A review of the Huawei Ascend P1 by guest contributor Toby Kurien.
I bought the Huawei Ascend P1 from the Orange Store around two months ago, for a paltry R2600. I had a hunch that this could well be the best value-for-money smartphone available in South Africa currently, and my initial impressions were positive.
Two months later, the novelty factor having worn off, and a slew of new high-end devices having been released, how does this 2012-era phone stack up in daily usage? I’ll provide the highlights in my usual bullet-review fashion, but as a bonus, I’ve also included a highlights video.
– Price and specs! I can’t find better phone specifications for the price: 8MP (full-HD) camera, 4.3” qHD AMOLED screen with Gorilla Glass, dual-core CPU with decent GPU, 1GB RAM. It is comparable to a Galaxy S3 mini. Full specs here.
– The stand-out feature of this phone is it’s feel. This is both from a physical construction point-of-view, as well as performance point-of-view.
– Physically, the phone looks great – a lot better than in the pics of it! It is solidly built (unibody plastic construction), so there are no gaps, creaks or flex. It is remarkably thin and light (110g), and the curved edges together with soft-touch back make the phone really comfortable to hold, and easy to pick up.
– Performance is remarkable. This is one of the most responsive phones I’ve ever used.
– The Riptide GP game was pre-loaded, and it looks fantastic and shows off the GPU power of the phone. Watch the video for more.
– Above-average battery life. I can typically get 2 days of use out of the phone on a full charge (between 2 and 4.5 hours of screen-on time!), although that is helped along by the fact that I use the Huawei power-saving mode, BatteryFu, and 2G only mode. Nevertheless, my other phones with the same setup cannot provide more than 2 hours of screen-on time. Since the battery is non-removable, only having to charge the phone once very 2 days means I can double the usable life of the device.
- Speaking of 2G, Huawei’s cellular radio experience shows in this device (they do make most of the cellular network equipment, after all). This phone is usable even on Edge – browsing works, as does e-mail, twitter, etc. About the only time I need to switch to 3G is when uploading images.
– The phone features an FM radio with good reception, but RDS is not supported. Useful for live sports commentary. - Out of the box, the phone came with a screen protector already applied. I removed it, because Gorilla Glass.
– I tested USB OTG (on-the-go) support for keyboard and mouse and both worked great. I couldn’t get a flash drive to mount though.
– I tested MHL support for HDMI out and that worked too. A cheaply-bought MHL (version 1) adapter provided HDMI output to a TV with no interventions required – just plug it in and it appears on your TV.
– The biggest downside of this phone for me is the screen. The sub-pixel arrangement makes the screen look pixellated, especially white and red colours. On a white screen, you can see a green line on left edge, and a red line on right edge of the screen (see photos – although it looks blue on the right edge in the photo, it appears red). The photos greatly exaggerate the effect though, and in practise, I got over it very quickly and it didn’t bother me, but I know it will bother a lot of people. To see what it’s like (and whether or not you can live with it), go check out a Galaxy S3 mini in a store – it’s screen is pretty much the same.
– Text reads well, especially on low brightness, and the relatively-high 256ppi makes for easy reading.
– Other than the screen, I can only really nit-pick:
– Battery is non-removable (the back cover does not come off)
– Power button needs a firm press – sometimes you think you’ve pressed it but you haven’t
– The phone isn’t stable on flat surface, as it rests on the camera protrusion. But, it’s easy to pick up.
– The headphone volume output is too low.
– I didn’t see an option for full disk encryption.
– The speaker placement not ideal, especially when sitting flat on a table, since it blocks most of the sound output.
– I experienced some random bugs: I couldn’t answer a call as phone didn’t respond (happened once), sound stopped working after playing with FM radio & headphones – had to reboot (happened once), my Sony SmartWatch needed to be re-paired with the phone (happened twice, not sure who’s to blame here).
Watch the short (under 3 minutes) highlights video here:
My initial impressions were pretty much spot-on. I doubt that there is another phone currently on the market that offers better value for money. I am extremely pleased with my purchase.