Huawei Ascend W1 Review

Huawei Ascend W1Huawei announced the Ascend W1 on the second week of January this year and it was to be available in the market within the first quarter. It was announced at the same time CES was happening in Las Vegas. This so far has the lowest priced Windows phone that even sought to beat Nokia’s Lumia 520 which is expected to be higher in price by a thousand or so shillings. Pricing for the Ascend W1 is expected to be at between Kes 14,000 – 15,000 while the Lumia 520 which is the main competitor is priced at 10,500 Rupees (Kes 16,540) in India.Huawei Ascend W1

Ascend W1 has very many people waiting for it due to the design, battery and general pull. Huawei in Kenya has since mentioned that it will be launching in Nairobi this week. Microsoft also entered a partnership with Huawei where the device will also be branded as 4Afrika in the campaign to get smartphones to as many Africans’ hands as possible, target is in the millions. I have had this device for quite some time now enough to say what excites one about it and what the cons are. Lets first get the device specification.

Ascend W1 Phone Specifications

  • Windows Phone 8
  • 4 inch IPS LCD capacitive multi-touch
  • 480 x 800 pixels, 233ppi
  • 4GB internal storage with microSD support of 32GB
  • 512 MB RAM
  • 21 Mbps HSDPA
  • Bluetooth 2.1
  • microUSB 2.0
  • 5MP camera AF with LED Flash, Geotagging, Touch focus, face detection
  • Video at 720p @30fps
  • Front VGA Camera
  • 1.2 GHz Dual-Core Krait MSM8230 Snapdragon
  • Adreno 305 GPU
  • 124.5 x 63.7 x 10.5 mm
  • 130g
  • 1730 mAh Li-ion battery
  • Colours: Black, White, Blue and Magenta

Design

Huawei Ascend W1
This is one well designed device with a good feel in the hand and at 130 grams, it’s very easy on the hand. The white and black devices are uni-colour while the magenta and blue versions have black on the front. The noticeable touch sensitive controls are unmistakeably Windows, the home with the back and search on either side at the home page. At the top we have the ear piece and VGA camera on the right. 4 inch screen is almost the average screen for a smartphone as it is the in-between of screen sizes for those who want small screens and those who cant do without all the screen real estate they can come by. The bottom is rather awkwardly shaped when you look at it from the front, but the general phone does look dazzling. The rear is even more sleek. The matte silky feel on the rear cover is quite appealing and the speaker on the rear is well laid though it would lower the sound volume when laid on the back. Nothing much about the camera which is round and elevated with another circle around it. The LED flash is embedded on the right of the camera and is also circular. There are buttons on every both sides and the top. On the left we have the volume rocker, right has the dedicated camera button and the top has the power button on the right and the 3.5 mm sound jack slot. The back cover is removable and quite easy while at it. Both the SIM card and microSD require the battery to be removed.

Features

Huawei Ascend W1
Huawei Ascend W1 comes with a segment in the store where Microsoft features 4Afrika apps that are available to the devices sold in Africa. These are applications done by African developers for local situations and solutions and are part of a plan to make smartphone adoption in Africa spike. They will include consumer applications, games social apps and enterprise apps. As it stands there is only one app in the 4Afrika apps segment. Beyond that, there is not software customized for this device.

Huawei Ascend W1
The device has 512 MB RAM which works quite well, no limitations to applications install like the Lumia 510. The 1.2 GHz Dual-Core processor performs reliably well on the Windows phone 8 architecture that is optimized for low resource requirements unlike on Android counterparts. 4GB internal storage is the weak point of this device. Reason being, Windows phone does require a lot of space and apps data and even though you move media files onto microSD storage, you will find this making you selective of the apps you install on the device. You can still consume media from microSD which can go upto 32GB.

Camera

Huawei Ascend W1
The camera, a 5MP autofocus with touch focus and face recognition does give some good photos. See on our Google Plus page, some photos I took with the camera at our balcony in the office. Close-ups are really fine with the macros well defined. Indoors photos with natural lighting are also quite good. I will take some night time photos and upload them to the Google plus page and give you a heads up via twitter quite soon.

Battery

Huawei Ascend W1
The 1730 mAh battery is one of the highs of this device. Optimal use can have it go to two days comfortably. I was surprised that even when reading mail accessing internet and having endless calls that your day would require you to, the second day ends with some power left. Gaming, videos, Bluetooth sharing and photos has a different impact altogether, but you will still do the day comfortably.

Conclusion
This is one phone which is really a bargain and a phone that can be good for anyone wishing to get into the Windows phone bandwagon, the price point, the sufficient specs and design being the enablers. Many Windows Phone superusers will tell you that the 4GB storage is a notable setback, but it’s actually something you can live with, just install necessary apps and the pros will take care of the rest. The part where Windows phone 8 manages your office applications, and sync via Skydrive to be accessed remotely on your desktop is a huge plus. Skydrive has this advantage where if you save an edit, only the edit syncs and not the whole document, hence saving on data. Documents on Office will also open just the way you last saw them on your desktop, this Huawei Ascend W1 plays the part quite well.
Update Huawei Ascend W1 will be launched in Kenya in the last week of April.

  • http://markmwangi.me.ke/ Mark Mwangi

    Looking good. May just jump ship from Android if the price point is right.

    • http://www.techweez.com/ Martin Gicheru

      Price could range from 14-16 depending on vendor. Looks like we will have to wait till after Easter for launch

  • kenyancartman

    One con I have found after reading reviews on other sites is the lack of FM radio. Why would a smart phone in 2013 lack FM radio? Maybe in the west they can afford streaming internet radio but for me that’s a big oversight considering data bundle costs in Kenya.

    • http://www.techweez.com/ Martin Gicheru

      FM Radio absence applies to all Windows phone devices, Microsoft had overlooked several features when developing the OS, some that could not go into second gen devices was lack of multi-thread USSD that is relied on by online banking, example in our region, Windows 7.5 devices had that shortcoming but Microsoft catered for that in Windows phone 8.
      Maybe not enough noise has been raised for lack of radio, lets say they are too ahead of themselves.

  • thura

    can we use application with this ph like andrid ph? can we change fonts? i would thank you if you send me an email.

    • http://www.techweez.com/ Martin Gicheru

      If I got your first question right, you either meant that we could use apps like we do on Android, in which case we do, there are Windows phone 8 apps that have the way they look and feel or you meant to ask if we can use Android apps in which case we can’t. Also we cannot change fonts on Windows phone devices as they take that Microsoft font across the board.

  • Mike

    An extensive review if I say. One thing though, isnt it true that Windows 4Africa is a modified version of W1? if so, why would it stil be called w1? it would be kind of you also to include a post or even a section where we can get to know a comparison of different devices at the same price point from a hands on point of view. may i therefore ask for your opinion given Intel Yolo and W1 side by side overlooking screen resolution and size? maybe just power backup, operation and daylight photo qualities. I’ll appreciate.

    • http://www.techweez.com/ Martin Gicheru

      Let’s see what we can do in the near future about your request, meanwhile. The 4Afrika phone is just the same Huawei Ascend W1, just that the one coming to this region has a segment in the application store dedicated for Apps made by Africans for African solutions. And they are easily discoverable as there is a menu for them on the apps page.

      • Mike

        thanks for your reply. actually i have been opening this page several times to check out a reply. and am grateful i got one. anyway, please be sure to update us as soon as w1 and Yolo are available. since Yolo ran out some months ago but has not been restocked.

        • http://www.techweez.com/ Martin Gicheru

          Let’s see what Safaricom have or if they are interested in designing a second YOLO. India’s Lava recently started selling the second XOLO.

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  • Patrick

    I have had this phone for about a day, the hardware feels great though the bottom right corner is a bit sharp and pricks a little, the OS is a bit of a disappointment, for instance you cannot lock the orientation to either portrait or landscape and you cannot therefore comfortably use the phone while lying down. The in built browser does not allow you to download mp3 files. Overall I find the OS lacking in many respects. If you are on Android please don’t switch, you will be disappointed.

  • ARIEF

    Greetings from Indonesia, Southeast Asia. Your review is very good. If I may know, how much space was left in the storage from the total 4GB, when you purchased this phone for the first time?

    • http://www.techweez.com/ Martin Gicheru

      What’s available is just slightly more than 1GB. That’s the shortcoming of the device in comparison with the Lumia 520