After two less successful episodes with Huawei aircraft, we now have the top model of the Chinese manufacturer; the Ascend P7.
Huawei has tried to make a name for itself with competitively priced midrange devices. After two disappointing experiences with such models, it is now hopefully time for a case of 'three times is a charm'.
On paper it looks promising for the P7. With a 13 megapixel camera, 5 inch Full HD screen and microSD slot it should be able to stand its ground. This in combination with its price tag should make the P7 a formidable competitor for a Samsung Galaxy S5 or HTC One M8 but maybe we should look a little lower at the LG G2 or Samsung Galaxy S4.
What's with the device?
The white packaging is gold printed so that it is clear that it contains an Ascend P7. There are two separate boxes underneath the unit. According to the logos there is one for the documentation but apart from two stickers with NFC tags this box is empty. The other box contains a headset and microUSB cable with adapter plug. All wrapped in white and provided with Huawei logos.
With its slim dimensions and modest weight, the P7 is an elegant appearance, despite its large screen. Due to the round power button on the right side and metal rim all around, the P7 looks like a kind of crossover between a Sony Xperia and the iPhone 4s. Maybe not a very original design but as far as we're concerned quite successful. There are no physical buttons underneath the screen because Huawei also switched to using the virtual buttons on the screen.
The metal edge is interrupted at the bottom of the unit. This side is made of plastic and has a bulge. Here we find the USB connection. On the right side, besides the power button, there are also the volume buttons and two slots for the microSIM card and microSD card. The top is for the headset connection and the left side is completely bare.
The back is decorated with a silver Huawei logo and a silver ring around the camera. Closer inspection reveals a kind of speckled motif lasered under the glass back. Because of the glass plate at the front and back, the P7 offers little grip and tends to slip off something.
The Huawei appliances have a very extensive energy saving section in the settings menu. This includes, for example, three settings for the power plan. These adjust the CPU and network usage so that the battery lasts a little longer or shorter. In Ultra mode, the battery life is considerably longer but only a few basic call and message functions are available.
The estimation of the remaining time seems to be somewhat optimistic. There is also battery monitoring that can be used to detect problems that need to be optimised. A useful function although we find the term 'problems' a bit heavy because some functions are just part of the normal operation of the phone. With some regularity the P7 gives notifications of apps that use a lot of battery power and the question if they should be closed. An unusual message for experienced Android users and a strange question for new users.
With the necessary effort, the P7 manages to fill up 24 hours on one battery charge. Remarkably, the battery steadily decreases even at night, when the device is resting. In spite of all the monitor functions for the battery, there is no obvious guilty party to blame for this. Of course, the P7 is not the only phone with such moderate endurance, but it remains disappointing.
After the disappointing performance of the previously tested Huawei models, we didn't have too high expectations for the P7. However, we did not receive any complaints from our interlocutors this time. However, you have to put your ear straight to the speaker which is sometimes difficult to recognize by touch. Even with the volume at maximum. The sound is not only soft from time to time but also a bit squeaky and shrill.
The phone application is merged with the phonebook. There are three tabs at the top and one of them is for the communicator. With the help of smartdial you can quickly find the desired contact. Furthermore, the application is clear and functional.
The Ascend P7's 5-inch screen has a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels. This brings you to a pixel density of 445 PPI and provides a pleasant viewing experience. Contrast and detail are well displayed. Colors look beautiful and vivid.
In the menu, the colour temperature can be adjusted so that white surfaces look slightly less blue or yellow. Moreover, Huawei finally seems to have succeeded in making the automatic screen brightness work properly.
The P7 runs on Android 4.4 with version 2.3 of the Emotion interface over it. This is Huawei's attempt to change the look and feel of Android. There is no application menu. Instead, all apps are placed on one of the home screens. Just like on the iPhone. This is not really useful for the overview because a lot of apps are already in a more or less random folder by default.
To keep the icons all the same size and shape, the size of the icons of downloaded apps are resized or placed on a shield. This may benefit the unity of the interface and Huawei has almost perfected this technique but in some cases the result is still downright ugly.
On the lock screen, a number of shortcuts can be conjured up by swiping upwards from below the screen. These shortcuts are for the calendar, calculator, flashlight and mirror. It is also possible to control the slide show of images on the lock screen. If you turn this slide show off, the weather forecast will be visible at that spot.
Huawei also gave the notification screen a slightly different appearance. At the top is still the time and date with a shortcut to the settings menu. Below that is a line with five shortcuts to specific settings. This line can be unfolded by swiping downwards after which eight more settings appear and the screen brightness can be adjusted. Dragging this downwards is not very convenient because the same movement should be used to unfold notifications. This does not work well together. In general the P7 works smoothly, but when dragging the status bar down or changing the start screen, some delay is noticeable.
If you find the standard theme too childish, there are several other themes available. In addition, the individual parts of these themes can be exchanged. In addition, there is a simplified display of the home screen that looks a bit like Windows Phone with its tiles.
As mentioned before, the contact list is housed in the phone application. Furthermore, the functionality also corresponds to what we are used to from Android. This means that besides the SIM card or phone memory, contacts from Gmail can of course also be displayed.
In addition, the contact list can, for example, be synchronized with Facebook or another email account. In order to save the overview, the type of contacts to be displayed can be adjusted. When scrolling through the list, the initial letter of a new group of contacts lights up each time.
Although SMS is becoming less and less important and Android phones can use the Google Hangouts app for this, Huawei has chosen to add some extras to its own messaging app. For example, you can add a widget to the home screen for an overview of your sent messages. A popup can be shown for newly received messages.
The mail app is becoming more and more similar to the standard Android application in both appearance and functionality. And that's an advance. Exchange accounts, Gmail, Hotmail and others can be added. The rest means that you have to enter all data manually. Read and/or deleted mails on your device are now finally synchronized with your webmail inbox. Messages in self-created online folders are also retrieved on the device.
For text input, the P7 is equipped with the Swype keyboard. As far as we are concerned one of the finest alternative keyboards. Besides just typing, it can also be used to enter text by swiping across the screen. As an extra option, the standard Android keyboard, which is also equipped with drag and drop input, is also available.
In addition to good WiFi capacity, the P7 also has Bluetooth 4.0, NFC and can use the 4G network for mobile internet. We have not had any problems with lost connections.
In addition to Google's Chrome, the P7 also has another internet browser by default. As far as functionality and interface are concerned, they do not evade each other much. Zooming is a bit faster with Huawei's browser and the text reflow works better. On the other hand, it is possible to fully synchronize Chrome with the browser on your computer and it works better with Google Now.
The P7 has a 13 megapixel camera that is supplied by Sony. The camera starts up pretty quickly on its own, but using the volume down button, an ultra snapshot can be taken in about one second from standby. Even though the photo is taken without autofocus and in a lower resolution.
In the camera's search screen, you can switch between photo and video, front or rear camera, flash modes and photo modes. The available photo modes are normal, smart, beautiful, HDR, panorama, filters, audio annotation, audio control, best photo and watermark.
In widescreen ratio, photos are taken with a maximum 10 megapixel resolution. To be able to use the full 13 megapixels, you have to settle for a 4:3 ratio. Pictures taken in daylight have a clear and detailed image with good color reproduction.
Huawei considers the making of selfies of paramount importance. We have seen this before on other Huawei devices in the form of a handy interface function when taking a selfie. The P7 adds another 8.0 megapixel camera on the front. An unprecedented resolution for a front-facing camera.
The P7 features Facebook, music, themes, calendar, clock, file management, phone management, mirror, voice search, Google, weather, flashlight, calculator, notes, sound recorder, fm radio, backup, magnifying glass, system update, downloads, install app, DLNA, voice dialer, Polaris Office 4.0, Magic Tag, Twitter, Bitcasa, Google+, Play, Drive, YouTube, Photos, Hangouts.
In principle nothing is missing in this package. Apps like mirror and magnifying glass, which of course use the camera, are nice additions, but not everyone will use them equally intensively. The sorting of the apps is a bit messy, so for the overview on the home screens, it's handy to start sorting them after using your P7.
The design of the P7 is not the most innovative but in principle well executed. Moreover, the finish is above average. The phone fits comfortably in your hand and can be operated easily with one hand. However, it must be taken into account that the phone is very smooth and vulnerable because of the glass plate at the back. The interface adjustments are a matter of taste and it's hard to argue about that. We didn't have to. This is because we are charmed and accustomed to the operation of standard Android, but especially because it is not completely flawless. That's why we ran into some minor annoyances. The P7's camera shoots great photos that are not inferior to most of its competitors. On top of that comes a self-image camera with a resolution that other phones will be jealous of.
Endurance leaves a lot to be desired. It is also not helped by the extra features that should improve it. Rather, it makes the user experience more confusing. Unfortunately, once again we have to conclude that the call quality is not entirely without flaws. All in all, it is more than enough, the quality of an average Nokia phone is not achieved. All in all, the Huawei Ascend P7 is a good and beautiful all-round phone with as unique feature its self-image camera.