Chinese manufacturer Huawei has annouced the Ascend P2 smartphone, calling it the 'world's fastest smartphone'. This bold statement is based on the device's 1.5 GHz quad-core processor and Cat 4 LTE connectivity which should enable download speeds of up to 150 Mbps. Huawei also claims download via Wi-Fi is three times faster than competing phones. We'll have to run the P2 through some benchmark tests to find out if these claims are founded, but for now we've had chance to play with the phone at the Huawei booth at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, read on to find out how we got on.

With its 4.7-inch screen and thin bezel the Ascend P2 fits well into the hand and is quite lightweight, partly due to its all-plastic back shell. The screen automatically adjusts brightness and is usable even with gloves, but the 720p resolution looks a little low next to all the devices with 1080p full-HD screens that have been announced this year. The P2 runs Android 4.1 with Huawei's Emotion UI version 1.5.

Camera features

The Ascend P2 is 8.4mm thin and features a dedciated shutter button for the camera.
On the P2's back you find the camera with a 13MP backside-illuminated sensor. 

The camera features a 13MP backlight-illuminates sensor that we've seen on a range of devices this year. The layout of the camera app follows the de-facto design standard, with a virtual shutter button and a video/stills switch on the right and access to menu and settings, including shooting-mode, on the left. The P2 offers a panorama mode, HDR, 10 frames per second burst shooting and a low-light mode.

The camera feature that sets it apart from many of its competitors is a physical shutter button on the phone's right side. It works similar to the equivalent on the Nokia Lumia 920. One press opens the camera app and a second one captures an image. There's also a 'face-distortion mode.' There are plenty of apps available to create this type of effect, but we have not yet seen it integrated into a native camera app.

 The P2's camera app comes with a fairly conventional layout ...
  ... and offers a range of 'face-distortion modes'.

Fast download speeds aside, the Huawei Ascend P2 doesn't offer anything out of the ordinary, neither from a design nor a specification point of view, and in many ways looks like a 2012 rather than a 2013 top-end phone. That said, the 13MP BSI sensor should be capable of decent image capture and the physical shutter button is a welcome touch for photo-centric users.

The Ascend P2 will be available in black and white and you should be able to pick one up globally starting the second quarter of 2013.

Huawei Ascend P2 headline specs:

  • 1.5 GHz quad-core processor
  • Android 4.1 operating system, with Huawei's own Emotion UI 1.5
  • 8.4mm slim
  • 4.7-inch IPS HD in-cell touch display, 1280x720 pixels 
  • Second-generation Corning® Gorilla® Glass
  • 2420 mAh battery GHz quad-core processor
  • 13 MP BSI rear camera
  • 1.3 MP front-facing camera
  • Dedicated shutter button
  • NFC