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A new flagship phone for Huawei: hands-on with the Ascend P2

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Huawei Ascend P2
Huawei Ascend P2

Huawei's kicking off the events here at MWC in Barcelona, but it revealed what may be its biggest announcement before we ever made it past the courtyard of its event hall. The Ascend P2 is the company's latest weapon in its ongoing attempt to infiltrate the global phone market, and from what we've seen so far it's smooth, thin, remarkably light, and definitely feels like a flagship. The 8.4mm-thin handset has a 4.7-inch, 1280 x 720 "infinity edge" display (we're a bit surprised to see a flagship device without a 1080p screen, given the onslaught of the displays we've seen from other handsets), and is running heavily skinned version of Android 4.1.2 called "Emotion UI."

It's powered by a quad-core processor clocked at 1.5GHz, and Huawei is calling it "the world's fastest smartphone." That's a claim Huawei really likes to make, apparently, and as with last year's D Quad announcement Huawei spent a lot of time comparing the P2 favorably to its competition. It also a 13-megapixel camera on the rear plus a 1.2-megapixel shooter on the front. It comes with 16GB of storage and 1GB of RAM — it all sounds a bit like a flagship phone from a few months ago to us, unless it's really as fast as Huawei claims.

Huawei held it MWC press conference inside what is essentially a castle, and the company took the opportunity to relentlessly promote itself as a consumer-facing company. It's the number three smartphone manufacturer, shipping 32 million phones in 2012, and is clearly after a bigger slice of the market in 2013.

The Ascend P2 will be available globally, starting in the middle of 2013. We're still waiting on most of the details — Huawei's event hasn't even technically started, after all — but we'll be back with more as we get it.

Ross Miller contributed to this report.