Huawei releases Ascend P2 smartphone

BARCELONA, Spain--Huawei pulled the curtain back on its latest high-end device, the Ascend P2, which it called its fastest quad-core smartphone yet. The company also used a press conference here ahead of the start of the Mobile World Congress trade show to unveil its consumer-facing brand and the slogan "Make it possible." Huawei said the P2 will be available globally in the second quarter for around $525 before taxes and subsidies, but the company will only sell the device online in U.S., and not through carriers.

Huawei also announced a strategic partnership for devices with France Telecom Orange, building on their relationship for network infrastructure. Yves Maitre, Orange's senior vice president of device and mobile multimedia, said the operator had placed a bet on Huawei just as it had in the past with Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Samsung Electronics.

The press conference followed a similar pattern to the one Huawei held in January at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where it unveiled two new high-end smartphones, the 5-inch Ascend D2 and massive, 6.1-inch Ascend Mate, which it dubbed the world's largest-screen smartphone.

Richard Yu, the CEO of Huawei's consumer business group, said the company will build on the success it had last year, when the consumer business had $7.4 billion in sales and shipped 32 million smartphones. Yu said the P2 , the successor to the P1 Huawei announced last year, is part of Huawei's efforts to make stylish, fashionable devices for its P line of smartphones.

The P2 runs Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean and sports a 1.5 GHz quad-core processor as well as a 4.7-inch 720p HD display. The device is just 8.4-mm thick, and has a 13-megapixel camera that can be accessed with a dedicated camera key. The camera also supports 2x-zoom for higher resolution and face recognition for photo sharing. The gadget supports up to 150 Mbps theoretical peak LTE data speeds. The P2 has a 2,420 mAh battery, and like the D2, it the uses Huawei's Quick Power Control technology (QPC), which lowers battery consumption by automatically turning off the transmitter circuit when data transmission is not in use.

Also like the D2 and Ascend Mate, the P2 uses Huawei's Emotion UI, which includes widgets to group together personal contact information, more than 100 customizable fonts and themes an face recognition technology. Yu said the UI is aimed at making Android more friendly and easy to use for consumers. The P2 uses "air-sharing" to share content via Wi-Fi with TVs and other screens. The phone has a power management application and an app to track data usage in real-time. The phone also has cloud services for data backup and storage and built-in customer support services.

The Chinese vendor has been climbing the global smartphone ranks lately, pushing out not only low-end devices but also higher-end ones like Ascend D. Huawei took the global No. 3 smartphone spot in the fourth quarter of 2012, and shipped 10.8 million smartphones in the quarter, capturing 4.9 percent of the global smartphone market, up from 5.7 million units and 3.5 percent in the year-ago period, according to IDC.

As part of its plan to its brand as an OEM, Huawei is making a big push behind the "Make it possible" slogan. Amy Lou, director of global brand management of Huawei Device, said the company wants to be identified as a "visionary challenger" and hopes to become a top-100 consumer brand.

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