like the P2 is powered by a 1.5-GHz quad-core chip. That should make it comparable with the new fleet of quad-core devices, if not quite at the head of it.
The Ascend P2 is a lovely looking phone – it just doesn’t really stand out. We’re still looking forward to getting our hands on one and putting Huawei’s “fastest phone” claims to the test. The Ascend P2 will be available globally within the first half of the year. Availability for U.S. carriers was not announced.
Huawei mentioned at CES that it would be showing two phones at MWC. It turns out that second phone won’t be announced until the summer, but Huawei’s CEO assured the audience that it would be “disruptive.”
By Alex Colon, PCMag