Ascend D1 Quad XL - Huawei Quad-Core Smartphone (Part 1)

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In February of 2013, Huawei was on the stage at the mobile world congress in Barcelona to bring up its most ambitious smartphone strategy up to now. The plan was: setting up a new classification system by dividing most of its phones into 4 key groups, starting with the high-end D-series and down to the cheap-priced Y-series. However, the one that took most of the spot light was Ascend D1 Quad XL, a “powerhouse” containing the homemade quad-core CPU. This release felt unbelievably reckless. This was truly the first change of Huawei to make its real name outside of Asia; introducing an impressive device in time is compulsory. 

Ascend D1 Quad XL - Huawei Quad-Core Smartphone

Ascend D1 Quad XL - Huawei Quad-Core Smartphone

Fast-forwarding August 2012, we witness the 2012’s equivalent thing of Motorola Droid Bionic: this unfortunate device is the subject of unclear status and tons of delay. Don’t be afraid, finally it was released. However, it faced an extremely competitive market that was about to come to the holiday season, with the hardcore quad-core competition such as Samsung Galaxy Note II, LG Optimus G and HTC One X+ which were ready to battle. We had asked this question for the first time it released, and it becomes more relevant now: can Huawei D Quad XL (and the new SoC) be able to compete with its new peers? No more delay, let’s find out the answer.

can Huawei D Quad XL (and the new SoC) be able to compete with its new peers?

Can Huawei D Quad XL (and the new SoC) be able to compete with its new peers?


What’s the best way to put aside the buzzing words around an upcoming high-end product? Delay it for 4 or 5 months then release it with lower technical specs that you’ve promised from the beginning? That’s the story of Ascend D1 Quad XL, which is planned to be available in Germany, Hong Kong, Canada, Russia, Middle East, Norway and Denmark before the end of the month. When it was released, the XL version based on the unfortunate name of D Quad XL until Huawei fixed it considered to be a D1 Quad with larger battery and added with a thicker frame, in the same way as Motorola Droid RAZR Maxx with tits thinner copy. Richard Yu, president of the design department at Huawei, advertises it as “the fastest quad-core smartphone on the world”, thanks to the “homemade” quad-core HiSilicon microprocessor. With just a few quad-core devices in the market, this announcement is reliable at least.

This doesn’t mean that XL was convicted at the beginning, but it makes the way to success full of obstacles and dangers. Huawei not only faced bigger competition with relevant components, the final product also witnessed some adjustments – most of which weren’t for the better. In the period of time since the Mobile Word Congress, the microprocessor taking the responsibility for being the “world’s fastest one” was decelerated a little and the frame was even thicker. Luckily, the battery witnessed a mild increase to 2,600mAh (from 2,500mAh), but it’s the only positive change. Regardless of the shaky history of the device, it still benefits the future of the company which, until 2013, has never produced a dual-core device, not even mentioning the more powerful one. In another way, mono-core Honor which best could only be at the middle range at that time was the high-end device of Huawei until; February of this year. In fact, cheap devices are the things the company could do best, so of course, it’s putting its hands to the new territory here.

The first thing attracting our attention after taking it out of the box is its size; as mentioned before, it won’t be the winner of any competition for the “world’s thinnest phone”, as well as can’t be able to sneak up to the podium. The official spec sheet of Huawei lists out the thickness of Quad XL which is 11.5mm (0.45 inch) and we even measure it ourselves with the hope of announcing that the company is wrong somewhat. Indeed it’s true. That thins makes us worry for some reasons. First, we know that Huawei designs thin phones, which is proved by Ascend P1 and P1S, but it looks like the designers don’t even try to reduce the size of XL. Second, at first it’s supposed to be 10.9mm thick, and could be bulge due to the result of larger battery. Finally, the battery can’t be removed, which means that the phone is even thicker if Huawei make it accessible. Huawei tries its best to make the device look fashionable regardless of the size, and fortunately it feels more comfortable than what we expect from a 11.5mm-thich phone when holding in our hands; it can’t defend for its bulk, but at least it makes the phones somewhat can bearable. With 5.11 ounces (145g), it stays at the middle position for smartphone weight. It has flat back and a tiny lump at the rear for the camera, and the curved-down edges to mount to the sides, which is pretty alike the way the baked bread emerges on the tray. At the front, you will see a 4.5-inch screen reinforced by the front camera and then LED notification light (RGB) on top and 3 capacitive buttons (Back, Home and Menu) at the bottom. The whole thing is covered with Gorilla Glass; though, it doesn’t help to resist scratching, but at least it can bear much better with the car keys and the other things that can easily cause scratch. The bezel is not large, but don’t expect an edge-to-edge screen on Quad XL.

The first thing attracting our attention after taking it out of the box is its size;

The first thing attracting our attention after taking it out of the box is its size;

There’s a volume rocker on the right of D1 Quad XL, a power/standby button and a standard headphone jack on the top, and you will see micro-USB/MHL on the left while the bottom is still empty. The rough back, which increase friction for better holding, and provides 8MP camera and LED flash near the top, with a 1 mic right below them as well as the speaker grille intruding near the bottom left. Prying the cover open to reveal the large battery locked in its tray – is not accessible without the proper tools – as well as the slots for the full-size SIM (no micro-SIM here), and 1 microSD for external storage. You will also want the extra capacity, because the device only includes 8GB, in which users can only access 5.29GB. That’s not much if you’re planning to jam movies, music, games, images and HD videos onto the new smartphone. Huawei confirmed with us that polycarbonate and metal were the main materials used on the phone, which made us more comfortable, but polycarbonate was more common on the outside. Finally, D1 Quad XL lacks support for NFC and wireless charge, which of course puts it in disadvantages comparing to other high-end phones existing on the market, but it offers DLNA and MHL.



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