I have been holding off reviewing phones or tablets, mainly because I don’t have any arrangements with retailers to get hold of ‘loaner’ devices and I don’t think a review of a device I have only used for 1/2 hour would really carry much weight with readers.
Recently, I decided to replace the ‘free’ Samsung Galaxy Gio that my phone provider, Southern Phone, gave me to sign up for another 2 year contract with them. As an aside, I can’t recommend Southern Phone too highly. We have used them for over 3 years now and have had excellent service from them the couple of times we had home line problems (due to Telstra lines not them).
The Gio, while a reasonably capable cheapie phone had a couple of problems that meant I could no longer rely on it – the worst of which was the ‘sleep of death’ where the phone refused to wake up and I ended up missing calls. Unfortunately, the symptoms occured so infrequently that I gathered that returning it for warranty repairs would be a waste of time. The thing could go for weeks without a problem then fail 3-4 times in one week. So it was time to replace it with a more reliable and capable phone that was also unlocked (the Gio was Optus locked and full of so much c–p that I could only install 10-12 apps before running out of space even after moving all the apps I could to the SD card.
S0 the phone I ended up with after some research was an unlocked Huawei which I bought new from an eBay seller for only $128 with free postage. One of the criteria I based my choice on was a phone under $200 so I guessed I was looking at a used one. I considered the HTC Desire HD, but most went for over $200 used, but when I checked the Huawei specs found it to be similar (except the screen size & camera) – so I took the plunge and bought the new Huawei Y300. I am very happy I did so.
Brief specs : 4″ screen * Dual Core A5 CPU * 5Mp rear camera / VGA front camera (great for Skype) * FM radio * running Android 4.1.1 (Jelly Bean)
The Chinese company Huawei is the largest telecommunication equipment manufacturer in the world (it overtook Ericsson in 2012) but probably is unknown to most Australians. After using the phone now for over a month I have to say I am pleasantly surprised by how good it is for the price. I had read reviews comparing it negatively to the Galaxy S4 / S5, but this seems hardly fair considering the huge price difference. I am not a gamer, so don’t need enormous performance, but I have experienced no major ‘lags’ even after loading the thing up with over 50 apps ranging from navigation to video playback apps. Skype works fine as does the excellent free Navigator GPS software which I will review very soon.
The screen, while not as crisp and bright as pricier phones is fine for me (apart from use in bright sunlight) and swiping from screen to screen is very smooth and responsive. I haven’t experienced needing to use a firm tap to open apps at all as some reviewers have noted.
Battery life has been good too. I have no problem running it all day, even with some GPS use. So that is a big tick from me.
The camera isn’t great I have to admit – photos taken in good light are fine but darker lit shots are very grainy. Using the built in LED flash does improve things of course. Also, video recording is only VGA quality.
The Jelly Bean Android version the Huawei runs is interesting. It is very smooth and has great features, but the loss of being able to move apps to the SD card which happened with Jelly Bean is a potential drawback for users who want to install 80-90 apps as the onboard storage for apps is only 1.5Gb. It is plenty for me though.
So, bottom line is that I am very impressed. If you are in the market for a newer Android phone but don’t want to be locked into a telco for 2 years why not give the Huawei a try? As I said, getting an unlocked one is really the best way to go and this shouldn’t cost any more than a locked one. You should find plenty of eBay sellers offering this phone as it was offered by Telstra for some time but fickle customers preferred more well known brands like Samsung. I personally would think twice myself before getting another after my experience with the Gio !
Edit August 3rd : Another point I meant to include was the GPS receiver. The Huawei has the best GPS I have ever used on a smartphone. It actually gets a faster lock and stays locked to more satellites than our TomTom car GPS unit!
Let us know in the comments of your experiences or opinion if you own one too.