- Elegant, slim design
- Sharp and customizable display
- Above-average front and back cameras
- Wide-ranging LTE support
- Overheats quickly
- Subpar performance compared to current flagships
- Fixed soft keys take up space
Quick TakeThe Huawei Ascend P7 is a surprisingly capable alternative to the usual flagships, and it arrives at a slight discount. It could stand to be stronger, but its design, display, and camera software all bring something fresh to the Android table.
Although it’s been one of the largest telecommunications companies in the world for decades, Huawei has had a notably difficult time conquering the trust of mobile users outside of its native China. Whether or not this is because of its long-running political controversies or the fact that smartphones are simply not its core business, Huawei usually has to work harder than other international brands like Samsung, HTC, Sony and LG to achieve any kind of market success.
The Chinese giant is trying to do just that with its newest flagship smartphone, the Ascend P7, though. The company’s announced that its hero device will cost around 30 percent less than the typical flagship’s price in all markets if it’s purchased without a carrier contract, despite its relatively top-tier specifications.
The Ascend P7 arrives on the market about 12 months after its predecessor, the Ascend P6, and the two are quite similar in various ways. That might not be such a bad thing for Huawei, though, since last year’s model managed to sell 4 million units through the same plan of offering a high-specs device for a comparatively lower price.
Much like its forefather, the Ascend P7 has its share of shortcomings, but it also introduces a surprising number of pluses that make it a compelling choice for anyone who desires a top-class smartphone for slightly less cash. Let’s give it a look.
Build and Design
Apart from being one of the slimmest smartphones in the world at 6.5 mm (0.26 inches) thick, the Ascend P7 is also one of the most attractive Android devices to come along this year. Much of its elegance derives from its predecessor; the Ascend P6 saw Huawei start to devote more attention to design, and its flat, rounded rectangle look hits the bull’s-eye again here. What’s more, the Ascend P7 is as nice to hold as it is to look at, as it weighs just 127 g (4.37 oz.). It feels great in the hand too, with a comfortable height (5.50 inches) to width (2.71 inches) ratio.
All that being said, let’s address the elephant in the room. It’s hard to lose the impression that, as with the Ascend P6, the Ascend P7 looks very much like a larger iPhone. However, there are definitely worse sources from which to draw inspiration, and the Ascend P7’s larger and lusher screen helps lessen that initial resemblance over time.
The front of the phone is dominated by that display, which is covered in Gorilla Glass 3. Huawei’s logo lies under it, and is flanked by no physical keys whatsoever. Only the speaker and an 8-megapixel front-facing camera are located above the display. The on-screen navigation keys here are typical a modern Android device (with Back, Home and Tasks buttons), and are fixed at the bottom of the display by default.
Although KitKat has made strides to hide these soft keys in certain full screen apps, the fact that they still take up permanent space by default continues to be an annoyance. It’s a shame that Huawei hasn’t maintained the solution it featured on the Ascend P6, where the capacitive keys appeared only when they were “addressed” by an upward swipe from the lower side of the display.
A 13-megapixel rear-facing camera is featured along the upper left edge of the phone’s rear (again, just like on the iPhone), and it’s equipped with an LED flash. Underneath that is a speaker along the lower left edge, placed similarly to the grille on the LG G3. The back as a whole is also covered in Gorilla Glass 3, which is an upgrade of the sanded metal of the Ascend P6, and furthers the premium feel of the device. The back is unibody, which also helps that feel but means that the phone’s battery isn’t replaceable.
The upper and side edges of the device are sharp and made of metal, while the lower side is fully curved and presented as a sort of bridge between the Gorilla Glass of the front and the back. The phone’s bottom includes a MicroUSB port and a microphone, while the power key, volume rocker, and microSIM and microSD card slots are all situated on the right. The left side, meanwhile, is now barren; last year it housed the handset’s headphone jack underneath a silver lid, but that’s been removed and the jack has migrated to the device’s top.