Huawei isn’t exactly known for being a producer of high-end mobile devices, but the company has been hoping to change that image recently. A big reason why we don’t automatically associate the Chinese manufacturer with today’s crop of Galaxy S3s and HTC One X’s is partly due to Huawei’s absence from the North American market — they have made strides here recently — and a history of producing low-cost featurephones and low-powered smartphones. Huawei is ushering in a new era with the release of the Ascend P1, a thin (albeit not as thin as the Ascend P1 S) and powerful device available in China and other regions this month.
The Huawei Ascend P1 is advertised as being the slightly plumper counterpart to the Ascend P1 S, which features a nearly identical spec sheet. But don’t be fooled by the description. The Ascend P1 still measures in at a mere 7.7mm thick, about a millimeter thicker than the P1 S and no worse for it. The number provides a nice bit of marketing for Huawei, but the phone does feature two areas that protrude to a slighter degree of thickness — a “chin” at the bottom of the phone and the area around the camera housing. In the grand scheme of things, the thicker areas are hardly noticed.
Huawei has done something fairly unique with their implementation of Android 4.0. Like most manufacturers, a custom skin is present on top of Android, though it isn’t as intrusive or far-reaching as that of other companies. The lock screen offers quick access to apps like the camera or dialer, while the “3D Home” provides an animated carousel of homescreens and customizable launcher. Dropping down the notification pane reveals a set of toggles for various functions like WiFi and GPS, a feature that is quickly becoming standard in custom Android interfaces.
The real question to ask is not how the Huawei Ascend P1 stacks up with the likes of the Galaxy S3 and One X, but rather has Huawei given us reason to look forward to future releases like the Ascend D Quad as legitimate contenders in the upper echelon of smartphones. With the Ascend P1, Huawei has shown that they can make a high-end handset as well as they can churn out low-cost alternatives, and with better marketing and a wider release future devices could demand some attention. The Ascend P1 itself suffers from launching just a few months too late, but it still makes for a find addition to the Android family. Those wishing to pick up the handset can take advantage of its GSM compatibility on North American networks.