Huawei Ascend P2

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It is billed as ‘the world’s fastest 4G LTE smartphone’ – with claimed download speeds of up to 150Mbps – but is Huawei’s new flagship as speedy as the manufacturer suggests and is its hardware up to the task?

The Ascend P2 was announced in February as the ‘world’s fastest 4G LTE smartphone’ – that’s speedy downloading rather than a fast processor. Huawei claims the device can download data at 150Mbps. EE, the UK’s sole 4G operator, claims an average of above 16Mbps and is aiming to produce speeds of 130Mbps this year. So the P2 isn’t really going to be used to full advantage. But there was a noticeable kick in speed when using the phone for browsing.

Slim and sleek
The sleek P2 measures 136.2 x 66.7mm and is 8.4mm thick. This is slim for a smartphone, although not as thin as Huawei’s Ascend P6 at 6.18mm. At just 122g, it is also feather light.

The 4.7-inch screen is fairly large, which can make it feel a bit unwieldy. Stretching your thumbs across the screen can be wearisome, and those corners will poke into your palm.

The device has a plastic back and Corning Gorilla Glass 2 covering the screen – it survived a week in a handbag without scratches or scuffs.

Overall, it doesn’t try anything very new in the design department, apart from angled edges that seem to make it even harder for your thumbs to reach the screen.

Inserting the SIM card is not as easy as you might think. A SIM slot along the phone’s edge reveals a spring-loaded crevice. You need the small plastic tool included with the phone to open it, but it doesn’t work very well. I guarantee you will lose this dongle, so you’ll need to grow some long fingernails.

Screen resolution is 720 x 1,280 pixels with a pixel density of roughly 312ppi. That’s good but it’s not the best – the top smartphones sit around the 400ppi mark with screen resolutions of 1,080 x 1,920 pixels.

The P2’s screen still looks good, with clear detail and bright colours, but it does lack the fine detail of, say, the Sony Xperia Z or the richness of the Samsung Galaxy S4. However, it is much cheaper than either of those two devices.

Screen responsiveness can slow when using the keyboard and often tapping the space bar too far down will be interpreted by the phone as hitting the home button. So halfway through composing a message or email, you’ll suddenly be taken back to the home screen. On other occasions the phone will decide to launch a different application instead. This became a real annoyance. It seems Huawei’s control buttons are over-sensitive.

Fast lane
Of course, as there is only one 4G network to choose from, it is difficult to test out Huawei’s ‘fastest LTE smartphone’ claim, but the Ascend P2 did load web pages very quickly on 4G. It made light work of loading data-heavy pages and streaming YouTube videos were blisteringly fast compared to other handsets.

Speed tests gave varying results, but the phone did register peak London download speeds of 37Mbps. This is impressive, since the EE average is meant to be 16Mbps and the maximum 40Mbps. Our tests registered speeds in excess of 40Mbps.

The processor is not so quick. The P2 runs on a 1.5GHz quad-core Huawei chip with 1GB RAM. This is what you would expect for a high-end phone –although is isn’t the fastest out there.

Running games is a processor-intensive task, which caused the phone to freeze on a load screen for several minutes. There was some lag when trying to load or switch between apps.  The phone also occasionally crashed when trying to load data-heavy apps such as Facebook. For a quad-core processor with 1GB of RAM and clock speeds of 1.5GHz to have problems loading apps is puzzling.

Streaming films didn’t pose any problems, but skipping through films caused brief distortion. The P2 also gets hot when playing games, particularly around the top of the handset.

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