Huawei’s best smartphone is sleek and affordable,but let down by software issues
The Ascend P7 is Huawei ’s latest flagship smartphone, and at first glance looks a lot its predecessor, the P6.
The main difference between the two is that the P7 has a larger screen – 5in compared to the P6’s 4.7in.
It retains the rounded edge at the bottom, with Gorilla Glass 3 both the front and back. As before a brushed aluminium frame runs around the edge.
For a phone with a large screen, it’s amazingly light and easy to use. We like the spun metallic finish on the rear, made from seven layers. This effect goes outward, centred on the Huawei logo, when light is reflected in the right way. Beside the black/blue model we tested, it’s available in white and pink options.
Unfortunately, the glass rear cover has the same problem as Google’s Nexus 4 – it’s prone to scratches.
HD display Ascend P7
Like every other flagship we’ve seen this year, the Ascend P7 has a full-HD screen. This looks great and has excellent viewing angles, although its brightness needs setting at the top end of the scale for comfortable viewing, especially when outdoors.
Inside is a 1.8GHz Kirin 910T quad-core processor coupled with 2GB of memory. We found the P7 runs smoother than the P6, but it’s not a completely silky experience.
The interface often juddered when we pulled the notification bar down, and generally things got a bit sticky when running several apps and tasks. We also had issues such as the P7 refusing to open Twitter by tapping the icon – we could only access it by way of recent apps for a good period of time.
The device is dual-SIM and one of the drawers doubles up as a microSD card slot. You can either have two SIM cards or just one with some extra storage. Internal storage is an Android-standard 16GB.
Camera of P7
The P7 has a 13Mp camera at the rear, with a fourth-generation Sony sensor, and it’s a cracker. It’s capable of taking high-quality photos in bright sunlight or indoors in candle light. You can double press the volume key to launch the camera and take a photo from sleep, or switch it to a shutter button. An 8Mp front camera has a five-piece lens and Huawei has coined the phrase ‘groufies’ (group selfies) for a group panorama taken with the front camera. It’s a central photo, then one either side after turning the phone.
Huawei has loaded the Ascend P7 with Android 4.4.2 (KitKat), adding its Emotion UI on top. This skin doesn’t have an app menu, so the home screen is similar to that of an Apple iPhone. It seems much nippier than before, though, which was the main downside to the P6 as a smartphone.
What we like about Emotion UI is the amount of customisability on offer. There are lots of themes to choose from and you can further tweak aspects to personalise the software. These include home screen panel transitions, icons and fonts.
Echoing the Samsung Galaxy S5, the P7 has an ultra power-saving mode, supposedly to make the phone last 24 hours on 10 percent charge. Just like the S5, you get a black-and-white interface and basic functions such as text and calls. Most users will need to charge their P7 every night. When we used it for emails, a few photos and social networking, it was nearly empty by evening. On a flagship device such as this we expect more.
Huawei has produced a stunning smartphone in the Ascend P7, that’s good value if priced as expected. There’s some decent hardware on offer here, particularly the camera, but the P7 is let down by software performance issues.