What sets your phone apart from the multitude of plastic or metal slabs that we call cell phones everyone carries around these days?
You might say that you have a Huawei Ascend, different than those other Androids or iPhones. But considering that Huawei’s 2015 shipment of smartphones came in around 108 million units (figure given at 2016 CES), it’s safe to say that someone else very well could be walking around with the same phone. Despite this, you can still personalize your phone, so it’s one-of-a-kind, just like you.
And what is the point of customization really, except to make your phone just the way you want? Usually, companies will try to be competitive by taking one of two stances: trying to compete based on cost or based on quality/personalization. With your Huawei Ascend, it’s likely you can have both. A lot of these phones are quite competitive in cost but are still decent quality, and now you can add the finishing touches by personalizing your phone as only you know how to do best.
1. Root Your Ascend
Okay, so we’re pulling out the big guns, to begin with. But that’s because rooting your phone can be the basis for so many forms of customization, and open up doors otherwise restricted to your access. That’s because rooting allows you to gain privileged or administrative rights on your Android. It can be difficult, though, and somewhat risky.
Nonetheless, there are plenty of ways in which it can be done, although some are more viable than others for the particular model you have. There are PC-less, one-click methods; and there are those that are more specific, and require the use of a computer connection as you modify your phone’s instructions regarding what you can and can’t do to your device.
Some of these instructions are there as a safeguard so that you and malicious software don’t destroy your phone. But some just don’t seem to make much sense, like why you can’t uninstall carrier and manufacturer bloatware (like NFL Mobile) from your phone that you paid for.
As we’ve been discussing, rooting lays the groundwork for so many other possibilities. Quite frankly, Huawei is not known for putting out the latest version of Android OS in its phones. Take for instance the G7, which was released in 2015 running only Android 4.4. This can be disappointing, to say the least.
So you can take control of your Ascend’s destiny and upgrade it to newer versions of the operating system? The answer is maybe. Rooting can set the stage for this. After root, you can flash custom ROMs based on newer operating systems as we will discuss below, or if your Huawei and your carrier are offering official OTA or stock firmware updates, what are you waiting for?
3. Install a Custom Recovery
If you are going to start geeking out and doing things like rooting, flashing custom ROMs, etc., it might not be a bad idea to install a custom recovery. This can make many of the functions you will be using much more frequently more convenient and plentiful. There are two big players in this field—TWRP and CWM.
TWRP stands for Team Win Recovery Project and CWM is ClockWorkMod.
Download: ROM Manager (CWM)
Why would you need one of these when your phone already comes with a stock recovery? The stock recovery is minimal, and will help you out with OTA updates, but not anything too custom.
Also, custom recoveries come equipped with more features, like a backup (which is a good idea before any change). Both of the recoveries mentioned above have a companion manager app that you can download; that can also act as a file manager.
Download: TWRP Manager
4. Install Custom ROM
This is where many things we’ve been discussing come together. CyanogenMod 13 is a custom ROM suitable for phones like the Ascend Mate 2, that can upgrade your device to Marshmallow. You will need root and a custom recovery to pull this off. But you will be rewarded.
You are going to notice all kinds of changes—those related to Marshmallow and also special tweaks unique to the CyanogenMod build. Pay attention to the advice the good people at CyanogenMod have for you. Nightly builds can be highly unstable. Developers on the XDA website will also try their hand at unofficial CyanogenMod builds for phones such as the P9, but you probably should expect some bugs.
Download: CyanogenMod 13 Ascend Mate 2 (Official)
5. Customize Alarms
Whew. We started out swinging, but perhaps you want to stick to more moderate, safer customizations. There are still plenty of these to be had. For instance, you could customize your alarm tones.
From Apps > Clock > Create (On the Mate 8 for instance) you can set the sound file played, opt for sound and vibration or just one or the other, and choose a certain name for each alarm.
On some devices, you can add your MP3s as a selection. Or you can use a third-party app like Alarm Clock for Me free that comes with different themes and weather info.
Download: Alarm Clock for Me free
If you have a snooze problem (and who doesn’t sometimes) you can use an app like Alarm Clock Xtreme Free + Timer to force you to solve a math problem to snooze or disable your alarm.
Download: Alarm Clock Xtreme Free + Timer
6. Discover Developer Options
Did you know there is a list of hidden options that can become available to you with just a couple of taps? These can give you more insight about CPU usage and apps running in the background. Here is where you can also unlock the bootloader to your device if you get the right code from Huawei (and this may prove necessary to root your phone or install a custom ROM). You can also play some tricks by allowing Mock Locations, choose a Desktop Backup Password, and show Visual Feedback for Your Input (touches).
To enable the feature on newer phones, go to Settings > About Phone > Build Number and tap on this setting seven times. Your phone will declare You are now a developer and then you’ll find the Developer Options setting through General Settings. There are some settings you won’t want to mess with. A rule of thumb is that if you don’t understand what it is, don’t use it to make changes.
7. Customize Home Screen
On phones like the P7 and Mate 2 many options are changed by long-pressing any blank area of your Home screen. This should cause the Set Home Screen box to appear. You can also go into Simple Home mode, which consists of three screens with big icons for your more basic apps and shortcuts. If you want to rearrange your home screens, touch Thumbnails, press and hold one until it vibrates, and drag it where you want it, cave-man style.
To add a Home screen from Thumbnails, tap the + icon. To delete a Home screen, use Thumbnails again, only select the Close icon in the upper right-hand corner. Aside from Thumbnails, Transitions is also available from the Set Home Screen box. It’s within this setting that you can set a home screen transition effect.
8. Change Themes
Many different themes are available for Huawei Ascends. One problem with the EMUI is that icons never seem to stay up-to-date. The Pure Icon Pack given below alleviates this issue and gives your icons a material design.
Download: Pure Icon Pack
And there are plenty of built-in themes to choose from already on these phones.
Just use the Themes app. Choose the theme you want and hit Apply. You can customize the theme itself by selecting Customize at the bottom of the default screen of the Themes app. You will be given a list of elements you can choose to modify.
9. Set Wallpaper
Remember that Set home screen dialogue box that popped up when you long-pressed a blank area on your Home screen? It can also be used to switch things up with your wallpaper. From that menu, touch Wallpapers. You can use Lock screen wallpaper to set the wallpaper on your phone’s lock screen.
Another option, of course, is for your Home screen. You can also select Random Change to cause the wallpaper to change at the interval of your choosing. Once you tap your desired wallpaper, you can drag the frame to its position and press Set Wallpaper. You can also opt to use a Live wallpaper or set one of your pictures from More > Gallery.
10. Customize Notifications
It’s easy to switch shortcuts from your notification panel. Move the ones you use the most to the top of the list by going into the panel and swiping left on the utmost portion, or tapping the Shortcuts tab. Drag a shortcut to its new spot. These shortcuts are also known as Quick Settings, but there’s more we can do with notifications themselves.
For instance, you can pick and choose which apps you want to receive notifications from or block them altogether. To do so, go to Settings > All > Notification Manager. Tap an app icon and a new popup appears with options to Allow, Notify, or Restrict. To silence your notifications but not your ringtone, visit Settings > Sounds and set Notifications to silent.
11. Protect Your Privacy
There are personalized methods to keep your private photos and files private and behind the uniqueness of your fingerprint. Sure, you can also make your lock screen password-protected, but according to Huawei that can eat up 11 minutes of your day (assuming you unlock your phone 110 times a day, which is what the company estimates). That’s another reason why the fingerprint sensor on phones like the Mate 7 and 8 is not only a privacy-protector, but a time-saver.
If there are particular apps you want exclusive access to, you can use an app like AppLock—Fingerprint. To scan your fingerprints on the Ascends that do offer this functionality, go to Settings > All > Fingerprint ID and set a backup PIN, then follow the onscreen instructions to enroll your fingerprints.
What did you decide to do to customize your Huawei Ascend? Did you experience any issues during or after? Send us your thoughts on all of these topics. We hope you find these ways to customize your Huawei Ascend to be useful.