The Huawei Ascend P1 is not just another Android phone, admittedly if it is from a company that few have heard of, but with a feature list as highly spec’d as this, it warrants getting the attention it deserves. Sporting a 4.3” Super AMOLED screen with an 8MP shooter, bundled with Android 4.0.3 Ice Cream Sandwich out the box all running off a 1.5GHz dual-core CPU and 1GB of RAM. This stands it in good stead as one of the best mid-range devices on the market right now.
Briefly touching on the phones main features the 8MP camera produces clear images, the Super AMOLED screen makes the colours stand out, however sunlight legibility isn’t wonderful and left us here at mobilife struggling to see what we were doing on screen. Video recording and playback was much of a similar story to the photos, very crisp and clean looking thanks to recording in full 1080p, however the screen doesn’t playback at that quality but even at a 540p resolution stood up to the test surprisingly well.
We gave the latest game from Imangi Studios, Temple Run 2 a go to see how well it coped and it did do reasonably well. Loading times of the app were pitted against a Samsung Galaxy Note II and a Google Nexus 4. The Huawei Ascend P1 took 2.6 seconds longer to reach main menu against the Samsung and took 2.2 seconds longer than the Nexus 4 to load. Bear in mind both phones used in the test against the Huawei carry quad-core processors so were bound to perform better. Against a Sony Xperia S, which also carries a 1.5GHz dual-core loading times were the same. The game play itself was smooth and the rendering of graphics didn’t judder or feel laggy at all. This is a fairly graphic intensive game and the Huawei Ascend P1 coped with it very well. We felt the screen colours a little too rich on this game, but we put this down to the Super AMOLED screen’s richness and vibrancy of colours.
The music player on the Huawei Ascend P1 is of their own design, replacing the stock Android player but does a really good job. There are functions to search for music by song, album, artist, genre or a playlist, which can be done on the device itself and thanks to the phone’s built in Dolby Mobile 3.0 Plus sound enhancement engine it greatly boosts the sound quality across all aspects of playing music with both headphones or loudspeaker, this also makes watching YouTube videos that little bit nicer. Now that Google have their own music player which streams all your uploaded music from the cloud to the device the need for a dedicated onboard music player has diminished slightly, however Huawei have ensured that if you don’t want to use Google’s version, you’re still left with a good alternative.
The Huawei Ascend P1’s version of Android has not been customised as much other manufacturers do with their phone’s but there are some neat extras available. Facebook, Twitter and Google Chrome came preinstalled as did some of Huawei’s own such as; File Manager – to manage your files, Flashlight – which utilizes the camera’s dual-LED to create a source of light, Music+ – which replaces the standard Android music player, Riptide GP – which is a cracking water skiing game and Security Guard which allows you to store passwords, encrypt files and create a blacklist of people from contacting you. There is some a couple nifty features in the settings menu to., The one that caught my eye was Power saving mode which allows you to set three different modes of battery saving. These being Battery Saver, Balanced and Performance. You can make the choice between the pretty standard 2D launcher and Huawei’s own 3D launcher which gives you some 3D widgets. Huawei made one final tweak to the lockscreen, rather than the standard Slide to the left to unlock and slide to the right to go to camera which allows you to customise the right, up and down shortcuts to launch an activity of your choice. There is also the option for having a 3D lockscreen which looks lot more fun and user friendly.
There are apps available which skin on top of Huawei’s own custom skin, such as Apex Launcher and Action Launcher, however these don’t just replace the look and feel of the UI but the launcher sequence too, such as the way apps are found. The downside to this is that you are running another app all in the background the time which could have a toll on your battery and does drain your CPU performance a little. Since we here at mobilife like our Android vanilla feel, it is a nice way to give it that look, but we don’t like feel it is necessary since Huawei haven’t played around with the look and feel too much and given it a fairly basic UI tweak.
We feel that huawei have done a great job creating the UI skin for the Ascend P1 as it keeps it very similar to the vanilla Android look featured on Google’s Nexus devices, but adding in a few useful tweaks such as the unlock to a designated app feature or the aforementioned battery saver options. The larger a manufacturer’s UI skin is, the more the phone’s CPU is used and skins such as Samsung’s TouchWiz or HTC’s Sense UI are heavily customised which can restrict the potential power and performance of a phone.
A couple of niggles, for instance the 3D home setting which does feel slightly laggy, whereas the 2D home setting is much smoother and doesn’t detract from usability at all. We passed the phone on to a complete Android novice and within 5 minutes found herself using it without a hitch and in her words found the Huawei Ascend P1 “really simple to use.” Great job Huawei, these are definitely the sort of customers you want to be targeting to increase your presence in the Android market, as newcomers to Android that get on well with a Huawei are more likely to return to the same manufacturer, as oppose to chopping and changing manufacturers like those a little more au faix with the operating system.
In summary, this phone sits really well in the mid-range category. The hardware of the Huawei Ascend P1 is excellent, you get a lot of great features built in such as the camera, excellent screen size and clarity and Huawei themselves have done a tip top job on the user interface.
Many thanks to our good friends at Phones 4u for supplying us here at mobilife with the Huawei Ascend P1 to test and create this review with. We can safely say we were gutted to give it back, such a lovely little device I wouldn’t mind carrying around at all.