Huawei Ascend P7 review

Price when reviewed

Huawei Ascend P7 review: Features

In some areas, Huawei has really gone to town on the Ascend P7. 4G LTE support comes as standard, and thanks to the dual-purpose microSD card tray, it’s possible to swap your microSD card for a secondary SIM.

Huawei has also doubled up on antennas, and claims that the pair in the Ascend P7 improve reception strength by over 50% compared to the P6. The CAT-4 4G chipset can hit a whopping 150Mbits/sec; as ever, we anticipate that the limiting factor will be the speeds of the 4G network, not the hardware in the phone.

Huawei Ascend P7 review

In other areas, Huawei has been stingy. There’s no dual-band 802.11ac or even dual-band 802.11n; the Ascend P7 is equipped only with single-band 802.11n, Bluetooth 4 and NFC.

Lastly there’s a 2,500mAh battery sealed inside the Ascend P7’s body. This is impressively capacious given the handset’s slender physique, but it delivers merely average battery life. In our audio playback test, which streams a 128Kbit/sec audio podcast from SoundCloud over 4G, the Huawei’s battery depleted at a rate of 5.6% per hour. Playing back a 720p video in airplane mode, with the screen’s brightness calibrated to 120cd/m2, chewed through 10.3% of the battery per hour – that’s almost twice as greedy as the Sony Xperia Z2 and Samsung Galaxy S5, which consumed 5.6% and 5.2% in the same test.

The handset fared better in the GFXBench test; in a game like this we estimate you’d get 2hrs 25mins of gaming out of one charge. Remember though that this test was running at only 12.4fps – less than half the framerate of its competitors.

Huawei Ascend P7 review: Camera

The Ascend P7 is equipped with a formidable pair of snappers. At the rear, there’s a 13-megapixel sensor packed in behind an f/2.4 aspherical lens. At the front sits an unusually pixel-dense 8-megapixel sensor. This isn’t just for ultra-crisp video chatting; it’s equipped with a panoramic function designed for taking group selfies, or “groufies” as Huawei calls them. This actually works really well, producing beautifully sharp, wide-angle group shots. We’re not sure the name will catch on, though.

Both cameras are backed up by an Altek ISP which touts DSLR-level noise reduction and low-light image enhancement. Daytime shots come through bright and bold, with plenty of detail, but look closely and there’s evidently a lot of image processing going on behind the scenes. Contrast is frequently a little too stark, and when you view your images on a larger screen the tell-tale halos from an over-eager edge-enhancement filter are clearly visible. The HDR setting is unimpressive, too: in most instances we preferred the improved sharpness of the standard shots.

Huawei Ascend P7 review: first look

Low-light performance is more encouraging. Head-to-head with the large sensor in Sony’s Xperia Z2, the Ascend P7 easily takes the overall victory, with excellent clarity and detail. The high ISO means that low-light pictures look more grainy than on rival handsets, however; and predictably the Ascend P7’s sensor can’t keep pace with the Nokia Lumia 1020, which remains the gold standard in smartphone cameras.

Video is something of a disappointment. Full HD recordings emerge looking far too processed, and contrast and colours look rather overblown. The video stabilising function is best left disabled, too – with it enabled, motion is clearly smoother, but this smoothness comes at the expense of resolution; to our eyes, the resolution appeared to be effectively halved.

Huawei Ascend P7 review: Software

The Ascend P7 is based on Android 4.4.2, but it’s heavily wrapped up in Huawei’s own Emotion UI. Those coming from a different flavour of Android will find the interface barely recognisable; indeed, the Emotion UI’s clean, bright colours and rounded icons look more than a little like Apple’s iOS. Huawei’s decision to do away with the stock App Drawer means that it works a little like iOS, too, with all installed apps residing directly on the homescreen, or within folders thereon.

The backgrounds, colour scheme and icon designs can be customised with a variety of themes. Most themes affect only the appearance rather than the layout, but the Simple mode replaces the icons with large, onscreen buttons – something we can see appealing to those with ailing eyesight, or users that want a less fussy interface.

Huawei Ascend P7 review: first look

Some of the other changes and tweaks are welcome, too. The drop-down settings menu provides quick access to all the major features, and we appreciated additions such as the dedicated screenshot button and the button to quickly toggle automatic screen brightness on and off.

The task manager has been customised too, with a handy bar at the top of the screen which details RAM usage; close down an app and you can immediately see how much memory has been freed up, or close all open apps with a single press.
Huawei has also added a selection of its own apps. There’s a handy File Manager for quick access to documents, audio, video and other file categories; a DLNA client for streaming media to and from compatible devices; and an app installer for manually installing APK files. There’s also a Mirror app, but we can’t see ourselves using a smartphone as a shaving mirror. At least, not a smartphone that’s not completely waterproof.

Huawei Ascend P7 review: Verdict

The Ascend P7 gets a lot right. It looks and feels gorgeous, the screen and cameras are good and it’s refreshingly light and compact compared to the giant-sized flagships from other manufacturers. The major sticking point is the internals: Huawei’s latest flagship lags well behind its Android rivals in terms of both battery life and raw power, while the £299 Nexus 5 edges it out in the value for money stakes. Ultimately, the Ascend P7 marks a big step forward for Huawei, but it’s not the giant-killer we might have hoped for.


Dimensions69 x 140 x 6.5mm (WDH)

Core Specifications

RAM capacity2.00GB
Camera megapixel rating13.0mp
Front-facing camera?yes
Video capture?yes


Screen size5.0in
Resolution1080 x 1920
Landscape mode?yes

Other wireless standards

Bluetooth supportyes
Integrated GPSyes


OS familyAndroid

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