Hands on with Huawei's Ascend P2 Android phone

A cheap Telstra 4G smartphone, with super-fast downloads

The Huawei Ascend P2 is the latest smartphone to come out of the Chinese telco giant. With a 4.7-inch display, 13-megapixel camera and 1.5GHz processor it’s up against the current big-screen heavyweights from Samsung, Sony and HTC, but the P2 has an ace up its sleeve -- support for the fledgling LTE Category 4 super-super-fast mobile data standard.

The Ascend P2 is noticeably similar in specification and design to the Ascend P6 — it has a sheer glass face edged with a thin black bezel that thickens at the top and bottom.

There’s a speaker and front-facing 1.3-megapixel camera up top, and the standard complement of three capacitive Android menu buttons at the bottom. The Ascend P2 is also notable in having a dedicated camera button.

The phone will only be available as a 32GB model, so there's no cut-price variant with 16GB of storage. There's no microSD card slot though, so you're stuck with the storage built into the Ascend P2.

What is most interesting about the Ascend P2, though, is its built-in support for LTE Category 4. ‘Cat 4’ is the newest and fastest class of 4G, giving download speeds up to a theoretical maximum of 150Mbps where other current 4G devices can only handle 100Mbps (over LTE Category 3). And, naturally, the Ascend P2 is the first phone in Australia to handle the new connection standard.

Telstra is rolling out Category 4 upgrades around the nation, but at the moment it’s only Perth, Adelaide and Brisbane that have access to this fastest speed tier. We got our hands on an Ascend P2 connected to Telstra’s 4G network in Sydney, so we weren’t able to test out the network’s speed claims.

The Huawei Ascend P2's 4.7-inch, 1280x720pixel screen at full brightness.
The Huawei Ascend P2's 4.7-inch, 1280x720pixel screen at full brightness.

The Ascend P2’s 1.5GHz, quad-core processor is made by HiSilicon, Huawei’s own in-house chipset manufacturer. It’s got a variety of power-saving states that work in tandem with battery-boosting software, with Huawei claiming around 310 hours of standby time from the P2’s 2420mAh battery, and 770 minutes of talk time. The device was quick to respond when we played around with it — no visible lag when unlocking or loading the camera app, for example — and we’re confident it’ll perform adequately for almost all casual users’ needs.

Being a Telstra Android phone, Huawei has customised the Ascend P2 with a slightly modified version of its Emotion UI 1.5 Android skin — the most notable difference from other Huawei phones is the inclusion of the standard app drawer in the P2. Emotion UI looks quite similar to stock Android Jelly Bean, with the main difference being a unified home screen tile that shows calendar and weather data, photos, and so on. Telstra has included a home screen widget to keep track of data usage.

The Ascend P2 is a Telstra exclusive handset, and will be available in stores from July 31. Pre-orders for the on-contract device open today, with the first 500 pre-orders also scoring a free Huawei MediaPad 10-inch tablet with 8GB of storage. Telstra will be selling the phone for $0 on a $60 per month contract, but commitment-shy buyers can pick up the phone alone for an outright price of $504.

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Campbell Simpson

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