CES 2013: Hands-On with the Huawei Ascend D2

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Huawei is kicking off 2013 with a bang, introducing two high-end handsets at CES this year. Besides the supersized Ascend Mate, the Chinese manufacturer also introduced the Ascend D2, its latest flagship smartphone.

The D2 is the successor to the marginally successful Ascend D, which was introduced in early 2012. Internally, the D2 ups the ante with a 1.5GHZ quad-core processor and a 5-inch, 1080P display that has a 441 ppi pixel density. This pixel density puts the D2 above the Galaxy S III, the Note II and the iPhone 5. It’s now on par with other 1080P handsets like the Droid DNA, and as you can see above,  the display is big and beautiful.

On the outside, the D2 is a boxy slab with a white face (or black) and silver trim on the sides. The front of the phone has a series of capacitive buttons at the bottom of the display and a disturbingly large white space at the bottom of the phone.  There’s also a front-facing camera for video calling.

The back of the phone is pretty plain with a bottom speaker and a camera at the top. It is a 13-megapixel shooter with autofocus, LED flash and support for recording 1080P video at a respectable 30 FPS. The bottom of the phone has a 3.5mm headset jack and a speaker grill, while the top houses a a SIM card tray and a microUSB port for charging and syncing your phone. A volume rocker and a power button grace the sides of the device.

The D2 has a curved  design that makes the phone feel comfortable in your hand.  That’s relative as the 5-inch screen is still on the big size for those with smaller hands. Performance-wise, the D2 does just fine on with its 1.5GHz processor and it competitive with other handsets in its high-end category. It’s dust- and water-resistant, which is a nice bonus you don’t often see in your flagship phones.

The D2 is first and foremost a mobile phone and is chockfull of connectivity options including WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n, DLNA, WiFi Hotspot, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, HSPA+ and LTE. The Ascend D2 ships with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean with an upgrade to Android 4.2 coming down the pike. The Emotion UI overlays the Android OS and is a blessing or a curse depending on how you feel about skins.

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