Huawei Ascend P7 - Stuff

Huawei Ascend P7

image0019Huawei isn’t a company that you would immediately think of when someone jumps out of a bush with a clipboard and grills you on your knowledge of high-end smartphones (that actually happened once. True story).  That doesn’t mean that they’re not trying to catch your attention though and their latest attempt is the Ascend P7, the successor to their ultra-thin P6 smartphone.

The Look

And there’s no denying that the P7 is an attention-grabbing phone. That might be because the new Ascend looks sort of like what you’d get if you squished an iPhone down with a rolling pin, elongating it while reducing its thickness through the middle, but that doesn’t mean it’s a knock-off of Apple’s iconic device. This stylish phone is edged with metal one three sides, with plastic around the base where the charger plugs in, while the front and rear faces are all glass. The result is a very thin, very flat 5-inch phone that nonetheless feels like a solid proposition when it is weighed in the palm of your hand. Everything from the body to the buttons that march down the Ascend P7’s right-hand side are well engineered but the preponderance of glass also makes it feel somewhat fragile. Like, dropping equals tears sort of fragile.

Guts

But looks aren’t everything, as our mother was so fond of pointing out, and Huawei’s P7 has a collection of hardware that should keep you from being annoyed that there’s no Samsung or Apple logo in pride of place on the front of the device. The standout feature is almost certainly the display, the 5-inch touchscreen is a full HD panel with a hefty helping of pixel density (441ppi) that gives a mass of clarity to everything that displays onscreen. Whether that’s a good thing or not depends on the content being shown but the custom skinned Android 4.4 KitKat OS looks mighty tasty on this screen. The Emotion UI is also a breeze to use.

Ascend P7

Elsewhere, there’s a less impressive roster of components vying for your praise. Huawei have opted for a Kirin processor, a quad-core 1.8GHz chip that performs well enough but lags behind the current industry darling – the Snapdragon 801 from Qualcomm. If you’re not stacking it up against the HTC One M8 or (as seems likely) the G3 from LG, then the P7 is a speedy enough phone. Bring on the big players and it’s going to be out of breath quite soon.

The Usual Suspects

Other specs to note down in the tally-book include 2GB of system memory and 16GB of internal storage out of the gate, with an option to expand that via microSD. We’d expect nothing less from a device that is trying to keep up. Connectivity options are all supported, up to LTE and Bluetooth 4.0 LE, so users won’t have any worries on that score.

Mug Shots

So there’s a decent screen and some good hardware. What makes the P7 stand out from the competition? That’d have to be the cameras. The rear-facing camera is a 13MP shooter that conforms to the standards that have been set by other mobile cameras of the same size. What will get all of the attention is the front-facing camera, an 8MP lens that has been designed for the ever-expanding ‘selfie’ trend. If you’re going to be snapping shots of yourself at arm’s length, they might as well be high-quality images, right?

With that in mind, Huawei have included a collection of software tweaks for your face-snapping activities including a Beauty Level slider that adds a little image processing to your mug before taking the shot. Slide it down to zero and you’ve got a standard image, with every blemish that implies. Max the slider and it’ll smooth your features before you post it on Twitter. There’s a set of filters on hand and a Panorama mode for selfies, which is somewhat less useful than just turning the phone to Landscape and snapping the shot that way. Panorama only works when the phone is held horizontally for some reason. Still, if you’re after a selfie snapper that doubles as a phone, Huawei’s got you covered here.

The Verdict

Is Huawei’s Ascend P7 for you? If you’re after selfies, while solo or in a group, then absolutely. If you loved the P6, then this is a fantastic upgrade. It’s somewhat less attractive if you’re after the latest and greatest in mobile technology speed and features. But Huawei is catching up to the front-runners, something that we wouldn’t have thought possible as close as a couple of years back. Give them a little time and they’ll be right up there. For now, selfie-junkies should be pleased, everyone else won’t be let down.

Stuff South Africa's online editor and print assistant editor, Brett Venter has churned out more words on more titles than most journalists will in a career. He's kind of shy.

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