Huawei is not a name that is commonly associated with smartphones, but it is something the company seems to want to change with the introduction of the earlier Ascend P6. That device was not a bad effort by the Chinese vendor, which had a thickness of 6.18mm that the company claimed made it the thinnest in the world. While the Ascend P6 was an undeniably stylish Android phone, its overall appeal was limited by the fact it was a 3G device in an increasingly 4G world. Other limitations, such as overheating, battery performance and port placement also stopped the Ascend P6 from being a threat to market leaders Apple, Samsung and HTC. Fortunately, the Ascend P2 overcomes most of these shortcomings.
Packed with features
The Ascend P2 comes with a 4.7-inch display at a 720 x 1280 resolution. The screen and 2420mAh battery is housed in a 136.2 x 66.7 x 8.4 mm case. Despite its size, the phone is surprisingly light at a weight of 122g, making it easy to hold and carry around. Under the hood there is a 1.5GHz processor and 1GB of RAM, with 32GB of inbuilt storage. Unlike other manufacturers that offer cheaper editions of the same phone with 16GB of storage, the Ascend P2 is only available in the 32GB variant.
Another key feature of the phone is a 13-megapixel camera that is capable of taking photos at resolutions of 4032 x 3224 pixels. It is accompanied by a front-facing 1.3 megapixel camera at the top near the speaker. In addition to volume and screen lock buttons, the Ascend P2 comes with a dedicated camera button. The headphone and USB port are located at the top of the phone, with the SIM card slot located on the side. Numerous Android phones feature a memory card slot, though the Ascend P2 does not come with one.
Speedy and responsive
The Ascend P2 has Android “Jelly Bean” 4.1.2 installed and comes with the Emotion UI 1.5 skin, though the layout has been tweaked for the Australian release. For example, as a Telstra phone it comes with a home screen widget that tracks data usage. The skin shares many design characteristics of the stock Android Jelly Bean interface, with a home screen that can be unlocked in four directions to gain quick access to the desktop, camera, phone or messaging apps. Overall, the user experience on the Ascend P2 was functional and apps started-up and ran without any hiccups.
The key feature of the Ascend P2 is the 4G connectivity, and in this respect it delivers well. During testing on the Telstra 4G network in Sydney’s CBD, speeds of between 40 and 70Mbps were recorded. This meant that web pages and online content loaded up visibly faster than during a 3G experience. While 4G is speedy, it has a tendency to drain batteries quite quickly and the same rings true for the Ascend P2. During testing, the battery lasted for a whole day of use before needing a charge, which currently seems to be the norm for the majority of 4G capable smartphones.
Performance with price
The Huawei Ascend P2 does a lot of things right, such as featuring 4G support, a nice screen, light weight and decent battery life. Telstra is offering the phone for free on a $60 per month contract, or it can be bought outright for $504, which means it is surprisingly affordable as well. While a larger battery and a memory card slot would have been appreciated, the good balance between features and price makes the Ascend P2 a compelling choice for a new or replacement phone.
The Ascend P2 is available now exclusively from Telstra.
Patrick Budmar covers consumer and enterprise technology breaking news for IDG Communications. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @patrick_budmar.