The Huawei Ascend P1 LTE is the 4G, chunkier version of the Ascend P1 we reviewed way back in July. Launched on Everything Everywhere’s 4G network, despite being one of the lowest priced 4G devices out there, the Ascend P1 LTE still manages to deliver perfectly respectable specs. These include a qHD 4.3-inch display, dual-core 1.5GHz TI OMAP processor and a heaped serving of Ice Cream Sandwich, Android 4.0. Cheaper than most 4G phones it may be, but with the skinnier Ascend P1 available for half the price on contract, is the Ascend P1 LTE and its 4G worth the extra outlay?
Huawei Ascend P1 LTE Review - Design
The P1 LTE is totally different to its non-LTE counterpart in terms of design. While HTC managed to keep all their One Xs the same, Huawei have bulked up the P1 LTE to 9.9mm. It isn’t giant in isolation, but it looks positively rotund when sat next to the 7.7mm P1.
The LTE variant also feels extremely plastic and hollow. We know that plastic can be done well, Lumias and One Xs are case and point, however this isn’t plastic done well. A tap on the back delivers a hollow echo and in spite of a couple of flourishes such as a lattice mould in the back cover, a bump at its base and a red camera mount, we can’t help but feel underwhelmed.
Another oddity is that the power button and volume rocker are on the left hand side. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but certainly took a time to get used to.
Huawei Ascend P1 LTE Review - Screen
qHD resolution is perfectly respectable, as is AMOLED technology however when combined they’ve tended to produce a sub-par picture, namely on Motorolas. The Ascend P1’s 4.3-inch display doesn’t suffer quite as much as say the RAZR, but is discernibly more dotted than LCDs with the same key specs. Despite this relative lack of clarity, brightness is fair on the Ascend P1 LTE and viewing angles are great. Being an AMOLED panel, colours are also really nice and vibrant and blacks deep.
Huawei Ascend P1 LTE Review - User Interface
Android 4.0 means you get full access to the Google Play Store on the Huawei Ascend P1 LTE. Not quite the latest version of Google’s mobile OS ICS is still respectable. Huawei hardly touch the stock Ice Cream Sandwich interface, with the additions they do include being extremely useful.
The first is the option to choose how many homescreens you have - in contrast to the set number found on stock Android. Next, Huawei enable a leap view, HTC’s trademark pinch to overview all your homescreens. Finally, the Ascend P1 LTE has a quick settings bar in its notifications bar. This is in stock Android 4.2, however not in earlier versions.
Everything Everywhere also load up the handset with a broadband speed checker app, though this can easily be uninstalled if you don’t want to use it.
All in all, we like the way Huawei handle their UIs in their ICS devices and the Ascend P1 LTE is no exception - clean, stock and simple.
Huawei Ascend P1 LTE Review - Camera and Multimedia
The 8-megapixel autofocus camera on the Ascend P1 LTE delivers very comparable performance to the original Ascend P1. This translates to good detail, ok noise handling, exemplary HDR mode and slightly blurry night shots unless you hold your hand very, very still. Speed of shot isn’t as quick as we’d hope by default thanks to focus time, but Huawei include an instant capture mode to compensate for that, taking the picture regardless of focus as found on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus.
The user interface of the camera is simple, looking stock on first glance, but packs a pull down bar for customisation. These really add to the imaging functionality with effects, filters and adjustments present, rounding off an impressive stills camera on a high.
Video is shot in full HD and looks altogether on-point. Exposure is fair, if slightly slow to adjust, detail is fine in both 720p and 1080p and continuous focus works well. We’d suggest just keeping the P1 LTE to 720p unless you know you’re going to export to a full HD panel with output being smaller and the results looking just as good.
With microSD expandability and 2GB of user available storage on board, the Huawei Ascend LTE serves up the potential for great multimedia support
Bigger than most MP3 players it may be, but the Ascend P1 LTE still fits in the pocket thanks to its smooth rounded corners.
Video content looks great given the aspect ratio and the AMOLED screen pops nicely. Unfortunately, it isn’t as good for ebooks with fine text looking slightly pixelated, though if you keep the font size up, it looks perfectly readable.
Games play back well - as they did on the skinnier P1. Graphics are smooth and it supports most major titles. In addition, the form of the P1 LTE lends itself better to long sessions as there’s more to phone hold.
Huawei Ascend P1 LTE Review - Storage and Connectivity
With 4GB of onboard memory and microSD expandability, you should have plenty of room for all your files on the go. Connections include 4G, 3.5G, 3G, Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi direct, Bluetooth and GPS, with the only noticeable absence being NFC.
When it comes to web browsing, the Huawei Ascend P1 LTE ues Android 4.0’s stock browser. In benchmarks it fares extremely well, benefiting also from the ample 4.3-inch display and fantastic 4G browsing speeds.
Huawei Ascend P1 LTE Review - Performance and Battery
We didn’t see any sign of the 1.5GHz dual-core TI OMAP processor in the Huawei Ascend P1 LTE struggling with basic tasks . Games run smoothly as does HD video content formatted correctly. Call quality is very good in terms of volume and clarity, with reception levels being on par with other EE 4G phones we were testing.
The ample 2000mAh battery performed well in our tests. Lasting a full day with moderate usage, there was even some juice left in the tank, when our head hit the pillow.
Huawei Ascend P1 LTE Review - Conclusion
In its favour, the Huawei Ascend P1 LTE has a decent camera, good battery life and solid performance. It’s weakest area is definitely its design though with hollow plastic beef paling in comparison to its skinny dense non-LTE counterpart.
If you’re prepared to take a hit in terms of design, then the Huawei Ascend P1 LTE is the cheapest Android on EE’s 4G network. The very handsome Nokia Lumia 820 is your Windows Phone alternative that comes in slightly cheaper, and if you don’t need 4G, then the obvious choice would be to go for the original Huawei Ascend P1 at less than half the price on contract.