Review: Huawei W1 Phone #W1ndows

Love the Live Tiles on Windows Phone 8

My smartphone progression has been longer than most. I started off with a Handspring Treo in 2002, progressed through PPC (Pocket PC) devices, to IOS and then to Android. It was only recently when Huawei offered to send me a W1 to have a play with that I’ve had a chance to fiddle about with the latest version of Windows Mobile, which isn’t really called Windows Mobile, it’s called Windows Phone 8.

If you’ve used IOS, you’ll be instantly familiar with Android and to a much lesser degree vice versa. Both operating systems have a row of programme icons arranged in a grid. This has of course led to lots of legal shenanigans, even down to the bevelled edges on the icons. The first thing you’ll notice when you fire a Windows Phone 8 device up is how different it all looks. Dare I say it but Microsoft has the most stylish designed mobile operating system about. It looks modern, from the oversized font on the menu screens, to the way the Live Tiles work on the home screen. More over, it looks unlike any other mobile operating system, which, in the end I’ve decided is a good thing.

Initially there is a bit of a steep learning curve because things don’t work quite as you would expect. I thought if I had a twitter live tile on my homescreen it would automagically show the last few tweets or something but it doesn’t- some live tiles work like that, so for example the photo tile shows the last pictures taken and the “me” tile shows the last interactions across any social media you’ve logged into.

But enough for the moment about Windows Phone 8, what about the Huawei W1 I hear you cry? You’ve probably not heard of Huawei unless you know your tech but like HTC  few years ago, they’ve been making phones for other people, most notably mobile phone companies, and have recently decided to start releasing phones under their own brand name. The W1 is a budget entry level phone, available exclusively on O2 PAYG for the princely sum of £129 and it’s really rather good. If I were to pass you the phone and let you have a play with it, you’d be hard pushed to guess the price because the build quality is very good, from the soft touch plastic case to the gorilla glass toughened 4 inch screen, you would be hard pushed to guess this is Huawei’s budget entry. It’s slim, funky AND also has a micro SD expansion slot- something a lot of full price phones lack.

soft touch back belies
the price

Okay, the processor isn’t a fancy quadcore chip but that’s part of the beauty of Windows Phone 8, it’s a modern operating system that is surprisingly light on the juice. In fact whilst playing about with various apps I genuinely didn’t notice any lag or slowdown. Saying that, my use was limited to email, social media (Facebook, Twitter etc) and some internet browsing; aside from the odd bit of Candy Crush and lots of Words with Friends, I don’t tend to play games on my smartphones anyway. The battery life was a bit of a bonus too. I spent rather too long strolling through IKEA last month as we sorted out our kitchen and the signal inside is very poor. This often acts as a drain on the battery because the phone is effectively straining to pick up a signal. Battery drain was negligible though. Most pleasing.

So are there any downsides then? Well the screen resolution is understandably not the best you’ll ever see but it is acceptable and the colours look okay. The camera is average (5MP) but again nothing worse than you’ll see in a budget phone.

And that’s really it in terms of a downside. Yes, the app store isn’t anywhere near as populated as iTunes or Google’s Play Store but it covers what you need a smartphone to do pretty well. Overall I was really impressed with what you get for your money, which after all is less than a third of what it would cost you to buy an iPhone 5 or a Samsung Galaxy S4. It’s even competitively priced against the other budget Windows Phone 8 devices out there, and certainly better built than most of them from what I’ve read.

Thin for a budget phone

I’ve used a lot of budget phones over the last couple of years, ranging from a HTC Hero, to a Motorola Defy Mini and I can confidently say that this is a country mile ahead of all of them, in terms of build quality and speed. Yes, budget phones have raised the bar in the last year or so but I’m still very impressed with the Huawei W1. To say it’s better than the budget Nokia Windows Phone 8 device is probably the best complement I can pay, so I shall leave it at that.