Huawei Ascend P7

Huawei improves upon earlier efforts with a glass-backed chassis, redesigned software and new camera tricks

At an event in Paris, France today, Huawei officially unveiled its new high-end flagship phone, the Ascend P7. It's the latest in the Chinese manufacturer's premium "P" range, building on last year's P6, which the company says sold 4 million units across the globe. The P7's design heritage is plain to see — from the metal trim around the top and sides to the curved edge down below, this year's Huawei flagship looks an awful lot like last year's.

The biggest external change can be seen when you flip it over — the back panel is now made of glass, and sports a reflective pattern not unlike LG's "crystal reflection process," seen on the Optimus G. This effect comes to life through a combination of seven layers, Huawei says, and if you look close enough you can make some of them out — one forms concentric circles leading out from the "Huawei" logo, for instance, another is a checkered pattern. By any standard, the P7 is a good-looking phone. It's also extremely light, much less heavy than most 5-inch smartphones we've used.

By any standard, the P7 is a good-looking phone.

When it comes to internals, Huawei's taking aim at the big boys, flaunting comparisons with the iPhone 5s and Samsung Galaxy S5 in today's presentation. It's powered by a Kirin 910T from the Huawei-owned Hisilicon, a 1.8GHz quad-core part and a relatively unknown quantity. The device seems speedy enough most of the time, though there are unfortunate instances of scrolling lag in some apps like the Play Store, Twitter and the notification shade. We'll have to see how it holds up once we've had the chance to load it up with apps, especially since the Ascend P6 turned out to be somewhat sluggish. The P7's homegrown CPU is backed up by 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage (of which 11.39 is available out of the box).

One important area Huawei hasn't compromised is the display — the P7's 1080p in-cell panel looks as good as any we've seen, delivering vivid colors and solid daylight visibility.

Huawei Ascend P7

Both cameras are a big focus of the P7 — the front-facer clocks in at a selfie-friendly 8 megapixels, and is backed up by a bevy of software features. These include a pretty neat panorama function for taking shots on the front-facing camera with more people, and an assortment of beautification options. The rear camera is an 13-megapixel unit powered by a Sony sensor and a surprisingly capable camera app. In our brief testing of the device in daylight it doesn't seem to match up to the quality of shots from the Xperia Z2 and Galaxy S5, but it's a capable shooter all the same, showing promise in low light.

Huawei Ascend P7

Huawei's UI is more consistent than before, but elements of it remain somewhat of a hodgepodge.

On the software side, Huawei's loaded up Android 4.4.2 KitKat and its new Emotion UI 2.3. The interface is just as customizable as ever through the Themes app, with several official skins loaded out of the box, and many more available online. The default skin, characterized by rounded icons and soft gradients, seems more thoughtfully crafted than the previous version, though elements of the experience remain something of a hodgepodge, with a few conflicting visual styles presenting themselves in the phone's various menus. And the default home screen setup, with no separate app drawer, may be somewhat jarring to Western smartphone users unfamiliar with Huawei's way of doing things.

An assortment of software features are available besides the standard Android stuff — a "phone manager" app allows you to keep track of which apps might be using too much memory or CPU juice. There's a "simple home" mode for those wanting a less complex experience, and an "Ultra Power Saving" mode, as we've seen from HTC and Samsung, which pares back the phone's higher functions to extend battery life.

Huawei Ascend P7Huawei Ascend P7

So the P7 is a solid effort, particularly in terms of hardware, where its use of glass sets it apart from some of the plastic-based competition. But it's not as buttery-smooth as the high-end competition, and it remains to be seen whether the company's software experience, which seems more closely tied to MIUI than vanilla Android, will prove as usable as rivals' visions of the OS.

The Huawei Ascend P7 will launch globally starting in June, priced at €449 off-contract.

 
There are 46 comments

I actually dig the whole IOS and Android combination but thats just me.

ryanmtech says:

Hey look Apple released a new... waiitttttt...

Deegan says:

+1

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Duncan1982 says:

Looks nothing like the iPhone or the Xperia, atleast that's what Huawei will claim lol

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HellcatM says:

I agree it doesn't look like the iphone but they did do a fail by adding a glass back like the old iphone. I wonder if it'll shatter as easily as the iphone did? You'd think other companies would have learned from apples mistake.

Plastic might feel cheap but its sturdier than glass. I would rather see metal, or even better carbon fiber (I love the look of carbon fiber), but plastic is ok. I think Nokia phones use plastic best, it feels sturdy and Samsung with its flimsy back uses it the worse, but it works so I don't care. Feeling cheap and being sturdy are two different things and I'd rather have a phone that feels cheap but you can drop it and it doesn't break than a glass phone that feels sturdy but cracks when you drop it from 3 feet on the grass.

Glass back on this feels nice. I don't fancy dropping it on the floor but it feels really nice

Fredrik E says:

Dropped my P7 on the street after just one day, and it was the corning gorilla glass that got busted. The back is good as new. Now im just wondering how to change it. Just got the new screen+digitizer in the mail, but can't find any tutorial on how to change it online. Anyone have any experience with this?

Bor Navas says:

I agree, and I'll tell you that I love the carbon fiber back of my Z30, it's really nice

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machzk says:

THe glass at the back of the iPhone was stronger than most would think. I had an iPHone 4s that dropped from quite a height, bounced on the concrete and came to a rest. I thought that was it, its days were done. It however only had a crack on the top right corner. But I wouldn´t buy a glass phone again.

makie says:

The looks are great, the inner parts are not! A 3 year old kernel, an old cpu and a old gpu.. how is that going to sell compared to other handsets from competators like oppo, 1+, xiaomi, vivo, meizu etc etc..

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21plays says:

So that soc is an old one?

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makie says:

Yes.

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hectord27 says:

Who cares if it looks like the iPhone? It's not an iPhone, it's a fully customizable Android phone with great specs AND it is a great looking phone with a simple UI and great camera. What else do we want?

Great phone. Good job Huawei in giving us a clean, fast, great looking phone.

Deegan says:

4 times great?
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Deke218 says:

So when can we expect Apple to start the litigation?

" unfortunate instances of scrolling lag in some apps like the Play Store, Twitter and the notification shade"
It lags on the most basic everyday things? I hate to see what a really memory intensive app would do to this phone. Is this a budget device?

Stephan Hall says:

That's brutal! lol :)

21plays says:

How does their soc stake up to the snapdragon 801?

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TKL74 says:

A piece of shit? lol

makie says:

Im not saying benchmarks a thing, but it scores 24k in antutu while 2014 phones score around 35k, so probably not that good

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udazavlanje says:

Obviously they were going for the looks not the specs, even though there is nothing original about it. If the phone performs well enough for the average user it will sell good enough. People like the flickering back, thinnest phone etc. At the mentioned price point, definitely no one from this community will buy it for sure :)

VZW Moto X

Well, the chip they had in the P6 was said to be sluggish. So I'm guessing that this one won't be as good as the 801.

21plays says:

How do they make it so thin? Why aren't the current flagship's this thin?

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TKL74 says:

Tiny battery size is what you get for thin devices.

21plays says:

2500 is not a tiny battery

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makie says:

Thats something they did well! It looks awsome, but the inner parts are not 2014 worty at all. Have to say that i like the screen aswell tho

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darkoman4 says:

P6 doesn't have LTE bands, but does have TMobile friendly AWS frequencies. How about this phone?

rgao007 says:

I'm sorry, but that's an Xperia Z1/Z2 copy. Even the damn power button is circular!

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jeffhesser says:

That seems decent and pretty but at $600+ that seems awfully pricey for a phone that is not samsung/apple/HTC

21plays says:

Agreed

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udazavlanje says:

Yep. when unsubsidized very few would overlook big brand names to get this phone.
Reminds me (a little) of Google's projections error / schtick w Moto X.

VZW Moto X

Stephan Hall says:

I agree ..... all of them are priced too high.

Havohej says:

449 EUR is the EUROPEAN price which include taxes and electronics are in general a bit more expensive here. The price in USA will be probably close to $449

sw6lee says:

i hope so! Thanks for letting me know.

Dperks17 says:

Probably runs a mediatek quad core. If so DO NOT BUY. They don't comply with the GPL license.

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avidberry says:

If Apple is consistent with their "resolution to crush copier", they will likely sue Huawei. So will Sony with their Xperia line. The million dollar question is, who dare going against Huawei backed by the Chinese government???

RaiderWill says:

$627.00.. No.
@$600.00.. That's Easy.. OPPO Find 7.
@$350.00.. That's Easy.. OnePlus One.
@$125.00.. I'll hang on to my 4.5" Alcatel.

Sunofabob says:

Beautiful device. I like that it's dial SIM.

AC App via Nexus 5

quailallstar says:

I like the look of this device. I would get one.

DJCBS says:

What a shameless design rip-off of Sony's Xperia Z line. Well...then again...it's Huawei. We shouldn't be surprised, I guess.

It's like an iPhone 4/4s had a baby with an Xperia device. It's not a bad thing aesthetically but it's definitely an "inspired" design.

Posted from my TARDIS!

Is it the Xperia Z3..... oh wait.... is the Xperia brand owned by Huawei now?

sw6lee says:

Don't kid lol, xperia is way uglier imo. sony should do something about the Z lines' sides which looks not that refined and clean in my opinion. and the biggest thing i hate about sony's xperia Zs is that their white version is only panda version, with front of the phone still black. Many users prefer completely white phone to black phone, mainly because it looks nicer to them and also hides finger prints so much better and the phone looks clean all the time. I think I'll choose P7 over Z2.

SickMickUK says:

Anyone know where I can get the wallpaper on that phone?

sw6lee says:

Really nice and clean design with good specs and super slim. I like it.

Harry Wild says:

It looks so modern unlike the Samsung S5 which looks dated. It could be the next iPhone 6! I will wait to see how it works in the U.S. carrier marketplace with it GSMs and LTE before I even think about buying one.