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Hands-on with Huawei

Huawei recently launched the Ascend G510 smartphone in South Africa. LIRON SEGEV tries it out and is surprised by the performance of the entry-level device.

Allow me to introduce you to a mobile phone manufacturer that you already know but don’t know that you know. The company is called Huawei, pronounced ‚”Wha Way‚”, and they have been around for ages. If you have ever used a 3G dongle in South Africa, chances are pretty high that under the Cellular phone branding beats the heart of Huawei.

Recently Huawei revealed their Ascend G510 phone. My first impression of the device was that it is a pretty solid and you get a lot of phone for your buck. The device runs Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) on a Qualcomm Snapdragon dual-core 1.2 GHZ Corex A5 processor, but it does suffer a bit in the memory department by only having 512MB RAM. It does have 4GB of internal storage and has an expansion slot for a microSD to boost it up to 32GB. The total cost of the device is R1999 and for that price and the quality of device, I think it is a real winner at the budget handsets.

At the launch I was fortunate enough to win the Ascend G510. I charged it to see just what this handset can do. I was in for a surprise, as the G510 far exceeded my expectations.

When you think of entry level smart phones you expect a certain degraded experience, however the Ascend G510 stood up to the daily use and abuse and didn’t miss a beat. I very quickly forgot that it was a so called ‚”budget‚” phone as it preformed so well.

The Look and Feel:

The device measures at 134 x 67mm, is an impressive 9.9 mm thin and weighs only 150 g. That is pretty good and very comparable to top end phones.

The display is an IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen with 16M colours and at 4.5 inches it features a maximum resolution of 480 x 854 pixels with a 218 ppi pixel density. This means that whilst the phone is good enough for the regular use, it does loose some details.

The look of the app icons, photos and info does not suffer too much and when you increase the brightness level, the images just get that extra wow factor. I am very impressed with just how good the screen is and just how comfortably and solidly the device feels and fits into your hands.

The buttons on the device are all on the left side of the phone. This includes the Power and a Volume rocker. The soft keys on the bottom include a Back button on the left and the a Right click on the right and a Home button is in the middle. This takes a bit of getting used as I often tapped the wrong button. Habit I guess.

The Camera

As they say: ‚”The best camera is the one that you happen to have on you‚” and this is yet another area that the Ascend G510 exceeded my expectations. The Ascend has a front facing VGA camera and a rear facing 5 megapixel camera. The Camera app is accessible right from the lock-screen minimizing the risk of you missing those precious.

The Camera app features various scene modes, filters and even a panorama mode. Great to see that the phone has a built in flash too.

The Video option is just ok at a VGA mode of 640 x 480.

The Interface

I would have expected Huawei to simply have the default Android Jelly Bean interface, however they have opted for their own Emotion UI overlay. Thankfully it is still Android and you have the ability to make folders and drag and drop apps or widgets to wherever you like. The overlay allows you to change screen transitions.

There is still the ‚”quick pull-down‚” menu from the top of the screen where you can access the frequently used shortcuts to switch things like Bluetooth, GPS and WiFi on and off. You can also customise this tray and rearrange the icons for apps you want to have in the order you want to see them.

Another feature I like is the ability to change the apps on the lock-screen. You can add apps that you need to access quickly. I added Twitter and Email which I actually found rather useful when I want to ‚”quickly check something‚”.

The Battery Life

The device has a Li-Ion 1700 mAh battery. I managed to get to about 2pm on a semi-heavy usage day and at that point had to recharge. I have disabled 3G and GPS and only switched WiFi on when I was in a hotspot or in the office. I expect that this phone will do ok for someone who needs to text, email, a bit of Facebooking and some music. The fact that the phone has the standard micro USB charging port means that you can simply borrow someone’s charger to get a top up when you are running low.

Connection to the world

The Ascend G510 is designed with connectivity in mind. You can connect via 2G, 3G and WiFi. You also have the ability to create a hotspot and share your connectivity with other devices. The G510 also has NFC built into it so you can swap files with your friends and even has DNLA capability so you can share media files with other devices in your network. Powerful from such a small device.

So in conclusion

At the price of R1999, this phone is not only affordable but a serious player in the entry level market without feeling like you have a sub-standard device as you cant afford a ‚”real phone‚”.

This is one phone that you will not have to hide just because it is an entry level smartphone. The screen is decent, the capabilities to share are powerful and the ability to customise the phone makes the Ascend G510 an overall exciting package.

Great move by Huawei understanding the local South African market and providing a solution for a specific gap.

* Liron Segev is also known as The Techie Guy. You can read his blog at or follow him on Twitter on @Liron_Segev

* Follow Gadget on Twitter on @GadgetZA

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