Xiaomi isn’t the only Chinese company known for its smartphones. For years, Huawei has been knocking on the global door, and made some strides in its smartphone business.
In particular, its Ascend P series of Android devices are well regarded for its slim form factor. Besides its sleek design, the Chinese company has also made it a point to place a competitive price on its flagship model against the likes of Samsung, LG, HTC and Sony.
And it’s the same for the latest Huawei Ascend P7 - a high powered phone which matches the hardware that its rivals have in the market at a lower price point.
Build-wise, the P7 is going to be a nightmare if you can’t stand the sight of fingerprint smudges. With its front and rear covered by the glossy Gorilla Glass 3, it’s going to take a lot of wiping to keep the phone free from unsightly prints.
Surprisingly, even with two slabs of glass sandwiching the P7, it’s definitely as light as its 124g weight suggests. A few seconds with the phone gave us a good feel of the phone, which isn’t hefty and fits naturally in our hands. Its angular design looks nice, and feels just as good in our hands since the edges are slightly rounded for a more natural fit.
Its design is definitely a head-turner, especially when you turn it to the side to view its 6.5mm profile. As the unit was tethered to a security system, we didn’t manage to slip it into our pockets to get a sense of how it feels. But judging from what we see, it shouldn’t form an embarrassing bulk in your pants.
Its design, however, is questionable. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out where the inspiration came from. The full-on glass look reminds us of Apple’s iPhone, right down to that small little band on the side. The late Steve Jobs quoting Picasso’s “good artist copy, great artists steal” line comes to mind.
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It’s no 2K screen, but from what we’ve noticed on the P7’s full HD screen, that’ll suffice. At 5in, the screen has a pixel density of 445ppi. Scrutinise the screen closely, and you still wouldn’t see any pixels.
We swiped through some stock images in the P7’s gallery, and they looked pretty fine. But until we’ve run the same sample videos and images we tossed into similar devices such as the Samsung Galaxy S5, HTC One (M8) or Sony Xperia Z2, the verdict is still not fixed.
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The P7’s rear 13MP camera is probably nothing new, along with its 28mm wide angle lense and all that jazz. It’s the 8MP front camera that caught our attention. Of course, more pixels should mean better details, and while we didn’t manage to get a decent selfie shot out of it, what might interest you is the front camera’s ability to take panorama shots.
It’s definitely useful if you’re trying to add more people to replicate Ellen Degeneres’ record-breaking selfie during the Oscars. But the features (at times utterly useless) manufacturers add to their products baffle us at times, and we’re still reeling from the “groufie” term coined by Huawei. You just can’t help but think of another kind of -fie that isn’t quite legal in the world.
Nonetheless, the minute we get our hands on the P7, we’ll put both cameras to the test, more so for the 8MP front camera to see if our selfie shots actually improved with more pixels.
With the limited time we spent with the unit, and without running the phone through some benchmarks, we’re holding our verdict for its performance. But first impressions count a lot, and the P7’s HiSilicon Kirin 910T 1.8GHz quad-core processor impressed us with the smooth menu transitions in its UI.
Loading a few apps at a go was managed pretty well by the 2GB RAM, but until we’ve fully abused the final unit at a later date, we can’t give a full verdict for this aspect.
Speaking of UI, Huawei attached its customised Emotion UI skin onto the Android 4.4 KitKat running the P7. It’s not exactly the prettiest UI we’ve seen thus far, but on the surface, it’s not as bloated as its previous versions.
Speed-wise, the P7 is a 4G/LTE capable device, so if you’ve plonked some extra cash to get the extra speed boost on your mobile plan, it’s going to kick in when you do the usual Facebook or Instagram stalking. We hate to say this, but we weren’t able to fully test its LTE speeds (seeing how the phone wasn’t even connected to a network) and it’ll be another question to answer in the final review.
We won’t be able to ascertain its battery mileage until the review unit is ready, but what we do know is that based on pure numbers, the 2500mAh battery isn’t a high capacity battery. Considering even the 2K-toting LG G3 utilises a 3000mAh battery while its full HD competitors are powered by batteries with at least 3000mAh, it’s something that we’re concerned with.
Huawei, however, has a power-saving feature that shuts down any background apps that are consuming unnecessary power. Details surrounding this feature is quite scant, and we’ll revisit this in the later review.
Huawei Ascend P7 initial verdict
By far, Huawei’s latest flagship Android device gets more points for its aesthetics rather than what it can manage on a daily basis.
Its S$699 price is another talking point. Against its direct competitors, it’s definitely a much more affordable option. But another Chinese company you shouldn’t ignore is Xiaomi, and we haven’t seen what its rumoured updated Mi3 has to offer in terms of hardware and price.
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