CES 2012, the year that two smartphones duked it out for the title of the world’s thinnest smartphone. In the red corner is Fujitsu. Armed with their Arrows F-07D, this skinny waterproof mobile set for Japan’s DoCoMo network runs Android 2.3 (Gingerbread), packs a single-core 1.4GHz processor and stares at your dead in the eyes with its 4-inch WVGA AMOLED display. In the blue corner, confident, slender and bold is the Huawei Ascend P1 S. Not just rocking an AMOLED screen, but a Super AMOLED screen it also packs a dual-core processor in the face of the Arrows’s single-core mobile chipset as well as a Shoryuken special move that could just blow the Fujitsu Arrows out of the water – Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich).
So given our first impressions what will it be, waterproofed Gingerbread or dual-core Ice Cream Sandwich?
Fujitsu Arrows F-07D
Plastic. Upon picking up the Fujitsu Arrows, it’s not just striking how thin the phone is, but the lightness is almost disconcerting. It has a pretty hollow feel with an entirely plastic chassis and a slight wedge shape along with plastic faux-chrome physical buttons below the screen. The casing of our unit was dark and fingerprints stuck like glue across both the body and the display. First impressions weren’t as great as they could have been, though there’s no getting around the fact that this is a very thin smartphone.
Switching on phone and illuminating the 4-inch WVGA AMOLED display and it’s immediately clear that the quality found on the Samsung AMOLED displays of late just isn’t there in the Fujitsu Arrows F-07D. With a hyper contrasted looking picture similar to that found on the Motorola RAZR our second impression looks to be pretty aligned with our first. It isn’t terrible, don’t get us wrong as it offers decent viewing angles and brightness, it just can’t compete with the big player's higher resolutions and richer pictures. Maybe the UI can turn things around?
Hmm. Maybe or maybe not, it’s hard to tell. Given the market it’s being launched, the interface was Japanese and we weren’t in the best position to gauge how fit for purpose it was. That said, with a semi-skinned Gingerbread, the custom launcher added a few useful tools such as swapping out dock shortcuts and re-ordering your apps-drawer. The operation was speedy enough, though we'd imagine with 100 of 2012's finest apps and games, the 1.4GHz single core processor would struggle.
All in all, we were somewhat indifferent after about 20 minutes with the Fujitsu Arrows F-07D. Yes it’s thin and waterproof, and indeed if we were swimming in a pair skinny jeans at the time, we’d probably care more, that said, as a techy tool day to day – we’re not sold.
First impression: 5/10
Huawei Ascend P1 S
Plastic. I’m sensing a theme here. But wait – this isn’t a repeat. While the Fujitsu Arrows made us think more toy than tech, the Huawei Ascend P1 S seems to be taking its lead from the likes of the Sony Ericsson Xperia arc with more finely tuned design and even weighting. Our preview unit was also white making for a far less finger-print laden experience. The capacitive buttons down below the display also make the Ascend feel like a current-gen smartphone bringing the whole unit together cohesively and we have to be honest – we’re pleasantly surprised.
Unlocking the phone and the qHD Super AMOLED display is an instant win. Bright. Punchy. Sharp. Yum. It does have slight dotting, but is head and shoulders above both the Motorola RAZR and the Fujitsu Arrows F-07D. It’s great to see the curse of the AMOLED qHDs lifted in the Huawei Ascend P1 S with some venturing into the gallery and movie player offering consistently high quality images, good viewing angles and bright, vibrant colours.
Eyeing up the UI and happiness fills our hearts. Roboto. Ice Cream Sandwich Icons. It can only mean one thing - Android 4.0. In the face of a general lull in terms of Android 4.0 devices at CES, especially from major manufacturers such as Motorola, Sony and Samsung, it’s refreshing it takes Huawei to show them how it’s done. With little in the way of customisations, the only two major Huawei exclusives we came across were the lock screen and camera module, both adding good amounts of functionality and neither tarnishing the pure ICS experience. In addition, the 1.5GHz dual-core processor was noticeably speedy, though at times, the handset froze dead in its tracks. This is an unfortunate reminder that the P1 S probably won’t make its way to our fair shores before Q3 2012, so thin phone fans had better be patient.
Overall though, based on our brief playtime with the handset, we’ve got little but love for the guys at Huawei right now. Thin, elegant, well-specced and running the latest version of Android. Lets hope demand for the handset pushes the launch forward – we can’t wait to get the final version and are guessing it’ll go down very well with phone lovers everywhere.
First Impression: 8/10
The Huawei clearly Ascends head and shoulders above Fujitsu's Arrows. This isn’t strictly speaking the fairest comparison as the Arrows is coming out shortly in Japan while Huawei’s device probably won’t be the best part of a year, but it still offers plenty of food for thought for anyone who wants the thinnest possible handset in 2012. Also, scraping in at just 0.02mm thinner, the Huawei Ascend P1 S also wins on the slender stakes, making it officially the thinnest smartphone out now.