Huawei’s plans are ambitious: to be among the top three smartphone manufacturers in the world in the next couple of years. Officially launched last week, the Huawei Ascend P1 aims to take the company to the next level. Having loved the look and feel of the phone at the press conference, we took the Ascend P1 smartphone back to the offices for more thorough testing. This ultra-thin, dual-core lightweight device running Ice Cream Sandwich may be the key to changing consumers' skeptical attitudes concerning the Huawei brand.
OS: Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
Display: 4.3-inch Super AMOLED screen, 960 x 540 pixels, 256 ppi, Gorilla Glass
Memory: 1 GB RAM, 4GB ROM, micro SD slot up to 32GB
As the head of design over at Huawei explained, the company has put a tremendous amount of effort into the Ascend P1 and all that hard work has paid off. Slick, stylish and extremely thin - this device radiates a combination of modest, style and functionality. The phone’s frontal design is minimal: the screen takes up as much space as possible with very thin black edges on the side. Some would say that the phone’s design isn’t very catchy or innovative - and they would probably be right. But Huawei has done an amazing job at keeping things simple and sticking to the basics of what users want: a thin, light phone with a large screen that sits nicely in the hand. Kudos to Huawei for nailing all three.
On the downside, the phone is made out of plastic that does feel a bit cheap, although it could’ve been worse. Due to the phone’s light weight and rounded “vanishing” edges, the Huawei Ascend P1 is prone to slip out of your hand. Speaking of the “vanishing” edges, they are made out of a sort of glossy plastic that tends to collect dust and finger smears. Another surprising decision is the placement of capacitive buttons at the bottom of the phone despite the fact that the phone runs Ice Cream Sandwich.
Unfortunately, Huawei decided to use gummy plastic tabs à la Sony for the microSD and SIM card slots. Yuck!
Screen & UI
The 4.3 inch Super AMOLED screen is a joy to look at. Covered in a layer of solid Gorilla Glass, the display is vibrant, colorful and almost numbingly bright. In fact the colors on the screen are so bright, I thought there was sticker with an image covering the screen. Honestly, the display quality is on par, if not better than the Galaxy Nexus. Sure the 960 x 540 resolution is subpar compared to the 1280 x 720 of the Samsung Galaxy S3, but it brings enough vibrant punch to satisfy most consumers.
Best of all, the Huawei Ascend P1 comes with stock Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0.3 with just a few tiny modifications. So basically, you are looking at the same UI as on the Galaxy Nexus - a big plus for fans of the stock OS like myself. If you feel like you need to switch gears a little bit, Huawei offers you the option to switch to one of two custom Huawei themes. It’s refreshing to see a company giving you the option to use their theme without forcing consumers to root their devices to enjoy stock Android 4.0. At this point the phone comes with a very small amount of bloatware, although this may well change once the phone goes through the carrier pipeline.
The Ascend P1 is a solid dual-core device with a 1.5 Texas Instruments processor that packs enough punch to make the OS extremely snappy and responsive. On top of that, you can be sure that most dual-core games will run perfectly on the phone. There is really not much to add except for the fact that the performance is top-notch and extremely reliable. Didn’t experience any crashes or lags in a week’s use.
Although the battery is unfortunately non-removable, it still deserves an honorable mention. With the 1800mAh battery, you can easily go over 24 hours on one charge - and perhaps even a bit longer if you turn down the screen’s brightness and image enhancement.
With this new phone, Huawei has definitely shown that it can play in the big leagues and even has a shot at winning over the hearts and minds of consumers. Known up to almost exclusively for their low-end phones, the Ascend P1 marks a new milestone for the company: a solid Android 4.0 mid-range phone that is neither cheap nor fancy. My overall experience with the phone was extremely positive, partially because I had such low expectations, but also becomes the phone gets a lot of things right. I especially loved the fact that the phone allows you to choose between the regular Ice Cream Sandwich stock theme and a couple custom ones from Huawei. Though it is still unclear whether the phone will hit the US market, the Ascend P1 will remain a solid option for anyone looking for a light and thin smartphone with a great display and applaudable battery life.