Huawei Ascend D quad XL Review

Introduction and Design

Huawei is taking the high road that Apple and Samsung have already taken, designing an ARM-based processor of its own to power its flagship Ascend D Quad XL. The K3V2 silicon is quad-core, and Huawei made some record-breaking claims about its performance. That was way back at the MWC expo in the spring, though, and quite a lot has moved since then. How does the Huawei Ascend D quad XL stack up against the current flagship competition out there? Read on our review to find out...


The chassis of the Huawei Ascend D quad XL doesn’t include premium or exclusive materials, an all-around plastic build. The handset is much thicker compared to other Android flagships, and the weight is above average, too. 

You can compare the Huawei Ascend D quad XL with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

The construction doesn’t feel solid, though, mainly thanks to the flexing back cover, which emits a hollow noise when you knock on it, hinting at the oodles of unutilized space beneath it.

The phone feels big and heavy in your hands, but is fairly comfortable to hold due to the soapy shape, rounded corners and the patterned plastic of the battery cover that helps to grip it tighter, and is very easy to pry open.

Huawei Ascend D quad XL has a thumbs up for expandability, as it offers a regular SIM card slot, and a place for a memory card. It would have nailed a holy trinity if it had a removable battery, too, but the beefy 2,600 mAh battery is under a cover with four small screws that have to be taken out. 

There is a notification light whose LED gets illuminated in different colors for missed calls and messages or hints at the charging status.


The 4.5” 720x1280 pixels display is very good, and worthy of the phone’s Android flagship status. Colors are vibrant, plus the contrast and viewing angles are in line with what the best IPS LCD mobile screens are offering. 

When we add the very high 326 ppi pixel density, there is nothing to complain about in the screen, except brightness in direct sunlight, which doesn't deliver anything above average.

Interface and functionality:

No surprises in the interface of the Ascend D quad XL, as it is almost stock Android Ice Cream Sandwich, with just a few utility applications like a file manager, flashlight or an app installer sprinkled on top.

It almost feels like a Nexus device this way, save for the part that a Nexus device would be running Jelly Bean by now, but we digress. The weather widget, the connectivity toggles, or the music widget - they are all Google, or popular items from the Play Store - no manufacturer overlays to get in the way with the Ascend D quad XL, so Jelly Bean and further updates should be very easy for Huawei to do.

Processor and memory:

This stock ICS interface we find on the phone is fluid and moves very quickly, powered by the homebrew 1.5 GHz quad-core silicon, dubbed K3V2. It utilizes the ARM Cortex-A9 architecture, just like its more famous brethren from the Exynos 4-Series, Tegra 3 or Snapdragon S4 lines, and shows performance on par with them in the benchmarks. 

In fact, only the quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro is much ahead in synthetic tests than Huawei’s K3V2, so you can rest assured no app or launcher you throw at it will feel underpowered. The graphics subsystem also showed excellent results, which were up with the best out there.

Quadrant StandardAnTuTuNenaMark 2
Huawei Ascend D quad XL43041074865,3
Samsung Galaxy S III 5022683158,7
Sony Xperia T4839692560,1
LG Optimus 4X HD37421118452

We were especially pleased with the reaction to the accelerometer, turning the keyboard from landscape to portrait with no lag, for example. The phone also offers a fast boot mode, like HTC's handsets, which makes the device operational within seconds after pressing the power key at the top.

The phone has 1 GB of RAM, and just 8 GB (5.3 GB are user-available) of internal memory, but does offer a microSD card slot for storage expansion.

Internet and connectivity:

The stock Android ICS browser performs admirably on the Huawei Ascend D quad XL, with fluid panning, zooming and rapid scrolling inertia. Of notable absence is the lack of Adobe Flash support out of the box, which can be sideloaded on Ice Cream Sandwich.

Download speeds with the included pentaband radio top at 21 Mbps on an HSPA+ network, if you carrier can deliver those to you, and Huawei’s device supports a suite of other connectivity options, like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0, A-GPS, FM Radio and DLNA streaming, but lacks NFC. Wired connectivity is taken care of by the MHL port on the left.


The 8 MP rear shooter on the phone sports a dual LED flash, and the phone enters very quickly the camera interface when you tap the icon. The camera is also pretty snappy when focusing and taking a shot - about a second or two, depending on the lighting. 

There is an HDR mode, along with the stock Panorama and funny faces options in the interface. Huawei throws in a low light mode, too, as well as a large number of color effects you can apply to your photos and videos. 

Detail is somewhat less than what we would expect in pictures from an 8 MP camera, but the phone usually nails the white balance, and the photos look eye-pleasing with the high contrast and saturated colors that Huawei’s processing algorithms embed by default.

Noise is sometimes an issue, especially indoors at low light when it ratchets up significantly. The dual LED flash is fairly weak, too, and doesn’t distribute the light evenly, leaving overexposed regions very often.

The handset records 1080p video with 30 fps, but the frames lower to 24 inside, and the autofocus starts wandering around when the lights dim down. Continuous autofocus doesn’t work well, forcing you to tap on the screen for focusing on a nearby object while recording video, and then return focus to the background by tapping on it again.

Huawei Ascend D quad XL Sample Video:

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Huawei Ascend D quad XL Indoor Sample Video:

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The Music+ app that is taking care of your tunes collection on the Ascend D quad XL is pretty basic in terms of sound enhancements, only offering a Dolby Digital Plus for mobile on/off switch, but it does categorize your songs, and offers nice visualizations, lyrics and album art during playback.

The loudspeaker is of above average strength and quality, with no unpleasant hissing or crackling sounds, even at the maximum volume.

Video playback is top-notch, with the handset running every format you throw at it out of the box, up to 1080 definition. The stock video player is pretty basic, though, so you’d be better off downloading MX Player or something else off of the Play Store. The faux Dolby Digital Plus for mobile surround sound is present in video mode too, with a handy toggle in the player interface, and boosts the sound intensity pretty audibly.

Call quality:

Recent Huawei Android phones have all offered a pretty good call quality in the earpiece, and the Ascend D quad XL is no exception. The sound comes out very strong from the ear speaker, with enough clarity and distinction. 

The noise-canceling mics subdue the street fluff around you, and relay your voice to the other party with a strong volume, albeit somewhat hollow-sounding. 


Huawei has equipped its flagship Android handset with a best-in-class 2,600 mAh battery, which provides 15 hours of talk time in 3G mode, and 500 hours on standby. We ran an HD video at 50% brightness for an hour, and the handset’s juicer depleted less than 5%, so you can rest assured the battery longevity front is covered here.


Huawei has grown a lot from the manufacturer of cheap low and mid-range phones we knew, and the Ascend D quad XL offers high-end features and launch price that are commensurate with the current Android flagships.

The phone is positioned to stand a chance against Android juggernauts from Samsung, LG or Sony, so it offers everything they do, like a powerful processor and HD screen, but wrapped in quite the thick and uninspiring body. This plasticky and rather chubby construction is a major gripe with the phone, along with the jittery autofocus when recording video. Huawei did utilize the ample space inside, however, to throw in the largest battery capacity in its class, so the design tradeoff might be acceptable for some. 

Direct competition to the Huawei Ascend D quad XL is the LG Optimus 4X HD, which comes at about the same price, and offers very similar specs, down to the jittery autofocus. It has a very slim and eye-pleasing body in comparison, though, plus it sports a slightly larger display. 

The HTC One X is also of similar pricing, with a more toned body, and screen that is larger and brighter, but its lack of a memory expansion slot is a turnoff.

The Sony Xperia T should also be noted as a competitor, and it has the same chubby physique as the Ascend D quad XL, while offering a better camera. With the 15 hours of talk time, though, Huawei’s phone one-ups its direct competition in battery capacity, which makes it a very serious contender in the Android battle.

Software version: U9510EV100R001C00B119

Huawei Ascend D quad XL Video Review:

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  • Flagship hardware package at an affordable price
  • Best-in-class battery capacity
  • Pentaband GSM radio for worldwide usage


  • Finicky autofocus in video mode
  • Chubby and plasticky feeling in the hand

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