New Phone: Huawei U8150

During Click Frenzy last year — "the sale that stopped the nation", I dived in a bought myself a new phone — namely, the Huawei U8150 from Wireless1 for $49 (+ $10 postage).

While it isn't a blisteringly fast phone, it does the job and is certainly an upgrade from my existing Nokia N97 Mini — which was painfully slow and laggy. The phone arrived ~3 business days after it was posted via AusPost's eParcel. As it said on the website, the phone was opened before posting to unlock the phone (it was originally locked to Virgin Mobile). Check out the photos below for close-ups on the phone :D

Opening it was a joyful experience, being my first ever Android phone. While not the Apple-quality unboxing experience, there were no frustrating stickers to peel nor any arrogant twist ties that didn't unbind. Phone unboxings have certainly become easier over the years — I still remember the annoying little cable ties that you'd need to cut to get the main attraction out.

The phone turned on without hiccups and I was greeted with the Android setup. It had Android 2.2 pre-installed with minimal bloatware (no carrier or Huawei-specific apps installed!).

The first thing I did was launched the Maps app and tried to pinch-zoom… bad idea. Certain versions of this phone has a touch controller with multi-touch support — but unfortunately, mine wasn't lucky enough to be one of those.

Battery

The phone features a 3.7V 1200mAh Lithium-Ion battery. So, in terms of battery life, it certainly isn't anything impressive — but it usually gets through a day of moderate texting and wifi browsing without problems. Flashing any ROM apart from the stock ROM from Huawei or varients on that seemed to cause massive battery drain. Even CM8 (a rather popular ROM) seemed to cause more problems than I could handle.

Camera

We have a 3-megapixel fixed focus camera at the back of the device. It certainly wasn't designed for any semi-serious photography… but it wasn't expected at this price range anyway. Yes, it's crap and not only is it slow and always blurry, it crashes the phone whenever Facebook or any other app (apart from the default camera app uses it). Barley usable with no flash either.

Screen

Being a 2.8" QVGA display, I had little hopes for the screen. From using an iPod Touch 4th Gen (with Apple's ~ Retina Display~) to this screen, it takes a little while to get used to. Text is definitely legible, but pixels are also — definitely distinguishable.

Physical Buttons

While it features the normal physical buttons with a sleep/wake power button on the top-left and volume-rocker on the left — it packs in a couple of non-smartphone buttons: an unusual 5-button D-pad and interestingly enough — also a dedicated answer and decline button. In terms of Android navigation, we have the four dedicated back, menu, home and search touch-sensitive buttons.

Storage

On board is… 512MB of flash storage. And only 200MB of that is allocated to the user-accessible sdcard partition for photos, apps and anything on the phone. Let's say that the SD card is compulsory if you intend to use this phone for anything other than just making and receiving calls. I currently have a 2GB microSD card plugged in, storing all my music and two photos.

ROMs

As I said before, anything other than stock or stock-based ROMs were battery-draining monsters. I tried a variety of ROMs including some of Android 4.X… (I couldn't even get past the setup screens it was so laggy). I ended up using LEANdroid which I thought was faster than stock-firmware and gets the job done :)

Update: I just flashed an Anrdoid 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich ROM called ColdFusionX. It's working pretty well so far! Read more about it here

Conclusion

This phone certainly does the job for non-processor intensive tasks. Launching the semi-heavy apps like Facebook takes around half a minute. But apps like Viber, WhatsApp and GoSMS take relatively less. The keyboard is usable but has the flaws of a Android 2.X keyboard (e.g. no "missed space" autocorrect). I would install Swype, but it eats too much memory and takes quite a long time to load up.

It's a good phone for basic calling, texting and tethering internet — but not a lot more than that.

Photos


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