With the possible paunch of the iPhone 6 only days away, and as every investment analyst will tell you that Apple’s share price is expected to skyrocket as iPhone mad shoppers once again line the streets overnight, there has been a slew of Android and Windows operating system-based smartphone launches all trying to temp iPhone holders away. And while some have successfully highlighted the shortfalls of the iPhone 4S and 5 series, few have actually managed to persuade the dedicated iPhone user to leave the safety of the iTunes ecosystem and venture unsure into the world of Android. Perhaps only one phone that I have had the absolute pleasure of testing for 2 weeks has been the Huawei Ascend P7, which I must state is a smartphone that has made me think twice about the power of the iPhone, and which I would recommend any smartphone user to have a look at before making a final decision on a new smartphone or phablet. 

ascend-p7-5-640x333

For me, I am a firm iPhone user, having fully adopted everything Apple. So for me, anything that doe not perfectly integrate with my Apple ecosystem usually doesn’t get much of my attention, although I do own a few other smartphones as back-ups (just in case). Then came the Huawei Ascend P7 – a smartphone that has been making substantial waves in the smartphone market when it was first launched in Paris in May this year. At the time since its launch, and subsequently as it was introduced into broader markets, media and influences have described this phone as one of the “best mid-range phones you have ever heard of”.

Huawei_Ascend_P7_side view

So what makes it so phenomenal a phone. Well, this is pretty much up to the useability, response, and quality of not only the design and materials of the actual phone, but also of the content that its developed or consumed through the use of the phone. To start off with, the P7 runs the latest Android 4.4.2 Kit Kat operating system, together with the propitiatory Huawei Emotion UI 2.3 OS. The OS’s are both run off the super powerful HiSilicon Kirin 910T 1,8 GHZ quad-core chipset and the Mali450 GPU. WTF i hear you say – translated this simply means that the phone has a damn has processor to run exceptionally strong, and smooth operating systems that means you experience on the phone will be great – minimal lagging, extremely fast response times, and very little chance of the phone crashing when you try to run more than 6 high-memory use apps. In this department, the P7 slams other phones – even my iPhone4S (which I must admit is an unfair comparison as the iPhone 4S is now a few years old).

From a design perspective, the P7 is beautiful – slim, sleek and minimalist. While the phone is larger than most phones in terms of the screen size incorporating a full 5-inch in-cell display, some have stated that the phone is a bit awkward to handle with just one hand. I have reasonably big hands, so I didn’t battle too much with the phone’s buttons, except for the fact that the on button as well as the volume buttons are all placed on the left of the phone, with the intention of all the buttons to be used exclusively by the thumb of the right-handed person – which is a tad irritating – but something that can be overcome.

P7 Zoom

From the camera side of things, its also outstanding, although in my opinion, the Nokia higher-end smartphones still have the market cornered when it comes to photography. But, the P7’s camera is also extremely powerful producing 13 megapixel (up to 4160×3120 resolution) shots through the rear-camera, and 8 megapixel shots through the front-facing camera. All is all, very good and ticks all the boxes that someone concerned with social photography will want. But perhaps it is the display that really gets us excited – a full 5-inch in-cell display with a full HD resolution. So the video and photo content that you create looks fantastic on the screen of the phone. Incidentally – yes, the content does look great when you transfer the files to your computer – however, the quality of the photo’s when you zoom in, becomes questionable. Perhaps this is not the phone’s fault – and more to do with the stability of my hand when taking zoomed images – perhaps we will start seeing the development of image stabilizers within smartphones that offer powerful zooms on high megapixel cameras.

All in all, a smartphone that should definitely be considered. Its beautiful, fast, powerful, strong, and make to an exceptionally high quality-standard. Perhaps my only major erk would be the ROM memory of only 16GB – with an allowance to add an additional 32GB through a MicroSD. I have not had the best experiences of using MicroSD cards within smartphones – as it seems that this is where many smartphone’s processing power fails. While the processor is great at managing apps and content stored directly on the phone, having to process content on a MicroSD card proves a little too much to handle at times – especially when you are running multiple apps. having said this, its once again something that can be managed – so its not a complete deal-breaker.

What about cost and availability. Primarily the Huawei Ascend P7 is available through most Vodacom outlets at a price of around R6699 (available in both Black and White), or R379 per month on a standard 24-month contract. But if you are not wanting to go through those channels, then the smartphone is also available through WantItAll and the Orange South Africa online store.  Which brings me to an interesting situation on the massive price variations of this phone in the market.

For the same phone – the 16GB Huawei Ascend P7

Vodacom and the RRP for the SA market is R 6 699.00

P7 on Vodacom

WantItAll has it listed for a whopping R 9 937,00

P7 on WantItAll

 

While the Orange South Africa Online Store has it listed for only R 4 885.00

P7 on Orange

That is a huge price variation – and while the ‘official’ SA price is R 6 699.00 via Vodacom (agreement with Huawei), those who do not like being locked into a hardware contract with the telecoms guys will certainly be shopping around.