Huawei Ascend P1 review
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Review: Huawei Ascend P1
By Loh Ving Sung
Huawei released its Ascend P1 and the first thing you’ll notice how thin the device is, and you are right, the phone is a mere 7.7mm, making it one of thinnest device out there. But it’s not just its supermodel inspired thinness that helps the P1 stand out from the Android crowd, there are some pretty decent hardware too. So let’s dig deeper and see how well the P1 fares.
At a glance
+ Good battery life
In the box
Huawei Ascend P1
2-pin travel charger
The P1 has a one-piece unibody design, meaning like the iPhone, you cannot remove the back cover of the phone to reach the battery pack. And the only openings you have on the phone is microSD card, and a SIM card slot.
It has a two-tone design with a white rear cover, and the receiver part of the phone juts out like a lip. The plastic back gives out a slight creaky sound when we gripped the phone too. The P1 is easy to hold, thanks to its thin design. It makes it easier to pocket in our skinny jeans.
As for its 4.3-inch screen, it is a qHD display with 960 x 540 resolution at 256 pixels per inch, so you have a crisp, clear display with great colour. We noticed that there are minor issues with its light sensor, which isn’t zippy enough to detect when we are indoors or outdoors. So you’ll end up squinting when the screen is at full tilt in a dark room.
The screen is bordered by a noticeable bezel, especially at top and bottom of the screen. You’ll get Android’s three button setup at the bottom of the screen.
The top of the phone comes with full sized SIM card slot covered with flap, and a microUSB slot for charging. On the right of the P1, there is a microSD card slot and a power/standby button. And on the left you have a volume rocker to round up the minimalist design.
Inside, the P1 is powered by a dual-core 1.5GHz processor, and 1GHz RAM, so everything feels zippy and responsive. On Antutu’s benchmark, you have a device that sits in between Galaxy Note and the Asus Transformer Prime, both dual-core devices only surpassed by quad-core powerhouses.
There is a single speaker grille at the rear of the phone that sounds surprisingly well even when we turn the P1 to full volume. Also, we should note that it’s a-GPS is extremely snappy, the minute we turn it on, it locked on to us by the time we entered Google Maps.
Huawei has decided to load the P1 with vanilla Android 4.0.3 (Ice Cream Sandwich) build by default, so we are pleased to say it is quite responsive. So to start you’ll get five homescreens which you can populate with widgets and apps. With ICS, you can group apps together by dragging them on top of each other.
The lockscreen comes with four shortcuts that you can access without unlocking the phone. There is still a medley of resizable widgets you can place on your homescreen, ranging from bookmarks, calculators and clocks. We also like the resizable fonts, so we did not need to squint at the screen while reading.
You can opt to use the skins included by Huawei, which makes minor changes to the UI. Or a 3D mode, which isn’t really 3D, simply adding depth of field to certain app and widgets.
ICS means you’ll get Google’s staples, like Maps, Gmail, Calendar, Google+, YouTube and Play Store apps. Huawei also included Polaris office, if you really want to get productive on the P1.
Connectivity and battery life
Despite the slim chassis, the P1’s 1800mAh battery managed to get us through the day. A day that consisted of Facebook chores, Whatsapp messages, Twitter, along with the occasional call and text. And at the end of that day, we still had enough power for the P1 to wake us up the following morning.
We found the Ascend P1 to be a good performer in terms of stay-working-ability and is has a good, practical battery life.
The P1’s connectivity won’t raise too many eyebrows with its connectivity options - it comes with HSPA, WiFi and Bluetooth. You can share media via WiFi Direct, there is also an FM receiver if you want to listen to the radio. Media sharing can be handled via Huawei’s DLNA app, which makes it easy to share files with friends on the same wireless network.
The P1 has fairly decent 8-megapixel camera, but there is a very noticeable 'halo effect', especially within a fluorescent lighted room. But outdoors with natural light, the P1 performs better, able to deliver somewhat crisper, cleaner photos.
Sample photos of the P1
You’ll get a slew of filters to help spruce up your photos, from lomo cold, aqua, sepia and negatives. If you are feeling goofy, there are facial distortion tools which will help skew your friends’ faces.
If you are a photobug who likes to delve into the specifics of a shot, you can your exposure, saturation, contrast and brightness.
The P1’s camera is also able to capture 1080p video. Along with a VGA front-facing chat camera, that is able to capture 720p videos.
At RM1299, we think it’s a bargain of a phone. Huawei’s decision to load the P1 with the stock, unmodified Android 4.0, is a great choice. The gives the P1 an extra spring in its step, without being loaded down by an extra UI.
Its 4.3-inch screen is big and clear, and the rest of the mid-end specs help smooth things along. Its brand might be the biggest factor to overcome for any potential buyer. But rest assured, the P1 is an above average performer, and aside from a slightly creaky exterior, there are very decent hardware wrapped inside a very slim device.