Huawei isn't a brand you commonly find in Singapore when it comes to mobile phones, much less one known for Android handsets. More familiar brands that come to mind are the likes of seasoned players like HTC, Sony Ericsson and LG. Will Huawei finally make the breakthrough with the new Huawei IDEOS U8150? Unlike most entry-level Android devices, the Huawei IDEOS comes with Android 2.2 (the LG Optimus One is a similar example), and it is hoping that the latest version of Android will give them a competitive edge.
The U8150 has rounded edges with an overly glossy body. The phone feels light and flimsy, which is unsurprising since it is predominantly plastic. It is relatively bulky for its size, but fits nicely in both our palms as well as in a back pocket. The set that we had on hand came with a bright blue back cover, but if you aren't a fan of that, you will be glad to know that the device is available in a range of colors. At the back, we saw the words "with Google" inscribed just below the camera, just like how they were on the LG Optimus One.
Turning our attention to the bottom half of the phone, we realized that Huawei had dedicated quite a fair bit of space to the control buttons, touting a layout that is reminiscent of the earlier Motorola Quench XT3. Like the XT3, this phone has a mixture of physical and touch controls, as well as a click wheel and button thrown in for good measure. Working in place of a optical trackpad or a trackball, the click wheel and button are used for navigation and selection respectively. Most of the time however, your fingers will be on the touch controls.
Those who have used an Android phone will find using U8150 a familiar experience. Nothing additional has been added to the interface, i.e., you still have five main pages to customize; on a side note, we were wishing for perhaps, some vendor-exclusive apps to be included with the device. For the most parts, the screen responded well to our swipes and taps, but there were times where surfing and transitions lagged quite badly. We found that multitasking slowed down the phone quite significantly, with open apps taking a nosedive in speed. The experience is further marred by the fact that the touch controls are built extremely close to the touch screen, and more often than not, we found ourselves unintentionally exiting apps and returning to the main page.
The diminutive 2.8-inch screen means that SMSing or typing makes for an extremely tough operation - the keys on the virtual QWERTY keyboard are too narrow for high accuracy. We can manage with short SMSes, but anything longer becomes quite an intolerable chore. Thanks to its petite size, the 320 x 240 pixel screen is barely adequate for viewing photos and surfing the web.
The U8150 comes equipped with a 3.2-megapixel camera with no flash or auto-focus capabilities, so don't expect anything mind-blowing here. The image quality is pretty average here, with noise spread across the photos but colors are generally accurate. Thankfully, the menu is easy-to-use, and double tapping on the screen enables you to zoom 2.8x into a spot quickly. The device is not likely one you would fall back on for video playback because the small screen and low resolution cripples it significantly. On a side note, the audio playback is murky with weak vocals and flat bass.
With its 1200 mAh battery, this phone chugs on for almost a day, relatively long-lasting considering that there was intermittent web-surfing; 3G connectivity; social feeds pulling data during the entire period; fair bit of messaging and voice calls. If you are a light user, the U8150 can last up to 2 days with 3G on.
The Huawei IDEOS U8150 might come with a reasonable price tag of only $339 (without contract, inclusive of GST), but for one looking specifically at an Android 2.2 device, it might be wiser to top up and get the LG Optimus One at $428. The latter is superior in terms of hardware specs with a bigger screen, faster processor, better battery life and better multimedia capabilities.
If these aren't what you are looking for, and you are just require a simple device to make calls and messages, be warned that even simple navigation is marred by inefficient controls layout and positioning on the U8150.