The Ascend P1 offers a surprisingly powerful and smooth Android experience, made all the better by including the option to bin Huawei's user interface modifications and opt for a virtually untouched "Ice Cream Sandwich" experience.

Combine that with a great camera and generally glitch-free experience and you've got a smartphone that's among the finest out there today.

We liked

Hooray for Huawei in offering us the option to choose between its various interface options or use the standard Android 4.0 layout and design.

Given how bland and generic Huawei's interface skins are, being able to go for "vanilla" Android is a godsend here. Where Huwaei has tinkered with Android 4.0 it's mostly for the better.

The camera app's a much more polished and useful thing than it is on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus and other Android 4.0 devices, plus the customisable lock screen's clever and there are some useful additional apps pre-loaded on the P1, like Huawei's own DLNA app and content-encrypting security tool.

The Ascend P1 is incredibly smooth in use. Android's home screens feel super solid and slick here, with menus and apps popping up and doing their business without any glitches or slowdown whatsoever.

Still photo and 1080p video quality are excellent, right up there alongside the results produced by the HTC One X and Samsung's Galaxy S3. Huawei's really pulled it out of the bag here.

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We disliked

The build quality seems a little suspect. The plastic back cracks and creaks, plus the lightweight feel of the phone doesn't help reassure you of its durability.

Huawei's attempt at updating the stock Android keyboard is a bit of a weird option.

It's fast and lag-free, but the spellchecker quite simply doesn't work. Typing "Gello" doesn't autocorrect to "Hello" and it seems to be supplied with virtually no pre-learned words in its dictionary.

There's only 4GB of internal storage space on the P1, which won't last long when recording video clips at 1080p resolution.

There is an SD card slot on here so it's not really an issue, just make sure you're budgeting an extra £8 or so for a decent SD card.

Final verdict

The Ascend P1 is a very impressive attempt at making a high-end Android phone to compete with the likes of Samsung and HTC.

It's very, very smooth and fast in operation and great fun to simply poke and use, with more than enough power to handle apps and web use with ease.

The camera takes great still shots and produces extremely impressive 1080p footage, plus being able to quick-launch the camera from the lock screen makes quick work of grabbing impulse shots of dogs doing funny things.

The Ascend P1 doesn't quite manage to replicate the same classy feel as HTC's One series or the Xperia S, but it gets very, very close and is a great option for anyone looking to combine serious power and size while also avoiding manufacturer skins and getting a "pure" Android 4.0 experience.

The £340 or thereabouts price tag means it's approaching the sort of prestige prices charged by the Samsungs and HTCs of this world, though, and to really compete we'd like it to feel a little more solid.

If you can live with its lightweight feel, the P1's a seriously enjoyable and powerful phone.