Having already checked out Nokia's windows phone, I was keen to see just how different Chinese Telco giant, Huawei's take on Windows phone 8 was going to be. Specs-wise it isn't exactly a breakthrough, but then it only costs $299 and you do get some serious bang per buck with Huawei's Ascend W1.
It might be a cheapie but that doesn't mean it's cheaply made. For a start it's screen is Gorilla Glass so scratches and dings are able to be kept to a minimum.
This said, the Ascend isn't a brick, in fact it weighs in at a mere 130 grams and is a thin and shapely slab of smartphone that looks as if it is worth a whole lot more than its sticker price.
With the average windows 8 phone typically ringing in on the cash register at anything up to $800 (depending on which plan you choose), the Ascends $299 sticker price is pretty compelling. Adding to that, its specs (as dictated by the windows phone 8 spec) are not too shabby either.
Under its hood, the Ascend W1 packs a Snapdragon dual core CPU and a paltry 4GB of storage. Thankfully the Ascends storage can be expanded using a micro SD card so those on a budget with a big music library can take their music walkies. In use it felt silky smooth, running all apps and games with no stuttering or lags.
The Ascends screen also impressed. Huawei seemed to have achieved the near impossible feat of Bundling in a decent IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen, capable of displaying 16M colours at the windows phone 8 standard resolution of 480 x 800 pixels. At 4.0 inches it feels small but has a 233 ppi pixel density, and supports 4 finger multi-touch which will be a boon for gamers.
Its camera is a no-nonsense 5 MP, autofocus affair that like other windows 8 phones supports photo geo-tagging, as well as nice features such as touch focus and face detection. Photos shot under daylight conditions were pretty good, whilst low light photos did show signs of pixel noise. The Ascend will also shoot passable 720p video at 30 frames per second and its front facing VGA camera should in theory work fine with Skype from the windows phone app store for video calling.
In addition to supporting 2G (GSM,GPRS, EDGE), 3G support comes in the form of 21Mbps HSDPA and HSUPA. The Ascend also supports Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n as well as Bluetooth. Unexpectedly, it is also NFC friendly, meaning I was able to use the ascend to check the balance on my snapper card after installing the Snapper balance app.
If windows phone 8 tickles your fancy and you're on a budget, the ascend W1 is a great choice that boxes well above its pint-sized weight and price to deliver great spec and build quality for what can only be described as a pocket pleasing price.
2G Network GSM 850/900/1800/1900
3G Network HSDPA 900/2100/850/1700/1900
Dimensions 124.5 x 63.7 x 10.5 mm
Weight 130 g
Display Type IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen, 16M colours
Size 480 x 800 pixels, 4"
3.5mm jack Yes
Memory micro SD, up to 32 GB/Internal 4 GB, 512MB RAM
Data GPRS , EDGE, HSDPA, HSUPA, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, NFC
Bluetooth v2.1 with A2DP, EDR
Camera 5 MP, autofocus, LED flash, Secondary VGA camera
OS Microsoft Windows Phone 8
Chipset Qualcomm MSM8230 Snapdragon
CPU Dual-core 1.2 GHz Krait
GPU Adreno 305
Sensors Accelerometer, proximity
Battery Li-Po 1950 mAh battery
Stand-by Up to 470 h (3G)
Talk time Up to 10 h 30 min (3G)