Huawei Ascend P1 - Rising Dragon

Launch SRP: S$648

Overview, Design and Features


Huawei first announced the Ascend P1 along with its slimmer counterpart, the P1 S in January 2012. Our hands-on with the devices and impressive specs sheets left us feeling impressed. Despite being the youngest phone vendor in the market, Huawei is slowly but surely becoming a serious contender in the mobile space. Is the Ascend P1 what the Chinese company needs to take on the big guys? Well, this is what we intend to find out by the end of our analysis and review. Before we dive into greater details, here is a quick look of its specs: -


  Key highlights of the Huawei Ascend P1

  • Android 4.0.3 (Ice Cream Sandwich)
  • 4.3-inch Super AMOLED display / 960 x 540 pixels
  • TI OMAP 4460 dual-core 1.5GHz processor
  • 1GB RAM
  • 4GB internal memory (with microSD support up to 32GB)
  • 8-megapixel BSI rear-facing autofocus camera with 1080p video capture
  • 1.3-megapixel HD front facing camera 
  • 1670mAh battery
  • 130g
  • 129 x 64.8 x 7.69mm
  • Available now at S$648



Plastic is the dominant material in the construction of the Huawei Ascend P1, and that is both a blessing and a curse. On a positive note, it keeps the Ascend P1 lightweight at 130g compared to other 4.3-inch Android models such as the Sony Xperia S (144g). Handling wise, you will have no problem using it over extended periods of time.

The Huawei Ascend P1 is clad in a plastic shell which looks somewhat decent. However, you will have a hard time keeping fingerprints and smudges away from the glossy surface of the device.

As with phones with a mostly plastic build, we found that it makes the Ascend P1 look somwhat cheap although aesthetically, the Ascend P1 is one of the more stylish 'upper mid-range' Android smartphones around. However, the glossy plastic surface is a magnet for fingerprints and smudges, hence you will find yourself cleaning the phone quite often.

It is commendable that Huawei managed to streamline the Ascend P1 to a mere 7.69mm thin, which is just marginally thicker than the ultra sleek Motorola Razr (7.1mm), and edges out the HTC One S (7.8mm) and ASUS PadFone (9.2mm). Having said that, the Ascend P1 is extremely pocketable and should sit itself comfortably in your jeans' pocket.

You can't really tell the difference in thickness between the Huawei Ascend P1 (top) and the HTC One S (bottom).

The front face of the Ascend P1 is dominated by a 4.3-inch display, a screen size that is becoming the standard for Android smartphones entering the market these days. Below the display are three touch sensitive navigation buttons (Menu, Home, Back). Similar to HTC, Motorola and most Samsung devices, Huawei did not follow the on-screen-button system on the Galaxy Nexus and ASUS PadFone. 

Huawei opts to retain the pre-Android 4.0 style of navigation by placing three touch sensitive buttons below the 4.3-inch Super AMOLED display.

On the Ascend P1, you will find the common connectivity ports and features such as the 3.5mm audio output jack, micro-USB port (for charging and transfer of files) and a microSD card slot. The Power / Sleep button is found on the right side of the device while the volume controls are housed on the left. Both buttons are made using metallic materials and slightly raised, hence making it very easy to reach them.



The Huawei Ascend P1 runs on Android 4.0.3 out of the box. Similar to the Samsung Galaxy Nexus and ASUS PadFone, it keeps its interface clean with an almost stock Android user interface (UI). This is unlike the deep customization seen on the HTC One X and Samsung Galaxy S III. However, Huawei throws in a 3D launcher for users who may want a more interesting UI.

 Left: The unlock screen allows you to swipe to any of the four shortcuts. You can customize which shortcut to show via Settings > Security > Shortcut Settings. <br> Right: The main home screen looks no different from that of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus and ASUS PadFone.

Tap the Menu button to change the user interface to 3D Home. The 3D launcher is more versatile as it offers you up to 7 home screen panels. You also have an overview of all the screen panels via a pinch gesture. Besides aesthetic differences, you will also see 3D effects when flipping between the screens. A point to note: Using 3D Home can be a tad sluggish at times.

Slide down from the top to reveal the notification tab. You will see a row of non-customizable toggles for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, Data Switch and Auto-Rotate. There is an option to not display these toggles under Settings > Display > Notification settings. 

The Good
Solid overall performance
Excellent AMOLED Screen
Sleek design
The Bad
Glossy chassis