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Huawei Ascend P2 Hands-On: A Super Phone with Super Speed

Huawei is a company that more than anything wants to make a statement. It did so at CES 2013 with the debut of the world's largest smartphone, the 6.1-inch Ascend Mate phablet, and it's doing it again here at Mobile World Congress 2013 with the unveiling of the world's fastest smartphone, the Huawei Ascend P2.

Capable of download speeds as fast as 150 Mbps via a 4G LTE CAT4 chip, the Ascend P1 is meant to elevate Huawei's profile among global consumers. So we went hands-on with the company's latest super phone to see if it is up to the task.

At 0.3 inches thick, the Ascend P2's angular chassis is about as thin as both Apple's iPhone 5 and Samsung's Galaxy S III. It's rear panel is covered in a textured finish that makes it very comfortable to hold and will keep the device from sliding out of your hand. Up front, the Ascend P2 sports a gorgeous 4.7-inch 300 nits display with a pixel density of 315 pixels per inch. 

That's lower than the iPhone 5's 326 PPI, but higher than the Galaxy S III's 306 PPI. Huawei says the display's Magic Touch technology will allow users to interact with the touch screen even while wearing gloves, although, we were unable to test this feature for ourselves.

Under the hood, the Ascend P2 packs a 1.5-GHz quad-core processor, 1GB of RAM and 16GB of onboard storage. We were impressed with how speedy the phone was while switching through home screens and opening apps. However, when we tried to return to the home screen after taking a few pictures with the camera app, the phone lagged for a few seconds before returning to normal. A Huawei representative told us the unit we were using was a pre-production device and that the kinks would most likely be worked out by the time the device launches in Q2 2013. Because Spain doesn't have 4G LTE connectivity, we were unfortunately, unable to test the P2's Web speeds.

The Ascend P2 packs a 13-megapixel BSI 3 and HDR sensor that took extremely sharp photos during our quick testing. There was no noticeable lag between taking photos and the P2's host of camera customization options should keep users occupied for quite some time. An included face recognition feature can automatically identify previously tagged subjects by name, which should make organizing pictures of your friends and family much easier.

Huawei has loaded the Ascend P2 with a skinned version of Google's Android Jelly Bean OS. The skin, which Huawei calls Emotion UI, eliminates the Android apps menu, and instead makes all apps available from the phone's various home screens like Apple's iOS. Of course, similar apps can be grouped into folders for easy access. 

Overall, we're pleased with what we've seen from the Ascend P2. Unfortunately, the phone won't be coming to any of the four major U.S. carriers. But if you're really itching for one, Huawei suggests you order one online and bring it to your carrier.