Hwauei Ascend D2 Review
Author: Craig Jones
New kids on the block Huawei made quite a stir with the unveiling of their new Flagship Smartphone at this years CES, boasting a Full 1080p display and rocking 32GB of internal storage, the Ascend D2 looks set to be some stiff competition for the other players in the Smartphone market.
In comparison to it’s (Much) larger counterpart the Ascend Mate, the D2 comes in at a more familiar form factor, measuring in at 5.51 inches. This puts the D2 in direct competition with the Samsung Galaxy Note, but doesn’t feel as cumbersome or unwieldy at only 9.4mm thick and 170g (grams). This is due to the majority of the phone being made from a durable plastic, but this doesn’t cheapen the handset at all thanks to the addition of a brushed stainless steel bezel giving the D2 that touch of class that is so rightly deserves.
Incorporated into the bezel as expected are the power/lock button and volume control on the right edge, a completely empty left edge, 3.5mm jack, speakers and active noise cancelling microphone located on the bottom edge. Yet most surprisingly the micro USB charger is located on top, along with the SIM tray. On the rear you will find the generous 13mp(mega-pixel) camera with LED flash, while the front houses the front facing 1.3mp camera, proximity sensor and speaker.
The most noticeable design aspect is that there are no physical buttons on the front face, instead Huawei have opted for the on screen capacitive “Soft-Keys”. One thing that is an obvious miss here is the lack of a microSD slot, which for its price point, one would expect that to be included.
Offering itself up in two colour options, “Pure White” and “Crystal Blue” the D2 certainly intends to make an impression, and what with Huawei giving customers the option to further customize their handset with 100 downloadable themes, the D2 looks to be as individual as its owner.
Oh, and did I mention it’s both waterproof and dust-proof.
Size and Screen
With a more recognisable blueprint akin to that of Samsungs Galaxy Note 2, Huawei have made sure that their Flagship model fits the hand of most people without having the need to over stretch their digits. Which was an issue that a lot of people couldn’t see past when it came to the D2s sibling the Ascend Mate.
5 inches seems to be the “sweet spot” when it comes to the Phablet design, and the D2 certainly doesn’t let us down with it’s Full 1080p screen being very accessible no matter the orientation. Offering one of the best displays on a mobile handset to date with it’s only competition coming from the HTC J Butterfly, the Ascend D2s display is simply jaw dropping.
With incredible viewing angles, and deep rich vibrant colours, you’d be hard pushed to find fault with the clarity of this display, thanks to it’s 443ppi (pixels per inch) creating a sense of complete immersion when it comes to video, gaming and even while reading. Text on this device is clean, with no obvious pixelation, and accurate colour reproduction which makes the Ascend D2 perfect for soaking up all forms of on the go media. Finally with the addition of Corning Gorilla Glass, the tough D2 just becomes tougher, meaning it is more likely to withstand an impromptu meeting with your keys.
Utilising the ever popular Android Jellybean 4.1 coupled with Huaweis “Emotion UI” is a pleasant
experience, albeit a strange one. With Huawei opting to do away with the traditional Android “App-Drawer” and instead deciding to take some design cues from the Apple iPhone meaning that the user instead has the ability to sort their apps into folders, which makes for a small but refreshing twist to the Android experience.
Huawei have been ingenuitive when it comes to the skin they have placed on top of stock Android which they have dubbed “Emotion UI”. Homescreens become a hive of activity with a design not unlike the “Tiles” we see in Windows phones bringing social aspects to the forefront along with quick access to favourite contacts. However the icons used leave a lot to be desired, with a slightly childish look to them which greatly detracts from the mature aesthetics of the D2.
It’s the little things that Huawei have payed attention to that stand out the most. One nifty little feature making sure the soft keys don’t encroach on that beautiful HD display is the addition of the ability to dismiss them by tapping an icon located next to the ‘back’ key, and can be called back to action by swiping back up from the bottom edge. The addition of the “Easy Panel” makes navigating to regularly used applications a breeze by swiping in from either of the side edges.
As we peel back the exterior and get into the nitty gritty of the D2, we find a 1.5GHz quad-core processor, produced in-house by Huawei themselves, which is the powerhouse that allows you truly take advantage of the Full HD resolution, coupled with a graphics accelerator ensuring video playback will be nothing short of impressive. And thanks to Project Butter, navigating your way around the D2 will be silky smooth.
The addition of a generous 2GB of RAM is going to make even the more heavy tasks like mobile gaming seem as fast as water off of a ducks back. Although the internal storage of 32GB is enough to keep most people occupied, those of us who “Just Want More” the absence of an external expansion slot could be a deal-breaker.
In an obvious attempt to separate from its siblings the Ascend Mate and W1, Huawei have packed a whopping 13mp sensor into the stylish body of the D2. Which means that even the photo you took of todays lunch could be mistaken as something taken by David Bailey.
With an ISO sensitivity level higher than other smartphones in this category the Ascend D2 also has a tailored manual colour temperature adjustment function to provide a professional-level photography experience. Not to mention the built in HDR functionality, that you would struggle to find in most of todays DSLR’s.
Packing a sizeable 3000mAh battery which is optimized by Huawei’s QPC and ADRX smart power-saving technology. Huawei’s proprietary fast battery charging technology enables the Ascend D2 to be fully charged in 30% less time than its takes other smartphones. Huawei boldly claim that the D2 will give you two full days of usage, and can be fully charged from flat to 100% in just 140 minutes, if this turns out to be the case, it could be a great selling point for the handset.
Who Is It For?
Someone who wants the good looks of the iPhone, with the functionality of an Android device, but wants something that is that little bit different from the rest of the competition.
Value for Money?
Although the price is yet to be confirmed for the European and U.S markets, the D2 has made a speedy release already for the Chinese market, at a price point similar to that of the iPhone and Galaxy Note 2. Coming in at ¥3,990 (roughly $640/£405).
The Huawei Ascend D2 is the best smartphone to come from the Chinese manufacturer to date, and it looks to be one that can really challenge the big hitters in the mobile market.
Ok so it’s not quite as easy on the eye as the iPhone, nor does the interface look as slick as that of stock android, but the Ascend D2 is a solid handset with an impressive spec sheet that can certainly hold its own.