The P7 is a pleasant surprise.
It’s a good-looking phone; its looks are derived from other attractive devices. There’s a bit of Sony Xperia in the side profiles, HTC One in the hideaway slots, and iPhone in the “lightness” aesthetic that Huawei is pushing.
The quality of materials is solid, too - the P7 is rigid and tightly gapped, with a light plastic skeleton. Really light, actually, and the weight is proportioned so evenly that it kind of feels like you’re not holding anything. I can’t deny how impressive this design is, especially for a relatively unknown company like Huawei.
What really struck me about the P7 is the user interface - Huawei dubbed their Android skin “Emotion.” The name is hokey, but whatever - it’s attractive. And eerily familiar, if you’ve used an iPhone...but unlike Apple, Huawei encourages you to customize their phone. There’s a handful of “themes” built into the phone; it’s great to see this behavior from a phone manufacturer.
When you start playing around with the themes and settings, you’ll notice how nice the P7’s screen is. The colors are a smidge more saturated than other displays, but I quite like that. The display is sharp too - the pixel density is 441ppi, the same as a Galaxy S5.
The cameras are intriguing, too, especially the front-mounted one - it’s an 8 - yes, EIGHT megapixel lens. The next best is a 5 megapixel unit on the HTC One. What Huawei’s doing here is jumping ahead of the big players to establish the P7 as the premier phone for...selfies. Well, people do love taking pictures of themselves, so that’s a smart selling point. The rear lens is a fairly standard 13 megapixel, offering good outdoor photographs but lacking the sharpness of other high-ends phones.
And man, even though the P7 only packs a single speaker, it makes a serious amount of noise.
Although the P7 has taken cues from some of the best phones on the market, it’s by no means without fault.
Remember when I said the Emotion UI reminds me of iOS? Well, it’s got the same dumb, can’t-remove-icons-without-deleting-the-program thing going on. And guess what? There’s a whole host of programs that you can’t delete, so you’re stuck looking at them. Or shuffling them off to a side page in a folder marked “Unwanted.” This also means there’s no traditional app drawer, since Huawei’s ditched it in favor of the Apple approach.
Worse yet, the Emotion UI is still pretty young for an interface. And it’s not well-optimized. It takes up a huge chunk of the phone’s 2 gigs of RAM, causing some lag during normal use.
You only get 16 GB of storage on the P7 - well, 11 usable gigs, really - so you will need an SD card eventually.
And the Ascend P7 is never subsidized through a contract. So you’ll have to buy it unlocked, meaning you’ll have no choice but to bear the financial hit upfront. The P7 will cost you about $450.
Well, there’s no real way to get around this - it says Huawei on the front. If you’re into the “cool brand” thing, this isn’t gonna do it for you.
On its own, the Aspire P7 is a pretty good phone. But when you realize that Huawei is behind pretty much all of the development, and how far this Chinese company has come in the past few years...you have to wonder how many of us will have Chinese phones in our pockets in the near future.
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