At £41 per month over two years, the Huawei Ascend P1 LTE is one of the keenest priced handsets in EE’s launch line-up of smartphones that run on its super fast 4G network.
But does skimping on your smartie mean you’re pouring the mobile connectivity equivalent of rocket fuel into a Robin Reliant? Read on to find out.
Huawei doesn’t have the same cool cachet of the likes of Samsung and HTC in the annals of Android phone-makers. But the purveyor of cut-price kit has made a very decent fist of ensuring that the Ascend P1 LTE looks and feels the part.
The black shell of the handset, fairly standard slab form factor and familiar Android phone layout of home, back and menu buttons means that it doesn’t exactly stand out from the crowd. But it’s still a pretty good-looking bit of kit even so.
Unlike the original Ascend P1, which an angular shape that recalled Sony’s more recent phones, this LTE-toting re-swizzle is a more rounded affair. It’s a cute design, though, and most closely resembles the vanilla Android powered likes of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus.
Where it does lose out a little in comparison is that at 9.9mm thick, it’s 2.2mm beefier than its predecessor. But with that extra bulk allowing for 4G technology to be packed inside and a removable backplate and battery, we think it’s a price worth paying.
Elsewhere, the fact that Huawei hasn’t deviated from the design and three-button layout of the majority of Android phones means the Ascend P1 is instantly familiar and easy to get to grips with.
Huawei's rep rests on the sub-£100 Android kits with the kind of spec sheets that you’d expect for that kind of outlay. Not so this turbo-charged take on the Ascend P1.
Leading the charge is a more than capable eight-megapixel snapper, secondary 1.3-megapixel camera for video calls, a 1.5GHz dual core processor, 4GB of on board storage and scope to add a microSD card. And there’s a 4.3-inch none-more-Samsung Super AMOLED screen on board too, with a 960x540 resolution that we found plenty sharp enough.
But the real meat here naturally is 4G support, which EE reckons offers speeds “typically five times faster than 3G”. While we didn’t experience the kind of 40Mbps speeds that EE claims, tests we conducted pegged the service consistently at between 20-25Mbps in and around London.
With pages loading nigh-on instantaneously and whole albums and data-heavy apps (we tested Spotify and BBC iPlayer) downloading in seconds for a satisfyingly zippy mobile web experience.
The Ascend P1 LTE runs an almost completely unadulterated version of the Ice Cream Sandwich version of Android. This is a very good thing, ensuring it’s flab free and sans the sort unnecessary adornments and animations that can blight the Android experience.
But that still means you get the pull down notifications bar, ample scope for customisation, five home screens, resizable widgets, the stock keyboard and Android Beam for sharing content via NFC. And as with all Android phones, you’ll get to pick from the thousands of apps and games on offer at Google Play.
It’s perhaps a little disappointing and somewhat surprising that Huawei didn't see fit to equip the LTE version of its handset with the newer Jelly Bean version of Google’s OS. But given that official beta versions of Android 4.1 are doing the rounds already, it’s a safe bet it’ll come to the Ascend P1 LTE soon enough.
Ease of use
One of the major concerns over 4G phones is that next-gen connectivity will tear through handsets’ battery life.
We didn’t find that to be the case with the Ascend P1 LTE's 2,100 MaH battery and got a full day’s use out of the handset, after putting it through its paces on 4G-hammering applications throughout the day, taking in everything from downloads to streaming via the iPlayer and tethering our lappy.
The stripped-down, familiar button layout and similarly spartan approach to Android also make the handset incredibly easy to get to grips with for anyone who’s used an Android handset before.
Huawei’s latest is a solid enough handset that’s made much more attractive by its 4G capabilities. And all at a price that’s not that much more per month than a top-end 3G smartphone.
Given that early EE customers will be first-adopter types who don’t mind paying the premium for bleeding-edge tech, though, we’re not sure who it’s aimed at right now.
Especially when you consider that EE is offering the exclusive titanium version of the Samsung Galaxy S3 for a £29.99 one-off outlay and £46 per month – just a fiver more than you’re paying for Huawei’s kit.
-Eight-megapixel auto focus camera
-16GB internal memory
-microSD card support
-4.8-inch Super AMOLED screen
-Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
-1.3-megapixel front-facing camera