First Looks: Huawei Ideos X3
The Affordable Android 2.3
Huawei has been in the local scene for quite some time with its Android devices, banking on the open-sourced OS to break into the mass market. This is not the first that we have seen the Ideos X3, as the handset was first introduced at this year's Mobile World Congress (MWC); and later, at an official unveiling event earlier this month. The Ideos X3 was championed as the first out-of-the-box Android 2.3 Gingerbread smartphone when it was first announced; which we must say, is pretty impressive for a lower-tiered smartphone. Unfortunately, since there are other Gingerbread handsets out in the market now, this advantage is now moot. Putting this fact aside, the Ideos X3's strength is in its affordable price point. At S$288 without contract, this Huawei Android smartphone is a steal compared to its pricier 2.3-equipped competitors.
On first impression, the Ideos X3 certainly looks like it will fit well with a business-centric crowd. We particularly like Huawei's effort in including a chrome chassis that brings life to its ordinary black exterior. Like most other smartphones, the front of the Ideos X3 is mostly taken up by a 3.2-inch touchscreen that is hardly smudge-proof. To make things worse, it is framed by a smooth plastic material; luckily, this is not replicated at the rear. The back is covered by a matte black surface that makes gripping a smoother affair. Picking up the phone, we were pleased to find that it was considerably light (115g). Because of its light and small (and comfortably so) frame, the X3 fits nicely in our palm. On the other hand, the X3 came across as rather flimsy due to its predominantly plastic body.
Handling is relatively straightforward, with ports and buttons situated at the usual places. Like most smartphones, the top has been reserved for the 3.5mm headphone jack and a neighboring power/lock button. The latter is slightly on the small side but exhibits good feedback. Lining the right profile is a narrow strip for controlling the volume level. Sadly, as with most Android smartphone manufacturers, Huawei has completely left out constructing a camera-dedicated button.
On the Ideos X3, you get to work with a mixture of touch and physical controls. The touchscreen is accompanied by three touch hotkeys at the bottom, namely the back, menu and search functions. So where is the Home button? Separated from these touch controls, a physical button situated just below them directs the users to the Home page. Pressing the button while the phone is on standby mode will also bring users to the lock screen.
Usability & Performance
While the Android 2.3-based Ideos X3 comes with no customized UI, the phone itself displays decent performance in most aspects. While thumbing through the device, we found that the screen was responsive with no lags: animation and screen transitions happened smoothly in general. Even with a 600MHz processor, things ran smoothly with apps running in the background. Its aforementioned 3.2-inch screen is typically not the most optimal size for typing, so we were not surprised that the experience was riddled with errors: the keys on the virtual QWERTY keyboard are just far too narrow for a high level of accuracy. Its resolution (320 x 480 pixels) is sufficient for viewing photos and web-surfing.
Despite a smaller 1200mAh battery, the X3 managed to last for a day of normal use. If you are a light user, you can possibly stretch it out to about 1.5 to 2 days' worth of usage, especially if you only turn on 3G when needed.
Like the Huawei U8150 (runs Android 2.2), the X3 comes equipped with a basic, no-frills 3.2-megapixel camera with no flash or auto-focus capability. The only difference here is that the latter comes with a front-facing VGA camera that allows for video calls and the occasional portrait shot. Don't expect anything spectacular here; as a budget smartphone, the X3 is not built with these purposes in mind. To add on, its audio playback sounded murky and flat.
The Huawei Ideos X3 is a decent entry-level smartphone that has met our expectations. Shelling out S$288 (without contract) or possibly nothing with contract, the smartphone is a steal for those looking for a taste of the Gingerbread pie. To put things into perspective, consider the HTC Wildfire S going for S$388, which sports similar specifications such as a 600Mhz processor and a 3.2-inch display with Android 2.3, versus the offer from Huawei. There are very few smartphones in the market with such a low price margin; and if you are looking for a basic and relatively charming-looking phone, the X3 might very well be the answer.