4G compatibility; better design; Sharp qHD screen; decent 8MP snapper.
Design lacks the wow factor; 4G signal diminishes near the edges of a hotspot; onscreen keyboard is too complicated.
Offering better download speeds than its predecessor, and a new design, the Huawei Ascend P1 LTE 4G also has an eight-megapixel snapper, qHD display and a dual-core chip, which all manage to impress.
Thanks to EE’s 4G launch at the beginning of November, quite a few smartphones are being rereleased offering 4G compatibility. First off the block was HTC’s One XL, and now Huawei has given a 4G upgrade to the Ascend P1 – here called the Ascend P1 LTE 4G. But Huawei has done more than just amend the 4G offering, having refreshed the design and given the handset a far more solid feel.
Put it in your hand and you’ll feel that the Huawei P1 LTE 4G is quite a solid handset, which feels like it might well survive if dropped. It’s a little weightier than its predecessor, and a bit more chunky, although it will still slip into a pocket. The only small downside is that the top of the handset sticks out quite a way above the display. In fact, looking at it more closely, the P1 LTE 4G actually looks more like Huawei’s Honour phone, with its rounded corners. Only the fact that it doesn’t have a search key sitting below the screen gives its identity away.
You’ll find the volume and power keys sitting on the left edge, while the back cover can be easily pried off to get to the SIM card slot, Micro SD memory card slot and battery. On the back you’ll see more similarities with the Honour handset – it has the same mottled plastic cover, and the snapper lens sticks out ever so slightly. But it still has the curved bottom seen on the original Ascend P1. It’s a solid design, sure, but does little to excite.
Need for speed
The major difference between the P1 LTE 4G and its predecessor is, of course, that speedy 4G connection, which makes it easy to stream media and films. In the middle of London the 4G signal was easily found and we were able to experience download speeds of 19 to 20Mbps – great for streaming films. But as we moved out of the capital, the speeds dropped. By the time we hit Zone 2, the average had dwindled to about 3Mbps – still good, but more like a decent 3G speed. However, if you live in a 4G hotzone, then the P1 LTE 4G will give you good speeds for downloading, but if you’re on the edge of a hotzone, we think you’d be better off waiting until coverage has improved.
It’s not just the design that the P1 LTE 4G shares with its predecessor – it also runs on Android Ice Cream Sandwich, which runs really well thanks to the dual-core 1.5Ghz chip under the hood, combined with the 1GB of RAM. It lets you set up all the app folders, shortcuts and widgets you’d expect – and the dual-core power ensures games and apps run smoothly. If you’re wondering whether to choose this phone or the likes of the HTC One X or Samsung Galaxy S II, you can feel secure in the knowledge that this handset will be futureproofed for some time to come.
If you’re not bothered about playing games, the handset is just as good for watching films or TV programmes. The display is a really bright 4.3 inch qHD model that can be viewed even in bright sunlight. It’s sharp and offers great viewing angles. It is also really responsive, making surfing the net or browsing menus enjoyable.
Make it snappy
The camera produces great shots – even if the lens does stick out a bit at the back of the handset. Autofocus is speedy – or you can choose to focus manually by tapping on the screen – your snap will be taken after about half a second. It’s not as fast as the Samsung Galaxy S III or HTC One X but is still decent for a mid-range handset.
Most images offered good colours and were sharp – a few came out too dark. Manual focus is great if you want to take macro close-up pictures. If you’re feeling creative you can add filters, such as black and white sketch, or even have fun stretching your mate’s head so they look like a mutant. The flash is good for indoor shots, plus it grabs HD video too – the quality is decent, although sound is a tad faint. For Skyping, the 1.3-megapixel front-facing lens does a decent job.
One of the things we didn’t like about the first Ascend P1 was its squashed complicated onscreen keyboard, and Huawei hasn’t seen fit to change it this time – although the good news is that you can switch to the original Android keyboard, even if you do still have to put up with the disappointing auto-correction. There seem to be no words in the dictionary – so nearly every word is underscored by a red line…
Battery life is impressive – you should get a good 24 hours out of a full charge if you’re fiddling with apps, taking snaps and watching TV – streaming video will see the juice drain after about eight hours. Light use – the odd email, text and check online – will see the battery last as long as three days.
Huawei has updated it original Ascend P1 to offer 4G LTE compatibility. Apart from the design changes, little else has changed – there’s still an impressive eight-megapixel snapper and a powerful dual-core chip that can handle most games and apps and run the Android Ice Cream Sandwich smoothly, while the sharp qHD display makes it easy to enjoy surfing the net and watching movies.
|Type of device||Mobile phone|
|Operating System||Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich|
|Dimensions||133 x 65 x 9.9mm|
|Processor speed||1.5GHz dual-core|
|CPU||1.5GHz dual-core processor|
|Screen size||4.3 inches|
|Screen type||Super AMOLED|
|Display type||16 million colours|
|Memory card slot|
|Secondary camera||1.3 megapixels|
|Special camera features||Flash|
|Music player||MP3, MIDI, AMR-NB, AAC, AAC+ and eAAC+|
|FM Radio description|
|Handsfree speaker phone|
|What's in the box|
|Battery life multimedia||Eight hours|
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