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Huawei Ascend P1 Phone Review

By on September 24, 2012
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Good overall phone priced a bit higher than it should be.

Good: Fits well in your hand, zippy performance and stock UI
Bad: Expensive for what it is, camera is just ok
Price: AED 1899
* The price is the Suggested Retail Price at the time of review. Please call a retailer to confirm the latest price for this product.

We received the Huawei Honor smartphone a few months back and were generally impressed with it’s pretty UI and a good battery life- although it did look very much like the iPhone . Today we are looking at the second phone from them modeled as the Ascend P1 which certainly ups the specs but what you will probably notice first is how thin the P1 is.

Build quality & design

Measuring just 7.7mm and weighing just 110g, the Ascend P1 is one of the thinnest and lightest phones that I have come across. even though the unit is made of plastic, Huawei has done an impressive job with the build quality. The device feels robust and dense which I prefer over the flimsy plastic used by some other manufacturers. With a height of 127mm and a width of 64mm, the P1 fits nicely in your hand.

The top of the phone has the USB connector as well as the 3.5mm jack and the regular sized SIM slot which feels a bit awkwardly placed. On the right you have the power button along with the microSD slot while the left has volume controls. Like most new phones the front is pretty much a slab with an LED and front-facing camera on the top and three capacitive buttons at the bottom for menu, home and back. The back button is on the right side which think feels a bit wrong and would have much preferred on the left side of the device. The back houses an 8MP camera and does not come off like some of the other phones so your battery is not replaceable.

Specs and Comparison and Benchmarks

The Huawei Ascend P1 certainly has better than average specs though it definitely isn’t targeted as the highest-end Android device. With a Dual Core 1.5GHz Cortex A9 CPU and PowerVR SGX540 GPU, it is an extremely capable device. Other specs include 1GB RAM and 4GB ROM which gives you just a bit over 2GB for storage however with a MicroSD slot, that is not much of a concern. The following table compares the rest of the specs of the Ascend P1 with some of the other medium-end devices.

Huawei Ascend P1 HTC One S Sony Arco S
Price AED 1899 AED 1,900
Size 127.4 x 64.8 x 7.7 mm 130.9 x 65 x 7.8 mm 126 x 66 x 11.9 mm
Weight 110g 119.5g 147g
Screen Size 4.3 inches 4.3 inches 4.3 inches
Resolution 540 x 960 pixels 540 x 960 pixels 720 x 1280 pixels
CPU 1.5GHz Dual Core Cortex-A9 1.5GHz Dual Core Krait 1.5GHz Dual Core Scorpion
Storage 2GB Usable + MicroSD 16GB 16GB
Connectivity HSDPA, 21 Mbps
Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
Bluetooth 3.0
HSDPA, 21 Mbps
Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
Bluetooth 4.0
HSDPA, 21 Mbps
Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
Bluetooth 3.0
OS Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
Front Camera 1.3 megapixel VGA 1.3 megapixel
Back Camera 8.0 megapixel 8 megapixel 8 megapixel
Battery 1670 mAh 1650 mAh 1950 mAh

 

The Ascend P1 scored 1941 on the Sun Spider benchmark which is faster than the Sony Acro S that scored 2305 and the slower than the HTC one S which scored 1627.

Screen and Interface

With a 4.3” screen and a 540×960 resolution, the Huawei Ascend P1 stands right below Android superphones. It has a PPI of roughly 256 which doesn’t necessarily make it as smooth of a display as some of the other phones we have tested, however, the colors do stand out quite a bit and the screen is quite readable in the bright UAE sun where most displays pale.

Like the rest of the major players in the industry, Huawei has a custom UI on the Ascend P1, however it is not as intrusive as, say the Touchwiz by Samsung. the best thing is that Huawei allows you to switch to a stock Android 4.0 ICS interface which the purists will certainly love.

What could have been improved upon are the three capacitive buttons. Instead of using Google’s recommended three buttons (back, home and task manager) Huawei chose to use the menu button instead of the task manager which, in the end, cause UI fragmentation.One particular UI change that I didn’t care much about is the keyboard which I found to be a bit harder to use than the stock Android keyboard. Not sure why Huawei felt the need to change that.

Camera

The Ascend P1 has a decent camera that takes good daylight shots. With less light, I found the flash to be very trigger-happy, flashing more often than required which certainly lights the picture up but makes the color appear a bit over bright . the following are a couple of sample shots from the camera.

Usability: Sound Quality, Heat levels, Call quality

There really isn’t much to talk about as far as day-to-day operation is concerned with the Huawei Ascend P1. It makes calls just fine and neither myself nor the person on the other end of the line had any issues with the call quality. The phone does not heat up much when being used either and about the only time it gets warm is when charging which is pretty much the norm.

Huawei adds a 1670 mAh battery to the Ascend P1 which isn’t super-high end but then again, neither is the hardware that powers the phone so you should be able to get at least one full day out of it. I was using the Ascend P1 as my travel phone while testing it so I didn’t really push it as far as battery life is concerned but with moderate usage, I was getting a couple of days from it.

Conclusion

The Huawei Ascend P1 is a pretty good all around phone, however it’s price tag of AED 1,899 puts it directly in competition with the likes of HTC One X and Samsung Galaxy S3- the current top phones on the Android platform. At that price level, I cannot justify purchasing the Ascend P1. I feel this phone should be closer to the HTC One S as far as pricing is concerned which can be purchased for around AED 1500.


About

Abbas Jaffar Ali is the founder of tbreak.com and a blogger, geek and self-declared tech pundit who can't stop talking about technology. Find him on twitter as @ajaffarali

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