Review: Huawei U8800 Android smartphone

Discussion in 'Google Android (OS & Devices)' started by zfind, Dec 30, 2010.

  1. zfind

    zfind Member

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    I recently purchased Huawei’s new Android device, the U8800, so I thought I’d review it now that I’ve had it for a few weeks. This device is available in Finland but not in Australia, though a sibling device with the same hardware seems to be coming out soon, the Ideos X5.

    You can find the U8800's specifications here. Strangely Huawei’s own site doesn’t list this phone yet.

    Purchase and unboxing
    I bought this handset on contract after my girlfriend brought home an iPhone4 which gave me a hankering for a new smartphone .I like the Apple device but didn’t like the proprietary nature of it (iTunes, charger, closed platform) so went looking around for other options. Nokia doesn’t appeal to me (I’m coming from an e63) and Windows Phone 7 devices aren’t yet available here so it came down to the Android platform. I ended up choosing this one over its nearest competitor, the HTC Desire HD due to it running vanilla Android with basically no vendor customisation and its excellent value proposition. The unit retails for 249€ / $325 AUD which is quite cheap for what this unit offers.

    The box is attractively design which was a nice surprise for a Chinese device. Inside you’ll find the handset, a 2gb MicroSD card, microUSB data cable / charger combo, 1500MaH battery and a set of wired headphones. The charger makes use of a detachable microUSB-to-USB cable which doubles as a data cable for connecting to a computer, a nice touch. The device is warranted for two years by the manufacturer.

    Build and first impressions
    The unit has a nice form factor and sits nicely in the hand with an even weight distribution. It’s almost identical in dimension to the iPhone4 and weighs slightly less at a guess. The chromed bezel is tastefully done but the plastic back is lacking any real feel, though it’s easy to grip. The back cover slides off easily, perhaps a little too much so, but doesn’t seem to detach on its own during normal use. The microSD card slot can be used without removing the battery but the same can’t be said for the SIM slot which is a shame. The battery is very hard to get out with levering it free with some pointed object which feels a bit wrong to do to a smartphone.

    [​IMG]

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    [​IMG]

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    The display glass is very well finished and feels solid and well attached. Fingertips glide smoothly but once a little grease accumulates it can get a bit grabby, but this goes for most touchscreen phones. The power button is conveniently located for one-handed unlocking and the volume rocker is large and easy to use. The four default Android keys are touch sensitive and work well with a light touch. Overall it is a device with a solid and dependable feel.

    Screen
    The screen is impressive for a device of this price. It is very sharp and clear and produces vibrant colour across 480 x 800 pixels. Definition of icons is excellent and there is no pixellation or graniness to be seen. It is only a TFT capacitive screen, no SuperWonderAMOLEDLCD here, but the clarity and brightness is excellent. At 3.8 inches it is of a standard size that compromises between on-screen real-estate and portability, I find it just right. Touch wise it is responsive and accurate but not so much as the iPhone4’s display. Using Swype I sometimes get hopping when the touch is actually still on the screen which is frustrating but this is the only time screen problems manifest. Flicking and scrolling is very pleasant, but multitouch gesturing such as zooming a map could use some work as it seems slightly off-kilter.

    Hardware
    The device runs an 800mhz Qualcomm processor. While not the 1ghz of a Snapdragon, it feels exceptionally snappy and responsive. Homescreen flicks, menu scrolls and animations all flow smoothly and jarring occurs only rarely. All applications that I’ve tried run very smoothly, the benchmark Angry Birds runs just as well as on iPhone. The device has 2.5gb of internal storage plus whatever you have available on your microSD ( I have 8gb) up to 32gb. All the usual fruit is avilable, bluetooth, 802.11bgn, GPS-A etc. One quite impressive feature is that it supports HSDPA+, which allows connection speeds of up to 14.4mbps, not that I’ve been able to try it yet. The 3.5mm headphone jack will come in handy for flights though I haven’t tried it yet.

    WiFi performance is good and in line with what’s expected of smartphones today. It connects easily to every network I’ve tried so far but will lose signal with distance more drastically than a laptop. The first unit I had sometimes gave WiFi errors and wouldn’t connect to my home network, so I exchanged it as a DOA. The new unit shows no signs of this fault. GPS performance is a mixed bag as the cold start time can be up to five minutes from testing, which is terrible. Warm starts are under a minute which is acceptable but still not great. Once a lock is obtained by the 12-channel receiver it is accurate and stable.

    The unit’s 5-megapixel camera produces acceptable shots most of the time but they do tend to be washed out if the flash is used, a common quality of most phone cameras. Below are some test shots to demonstrate the quality, as well as a video shot at 720p / 24fps.

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    [​IMG]

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    As you can see, the video isn’t anything to write home about but is good enough for occasional use.

    Battery life is always important and coming from a phone that could standby for over a week per charge, I’m fussy in this area. Being my first Android, or even smartphone, for that matter, I didn’t know what to expect, but currently I’m seeing about two days standby and one day medium use (WiFi on, 3g connection, irregular browsing, e-mail sync for around 8 hours) off a full charge. This is fine for my needs and certainly better than some other phones I’ve read about. GPS use drains the battery considerably faster but you could easily get four or fives hours of use.

    Call quality is good and connection strength is fine for the most part, though I have had some dropouts in a few places, but they were not under ideal conditions. The maximum volume could be louder but is enough for calls and speakerphone sessions.

    Software
    One of the most appealing features of this phone is that it runs vanilla Android 2.2 (Froyo), meaning there is no laggy vendor customisation to slow the phone down and updated versions of the OS will reach this device first. As mentioned it is quite fast without any tweaking and is fluid and accessable to use.

    There is some crapware installed that can’t be removed but these applications only sit on the menu unused, bar one which is some sort of updating service. This is a minor annoyance. One major gripe I have is that for some reason the latest version of the Android Market doesn’t work on this phone, force closing repeatedly. This is a known problem and hopefully a fix is coming soon but without apps, a major part of the experience is missing. How this sort of thing was missed (either by Google or Huawei) is beyond me.

    I use it as my work and personal phone so good Exchange integration was a must. Android has this as standard and it works very well. Gmail is a breeze (as it should be) and tapping out mails and messages is very easy with Swype. Integration with social media is flawless with uploading to Youtube, Picasa, Facebook etc. working intuitively and easily.

    Conclusion
    The first U8800 I received seemed to be a dud but now with a new unit I’m quite impressed. It is stable and responsive to use and the stock Android OS is slim and very customisable which provides a lot of interest and entertainment. The hardware side is quite comptetitive, even with the ‘old’ TFT display, and powers the device along very well. Even after two weeks I find myself popping the unit out of standby to flick through menus, admire the colourful and sharp screen or write out e-mails with Swype. Some minor bugs and glitches point to the phone being less tested than it should be at release but I can forgive these for the overall positive experience that using this phone provides.
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2011
  2. Benmc

    Benmc Member

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    Whys the Screen Res different on the GSM arena site???

    Where did you get it from??

    Good review...cheers.
     
  3. InspectorGadget

    InspectorGadget Member

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    Thanks Zfind for the review, it is very helpful.

    Just a quick question.

    As this is a vanilla version of Froyo, I assume that they have left the full selection of display languages in there. Could you please check if Japanese is supported as a display language in the UI, as I have a need for this in my next smartphone.
     
  4. DiGiTaL MoNkEY

    DiGiTaL MoNkEY Inverted Monkey

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    Thanks for the review zfind! Glad to see a vanilla build of android used, as it should help future updates.
     
  5. campbell

    campbell Member

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    Thanks for the review, although I'd also like clarification on the screen resolution.

    After using the U8150 I would happily buy another Huawei phone, and the U8800 sounds like it addresses most of the (reasonable considering the price) short comings: higher res screen and better performance.

    Edit: Also I'll never buy a non-stock android phone, many of the modified android phones are lucky to get any updates at all.
     
  6. OP
    OP
    zfind

    zfind Member

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    I made a typo, fixed now, thanks! I got it from a Finnish mobile network outlet. As far as I know it's not available for sale in many places yet but a quick Google would reveal this.

    I just checked and there is only English, Finnish and Swedish, so this has been customised somewhat by the operator for resale in the Nordics. Another sign of this is that there is an operator splash screen on startup. Wouldn't it be possible to enable different languages somehow?

    I'm still waiting to see how it pans out for reliability in the longer term, but so far so good.
     
  7. SenorGrande

    SenorGrande Member

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    Curious as to what you mean by this? I would be wary of telcom-specific androids - Vodafone I hear is/was still dicking around with releasing Froyo OTA for the HTC Legend for example. I bought my Legend outright from a mobile store so no phone company bullcrap in the ROM and thus no waiting for them to release their version - is this what you were meaning? If so I fully agree. Although there's nothing stopping you getting one of those 3rd party/community based ROMs however I am no game enough to go down that path yet :lol:

    BTW zfind, what are the S.A.R. values for the U8800? I was toying with buying one of the lower Huaweis for playing around with (specifically the cheapie Ideos that was going for around $150 recently) but Huawei do not publish the SAR values for any of their phones. And since I buy over the internet I can't look at the box before purchase.
     
  8. campbell

    campbell Member

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    That's what I meant. To be more precise, I don't want to be waiting around for updates to my phone because the phone company has ceased to care about older phone models. If the modders can provide the updates then that's better than nothing, however you're still relying on other people to keep your phone up to date.
     
  9. OP
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    zfind

    zfind Member

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    I can check this when I get home, are they listed just as 'SAR values' on the box or manual?
     
  10. SenorGrande

    SenorGrande Member

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    Usually on the box with the p/n, s/n and IMEI. :)

    That is reasonable. I suspect the phone companies probably do it to force people to buy new phones every 6 months and continually renew their contract. It must cut them that Android phones are 'hackable' and the community can potentially upset their business model and extend the lifespan of a mobile :lol:.
     
  11. OP
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    zfind

    zfind Member

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    I checked the box and no SAR values to be found! :confused:
     
  12. SenorGrande

    SenorGrande Member

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    Thanks for checking it, but it does raise the question of why not. Hmmm.
     
  13. OP
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    zfind

    zfind Member

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    Update on the phone, as written the first unit was getting jammed and randomly rebooting so it got returned. The new unit which got reviewed started showing the same signs - freezing after calls, rebooting randomly etc. Being that I need the phone for work and can't stand unstable hardware I took it back and changed it for a Samsung Galaxy S, which is great so far.

    The Huawei was a nice package and if it worked reliably I would still have it, but it's an unfinished product that needed more quality control and testing before release to market.
     
  14. Whisper

    Whisper Member

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    I am attempting to hang out for this phone as I don't want to get an 8150 and then this phone arrive a few weeks later. :upset:
     
  15. sanjay

    sanjay Member

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    hey zfind, any chance you can buy these and send them to australia? looks like a great price for a great package, but im having a great deal of trouble finding them to buy online.
     
  16. cassieandra

    cassieandra New Member

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    sanjay; they have them on the Dick Smith website, although, I just went in, and apparently they aren't getting stock until the 1st of March. Which is quite disappointing.
     
  17. Merudo

    Merudo Member

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    It's five days away man... not that disappointing
     
  18. sanjay

    sanjay Member

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    concur with merudo - 4 days isnt that disappointing...you must have high expectations in life if you are disappointed that easily :p

    im in hong kong as of tuesday so im going to look for either one of these or the X6 (4.1 inch version) to buy on the cheap and have a play with :)
     
  19. jing713

    jing713 Member

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    Having entered the Android market with the aggresively priced and engineered Ideos U8150,

    I've got faith with Huawei phones.

    I think they are a serious contender and may look at signing up on a contract for one in a years time or so!

    :leet:
     
  20. $qwuzzy

    $qwuzzy Member

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    So did anyone pick this up today?
     

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