Huawei Ascend P7 review
|Review: December 2014|
In a nutshell: The Huawei Ascend P7 is a beautifully crafted ultraslim smartphone. There's a lot to like about the P7, but laggy performance lets it down.
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The Ascend P7 is the second Huawei phone for us to review, and it's an impressive piece of kit.
An ultraslim design
First impressions of the Ascend P7 are more than good. They're amazing. This doesn't feel like a Chinese phone at all. It looks and feels almost exactly like the Sony Xperia Z3, voted Phone of the Year in 2014. There are minor differences, but the similarity is uncanny.
Like the Sony, the Huawei is a completely flat phone with a glass back that lends it a real premium look and feel. This is enhanced further by the metallic edge and sleek aluminium buttons ranged along the side of the phone. The phone has subtle curves that remove sharp edges and make it easy to pick up and hold. There are a few details that give away the phone's Chinese heritage - not least the Huawei logo on the front - and some plastic trim - but overall we very much like the design of the P7.
Amazingly, it's even slimmer than the Z3, and at a mere 6.5mm it's one of the slimmest smartphones available. It's also incredibly light, weighing just 124g, which is even lighter than the iPhone 6.
The screen size is a good 5 inches, giving plenty of space for multimedia and general smartphone activity. It's a full HD 1920 x 1080 pixel screen, which is what we'd expect from a flagship phone. The screen quality is pretty good too. It's an IPS display, so it lacks the deep contrast and rich saturation of Samsung's OLED screens, and it doesn't have quite the punchiness of a Sony or Apple. Nevertheless, it's a very good screen.
So far, so good. Now let's see what's running inside this machine. The Ascend P7 runs Android KitKat, making it as up-to-date as any Android phone from any of the big manufacturers.
Huawei has customised Android with its own Emotion UI user interface overlay. This is what manufacturers tended to do in the early days of Android. We feel that it changes the user interface simply for the sake of it, and adds very little. In addition it seems to slow the phone down, making the P7 one of the few high-end phones where the user interface can be laggy.
Hardware & performance
The P7 runs a quadcore processor. This processor is made by Huawei and isn't as fast as the competition, which generally use Snapdragon processors from Qualcomm. It's rated at 1.8GHz, putting it on a par with a phone like the Samsung Galaxy S3 from a couple of years ago. The GPU also isn't high-end, making 3D games and HD video run at relatively poor frame rates, with some stutter. In combination with the clunky user interface, performance isn't really up to the job.
The phone has a built-in memory of 16GB, with a microSD card slot for adding additional storage.
The Huawei's main camera is a 13 megapixel BSI Sony camera with an LED flash. It gives excellent results, both in normal daylight and in low light conditions.
The front-facing camera has an 8 megapixel sensor. This is unusually high, but unfortunately it's a fixed focus camera, which isn't really what we expect on a high-end phone. Still, for selfies it does the job well enough.
The P7 is a 4G phone that comes with all the standard connectivity options including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, USB, NFC and a 3.5mm headphone jack.
A phone this slim can't have a huge battery. That should be self-evident. However, the P7 manages to pack in a 2500mAh battery, which is really quite respectable. To give some context, the Samsung Galaxy S4 uses a 2600mAh battery. We don't think most users will have a problem with battery life. It'll give you a full day of use, but perhaps not two days.
The phone incorporates a Smart Power Saving mode, which can be switched between Normal, Smart or Ultra Power Saving by the user. In the most aggressive mode, this shuts down nearly everything except calling and texting, stretching the remaining battery life substantially.
Conclusion - not quite there yet
Huawei has made a big leap forward with the Ascend P7. It's a very good phone, with a stunning design. But it's let down by the custom Android interface and somewhat laggy performance. It may look like a Sony Xperia Z3, but it definitely isn't one.
Nevertheless, if you like the design and you're looking to save a little cash, then the Huawei could be a good choice. We feel that it's priced a little too high at present, but if the price falls to £20 per month on Pay Monthly, then it would be an excellent choice.
Huawei Ascend P7 features include:
- Operating system: Android 4.4.2 (KitKat) with Huawei Emotion UI 2.3
- 13 megapixel camera with BSI, autofocus and flash
- 8 megapixel front camera, fixed focus
- Display: IPS touchscreen with 1920 x 1080 pixels (5 inches)
- GPS/A-GPS/Glonass positioning
- Music player
- Messaging: SMS, MMS, Email, Google Talk (Instant Messaging)
- Processor: Quad-core 1.8GHz, Hisilicon Kirin 910T
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi (802.11b/g/n), Bluetooth 4.0 with BLE, micro USB 2.0, 3.5mm audio jack
- Memory: 16GB, microSD memory card slot, 2GB RAM
- 4G LTE, 3G, GSM
- Size: 140 x 69 x 6.5 mm
- Weight: 124g
- Battery: 2500 mAh
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