Huawei’s 7.7mm thin $499 Ascend P1 reviewed

As good a value as the $499 price tag is, there are some problems with Huawei’s mid-range miracle worker.

One of these is the 3G connection speed. We tried our regular speed tests throughout the Sydney CBD and the Inner West on the Telstra network and received a maximum of 2.8Mbps, a distance from the minimum speeds of 4 and 5Mbps we find on other handsets in the same places.

No matter where we tried, our Ascend P1 just couldn't achieve a fast 3G downlink, at least not in comparison against competing devices.

Another is the camera quality, and while the label on the casing says “8 megapixel,” it’s certainly not the best eight megapixel camera in a phone we’ve come across. Image quality on the whole seems less than what we saw in last year’s Samsung Galaxy S2, another phone that featured an eight megapixel camera.

Photos appear either overly sharp or very blurry, with the images usually a strange combination of the two. Our experiments with the panorama feature on the handset even yielded ghosts of buildings, and HDR images came out looking like three poorly layered images.

It’s nice that Huawei has at least customised the native camera app and thrown in some retro style effects, but the camera on this handset probably won’t replace your compact any time soon, and it certainly doesn’t hold a candle to the eight megapixel module on the Samsung Galaxy S3 handset, but it should suffice for social networking uses.

The panorama capture mode isn't perfect.

Huawei’s build quality is also something we took issue with, as the all-plastic design feels very cheap. We are talking about a $499 phone, but Huawei has used aluminium and rubber in some of its handsets in the past, so we had hoped for something with a little more sturdiness than the light plastic on offer.

What we have is a phone with the same sort of greasy plastic we experienced in the Galaxy S3, but with less emphasis on build. The phone body creaks in places as you hold it and can come off feeling cheap.

The SIM card slot on the top of the phone echoes this lack of quality, with a door cover that rarely fits in place properly over the slot and manages to pop itself out frequently.

Heaven forbid you ever have to switch to a different phone, the Ascend’s SIM card slot is one of the tightest we’ve ever felt. It’s a spring-loaded slot like many of them are, but the SIM just doesn’t come out far enough, and you’ll probably need to grab something sticky like Blu-tac to dislodge it from its slot.

The plastic SIM card cover doesn't like to stay in place all the time.


Huawei’s $499 Ascend P1 manages to prove that the company can make a splash in the mid-range models of smartphones, with an entry that features good performance and strong value. There are some quibbles, but on the whole, it’s not a bad little handset.

If you’re considering a high-end phone and don’t necessarily want to fork out the extra dollar signs, you may want to look at the Ascend P1 first.

Value for money
Reader Rating0 Votes
Pretty thin and light; Runs Android Ice Cream Sandwich; Takes a standard SIM, so that should make it easy for people to switch;
Feels cheap and plasticy; Slow 3G download speeds; Mediocre camera; SIM card is hard to remove;