Tomorrow Huawei releases the first of its stunning Ascend smartphones exclusively for Pay As You Go customers on Vodafone. The Ascend G300 is the first smartphone from Huawei’s Ascend series to launch in the UK and features a large 4-inch display, 5-Megapixel camera and powerful 1GHz processor, all for just £100.
The Ascend G300 was exclusively revealed to a select crowd of journalists and Super Users from our eForum recently at an event in London, and we sat in on the proceedings to bring you those all-important first impressions.
The price is right
One thing that became immediately apparent was how impressed everyone was with the price. TechRadar’s John McCann told us, “At just £100 the Huawei Ascend G300 appears to be an impressive budget handset and we look forward to seeing how it shapes up.”
Meanwhile, Dave Phelan of The Independent and Time Out was taken with the Ascend G300’s chrome design and Gorilla Glass screen, noting, “It looks far classier than the price suggests, and it’s smooth and neatly designed.”
But the Ascend G300 isn’t just an affordable handset; it’s also packed with features. It runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread and an Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich update is promised in the second half of the year via Huawei’s website.
“This is what I’d expect from a phone costing three times as much.”
The operating system is also skinned with Huawei’s own HAP 5.1 (that’s Huawei Android Platform) launcher, which has a unique lock screen and allows neat additions like quick launch shortcuts, much like you’ll find on HTC’s One X.
Caleb Cox from The Register told us how he was particularly taken with the shortcuts, noting, “I think the home screen feature is fantastic. I love that jumping straight to the phone calls and messages saves a few seconds every time you use the phone and I haven’t seen that anywhere else.”
Meanwhile, Recombu’s Basil Kronfli was taken with the camera, which he thought was “decent” and complimented by the “smooth user interface and great looking video.” Summing up by saying, “Walk into a store and give them a hundred quid and get that back, I’d be very happy.”
And for Ben Sillis from ElectricPig it was the lack of compromise that makes the Ascend G300 such an enticing phone.
“When you see a smartphone going for £100, you have to ask what the catch is. The screen might be terrible, or absolutely tiny. The battery life might be pants, or the camera quality beyond awful. The thing is there aren’t any catches here. This is what I’d expect from a phone costing three times as much.”
‘A breakthrough moment’
Jim Powell, Huawei’s Product Director, Terminals Dept, was delighted with the response that the Ascend G300 received, noting that, “This is a real breakthrough event for us. We’ve been working with Vodafone a long time and this marks a real milestone.”
Powell’s belief is that though the price is an obvious draw, it’s the features that will really win hearts and minds, pointing out “This market is characterised at this level by compromise. You don’t get the screen size, or you don’t get the processor or you don’t get the capabilities or you don’t get the camera or you don’t get the longevity, you don’t get the Gorilla Glass… this product answers all of that, and that’s what it set out to do. The fact that Vodafone is pricing it as aggressively as they are is pretty breathtaking.”
The experts speak
Having canvased the opinions of the cream of the UK’s tech press, we felt the last word should go to the real experts that live and breathe mobile phone technology like no others – our eForum Super Users. So we gave Nabs and thesoupdragon some hands-on time with the Ascend G300 to see what they thought.
Nabs was immediately taken with the design of the phone, pointing out: “It feels very nice in the hand. It’s about the right size; the buttons on the side and the top are very easy to reach. The screen’s very bright and the colours are really nice.”
Meanwhile, thesoupdragon (or Tim to those that know him) was impressed by the responsive nature of the 1GHz processor, “Switching on is very quick, it links up [to the network] incredibly quickly and the screen is very responsive.”
Impressed though they both were by the quality of video, the colours on the display and the camera, it was the smaller touches that really got Nabs and Tim drooling.
For Nabs, it was the keyboard that really stood out. “The way you can swipe up to get your upper case or swipe downwards to get punctuation and you can also swipe the keyboard left and right for different keyboard formats is fantastic.
“If people are going from the older feature phones where you only had the number pads with the letters on the numbers, there’s the option to have that if you prefer to stick with it.”
“A brilliant way to keep apps tidy.”
And Tim was delighted to note the inclusion of a Micro SD Card slot for additional memory and neat touches like the addition of folders in the app drawer, which he felt was “a brilliant way to keep apps tidy.”
Tim and Nabs have taken review samples of the Ascend G300 back to their lairs and we’ll be hooking up with them in a week’s time to get a more in-depth summary of the phone once they’ve had some time to live with it and really put it through it’s paces.
Until then you can check out the Huawei Ascend G300 for yourself here, and find out more about all its great features.
Are you drooling at the prospect of Huawei’s stunning budget phone? Tell us how you think it’ll compare with your favourite affordable handset in the comments section below.