Huawei Ascend P2

19th Jun 2013 | 16:03

Huawei Ascend P2

Huawei aims to rise to new heights with this record breaking handset

TechRadar rating:

4 stars

Like:

Decent specs; Smooth operation; Solid design; Good camera;

Dislike:

UI looks childish; Average battery life; No microSD slot; Rubbish keyboard;

Introduction

So what's the world's fastest smartphone? The Samsung Galaxy S4? HTC One? iPhone 5? Wrong, wrong and wrong - if you're talking about mobile data speeds the Huawei Ascend P2 is the unlikely hero stealing the crown.

The reason the Ascend P2 lays claim to the world's fastest title is due to the Cat 4 LTE innards it sports, which can provide a theoretical speed of up too 150Mbps, but you're never going to actually see that.

With 4G baked inside the handset you can expect EE will be picking up the Ascend P2 pretty quickly in the UK, although we're yet to see any network commit to Huawei's latest flagship smartphone just yet.

You can pre-order the Huawei Ascend P2 with some online retailers, with the SIM-free handsets setting you back around £339.99 (around $530, AU$560), and we reckon this will probably translate into around £25 per month on a 3G contract.

Huawei has a bit of a reputation for being a budget phone merchant and the Ascend P2 is the Chinese firm's latest attempt at changing that assumption - and let's hope it does better than the Ascend P1 which arrived in stores with nothing more than a whimper.

Huawei Ascend P2 review

In terms of competition the Ascend P2 doesn't enter at the top of the smartphone tree, with the likes of the Galaxy S4, iPhone 5 and Sony Xperia Z all offering a more premium - and expensive - experience.

The Huawei Ascend P2 will find itself rubbing shoulders with the mid-high level of handsets which include the Sony Xperia SP, Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini, Nokia Lumia 820 and even the Samsung Galaxy S3.

Huawei Ascend P2 review

However it's also got one of its own kind to contender with too in the form of the Huawei Ascend P6 - a super-slim smartphone which may not have such a blockbuster camera, 4G connection or as large internal storage, but it does sport a far more attractive design and it's difficult to see how the Chinese firm will be able to market both successfully side by side.

On paper the Ascend P2 looks relatively good value for money with a 4.7-inch, 1280 x 720 display, 1.5GHz quad-core processor, 1GB of RAM, 16GB internal memory, 13MP rear camera and front facing 1.3MP snapper.

Huawei Ascend P2 review

Jelly Bean is the operating system of choice on board and along with the likes of 4G and NFC, Huawei has managed to make the Ascend P2 a compact 136 x 67 x 8.4mm, and the lightweight plastic body tips the scales at 122g.

In terms of design the Ascend P2 doesn't exactly break any new ground, but it's a relatively stylish, functional handset which sits reasonably well in the hand - although we found it offered little in the way of grip which lead us to worrying about dropping it, and sometimes actually dropping it. Whoops.

Huawei Ascend P2 review

We're told though the back cover (which isn't removable by the way) on our review isn't the same as the one which will find its way onto the P2 which you'll be able to pick up from stores, so hopefully it will offer a bit more grip.

As you can't peel off the back cover there's no access to the 2420mAh battery housed inside the Ascend P2, which explains why the SIM-port is located on the right side of the handset under the easily accessible power/lock key.

Huawei Ascend P2 review

The microSIM port itself is covered by a plastic flap which isn't too tricky to flip open, although popping your SIM in and out is more of a challenge and unless you have some decent length in your nails you'll need to use the little tool included in the box to manipulate the card.

An added bonus on the right hand side of the Ascend P2 is the inclusion of a dedicated shutter key towards the base of the handset, giving you instant access to the camera app as well as an easy way to snap photos.

Huawei Ascend P2 review

Up top there's a headphone jack and a microUSB port, which keeps the bottom of the Huawei Ascend P2 clear for the sweeping black, glossy plastic finish.

On the left you get the customary volume rocker switch and moving round the back reveals a camera lens and single LED flash housed in a textured metal frame for a bit of added protection, plus there's a dual speaker grille near the bottom of the handset.

Available in both white and black the Huawei Ascend P2 is a solid, well built, if not slightly uninspiring handset which won't look out of place next to its competition.

Interface

The Huawei Ascend P2 comes running Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean and we'd expect it to get bumped up to Android 4.2 in due course.

Huawei Ascend P2 review

It's not just stock Android which adorns the P2 though, with Huawei sticking its own gloss over the Google-made system, known as Emotion UI 1.5, which we've already had an encounter with on the Ascend G510.

At first glance the Emtion UI on the Ascend P2 looks pretty standard, with a slightly tweaked lockscreen providing quick links to the phone, messaging and camera apps.

Unlock the handset and you're taken to one of up to nine homescreens - although you can tailor the number displayed to suit your personal needs by pinching the screen.

The first major difference you'll notice on the Emotion UI is the main widget which dominates the main homescreen.

It appears to be several widgets, but hold down on any one of them and you'll notice it's on big widget with various components.

Huawei Ascend P2 review

This multi-widget allows you to tailor its layout to suit you, with favourite contacts, weather, clock, music player and gallery options.

You can change the layout around and swap out some for different sized options - although you can't include any third party widgets in here, which makes it slightly limiting.

We also found this widget a little overpowering, taking up pretty much the whole screen and it seems like a bit of a waste of space. It's a nice idea but there's not enough options and the size is a real hindrance in our eyes.

Next up is the app draw, or more accurately, the lack of the app draw. Yep that's right, Huawei has completely removed the Android app draw from the Huawei Ascend P2, forcing you to have all your apps on your homescreens. It's all very iOS, don't you think?

Now we appreciate the reason why Huawei has done this. It's looking to simplify the Android experience and we're sure there's some people out there who get confused when they see the same app on a homescreen and in the app list - although this is confined to first time users.

Huawei Ascend P2 review

For a seasoned Android user the Emotion UI is almost like using a totally new operating system as the normal functions of the app draw no longer exist - it's confusing, but we got used to it after a couple of days.

Thankfully things are a little more Android in others areas - take the notification bar for example. Drag your finger down and you'll be greeted with the standard Jelly Bean layout, although Huawei has added a row of welcome quick settings.

There's a decent selection of toggles here too, with the likes of Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS lining up alongside rotation lock, brightness and airplane mode.

Scroll to the end of the line, hit more and you'll be able to re-order these settings to get your frequently used toggles at the front, plus there's a few more you can swap into the lineup.

Back to the homescreen and hold down on a clear area to pop up a menu which allows you to change the wallpaper, choose homescreen transitions and select a variety of widgets.

Huawei Ascend P2 review

Because all your applications are stored on the homescreens you'll find they start to fill up - luckily a simple drag and drop of one app onto another will create a folder, allowing you to keep a tighter control on your downloads.

General operation on the Ascend P2 is pretty smooth, although it lacks the snappiness of other quad-core handsets such as the Galaxy S3.

The 4.7-inch display is crisp, clear and responsive which aided our navigation around the Ascend P2, although we found the Emotion UI did make Android look a little childish.

You can change the "theme" of the operating system by selecting the Theme app to make things look a little more professional, although we would have still preferred the stock Android look over any of the options on offer.

Huawei Ascend P2 review

Huawei has looked to make Android more intuitive in other places as well - a visit to the Settings menu will give you the choice of two tabs at the top of the screen, "general" and "all".

"All" shows you the standard Android settings menu, but tap on General and you'll find Huawei has hand picked some bits it thinks you'll be using most often including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and screen brightness.

It does make finding what you want slightly easier, although we didn't have a big issue with the stock settings menu so this addition feels a little forced.

In short the Huawei Ascend P2 isn't going to blow you away with a super slick operating system and the Chinese firm's interpretation of Android is a little puzzling in places, but on the whole it's smooth and easy to use, if not a little babyish in style.

Contacts and calling

Contacts

Contacts are handled in the People app which gets a position in the dock at the bottom of the screen by default, but it can be swapped out for any other app.

Huawei Ascend P2 review

Although the name and app icon are different, behind the scenes you've got the stock Android contact management system which has just been given a little bit of Huawei gloss on the Ascend P2.

Huawei hasn't taken it upon itself to build Facebook or Twitter integration into the Ascend P2 which means you won't be able to pull through all your buddies from the popular social networks - which in turn leaves your contact list looking very bland thanks to the absence of profile pictures.

Google doesn't provide this integration as standard, but the likes of Samsung, HTC and LG happily build in a bridge as part of their user interfaces to allow you to sync everyone and it's a shame Huawei has neglected to follow suit.

It has included the Favourite and Groups features on the Ascend P2 however, and the former will pull through your best buds from Google and display them in large tiles within a separate tab of the People app.

Huawei Ascend P2 review

Groups are pretty straight forward as well, with the Huawei Ascend P2 scanning your Google account for any contact cards which may have been pulled together under a sub-heading, such as "Work" or "Family".

All your friends are displayed in the normal list, with a profile picture space to the right of their name.

You can add a contact easily by hitting the head with a plus icon in the bottom corner of the app, which will take you to a form so you can enter details about your new found friend.

It's a basic, easy to use interface which gives you all the core functionality, but none of the added extras you get on the likes of the Sony Xperia SP or Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini.

Calling

The Phone app is your one stop shop for all your calling needs, be it tapping out a number on the keyboard, quickly returning a call from your last dialled list of flicking through your contacts to the buddy you wish to converse with - it's all covered here.

Huawei Ascend P2 review

Fire up the app and you're thrown into the dial pad tab, which doubles as your recent calls lists, with received, missed and dialled numbers appearing in the space above the numeric keypad.

There's smart dialling present so if you start tapping out some digits the Ascend P2 will start offering up suggestions based on numbers in your contact list - or if you tap 3, 2, 3 it will also offer up "Dad" - it's all very clever, but nothing we haven't seen before.

Of course you can also make a call by going via the people app, selecting the person you wish to speak to and then tap on their number within their contact card to get the phone ringing.

In terms of signal the Huawei Ascend P2 didn't have any problems finding and holding onto bars, never leaving us feeling cut off.

Call quality was more than acceptable and we could easily have a conversation in a relatively noisy environment without too much hassle, but we weren't blown away with crystal clear audio.

Messaging

Thanks to the Android Jelly Bean innards of the Huawei Ascend P2 you're blessed with a wealth of messaging options from email and text messages to social media.

First up is text messaging which is another of the apps which gets a default place in the app tray, allowing you to access it quickly from any homescreen.

Huawei Ascend P2 review

Once again the difference within the app between Ascend P2 and stock Android is minor, providing you with a clean, intuitive allowing you to get texting right away.

That is until you hit the keyboard on the Ascend P2 which is possibly one of the most frustrating implementations we've come across.

The keys are too small and accuracy isn't up to scratch leading to numerous errors in even the shortest of missives.

We dived into the settings menu in search of next word prediction and auto-correct, and although the options seemed to be available, once enabled the keyboard didn't provide them.

You can flip the Ascend P2 90 degrees for a landscape keyboard, although it's not really that much better and it also means you lose sight of the message you're replying to.

Needless to say we quickly reverted to the stock Android board which is available on the Ascend P2 and our typing instantly improved, although after a while we buckled and downloaded SwiftKey.

Huawei Ascend P2 review

There's a couple of email clients in the form of Email and Gmail - which are common place on any Android handset these days.

The Gmail app only allows you to deal with your Google Mail account, while over in Email you can any number of accounts in one unified inbox - including any Google orientated ones you may have.

Huawei Ascend P2 review

Both are relatively similar in operation and you shouldn't have any trouble getting to grips with them, and the smooth operation of the Ascend P2 allows you to browse all your communications with ease.

Annoyingly, as with a lot of Android devices, viewing HTML emails isn't particularly easy as the Huawei Ascend P2 will not let you zoom all the way out to get an overview of the message.

This means you'll be doing a lot of horizontal as well as vertical scrolling to view some emails, which can get pretty frustrating after a while.

In terms of social media the Ascend P2 comes pre-installed with the official Facebook, Twitter and Google+ apps, allowing you to get online and chatting with your friends right from the word go.

Of course the Google Play store is just an app icon press away if you want to download other social mediums and the punchy quad-core processor inside the Ascend P2 means you'll be uploading photos and live messaging with ease.

Internet

The Huawei Ascend P2 comes touting the title of the "world's fastest smartphone" which relates directly to its Cat 4 LTE capabilities giving it theoretical speeds of up to 150Mbps over a mobile network.

Huawei Ascend P2 review

While you won't get anywhere near that quoted top speed, you can expect to readily get 20-30Mbps over 4G, which is faster than some home broadband connections - although it may not be particularly obvious on the Ascend P2.

We tried out the Ascend P2 with our 3G O2 SIM-card and our 4G EE card, to see if it would live up to its superfast credentials.

Wi-Fi b/g/n is also on board for when you don't fancy eating through your monthly data allowance at a rate of knots, which is handy.

In terms of a web browser the Ascend P2 comes with two options - the stock Android offering alongside Chrome which has become a mainstay in the standard Jelly Bean setup.

The browsers are straight forward, no thrills offerings which will easily let you navigate to the pages you require with minimum fuss.

Huawei Ascend P2 review

Browsing speed on the Huawei Ascend P2 was pretty good, but we weren't blown away with blisteringly fast load times and we didn't notice any improvement compared to the Samsung Galaxy S4 or iPhone 5.

The mobile version loaded in around four seconds over 4G, while the desktop version took around 15, although we were able to begin panning around after about nine seconds.

Over 3G the load times were only a second or so slower for mobile sites, but full versions of complex websites took considerably longer to appear on the Ascend P2.

On a decent Wi-Fi network the browser had a similar performance to that over 4G, and once pages had loaded we were able to scrolling through them smoothly.

The 4.7-inch display on the Ascend P2 may not be fully HD, but text and images appeared bright and crisp, making websites easy to consume without you having to strain your eyes.

Huawei Ascend P2 review

Open up an article on a webpage and the text will automatically reflow to fit the screen, making it easier to read as you don't have to scroll sideways.

If the text is still too small you can zoom in and double tap the display which will reflow the text at its new size - it's simple, effective and we wish every handset offered this.

Huawei Ascend P2 review

On-screen controls are pretty much absent, with just a URL bar and a button for tabbed browsing at the top of screen.

Hit the tabbed button in the stock browser and you'll get a vertical list of thumbnails showing your open tabs, with the option to close each one, or open more if you desire.

Tabs are easier to manage in Chrome, as they all appear at the top of the display, making for a much faster switching experience.

There's also a link to your bookmarks here, which sync with your Google account giving you access to all your favourite sites without having to navigate to each one manually.

All your other settings can be accessed by hitting the menu button below the screen, giving you access to your bookmarks, offline reading (not in Chrome) and sharing options.

Offline reading is also a useful feature, saving a web page to the device, allowing you to read it when you're out of signal - perfect for the train ride home or a jaunt into the country.

Huawei Ascend P2 review

Of course you can always download another browser from Google Play in next to no time, so if you don't get on with the default options on the Ascend P2 it's not a big deal.

For all you flash fans out there it's more disappointment as the Ascend P2 doesn't support the dying format which Google itself is phasing out of its ecosystem, shutting down support from Android Jelly Bean onwards.

Camera

The Huawei Ascend P2 has been blessed with a decent 13MP camera on its rear complete with single-LED flash, which means it should be capable of taking some decent snaps.

Round the front you're furnished with a 1.3MP snapper for awkward video calls with your parents and the casual vanity check while on the train home - and it's nowhere near the 5MP option on the Ascend P6.

Huawei has also equipped the Ascend P2 which a physical shutter key on the right side of the handset, giving you a quick way of launching the camera app as well as an easier way to take photos.

Huawei Ascend P2 review

The camera app hasn't escaped the Emotion UI overlay, but luckily it's not particularly oppressive, with a clean intuitive layout.

There are three quick tools on the right which allows you to switch between front and rear cameras, toggle the flash and an option to enable or disable the tap-to-focus function.

Huawei Ascend P2 review

More options can be reach by tapping the down arrow which appears at the top of the screen (when held in portrait).

Here you get several menus including shooting mode which lets you choose from seven options including panorama, HDR, group and low light.

Next up is the filters option which includes favourites such as negative, sepia and emboss - all thrilling choices we're sure you'll agree.

Huawei Ascend P2 review

The effects menu allows you to have some fun with your friends with options such as "big nose", "gobbler" and "professor" - oh yes there's hours of fun here for the kids, although you're unlikely to use most of these.

If you're looking for some more sensible settings then you can also adjust white balance, ISO levels, exposure, saturation and contrast - although these are hidden away in a menu within a menu.

Huawei Ascend P2 review

There's also a digital zoom incorporated into the camera which can be controlled by the on screen slider and while the further you zoom in decreases the quality of your final image the Ascend P2 does a far better job than most.

Auto-focus is present and settles pretty quickly, allowing you to get into snapping pictures and the responsive shutter button takes just a second to capture an image and turf you back to shooting mode.

Huawei Ascend P2 review

The quality of pictures produced by the Huawei Ascend P2 are, on the whole, very good, with a decent level of detail and solid colour reproduction resulting in some very pleasing snaps.

It does struggle a little in poorly lit areas and with close up macro shots, but apart from that you can rely on the Ascend P2 to give you some worthy photos to show off to your friends and family.

Huawei Ascend P2 review

Click here to see the full resolution image

Huawei Ascend P2 review

Click here to see the full resolution image

Huawei Ascend P2 review

Click here to see the full resolution image

Huawei Ascend P2 review

Click here to see the full resolution image

Huawei Ascend P2 review

Click here to see the full resolution image

Huawei Ascend P2 review

Click here to see the full resolution image

Huawei Ascend P2 review

Click here to see the full resolution image

Huawei Ascend P2 review

Click here to see the full resolution image

Video

Thanks to the powerful 13MP camera on the rear of the Huawei Ascend P2, you are able to shoot full HD, 1080p video at 30fps with the handset.

The video recorder is accessed via the camera app, just flick the slide in the bottom right corner to camcorder to get started.

Huawei Ascend P2 review

You get the same three tools (flash, camera select and tap-to-focus) to one side of the display, plus the digital zoom is still at your disposal.

While recording you can zoom in and out as much as you like, but you can't toggle the flash so you'll need to decide if you want it on or off before you hit that red button.

Huawei Ascend P2 review

In the settings menu you can also select HDR video, which will remove various shadows to give you clearer footage, while the image stabiliser will reduce the amount of camera shake in the video.

The Huawei Ascend P2 is capable of producing some really nice video footage - crisp and clear, you won't be disappointed.

Media

With a 4.7-inch display, quad-core processor, 4G connectivity and 13MP camera the Huawei Ascend P2 has the capabilities of offering up a decent multimedia experience.

The amount of available internal storage is also ok, with 11.83GB of the 16GB stuffed inside the Ascend P2 available to use, but annoyingly there's no microSD slot to expand on this.

Getting content onto the Ascend P2 is pretty straight forward - just connect it up to your computer with the bundled USB cable, allow the drivers to install and then drag and drop your music, video, photo and other files into the relevant folders on the device.

There's a file manager app included on the Ascend P2 which means you'll be able to locate any documents which may go astray in the transfer - although we still wish there was a micoSD slot.

We did find the Ascend P2 was a little bit sluggish when it came to using the music, video and gallery features - especially when we loaded the phone up with lots of content, so you'll need a little bit of patience if you're planning a media marathon.

Music

The Huawei Ascend P2 comes equipped with two music player options in the form of the Google Music and Music apps.

Huawei Ascend P2 review

Huawei's own Music app offers up a basic player with the option to filter you music by title, artist, album or favourites, while the playlist feature allows you to group tracks together to create the ultimate party mix.

On the player screen itself you get the standard controls such as play/pause, skip, shuffle, repeat - plus there's a quick link to toggle the Dolby Digital sound enhancement - a similar feature to the Beats Audio technology you find on HTC handsets.

If you have lyrics attached to your song files then the Ascend P2 can display these instead of the album art on the player screen, while lockscreen controls allow you to manage your playback without having to unlock the handset every time.

Google Music is more of a fully featured offering and we'd recommend dragging it out of its Google folder and swapping it over with the Music app, as it offers a far more attractive and intuitive interface.

As well as giving you access to the tracks stored on the Ascend P2, you can also access any songs you may have uploaded to Google's cloud - the search giant lets you store 20,000 tunes there - which means you don't have to worry about filling up the 16GB of internal storage with your favourite beats.

Huawei Ascend P2 review

The Google Music app offers all of the features as the stock Music app, but on top of this it also has the "Instant Mixes" function, which will automatically create an endless playlist of songs based on your favourite tracks and artists - which is pretty smart.

There's also a link to the music store which is part of Google Play, which allows you to increase your music library by purchasing and downloading more tunes right on the handset.

Huawei Ascend P2 review

Sound quality is more than acceptable for casual listeners, although the more discerning audiophiles may not be as impressed, but on the whole you can't really knock the Ascend P2 for its audio playback.

The internal speaker located round the back of the handset is, as you'd expect, pretty tinny and you really want to be using a pair of headphones, or external speakers if you fancy pumping out the beats.

We found the Ascend P2 coped with all the major audio formats including MP3, WMA and ACC, so you shouldn't have any trouble getting your current library of tracks to play on the handset.

FM Radio

The old FM Radio is something which doesn't get much of a look-in on today's smartphones, but Huawei has taken it upon itself to include one on the Ascend P2.

Huawei Ascend P2 review

There's a straightforward app to see you through the listening process, and it allows you to have eight preset stations - allowing you to jump to your favourite DJ at the touch of a button.

You'll need to plug a set of headphones into the Ascend P2 to act as the antenna but there is the choice to play the stations via the internal speaker if you don't fancy donning the ear buds.

Video

The Huawei Ascend P2 doesn't come with a dedicated video player app, which leaves you with either the Gallery or Google Play Movies apps to choose from.

Huawei Ascend P2 review

We found the Gallery app a highly frustrating way of accessing our movies as it just lumps them in with the camera photos which leads to a lot of needless scrolling to find the content you want.

Click on a video to play and you get the most basic of players, with the Ascend P2 offering up play/pause and scrubbing - and that's pretty much your lot.

Huawei Ascend P2 review

There is a toggle for the Dolby Digital sound enhancement and a link to share you clip via a multitude of channels in the top right corner, but there is very little to write home about here - it's a simple tap and play scenario.

Huawei Ascend P2 review

Over in the Google Play Movies app videos are a lot easier to find, plus you can jump into the Google Play store and select from a wide range of titles to either rent or purchase - although the player itself is still the same basic offering.

When it came to format support the Ascend P2 was pretty hit a miss - it happily played our 720p MPEG-4, MOV and 1080p MPEG-2 clips, but it point blank refused our 1080p MKV and WMV files - so make sure you check your video works before leaving the house.

The 4.7-inch, 720p display on the Huawei Ascend P2 provided a strong playback offering, with film looking detailed and crisp, although we did find it was a little on the dark side, even with the brightness whacked up.

It's pretty comfortable to hold, and thanks to its light frame we were able to keep hold of the Ascend P2 during the entire length of a film without our wrists starting to ache.

Photos

The Gallery on the Huawei Ascend P2 is the stock Android offering, displaying your images in easy to view thumbnails, although as we've already mentioned videos are also lumped in here for good measure.

Huawei Ascend P2 review

This frustration aside the Gallery is simple and functional, and it even includes a basic inbuilt editor which allows you to crop and rotate your snaps as well as apply a few simple effects such as Posterise, Vignette and Fisheye.

Of course you can always download more complete editing suites from Google Play, but the editor will suffice for casual users.

Huawei Ascend P2 review

You can also easily share any of your pictures with just a couple of taps, be it over DLNA or sent in an email, MMS or posted on a social networking site.

Battery life and connectivity

Battery life

The Hauwei Ascend P2 comes equipped with a non-removable 2420mAh battery, which may frustrate power users who won't be able to swap out a dead power pack for a fresh, fully charged one.

Huawei Ascend P2 review

Huawei quotes that the Ascend P2 should last for 272 hours on 4G standby, and 286 hours for 3G standby, while it should give 767 minutes of 3G talktime.

These figures are always very best case scenarios and you'll probably never be able to match them in the real world, and that's certainly what we found during our time with the Ascend P2.

During the spells where we had our 3G SIM card in the handset we were able to eek out a whole days usage with the P2 without too much trouble, although it always needed a charge at the end of each day.

Swapping over to our 4G SIM and the battery life took a bit more of a battering, as with only relatively moderate usage we found ourselves dashing for the charger when it got to early evening.

If you're a heavy smartphone user then you'll need to make sure you have a back up power pack with you, or are always near a plug socket, as the Ascend P2 will eat through its battery at a rate of knots if you're doing a series of demanding tasks.

Huawei Ascend P2 review

There is a power management section in the settings menu to try and help you eek out extra life from your Ascend P2, but this didn't seem to make a huge amount of difference - the best thing to do is turn off mobile data and stick screen brightness on low if you're running out of juice.

It's not the best battery life we've experienced at this end of the market with both the Galaxy S4 and HTC One offering up longer lasting solutions, although if you're careful you can get a whole day of the Ascend P2, which is pretty much standard for smartphones today.

Connectivity

We've already spoken about the superfast 4G capabilities of the Huawei Ascend P2 and that Cat 4 LTE technology is back up by Wi-Fi b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS and NFC.

There's also a microUSB port on top of the device which is used for charging the Ascend P2 as well as connecting to your computer.

Huawei Ascend P2 review

You can even use the P2 as a portable internet hotspot, allowing you to share its superfast 4G connection with other devices such as laptops and tablets - although you'll want to keep an eye on your data usage to make sure you don't go over your limit and rack up a huge bill.

So all in all there's plenty of options to get your Ascend P2 connected to your various other devices, and the P2's 16GB of internal storage puts it at least on par against some of its rivals.

There's no microSD slot, but the inclusion of DLNA support means you're able to wirelessly stream media such as photos and movies to other compatible devices such as game consoles and laptops.

Huawei Ascend P2 review

It's easy to share your content too, with quick links to the DLNA system as well as Wi-Fi and co. in the gallery, plus the DLNA app makes sharing media an easy and intuitive experience.

The quick settings in the pull down notification bar means it's easy to toggle key connections without having to dive into the full blown settings menu - although once again this isn't anything new and is available on a number of different Android smartphones.

Maps and apps

Maps

The Huawei Ascend P2 comes pre-installed with the excellent Google Maps thanks to its Android innards and we don't need to go one about the fleet of options it offers including StreetView, live traffic, public transport, directions and free turn-by-turn navigation.

We found the Ascend P2 usually took a couple of seconds to load up the maps app, although after that it could pinpoint our location within a second or so.

Huawei Ascend P2 review

Panning and zooming around the maps was generally pretty good, but it wasn't as smooth and slick an experience as on the likes of the top end handsets from Samsung or HTC.

Turning on things such as traffic and satellite view slowed things down a little more, but it wasn't unusable on the Ascend P2 and we were still able to plan routes and check local public transport times without issue.

Huawei Ascend P2 review

As we moved around the Huawei Ascend P2 managed to keep hold of our location well and track our progress on the map.

Turn-by-turn navigation was also reliable and the Ascend P2 offers up a more than acceptable sat nav replacement in-car.

Huawei Ascend P2 review

The bright, crisp display meant maps rendered well and were easy to read, although the app sometimes got a bit confused when we tried to zoom in, mistaking our gestures for rotating the orientation of the map - not a big issue, but it was a little frustrating.

Apps

One of the good things about the Huawei Ascend P2 is that it hasn't been loaded up with lots of pre-installed apps out of the box - giving you a relatively blank canvas on which to grow your personal collection.

You can do this by heading over to the well-stocked Google Play store which boasts over 700,000 apps and games, as well as movies, TV shows, music, books and magazines.

Huawei Ascend P2 review

There's plenty of free and paid-for options to suit pretty much any taste, and the easy drag and drop folder creation system on the homescreens means you can organise all your downloads into a manageable system.

Huawei Ascend P2 review

You do get a handful of apps included on the Ascend P2 alongside the range of Google apps which include Hangouts, YouTube, Gmail, Google+ and Voice Search.

Basic apps such as flashlight, calculator and sound recorder are all pretty self-explanatory and although they make look a little childish thanks to the Emotion UI Huawei has slapped on the Ascend P2, they are at least functional and simple to use.

They are all handy features, but none are exactly things to write home about, but the Kingsoft Office application provides a useful viewer for Word, Excel and PowerPoint files.

You can even edit the documents on the Ascend P2 and this could be a life saver if you need to make a quick amendment on the way to the meeting, but trying to tackle a complex spreadsheet on a 4.7-inch display is pretty tricky, so you're best off keeping things simple.

Hands on gallery

Huawei Ascend P2 review

Huawei Ascend P2 review

Huawei Ascend P2 review

Huawei Ascend P2 review

Huawei Ascend P2 review

Huawei Ascend P2 review

Huawei Ascend P2 review

Huawei Ascend P2 review

Huawei Ascend P2 review

Huawei Ascend P2 review

Huawei Ascend P2 review

Huawei Ascend P2 review

Huawei Ascend P2 review

Huawei Ascend P2 review

Huawei Ascend P2 review

Huawei Ascend P2 review

Huawei Ascend P2 review

Huawei Ascend P2 review

Verdict

The Huawei Ascend P2 finds itself between a bit of a rock and a hard place. On the one hand it's got an impressive spec sheet and attractive price point, but on the other it's supposed to be going head to head with the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S4, HTC One and Nokia Lumia 925 - and it doesn't really match the same dazzling heights of any of these handset.

We liked

The Huawei Ascend P2 is a respectable all-round handset which offers up a decent set of specs wrapped up in a simplistic, if not slightly childish, wrapper know as the Emotion UI.

It may not suit everyone's taste - especially the hardened Android fans - but for those who aren't so technically minded the Ascend P2 may offer up a less baffling experience.

The Ascend P2 was able to run Android Jelly Bean with little issue and we experienced smooth operation during most of our activities on the phone.

With a 13MP camera capable of capturing some decent images and a solid build quality the Ascend P2 doesn't let itself down.

We disliked

Buying GuideBest Android phone - which should you buy?Best Android phone

As we've mentioned the UI won't suit everyone and it's certainly not the easiest on the eye - even with a large selection of themes to choose from, none really ooze premium, class or sophistication.

Battery life isn't awful, but it also isn't the best we've seen and the 4G connection can really eat into it, especially if you're planning on downloading large files or streaming video.

We didn't enjoy using the Huawei-made keyboard on the Ascend P2 either and the quicker we'd installed a replacement the better a handset it became - we just wish the Chinese firm had stuck with the default Google offering.

There's no a microSD slot available, so you're stuck with the 11.83GB of internal storage made available by Huawei on the Ascend P2 and if you plan on watching movies or playing some graphically intensive games on the handset you may find this filling up fast.

Verdict

The Huawei Ascend P2 is a highly capable smartphone which offers a strong line up of features and a decent level of specs - although it doesn't exactly excel at anything, or wow us with amazing features.

It also has the tricky problem of the Huawei Ascend P6 which basically lines up alongside the Ascend P2 sporting a fancier, slimmer metallic frame, although spec wise it's not quite as cutting edge.

So as well as fighting with its brother the Ascend P2 also has the difficult task of marking itself out as a flagship device in a market dominated by the superior Galaxy S4, HTC One and Xperia Z.

Of course the Huawei Ascend P2 does carry a far more attractive price tag, but that still means it's doing battle with the still excellent Galaxy S3, One X+ and iPhone 4S, and with the Huawei brand not exactly in the mind of the everyday consumer it could be a tricky sell.

That's not to say you'll be disappointed if you do opt for the Ascend P2 and it is a potentially great value 4G option at the top end of the market.

Huawei Ascend P2 Ascend P2 Huawei Android Jelly Bean Emotion UI 1.5 4G LTE smartphones phonescarousel-en-au phonescarousel-en-gb phonescarousel-en-us mwc_carousel-en-gb mwc_carousel-en-us mwc_carousel-en-au
Share this Article
Google+

Most Popular

Edition: UK
TopView classic version