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Huawei Ascend W1: world's cheapest Windows Phone 8 handset gets UK release date and price up

All eyes in the mobile industry are understandably focused on the premium handsets being launched at MWC this week, but that doesn't mean that life outside of the high-end segment isn't getting a good run out down in Barcelona as well.

In fact, in addition to launching its latest blockbuster smartphone - the Ascend P2 - over at the Fira Gran Via, Chinese manufacturer Huawei has quietly broken cover with UK release date and pricing information for its Ascend W1 handset.

Huawei said it was bringing the W1 to Blighty via an exclusive distribution deal with O2 back in January, and more recently proffered that the budget Windows Phone 8 device would arrive in March.

Now, the handset maker has confirmed a 7 March release date for the 'Electric Blue' model of the handset, with an 'Electric Pink' version set to follow on 18 March.

"Windows Phone 8 is tremendously exciting in terms of both its functionality and the practical benefits it delivers. With the Ascend W1, Huawei has created a product to put this fresh smartphone experience within reach of a much wider audience," said Huawei UK and Ireland executive VP Mark Mitchinson in a statement.

"O2's record of championing innovative brands and technologies is remarkable, and we are delighted to partner with it for launch of the Ascend W1 in the UK," he added.

The Huawei Ascend W1 is an entry-level Windows Phone 8 smartphone and will come with a no strings attached price of £119.99. It will also be available for free on O2 contracts starting from £13.50 per month.

O2 is expected to list the device on its website shortly.

The Ascend W1 offers modest specifications and appears pitched on a similar level to the recently launched Nokia Lumia 520, which is set to retail from €139 - also spot on the £119 mark. The Huawei device features a 1.2GHz dual-core processor supported by 512MB of RAM and sports a 4in 800 x 480 display. It also offers 4GB of on-board storage, plus a 5-megapixel rear camera and a 1,950 mAH battery.