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CES: Huawei Ascend W1 hands-on review

Budget Windows Phone could make Huawei a bigger name in Blighty
Thu Jan 10 2013, 17:38
The Huawei Ascend W1 runs Windows Phone 8

LAS VEGAS: CHINESE PHONE FIRM Huawei was one of the only phone makers to unveil it's latest smartphone lineup at this year's Consumer Electronics Show, with most firms opting to hold off until Mobile World Congress in Barcelona next month or, in the case of Samsung, its own swanky Apple-style launch event.

As well as the Huawei Ascend D2 smartphone and its 6.1in Ascend Mate phablet, the Chinese phone maker unveiled its first Windows Phone device, the Huawei Ascend W1. We managed to get our hands on the colourful, budget priced Windows Phone, which is expected to arrive in the UK next month.

The first thing that struck us about the phone was its design. Huawei's massive CES booth was littered with different coloured Ascend W1 handsets, as the firm will be bringing it to market in an array of different hues including red, blue and white.

The Huawei Ascend W1 runs Windows Phone 8

We got our mitts on the blue coloured model, which reminded us of the HTC Windows Phone 8X with its vibrant, rugged-feeling casing. It also struck us that this phone is unlike anything Huawei has brought out to date - probably because the squared-off casing of the smartphone matches Microsoft's blocky Windows Phone 8 live tiles.

It's a fairly compact phone, too. It's by no means as slim as some of the competition at 10.15mm thick, but with a reasonably-sized 4in screen sitting inside it, the phone proves easily pocketed and comfortable to hold.

The 4in screen didn't wow us quite as much as the handset's casing. On paper, it features a 480x800 WVGA resolution with in-plane switching (IPS) technology, which means that while it offers excellent viewing angles, the screen isn't as vibrant as some of its Windows Phone competition. We put the phone next to our Nokia Lumia 920, which although it's a much more expensive smartphone, highlighted the Ascend W1's relatively dim screen.

Its processing power is nothing to write home about either, but the phone's 1.2GHz dual-core processor ensured that everything ran smoothly enough. Although we noticed a few jitters, swiping through Windows Phone 8 was a pleasant enough experience and the phone didn't seem to have any trouble firing up apps or surfing the web.

Speaking of Windows Phone 8, Huawei has loaded the Ascend W1 with a purely vanilla version of Microsoft's mobile operating system in the sense that, unlike its rivals Nokia and HTC, it hasn't added any custom apps to its first Windows Phone device. However, given the phone's budget price tag this phone is likely to appeal to those after a simple, affordable Windows Phone device who won't be too bothered by the lack of personalisation.

Huawei's first Windows Phone device might not be the most exciting thing we've seen at CES this year, but the Chinese phone maker has certainly gone about things the right way. It has announced a decent, affordable Windows Phone handset with all the features its target audience will be looking for - a decision that might finally get Huawei's name a bit more recognised in Blighty.

Check out our Huawei Ascend W1 video review. µ


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