Huawei 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.
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
- 1730 mAh Li-ion battery
- Colours: Black, White, Blue and Magenta
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.