Huawei’s Emotion UI is the Android overlay here, sitting atop the slightly older version of Android “Jelly Bean,” version 4.1.2. In this incarnation, however, Emotion is very different from what we’ve previously seen from the phone manufacturer.
While previous efforts have been based around making the interface more simple and closer to the multiple screen based system of Apple’s iOS, the version of Emotion used in the Ascend P2 is closer to stock Android than anything else.
For instance, there’s still an application menu (something that’s normally missing in Huawei’s Emotion UI), the applications menu follows Google’s design with tabs up top separating apps and widgets, and there’s even Google’s Android stock keyboard with its excellent Swype-like gesture keyboard.
All up, it’s not the version of Emotion UI we’ve come to expect from Huawei, and Android people will probably be thankful for this, as it’s simple to adjust to.
The regular Droid staples are here, too, such as the drop down notification system, a settings controller for all your main hardware options to be switched on and off, home screen re-ordering, and widgets. Yes, it’s still Android.
We tested this with a pair of wired in-earphones from AudioFly, and found that the P2 sounds almost as good as our Beats-powered HTC One, and in some cases better, since you can change the settings of Dolby to match the music you’re listening to, something that isn’t possible from HTC’s handset.
The camera on the back is also decent, with 13 megapixels possible, though the front-facing doesn’t see the massive selfie shooter that was in the P6, with only a 1.3 megapixel here.
Let’s talk mobile speeds, because really, that’s where the Ascend P2 lays its cards on the table.
We’ve already mentioned this in the review, but for this phone to really work, you need a carrier and plan that lets you make use of a category 4 LTE connection, and in Australia right now, those options are limited.
To try and solve this, we’ve been testing the handset day to day using a Vodafone SIM for Category 4 testing and then a Telstra SIM, our regular way of testing, even though there is no Cat 4 LTE on Telstra in Sydney.
When it comes to mobile speeds, this phone flies. It really, truly does.
For Telstra, we managed speeds from between 30 and 76Mbps, which from past experience, is essentially the mid to high end of 4G mobile broadband speeds.
All of these are on Category 3, however, the regular 4G that Sydney-siders receive, since Telstra lacks support for Cat4 in GadgetGuy’s home testing city.
With Vodafone’s high speed 4G, we found Category 4 working best outside Central Station, where we found our speed test reached as high as 112Mbps for a split second, before settling to a much more regular 94Mbps. Not too shabby at all.
Regular testing showed Vodafone was better at keeping speeds between 40 and 70Mbps, but all in all, it’s not a bad effort altogether.
All up, it’s a better effort than the performance of Huawei’s quad-core, which, while it isn’t terrible, it’s certainly not the best processor out there.
Combined with the 1GB RAM, you’ll see some lag and momentary slowdowns across the device, consistent with performance of other Huawei products sporting the same hardware.
Some screens take a little longer to update, including the widgets tab which often shows the main apps, and the keyboard which doesn’t always get across what you’re trying to write and delays you by a second or two.
You can tell this isn’t completely a stock Android experience, either, as Google’s search bar just won’t leave our home screen. But hey, at least you can change the shortcuts in the dock, something the Australian Samsung Galaxy S4 struggles with.
Battery life is also roughly the same as others, with around a day of 4G life possible, and that’s while using your smartphone to surf the web, make calls, send emails and messages, listen to music, play the odd game, and take a few photographs using the 13 megapixel rear camera.
You could probably get a few more hours out, possibly even half a day, but you would have to use your phone less, and with a high speed mobile broadband connection the main selling point of this handset, that’s not likely to be something every customer will do.
The lack of a microSD slot might throw some people off too, because while 32GB is enough for many, it might not be enough for all, and you only get 26GB to work with in total.
For the price, it’s hard to argue with the Ascend P2, a handset that boasts some impressive mobile broadband speeds, and even comes packing a decent Android experience to boot.
It’s not without fault, as the system and battery could both afford a little more attention paid their way, but there is plenty in the Australian Ascend P2 to be delighted about.
For a smidgeon over $500, the Huawei Ascend P2 is an easy recommendation for anyone keen to see what’s happening in the Category 4 LTE world, and you’ll even get a decent amount of built-in storage, solid audio, and an Android experience that feels close to what Google has envisioned.
Value for money
Ease of Use
Reader Rating0 Votes
Category 4 LTE speeds when networks support it; Excellent audio playback through headphones; Feels more like stock Android; Includes the excellent Android stock keyboard with gesture typing; 32GB storage built in;