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Hands-On: Huawei Ascend P2

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Feb 24, 2013, 9:48 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Here is a quick look at the Huawei Ascend P2, the company's flagship smartphone for 2013. It is incredibly thin and light, and still manages to include an impressive array of features. Here are our initial thoughts.

from Huawei

The Huawei Ascend P2 is a worthy successor to last year's model. It steps up the design and quality in every way, and is an extremely thin and light smartphone that will still carry a mid-range price tag.

Huawei had two versions of the P2 on hand, one white and one black. The P2 has square corners, but smooth, rounded edges on the sides. The HD display fills most of the front of the phone and leaves little space for a bezel or buttons. There is a chrome-colored band that rounds around the sides and bottom of the P2, though the top is black.

The slim profile makes it an easy phone to hold and use. The plastics are smooth, perhaps bordering on slippery, and have a pleasant feel against the skin. The glossy finish is highly reflective. It is hard to stress how thin and light the P2 is. It barely has any weight at all. It will easily slip into a pocket.

 

P2

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

The display is gorgeous. It has 1280 x 720p HD resolution with what Huawei calls an "infinity edge display." It is nestled into a black frame that makes the actual display hard to see unless it is turned on. Everything on the screen looks crisp and detailed. According to Huawei, it has 315 pixels per inch. Colors are bright, and text is completely free of pixelated edges.

There are no buttons on the top or bottom, they are on the left and right edges. The volume toggle is on the left and is about the cheapest aspect of the phone. It has a bit of a "clacky" feel to it. The power and camera buttons are on the right edge of the device and have a better feel than the volume toggle did. The fact that it has a camera button at all is a bonus. It is a two-stage key with well-defined stages for focusing and firing the shutter. The P2 also has a microUSB port and stereo headphone jack.

The user interface is Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean and uses Huawei's Emotion user interface. It is a bit cartoonish in appearance, but the animations are cool and it is very quick on its feet. I didn't see any problems with the user interface as I transitioned from screen to screen and app to app. It features things called the UniHome page, which includes a "MeWidget" and "EZ Folder," which are small widgets on the home screen that allow for customizing and packaging the information the user wants most on the home screen. For example, the MeWidget can hold a clock, weather, quick contacts, media player, and photo slide show in a single, resizable widget. It also offers plenty of themes that completely change the look and feel of the user inter ace. Some are more business-oriented, while others are kid-oriented.

In keeping with modern living room trends, the P2 can share content with Huawei's tablets and televisions via DLNA technology. Huawei calls this feature AirShare.

There's no doubt that the P2 is a vast improvement over the P1. Huawei put a lot of thought into the software and design to make it a more competitive device. The company constantly compared it to the Samsung Galaxy S III, HTC One X, and Apple iPhone 5. Huawei clearly believes it can compete with these devices. It goes on sale across Europe and other markets during the second quarter for 399 euros. Pricing and availability for the U.S. market has not been revealed.

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