09/06/2012 17:45 | By Duncan Jefferies, contributor, MSN Tech & Gadgets

Huawei Ascend G300 review

A fantastic budget smartphone offering performance way past its price point.


Huawei Ascend G300 (© Huawei)

What is it?
A budget Android 2.3 smartphone from Huawei.

What's great
The rock bottom price; large, bright screen; attractive design and decent battery life.

What's not
The camera is a bit disappointing.

The bottom line
Budget smartphones don't get much better than this - a full-featured handset that's worth every penny.

Review
Let's get this out the way first: it's hard to be believe the Huawei Ascend G300 costs just £100 on a Vodafone PAYG tariff. Why? Because it looks so blimmin' lovely, that's why. We're not talking HTC One X or iPhone 4S levels of gorgeousness; that would be impossible at this price point. But as far as budget handsets go the Ascend G300 is an absolute stunner.

The silver back cover looks like brushed aluminium (closer inspection reveals it's actually plastic), and matches the bezel; a strip of white running between them along the top and bottom of the phone adds some contrast. The front is all glass - hardy corning Gorilla Glass in fact - with three touch-sensitive buttons at the bottom. Physical buttons are kept to a minimum: a power button on the top edge, a volume rocker on the left.

Yes, it creaks a tiny bit if you give it a good squeeze. But generally it feels like a very sturdy phone, with a nice weight in the hand that makes it seem more of a premium product than it actually is. In fact, the Ascend G300 reminded us a little of some of HTC's design tropes, which isn't all that surprising: Huawei have the Taiwanese company firmly in their sights.

The phone continues to play mind games with you when you turn it on. Frankly, a display this good shouldn't be possible at this price. It's big (four inches), bright and colourful, with a nice hint of depth as well. And sharp - did we mention it was sharp? Unless you're a display connoisseur, obsessed with pixel density and other technical gubbins, you'll struggle to see much difference between the Huawei Ascend G300's screen and that of a much more expensive phone.

However, it's not the most responsive touchscreen we've ever come across. It's not bad by any means; most of the time it works just fine. But there were several occasions when we had to repeatedly prod an icon or touch button to get the phone to register our intention. Also, the default TouchPal keyboard is unnecessarily fiddly. The keys themselves are small despite the phone's generously sized screen, and the letter icons equally dinky. Thankfully, you can revert to the standard Android offering or download an alternative from the Google Play store.

The processor, although single core, is remarkably nippy. Flicking between the five home screens with a live wallpaper chugging away in the background didn't trouble it at all. Nor did browsing the web: you won't have to wait long for desktop sites to load on both wi-fi and 3G networks. Pinch and double-tap zooming works fine too, with text resizing and reflowing quickly and correctly for the most part, something budget smartphones often struggle to pull off.

The Huawei Android Platform, the company's customised version of Android, doesn't attempt anything too radical. Icons are nice and chunky, and there's a dock bar that houses your favourite apps. Widgets can be placed on any of the home screens. A number of small but pleasing animations also add a degree of slickness to the operating system, and the four-way unlock screen, which invites you to drag a padlock onto a number of different apps, riffs on HTC Sense to good effect.

The five-megapixel camera is one of the few indications that the Huawei Ascend G300 sits at the budget end of the market. Pictures are a quite washed out, especially in low light conditions, and we had a bit of difficulty capturing well-focused snaps. However, you do get an LED flash, which isn't always the case with budget smartphones. Video is also pretty average - don't expect to be shooting HD clips - and there's no front facing camera either so video calling is out. But if you want a phone that'll capture a few pictures or videos on a night out, the Huawei Ascend G300 will do the job.

Contacts, calling and messaging are all handled well - particularly if you're a big user of Google's services. There's a snazzy looking music player app on board too, and a decent FM radio app. The speaker is a bit hit and miss though - even on max volume we struggled to hear some games and songs, while others seemed to play at a normal volume. Speaking of games, the Huawei Ascend G300 will handle Angry Birds Space, Temple Run and even GTA III without and stuttering.

Battery life is better than average - we easily got through a day of normal use (a few calls, some emails and texting, a bit of gaming) without the need for a recharge. There's also a handy power saving mode, which gives you the option to turn off Bluetooth and wi-fi, animations, haptic feedback and the like once the battery drops below 30%.

So is the Huawei Ascend G300 worth buying? Well, if you're counting the pennies but still want a full-featured smartphone you won't find a better deal. The Huawei Ascend G300 has features that wouldn't look out of place on a mid-range phone. Its great screen and surprisingly decent processor mean it performs well as a multimedia machine, and although it's cheap it certainly doesn't look it. A new benchmark for budget phones has been set.

4 stars


Essential info:
Camera: 5 MP, 2592х1944 pixels, autofocus, LED flash
Video: Yes
Display: TFT capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors, 80 x 800 pixels, 4.0 inches
Dimensions: 122.5 x 63 x 10.5 mm
Weight: 140 g
Internal Memory: 2.5 GB storage
Card Slot: microSD, up to 32 GB
Colour: Black, silver
Touchscreen: Yes, capacitive
Audio Playback: 3.5mm jack and speaker
Operating System: Android 2.3,update expected this summer
Processor: 1.2 GHz single-core

Battery Life: up to 390 - 660 minutes talk time

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