Budget Android handsets don’t always deliver. Their low cost might have some allure to the purchaser, but every manufacturer has to cut corners to reach certain prices – and the lower they want the price to go, the more corners have to be cut.
This doesn’t mean a £100 handset has to be bad. Orange’s original budget San Francisco was a marvel and in many ways, remains the one to beat, in terms of getting the balance of features right. So, how well has Vodafone chosen with the Huawei Ascend G300?
First impressions are very good indeed. The white and silver chassis has a hint of unibody-design about it, though in fact the rear cover is removable. The curved edges are stylish, and there’s a certain panache to things, so that visually, the Huawei Ascend G300 punches above its weight class.
There are no surprises as far as buttons and connectors are concerned. There is a microUSB charge slot on the underside, with a headset connector and power switch on the top, plus a volume rocker on the left. The rear cover is a bit on the thin and flimsy side, though we’ve seen worse. Underneath it is a slot for a microSD card – something higher end handsets are starting to do away with (for example the HTC One X and One S).
Huawei has boxed clever with its skin for Android, offering a range of widgets for the five home screens and adding a few features that make the user interface look different, but not alien. There’s nothing here that dramatically alters what you’d expect to, see from an Android handset.
As an example, there is a neat lock screen that takes its cue from HTC Sense, offering you the chance to unlock directly to one of three apps, or the home screen. We couldn’t see a way to customise the app shortcuts, which is irritating and something that HTC Sense does offer, of course. What this means is that you are limited to unlocking to the dialler, messaging or camera. It’s not a bad selection, but it might not be the trio that suits you best.
Another nice tweak is that when you pull down the notification bar, you get the ability to toggle Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS, and turn automatic screen rotation on or off. It’s not a feature unique to this phone, by any means, but it is handy.
Huawei has also fiddled with the standard Android keyboard, providing the TouchPal, Swype style keyboard. You can switch back to the standard Android keyboard, if you prefer.
To find the real signs of corners cut: you have to look at the general technical specifications. It’s a pity, for example, that the Huawei Ascend G300 relies on Android 2.3. Anyone looking to be at the forefront of the Google OS arena will know this is a very old version, and by choosing the G300, they’ll be buying into last year’s technology. For some this won’t matter at all, but for others, it is going to be irritating.
The 1GHz single core processor is clearly not at the top of the tree, and we did feel the handset was a bit slow to respond to requests. Web pages load just that little bit slowly, apps take a tad longer than we’d like, to run. The presences of just 2.5GB of internal storage is not going to set many people alight with excitement either. And the five-megapixel camera is adequate, but no more.
Where Huawei has made its boldest and best move is in the inclusion of a good quality 4in screen with 480 x 800 pixel resolution. Yes, the screen could do with a bit more brightness, and the TFT technology meant we did have trouble reading it outdoors – especially in bright sunlight. If you are tucked up inside, and want to watch video or browse the web, the screen is really pretty good.
We were disappointed with the touch responsiveness of the Huawei Ascend G300. The screen felt a bit laggy. We are happy to accept that this is because of the amount of speedy dual core processors that we use, and the response speed isn’t a deal breaker.
We are less happy about the responsiveness of the three touch sensitive, back-lit shortcut buttons (Menu, Home, Back) that sit beneath the screen. Often, we had to tap these more than once to get a reaction, and that’s simply not acceptable.
Vodafone and Huawei between them have added some useful – and some less useful – apps to the Android basics. There’s Qype, an FM radio and Documents To Go (viewing only). There’s also Vodafone’s AppSelect, an alternative app store, Vodafone Music, and some game trials on board too.
Overall, the standout features of the Huawei Ascend G300 are its good screen and impressive build. For £100, you can’t expect perfection, and on the whole the compromises that have been made here seem reasonable.
The Huawei Ascend G300 is a large screened handset, whose stylish build makes it look more expensive than it is. Its Android version is old, but that might not bother people working on a budget.
Pros: The G300 looks like a more expensive handset than it is, and its screen delivers good visuals, particularly indoors.
Cons: The G300 is slightly unresponsive to touch, very short on internal memory and powered by an old, outdated Android version.
Network: HSPA 900/2100, GSM 850/900/1800/1900
Processor: Qualcomm 1GHz
Memory: 2.5GB user memory
Memory expansion: microSD
Display: 4in, 480 x 800 pixels
Main camera: five-megapixel
Front camera: No
FM radio: Yes
Size: 122.5 x 63 x 10.5 mm
Weight: 140g OS: Android 2.3Leave a comment on this article