Uploaded with ImageShack.us 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. Uploaded with ImageShack.us Uploaded with ImageShack.us 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. Uploaded with ImageShack.us Uploaded with ImageShack.us 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.