Chinese manufacturer Huawei may have made its name with solidly performing budget and mid-range handsets. But now it’s taking aim squarely at the big beasts in the smartphone jungle, but at an extremely competitive price.
Chassis and screen
At first glance you could be forgiven for confusing the Ascend P7 for one of Sony’s latest Xperia devices with the glass back and front, the rounded edges, and that big round knob of a power/sleep button on the side. At just 6.5mm deep and a lightweight 124g, it’s an elegant device all right, but it becomes purely Huawei as soon as you switch it on.
That’s because it’s running the Huawei Emotion user interface on top of the latest Android 4.4 KitKat operating system. Like Sony, Huawei has its own interface based on the Android system, but looking distinctly different, and giving you quite a few options to change themes and shift things around to your taste. One useful option is the ‘Simple Home’ toggle, which cuts out a lot of the clutter than can build up on Android screens after a while.
The 5in touch screen offers an HD resolution of 1920×1080 pixels (445ppi) and looks great in normal conditions. If suffers a little in comparison with the best of the high-enders though, like HTC’s One (M8) or the Sony Xperia Z2 — it’s not as bright as some in sunlight, and the viewing angles aren’t quite as wide. But for the price, it’s likely to be more than than you need.
The quad-core processor is clocked at 1.8GHz and backed by 2GB RAM. A solid set of specs for a mid-range phone, though the recent OnePlus One graces its 2.5GHz with 3GB RAM for £229. Our AnTuTu benchmark test gave it a score of 25,674, which puts it close to the Moto X for example, but well behind the best of the quad-cores, which tend to score over 34,000 these days. With its good-sized 2,500mAh battery we thought the P7 would easily see us through a day and more of heavy use, but time and again we found ourselves having to adjust the settings to get it through a full 24 hours.
The 13-megapixel camera comes with LED flash and autofocus, plus a BSI sensor for better low-light pics. There’s also a range of settings including a few welcome surprises, like the Selfie Preview window and Panoramic Selfies. The ubiquity of the selfie is something few manufacturers seem to have picked up on, as they regularly trot out the most basic of cameras for the front while lavishing their attentions on the main camera on the back. The P7’s front-facing snapper boasts 8 megapixels however — the highest pixel count we’ve yet seen and offering a considerably better than average result for photographic self-love.
The main camera starts up very quickly with a double tap on the down volume key, and picture quality is also impressive, with a good level of clarity and detail, though bright colours can occasionally appear over-saturated. There’s 16GB of memory on board for storing HD pics and videos, plus you can add up to 64GB via microSD card.