Huawei Ascend P2 Review
Huawei P2: a cheap Android alternative?
Huawei is starting to gain more and more recognition in the consumer world, and with the Ascend P6 already winning the title of the world’s slimmest smartphone, we are hoping to see big things from the Chinese manufacturer.
The Ascend P2 is Huawei’s flagship model released in April this year, and with a price tag of £370, or £20 per month, the device is comparable to the Samsung Galaxy S3 or HTC One X rather than the top of the range Samsung Galaxy S4 or HTC One.
So how well will the Huawei Ascend P2 shake off the ‘budget’ stigma that’s attached to the Chinese manufacturer’s name?
On unboxing the Huawei Ascend P2, the main thing that occurred to me was just how light the device feels. And at 122g it is pretty light, coming in 9g smaller than the Samsung Galaxy S3, though it still can’t beat the iPhone 5’s 112g weigh in. At just 8.4mm deep, the device is also quite thin, and the two-tone casing (as pictured below) makes the P2 appear even thinner.
In terms of specs, the Huawei Ascend P2, on paper, looks good. With 16GB of internal storage and a Quad-core 1.5GHz processor, all with a 4.7-inch screen with 312ppi pixel density, the device sits comfortably with the likes of Samsung and HTC’s high to mid-range devices. It has also claimed to be the fastest phone on the market, and while I found flitting between app really quick, when I tried sharing photos via email, I found the device was annoyingly sluggish.
However, there are a few elements which let the P2 down. First of all, without a removable casing, there’s no access to the phone’s 2400mAh battery; nor is there an SD card slot to allow you to extend the device’s memory.
Also, a more aesthetic element that I had a problem with is the Ascend P2’s shiny plastic casing. While contributing to the lightweight feel of the device, the plastic that encases the phone makes it look, and more importantly, feel cheap. Compared with the real big dogs such as the iPhone 5, HTC One or Sony Xperia Z, the Huawei Ascend P2, despite having the specifications to rival the best of them, falls short of being a high-end device primarily because of its mid-range appearance.
Phone Set Up
The Huawei Ascend P2 runs Android’s Jelly Bean operating system which in many ways makes it operate like any other Android. However, there are various additions which Huawei has made to ensure that the Ascend P2 stands out when it comes to set-up.
First of all, unlike most Androids, there is no apps page which houses all of the apps you don’t want to feature on your home screens. In many ways I like this feature, as it means that all of your apps are transparent and accessible at all times. However, I can imagine that in time, having to flit through tens of home screens to find the app that I originally wanted would get tiresome.
That said, I really enjoyed playing around with the various themes on the Huawei Ascend P2. Whereas most Androids limit you to changing the home screen background, the Huawei Ascend P2 lets you change the entire interface, including your app icons, home and lock screens. This is a feature that really makes the P2 stand out from other phones, allowing the user to customise more than just the background image.
From the lock screen, you can access the call, camera and message applications which is handy, though, being used to swipe to the right with most Android phones, I often found myself accessing my inbox rather than my home screen, but that would change given time!
Having access to two of your most used contacts from the home screen is really useful too, and is again is an example of Huawei putting the user at the forefront of design.
With the Huawei Ascend P2 running by Android’s Jelly Bean operating system, many of its features are shared by other Android devices, including the Google-owned Maps, Navigation and YouTube apps. Therefore, apart from the difference in set-up and home screen layout, the Ascend P2 didn’t necessarily stand out for any of its individual bespoke Huawei features.
The Ascend P2 did, however, feature its own variation of Microsoft Office, which helps promote the device for business users. The Kingsoft Office app allows users to open, edit and save existing and new documents compatible with Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Memo.
I found that the app was a little more comprehensive than most office apps, and Kingsoft Office made it easier than most to track changes made, and to share documents via email, social and in the Cloud.
Camera & Video
After being impressed by the Huawei Ascend P1’s 8 megapixel camera, I was expecting a lot from the Ascend P2, with its 13 megapixel rear-facing lens which-on paper- is comparable to the higher spec Samsung Galaxy S4 and Sony Xperia Z.
Taking successive shots on the Ascend P2 was definitely quicker than on the P1, and I found that I could easily snap away without having to actually stop to take a photo. And it wasn’t until I actually sat down to review the photos that I had taken that I realised just how good the Ascend P2’s camera is.
I ventured out of the bright sunlight to take a photo of a particularly gloomy stairwell. After taking a few shots, I even manually turned on the phone’s flash, expecting the photo to show very little because of the relatively low-lighting. However, the P2 performed really well in the dim light, and the photo didn’t even suggest that a flash should have been used.
As for the pre and post-editing features, the Huawei Ascend P2 wasn’t perhaps the most exciting device I’ve ever tested, though we did see some interesting filters and editing modes that can jazz up your photographs.
For instance you can choose to take panoramic shots of sweeping landscapes, or even switch on one of the eight filters, including monochrome, sketch and sepia, to name a few. There’s even a fun feature- also on the Ascend P1- which allows you to distort people’s faces, making their noses abnormally large, or their eyes look like an alien’s. The Ascend P2’s Group Mode is also a handy feature, as it selects the best faces from a series of multiple photos, ensuring that your group shots show the most glamorous side of everyone in them!
The Huawei Ascend P2 features a 2420mAh battery, a remarkable improvement on the P1’s 1679mAh battery. And with the Motorola Razr HD- with a 2530 mAH battery- winning awards for having the best battery life around, we expected the P2 to astound us with its battery life.
And in many ways, it did. I charged the phone up to 50% on a Friday and after leaving the phone idle for the entire weekend, the battery, which had been used to receive emails, texts and social notifications, had only dwindled to 22%, which I thought was better than most smartphones which would have completely died in the same period.
I also liked the fact that the percentage of juice left in the device is permanently displayed at the top of the screen, which meant that I was constantly aware of when it needed more power, without having to manually go into the settings and check, as with most Androids.