So, this is about the 5th time I have written this review. Many reasons have made me stop whenever I get to the analysis of the device. You’ll likely see some of these in my final thoughts at the end. That’s never a good start, is it?
Thanks to the lovely people at the Huawei Press Office, we have Huawei’s latest budget offering to review, the Ascend Y100. Retailing at £59.99 exclusively on o2, this handset seems to be aimed at those moving from feature phones to the world of Android. Around the same price range you can get the LG L3, Vodafone Smart, and for a little extra, Huawei’s G300 (on Vodafone). I see these as the devices competition. It come sin white and black, but I can only see o2 stocking the black one. (Could just me being dense,)
Given the budget status, I feel it is only fair to keep an open mind. I have spent the last week or so using it as my main device, and whilst it is not the greatest peace of technology to ever have graced the planet, it did hold its own rather well. This is also my first Huawei device I have had the pleasure of using. Sure, it has had some issues, but it also has a few things that I think would be great for those getting it as their first device. The styling of the phone reminds me of the HTC Touch from a few years back, which is no bad thing as I did like that phone very much.
In the retail box, you will find the basics of the phone, battery, charger with USB cable, and the quick start guide.
Dimensions: 106.5 x 56 x 10.9 mm
Weight: 100 grams (battery included)
Operating System: Android Gingerbread 2.3.6
CPU: 800 MHz
RAM: 256 MiB
ROM: 512 MiB
Display: 2.8″ QVGA
Audio Output: 3.5mm
2G network: GSM 850/900/1800/1900
Network region: Quad-band
3G network: HSDPA 900/2100
Expansion-Slots: MicroSD up to 32Gb (Tested)
USB: micro-USB 2.0 client
Bluetooth: Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP
Wireless-LAN: 802.11b/g/n (With Hotspot)
Analog Radio: FM radio (87.5-108MHz) with RDS
GPS: Supported (Assisted)
Main-Camera: 2 MP, 1600×1200 pixels, Video is VGA@30fps
Sim Card: Standard
Front Face: On the front of the device, there is only one disturbance to the uniformity of the black. The home button, surrounded by a silver plastic bezel sits in the centre at the bottom of the screen, with capacitive keys for back, menu, and search above. Above the screen we have the Huawei logo, and a silver mesh speaker grill.
Top: On the top, from left to right with the screen towards you, we have a rather small, but easy to hit power button that is raised slightly, the micro-usb port, and the 3.5mm headphone jack, which sits nice and square so it does not leave a few mm’s exposed.
Left Side: Here the silver detailing that goes all around the middle of the device gets a bit wider, to give the phone some styling. This is the same on the opposite side.
Right Side: Here we find the volume buttons position towards the near side edge, closer to the top and made from a silver plastic that responds well and is easy to find. Unlike the Vodaphone Smart 2. we don’t get a volume rocker.
Bottom: Nothing much here, except for a grove to help pull the case apart to get to the battery, SIM, and micro SD card slots.
Rear Face: The camera lens is surrounded by a silver bezel and raised slightly from the rest of the back. We also have the Huawei logo, and a small speaker grille. No flash here I’m afraid.
Underneath And Back Cover: Not much to see here either, although interestingly, it would seem that there may be some pins under the battery. The SIM slot did confuse me a little to start with, it’s landscape, not portrait.
Sure, the Y100 isn’t the best piece of kit out there, but we all know that this device wasn’t aimed at people who already have a high end smart phone, other than as a spare. It’s aimed at the budget market, and for £70 I don’t think there is much to complain about. For the price, we all know it is going to be made out of some cheap to make plastic, with none of this fancy pants gorilla glass, but the device is rigid enough, with minimal flex, and sturdy enough to be used day to day. For the price range, I don’t think Huawei have got much wrong. Sure, I’d have liked to have seen a flash on the back, and maybe a shutter button on the side. To be honest, I’ll be sad to see it go!
The button and port positioning tend to be where I like them. Meaning that the device is easy to use with all cables plugged in if you need to.
The Y100 is powered by a Qualcomm MSM7225A Snapdragon. clocked at 800Mhz. Whilst this may not be the best processor going, it seems powerful enough for the phones requirements. This is backed up by a rather poor 256mb of RAM. Yes, 256MB. That said, it is enough to play the likes of Angry Birds, and even Reckless Getaway (if your fingers are small enough). This is thanks to the Adreno 200 GPU that comes with this SoC, bringing you such goodies as OpenGL ES 2.0, OpenGL ES 1.1, OpenVG 1.1, EGL 1.3, Direct3D Mobile capabilities.
In short. Welcome to a world of pixelated screens with washed out colours. Running at QVGA nowadays should not be happening. I mean, some feature phones run a higher res than this. Old feature phones. Adding to the overall lack of quality are the very poor viewing angles, which basically only allow you to view the phone square on if you want to get any use of this. I found myself using the phone less than I normally would because of these issues as they in turn led to me straining my eyes. I normally have perfectly healthy vision. I wish manufacturers would skimp more on the processor and put in a better screen. It is after all the main place for interaction for a phone. I understand it is also one of the more expensive parts of a phone, so I do understand that it still wouldn’t be the best.
Here I think Huawei have actually done alright. There’s very little bloat, and the feel is like stock gingerbread, which was rather nice to see. Surprisingly there is actually a customisable dock, meaning you can drag and drop your icons in here for what you want. There is even a rather MIUI/ICS influenced lock scren that allows you to unlock straight to various apps such as camera, messaging, and dialer. You also get notification widgets, which some manufacturers (Looking at you HTC) still leave out, despite having been in existence in custom roms for a long time now.
As most was stock, I don’t have much to tell you about. The homescreen worked quite nicely, experiencing no (to very little) lag when scrolling across without any graphical issues. The only thing that was different that jumped out at me was the keyboard. Huawei for some reason shipped it out with TouchPal installed. This has never been one of my favourite, and it does take up a rather unnecessary amount of screen when typing, meaning in portrait you could see about 1 line of text. Again, QVGA, so not a fault with the software, just a downer on the user’s experience.
The phone interface was fairly basic, no intellisense here at all, so have fun typing your contacts out on their or scrolling on the tiddly screen.
You can see a selection of images from the device in the gallery at the bottom.
I honestly can’t say a great deal about this. it’s 2MP, which again is worse than feature phones and honestly not too acceptable. As I was using this as my main phone, and tend to take a few pictures over the course of a week, I was left very unimpressed and let down by the outcome. Grainy, out of focus, shocking pictures are what you should expect here. But it’s a budget phone? That’s okay, right?
No, no I’m not sure it actually is alright.
As such, there isn’t much in the terms of a camera gallery to show you.Sorry about that.
As you can see below, the ones I did manage to get are either blurry, washed out, unreasonably dark and very grainy even in the light of day, as you can see in the Gallery.
I wasn’t expecting this device to do well here. With a 2.8” screen that is by my own impression rather shoddy, I steered well clear of any youtube videos for light entertainment on my lunch break. I did however get to test it with some music whilst out for a walk. The media player is a very stock ordeal, which is again a benefit, but the quality was actually reasonable for the price range here. Sure, you don’t get beats, but I honestly couldn’t care less about such marketing gimmicks. So, well done to Huawei here.
Generally, as you’d expect for such a small device, it is not a media powerhouse. You’re not going to comfortably sit and watch a movie on the bus to work. Unless you want to get headaches. I did however get it to play nicely with a Gametel remote and play some Reckless Getaway. Whilst not the largest of screens, or best experience, it was enough to see what was going on.
Given the small size of the battery, I was happy with the battery life overall. I was easily managing a day and half, which is nice to see considering my One S / DHD could end up drained after 16hours of being unplugged. My usage is normally quite high, but I do feel this may have been less on the Y100 due to lack of storage and screen space.
Yes it’s a budget phone, and yes I have tried to keep that in mind. I’d actually say it is decent enough for the price as long as you understand what you’re getting. I’m struggling to find a target audience who would actually be pleased with this device. Pre teens? Not really, from what I see they want the same as their friends and parents, which is likely to be setting to the higher range. 20 somethings? Nope, I’d guess the average person has far to much need for a decent size screen with email and Internet browsing. The elderly who may be being pushed towards smart phones? No, the screen is too small and suffers from too much pixelation due to the resolution?
So, other uses? As a spare phone or as a backup for emergencies? Sure, that could work. The battery coped well under use, so should be okay to last a couple of days. Can’t guarantee as I didn’t have the time when testing to do this. Could also be used for a GPS run tracker and music on the go? But, thats probably not what Huawei intended, after all.
This isn’t to say Huawei have done something wrong. It’s the same for all budget devices. For £90 you can buy a used, in good condition, HTC Desire. Sure, it’s an old phone. But it kicks the ass of buying a budget device.
I did ask a few people what they made of the phone. These range from high end android users to feature phone users. Most were unimpressed in the whole, picking the screen as a major issue. Others were not so impressed with the styling which they claimed looked a bit outdated, and showed the budget cost a little.
Struggling here to find something nice to say. With technology how it is nowadays I can’t see how manufacturers can warrant selling these devices. I guess there must be a market there, but i can’t see it. Especially when for £10-15 more or so you can get a much better Huawei phone, the G300.
Sorry Huawei, but i just don’t see me recommending this phone to people I know. 2/5 from me. Whilst it has flaws, Huawei could still have done a lot worse.