Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
Huawei Ascend P7 review
Finally, a flagship from the third largest smartphone company in the world
- Good construction
- Attractive Android overlay
- High resolution front camera
- Software glitches
Huawei's Ascend P7 is a decent flagship, but it would make an even better mid-range phone. The design is attractive, it is well built and we would like the software if it didn't suffer from small glitches. The $549 price puts this smartphone in dangerous competition with the Nexus 5 and Motorola Moto X.
Price$ 549.00 (AUD)
Huawei’s Ascend P7 is fit to take on Samsung, Sony, HTC and Apple; whether or not it will come out on top is another question entirely.
Glowing micro patterns, 5in Full HD screen
Lighting plays a subtle — but nonetheless critical — role in the design of the P7
Lighting plays a subtle — but nonetheless critical — role in the design of the P7. The back of the smartphone has a micro-pattern. Trained eyes can barely spot it indoors, but step outside and soft concentric circles surface. Under direct sunlight, the pattern glows.
Huawei claims the effect is the result of a seven layer surface treatment. We don’t know the science behind how it works, but it does make the Ascend P7 unique.
Core to the Ascend P7’s sturdy feel is its steel chassis. The shaved steel has been left naked as it rounds the top and sides of the smartphone. Sculpted buttons and trays cluster together on its left, but the craftsmanship of each button makes up for the lack of symmetry. Overall, this smartphone looks good.
Get the right angle and the chamfered edging of the P7 will glisten. Bolts of shimmering light is a clever design trait indeed, and it adds much needed character to what would be an otherwise ordinary façade.
The Ascend P7 goes toe-to-toe with HTC’s One M8 when it comes to display technology. Both smartphones have screens which span 5-inches, a resolution of 1920x1080 and cram a commendable 441 pixels into each inch. Even brightness and viewing angles are ripe for the consumption of all media.
Stunning Android overlay—spoiled
The Ascend P7 is an Android smartphone running 4.4 KitKat. Good Gear Guide was impressed by Huawei’s Emotive UI overlay the last time we crossed paths with it on the Ascend G6.
The P7's overlay is one of the most attractive additions to stock Android available
The Ascend P7 runs a full version of the company’s overlay, and although it is heavier than the light version found on the G6, it’s easily one of the most attractive additions to stock Android on the market.
Huawei remains adamant its smartphones don’t need an app draw, which would be fine were there a methodology to organise your downloaded applications. Scattered icons can be arranged by shaking the smartphone when editing the homescreens. Otherwise, you will have to settle for manually organising and reorganising your applications. Those unphased by anarchic icons will value the design of Huawei’s overlay; for everyone else, there are a number of launchers available on the Play store.
Some brands modernise parts of their overlay with each new rendition, and, over the years, they end up with software that doesn’t thematically flow. Huawei isn’t one of those brands. Every facet of its software is consistent in style and functionality, right from the home screen to the minute options buried deep in its settings menu.
Most of the additions made to the stock Android operating system add value to the experience. A sub-menu titled “networked apps” allows you to nominate which apps can make use of cellular data or Wi-Fi, if any. A simple layout makes it easy to get the most from this great addition.
After a flight our Ascend P7 entered a cycle of continual restarts
Huawei’s “phone manager” warrants a mention for combining otherwise frayed maintenance programs into one clean interface. The application will help less advanced users improve the performance of their smartphone.
Another worthwhile addition is the Ascend P7’s “ultra power saving mode”, which keen observers will note has the exact same name as Samsung’s mode. Huawei’s rendition is less functional than Samsung’s as it permits only SMS and 2G phone calls. On the plus side, these functions are rendered in colour and the smartphone will still hold power for up to 24 hours from just 10 percent of charge.
The comprehensive software is held back on the reliability front. Our Ascend P7 suffered from intermittent glitches when we made use of the notification blind, as did a secondary review unit used by a Good Gear Guide sister publication. After a flight on one occasion our Ascend P7 entered a cycle of continual restarts. These are the kind of issues Huawei could tend to with a software update, but in the last three months, the office Ascend G6 has been the beneficiary of not a single one.
Tell-tale signs reveal the comprehensive software overlay is taxing the Ascend P7’s hardware. Most of the time Huawei’s flagship will run smooth; few other times it’ll be crippled by lag or spoiled momentarily by software judder.
Click over for hardware, battery life, cameras and the verdict
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