Huawei seems to be launching new handsets with remarkable frequency at the moment, and the Ascend P2 appears almost at the same time as its stunning phablet the Ascend Mate and its premium, super-thin Ascend P6 are grabbing most of the attention. Sat alongside such illustrious brethren, the Ascend P2 is arguably at risk of getting lost.
That would be a shame, as the Ascend P2 is a nicely designed phone with plenty of appealing features including one that really does set it apart from the crowd: the Huawei Ascend P2 supports category 4 LTE.
This might not mean much to many people, but it means the Ascend P2 supports 4G at speeds up to 150Mbps.
No UK service gets anywhere near that at the moment, but with EE starting to roll out double speed 4G – up to 30Mbps – the Ascend P2 would give anyone who owned it a good amount of future proofing at a time when investing in a 3G handset on a two-year contract is starting to look like a bit of a compromise.
But if this is an issue for the future there are other reasons to like this handset today. It looks really good with a relatively thin profile and tidy styling.
Huawei has designed the under screen touch buttons so that they are invisible most of the time, but have a subtle backlight when you touch the area around them, or tap the screen, or switch the handset on.
The screen, at 4.7 inches across, is large, and its 1,280 x 720 pixels might not be the highest resolution we’ve ever seen but they do deliver sharp, bright and clear content. The screen is certainly good enough for us and, we suspect, for most people. 1080p displays are undeniably appealing, but the practical benefits are negligible.
The TFT LCD lacks the real vibrancy and deep contrast of an AMOLED screen, but Huawei has built a small controller into the system so that you can alter the hue, fixing the screen to show colour depth just how you like it. It’s a nice touch for those that like their phones to have things to tweak.
There has been no compromising on processor power with a quad core 1.5GHz processor providing the main power and 1GB of RAM backing it up. We found the Huawei Ascend P2 zipped along with a fluency that made it responsive to the touch and able to stream video with ease.
Near Field Communication is built in, as is DLNA, and Huawei has added a huge number of themes to help you personalise Android 4.1. As on other recent handsets Huawei has done away with the app drawer, instead putting app shortcuts onto one of nine main screens.
It’s possibly less confusing for those new to Android, having everything stored in the one place, but more experienced users who don’t like the setup can restore the app drawer by installing a third party launcher.
The main camera is a very serviceable one. It shoots stills to 13 megapixels and if we have a complaint it is that the camera features are a bit limited. Facial distortions are added to the usual range of filters, but there’s nothing really exciting on offer. There’s a front facing 1.3 megapixel camera too.
This all sounds really positive, but we do have one major issue. There’s no microSD card support. This has two important ramifications. You can’t sideload video, music or other content onto the device via a memory card. That will annoy some people. Equally you can’t augment the built in storage.
Now, the Huawei Ascend P2 has 16GB of internal storage, which might sound like plenty. But some of this is taken up by the system and 11GB is left for your use. That’s still a fairly healthy chunk of storage, but still when you fill it, you’re stuck.
We’d like to make one additional point – about battery life. With a fixed backplate you can’t swap in a second battery if you’d like to. The 2420mAh battery sounds like it provides plenty of staying power, but the processor and screen are both hungry and we found that we could get a day of use while on 3G, but on 4G you may struggle to achieve that.
Review written by Sandra Vogel