Huawei Ascend P2 review:

Huawei Ascend P2

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Huawei Ascend P2

(Part #: ASCENDP2)
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3.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

5 stars 1 user review

The Good Slim design; Bold screen; Highly customisable interface; Decent camera.

The Bad Unimpressive performance; Some software issues; Too expensive.

The Bottom Line The Huawei Ascend P2 is slim, has a vivid screen and a decent camera. It's let down though by its uninspiring performance, some software bugs and its relatively high price.

7.5 Overall

Chinese phone maker Huawei might be better known for its cheap and cheerful phones such as the Y300 or G300, but it's got its sights set on producing higher-end kit.

The Ascend P2 first showed its face in February, and it's finally made its way to our shelves. It boasts a 4.7-inch, 720p display, a quad-core processor, an impressive 13-megapixel camera and 4G for speedy data downloads.

It's available now for free on a £21 per month contract or SIM-free for around £370.

Should I buy the Huawei Ascend P2?

With its slim design, bold screen and quad-core processor, the Ascend P2, should be an excellent all-round mid-range phone. It's not though. While its specs are comparable to the Google Nexus 4, its price is considerably higher and for the money, the Ascend P2 just doesn't put in the performance.

Huawei Ascend P2 in a hand
For the best part of £400, we'd expect more from a phone.

Its processor didn't impress in my benchmark tests and the Emotion interface Huawei has slapped over Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean is awkward and has a couple of bugs. The camera is good though -- if you're a keen shutterbug and want a slim phone to carry around, it's worth considering, but otherwise, your money can be better spent elsewhere.

Take a look instead at the Nexus 4. It too has a 720p screen, a 1.5GHz quad-core processor and its stock Jelly Bean software is much more pleasant. Better yet, you can pick up the same capacity model for £279 -- nearly £100 less. If you want to stick with Huawei, its ludicrously thin Ascend P6 has similar specs and costs roughly the same as the P2.

Design and build quality

Huawei certainly has a penchant for making super-skinny phones and nowhere is this more obvious than in its flagship 6.18mm thick Ascend P6. At 8.4mm, The P2 doesn't quite measure up to its metal-clad sibling but it's still far from chubby. It's 136mm long and 67mm wide -- you'll find it a little cumbersome if you're switching from an iPhone 4, but it's not particularly difficult to hold once you get used to it.

The back is made from a piece of black plastic that curves at the edges. Although it doesn't offer any flex when you press it, it does feel quite scratchy and cheap. There's no question that it lacks the more luxurious feel of metal-bodied mobiles like the HTC One or, to a lesser extent, the Ascend P6.

Huawei Ascend P2 back
The back is made from a piece of black plastic so it feels cheap.

Aesthetically, the P2 doesn't have a huge amount going on. It has the standard all-black glass front that curves sharply at the top and bottom. The black back is broken by a tiny speaker grille at the bottom of the camera, with a silver surround. It's a very plain design, but at least it's fairly smart. 

Around the sides you'll find a volume rocker, a power button and a dedicated camera shutter button. There's also a 3.5mm headphone jack and a micro-USB port, both of which sit on top of the phone. It comes with 16GB of storage as standard which should be plenty of room for apps and videos. You can expand it with a microSD card, but you can only use it for media, not for apps. If you make sure to save all your movies and music to the card, you can save all the internal space for tools and games.


The 4.7-inch screen packs a 1,280x720-pixel resolution, giving a density of 312 pixels per inch. That's almost exactly the same as last year's Google Nexus 7. The truly hardened tech addicts among you might be moaning that it isn't Full HD like the Galaxy S4 or HTC One, but in reality, you probably won't be able to tell much difference.

Huawei Ascend P2 front top
The screen is bright and has excellent colours.

If you get your nose up close then you might notice slightly softer edges to text on the P2, but for most tasks you'll never notice. Fine text is well defined and tiny details on some of my high resolution test images looked sharp and clear.

The screen's also bright and has excellent colours. The deep blue of the skies on my favourite test video, Art of Flight, looked great, as did the flurries of fine snow that are thrown out as snowboard legend Travis Rice cuts through the powder. The screen is a little on the reflective side, but the brightness goes some way to counter it. Office lights are handled well enough, but glaring outdoor sunlight might be more of a challenge.

Android software

The P2 runs on Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean, which is now a few steps behind the most recent version. Android 4.3 Jelly Bean will soon be making its appearance more widely on new phones so it's a shame that Huawei hasn't loaded on a more recent version. Still, you'd be unlikely to tell much difference as Huawei's Emotion interface changes so much of Android that any visual difference between versions are impossible to spot.

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