Home Reviews Mobile Devices Huawei Ascends with P7 – hands on review

Huawei is serious about taking market share from Samsung and other Android smartphone makers. Already the third largest smartphone maker it has a product that meets and can beat the best of the competition.

Let’s put the Ascend P7 in perspective – it is a flagship level product - give or take a couple of minor features - and is similar in quality and functionality to the Samsung S5, Sony Xperia, or HTC One.

It has:

  • a 5” IPS, HD 1080, 441 ppi, screen covered in Gorilla Glass 3.0 – check
  • Android KitKat 4.4.2 with an unobtrusive user interface (UI) on top – check
  • A quad core 1.8Ghz Cortex-A9 ARM processor – check
  • 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage and a microSD card for 32GB more – check
  • 13MP, 4160 x 3120 pixel, autofocus camera and LED flash – check
  • A ‘world’ standard 4G LTE 800/900/1800/2100/2600 modem – check
  • All the usual sensors and NFC – check
  • A 2500 mAh battery for between 14-22 hours talk time and 53 hours video playback – check
  • The slimmest body at 6.5mm and just 124g - check
  • And its selling in Australia RRP $549 and online (parallel import) for under $450 – amazing

Yes, this well designed, super slim, desirable smartphone meets all flagship criteria lacking only Samsung’s fingerprint and heartbeat sensors. It is assembled by Foxconn - the same company that does the Apple iPhone. It has excellent build quality.

Regular readers may know I have spent some time with Samsung’s excellent Galaxy S5 – that sells for just under $800 at major retailers.

The Ascend P7 shows what a determined company can do and it ticks all the major boxes.

Build, quality and looks – 9 out of 10

Huawei uses a 7-layer build process with Gorilla Glass front and back. It is very slim and fits the pocket well. After a week of ‘carrying’ I noticed the weight and size saving when I picked up the Samsung again. At 139.8 x 68.8 x 6.5mm and 124g it is the class leader.

Screen – 9 out of 10

It is a 5”, HD, 1920 x 1080 screen with Gorilla Glass 3. The colours were not quite as saturated as the S5 – a common comment about the latter. However hidden away in Display settings is a colour temperature adjustment that allows it to come very close to the S5.

Camera – 7 out of 10

It has an 8MP front camera with a 5 piece aspherical lens, BSI and Blue Glass infrared sensor – very good for a selfie. The camera took excellent low light photos and was particularly good for video chat – no typical purple tinge.

The rear camera is 13MP, BSI sensor, F2.0 (for low light) and Autofocus. It performed well under most light situations. In comparison the 16MP Samsung S5 is slightly ahead on the picture quality and camera app features - although both suffer from using the Android based camera app. The Nokia Lumia 1020 and 930 still rule for picture quality and the app when I need a great photo.

Apps and UI – 8 out of 10

It is an Android phone with the Huawei Emotion UI 2.3 overlaid. Thankfully, this is a very light overlay leaving Android pretty much as it was intended. It provides five profiles – Standard, Driving, Sleep, Outdoor, and Meeting - over 20 themes are downloadable.

Apps come from Google Play store although Huawei has its own app store in Asia.

Comment

By George, I think Huawei’s got it! (To channel George Bernard Shaw).

A flagship quality phone at a great price with few, real, trade-offs. It definitely should be on your shopping list.

The phone also supports the new Huawei Talkband B1 – what amounts to a Bluetooth smart watch and headphone all in one. See the review here.

Huawei has sent a warning shot across Samsung’s bow (and Apple that could not care less) by showing that it can produce an equivalent product and sell it for far less. Samsung’s business model - based on Apple’s model – adds expensive cost layers to the product – it has so many mouths to feed.

Huawei has flattened that model selling via Telco’s and volume retailers – cutting out many middleman costs.

If you look at their excellent, but slightly lower specified 4G, Ascend G6 as an entry-level device selling for around $250 it has the market well covered.

To quote GSM Arena “Looking strong” and I agree.

Postscript

I have been using the 5" Ascend P7 daily for about a week now. The most interesting thing is that I dont miss my flagship, premium, Samsung Galaxy S5. That is not meant to disparage the S5 in any way - I developed a strong emotional attachment to it - it is an excellent handset. Sadly this illustrates that Android is Android and differences between fully featured phones is minimal. It matters little if its a Samsung, LG, HTC, or now Huawei.

The scary thing is that my experience with Huawei's excellent 4G, 4.5" Ascend G6 - selling at about $250 - was similar. Where Samsung has tried to differentiate is via its own App store and frankly there is little in it that you can't find in a similar app in Google's Play Store.

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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!

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