By CHONG JINN XIUNGbytz@thestar.com.my
Huawei ascends into the high-end Android segment with this smartphone.
HUAWEI is eyeing a piece of the irresistible premium smartphone pie with its Ascend P1 smartphone.
Announced at this year's Consumer Electronics Show, the P1 is a surprisingly sleek smartphone that has a few tricks up its sleeve.
The first thing you will notice about the P1 is that it's incredibly thin for a smarpthone with a 4.3in screen. In case you are wondering, the slender, shiny black and white body measures just 7.1mm thick. Also, it's mainly made of plastic but feels sturdy and not cheap.
The 4.3in Super AMOLED screen is pretty, has good viewing angles and a resolution of 540 x 960-pixels. The colours are a little over saturated and the screen is quite bright but still not good enough to be viewed outdoors.
To protect the big screen from scratches it uses Corning Gorilla Glass.
Just like most Android phones, the P1 has touch-sensitive buttons at the bottom of the screen. Surprisingly, it's organised in such a way that it's not easy to accidentally press the back button unlike with some other smartphones.
The phone's measly 4GB of built-in space is not enough for storing many apps and multimedia content- it is a good thing that you can add up to 32GB of additional storage via the microSD card slot.
Also, it uses a standard SIM which is a hassle for those who have migrated to the smaller microSIM which is becoming more popular.
It's great that the P1 comes preloaded with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) so that you don't have to upgrade it yourself.
It may only have a dual-core 1.5GHz processor but the phone performed smoothly although opening an excessive number of apps can slow down the phone.
The native web browser rendered webpages fast but those that contained Flash took a tad longer.
It is quite uncommon for a handset maker to offer an Android phone without a custom user interface. Huawei is one of the exceptions and you get a plain vanilla Andriod 4.0 just as Google intended it to be.
There are also funky 3D themes with dynamic effects if you get bored of the stock wallpapers. They look cool but the phone can become sluggish if there are too many apps running in the background which is why we prefer the default Android themes.
Typing text and e-mail messages on the P1 is a little tricky with the virtual keyboard because the autocorrect isn't as good as some other phones.
If you like watching movies on your smartphone then you will be happy to note that the P1 can even handle 1080p HD videos.
The speakers on the back don't look like much but they are audible. They are not good enough for listening to music but sound fine for movies if you switch on the Dolby Mobile feature.
The 8-megapixel camera benefits a lot from Android 4.0 features like zero shutter lag, fast start up time, burst shooting mode and HDR (high dynamic range).
It also has a fun but pointless face warp mode so that you can have a laugh or two at your friend's expense.
In terms of performance, the camera was a little disappointing. For instance, the autofocus was fast but the images turned out blurry and lacked detail even when shooting under ideal conditions with natural light.
On the bright side, we found the full HD video recording to be good.
The Ascend P1 is an Android smartphone with lots of features packed into an attractive slim unibody.
The 4.3in screen looks great and the wide viewing angles make it great for watching movies on the go. Another plus point is that the P1 comes installed with Android 4.0 so you don't have to do the upgrading yourself from and older OS.
Also, the dual-core processor was able to handle the new OS and just about any apps.
Unfortunately, the P1 is letdown by an 8-megapixel camera that doesn't perform as well as it should when shooting photos.
At least it fares better in the HD video recording department.
Huawei's first attempt at making a high-end smartphone is not without flaws but the P1 is a decent Android smartphone overall.
Pros: Nice 4.3in screen; slim unibody design; preloaded with Android 4.0.
Cons: Picture quality is only so-so; virtual keyboard could be better.
(Editor's note: Huawei will be offering the Ascend P1 at an introductory price of RM999 on Sept 6.)
NETWORK: GSM 850/900/1800/1900, HSDPA 900/2100
OPERATING SYSTEM: Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich)
DISPLAY: 4.3in AMOLED (540 x 960-pixels)
CAMERA: 8-megapixels with autofocus, dual LED flash; 1080p @ 30fps HD video recording
CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth 3.0, WiFi 802.11b/g/n, microUSB 2.0
PROCESSOR: Dual-core 1.5GHz Cortex-A9
EXPANSION SLOT: MicroSD
OTHER FEATURES: Web browser, geo-tagging, HDR, smile detection, WiFi hotspot
DIMENSIONS (W x D x H): 64.8 x 7.69 x 129mm
Review unit courtesy of Huawei Technologies Malaysia Sdn Bhd, (03) 2179-9495.