Slim, light and well-built, the G300 looks slick and business-like. It feels good in the hand and the four-inch screen is great
The neat lock screen is one of few Huawei specialities on top of Android, but this is straightforward enough
Despite its low price, Huawei hasn't scrimped on features, with a decent camera, expandable storage and more
The 1GHz processor isn't cutting edge but performs well enough to keep everything moving along nicely
Smartphones with big screens can often suffer from poor battery life but the G300 will last you a full day happily, ready to be recharged overnight
Review by Sunetra Chakravati,5/3/2012 12:51:58 PM
Look and feel
Ease of use
Bright, large screen, decent camera, good battery life
Unexceptional Android overlay, runs on Android Gingerbread, single-core processor
Chinese manufacturer Huawei continues its inevitable march to becoming a leading mobile brand with the Ascend G300, a £100 pay-as-you-go Android phone (free on £15 per month contracts). You get what you pay for, or at least that's the theory, but the likes of the Orange San Francisco II and HTC Explorer have proved you can certainly bag a feature-packed Android for very little. Well, the Ascend G300 isn't perfect, but at first glance it's very hard to see the Achilles' heel.
The obvious place to economise if you're making a budget blower is the screen. Make it tiny, low-res or (heaven forbid) a resistive touch-screen, and already you're saving cash. The Ascend G300 doesn't resort to such tactics, packing in a four-inch capacitive screen with a 480x800-pixel resolution, or around 233 ppi. That's nowhere near the silky richness of the Sony Xperia S, but it's very good for a budget smartphone. Not only is it sharp and bright, its subtle colours are very pleasing to the eye.
Styling can be a dead giveaway in terms of money spent too. A cheap plastic panel that creaks and flexes instead of a high-end unibody design is a serious giveaway. But the Ascend G300 is neat: a black framed display gives way to silver edging and a back panel with white surround. It looks classy, and though the silver battery cover is slender plastic, build quality is strong, so the whole thing holds together well and feels good in the hand.
The phone's camera is decent, if not exceptional, at 5 megapixels with LED flash. It's responsive, with minimal shutter lag and pretty strong results, though with the usual caveat that low light makes things trickier. There are plenty of manual controls from white balance to scene settings. This is an area where Android has more functionality on offer than Apple's iPhone camera can manage, and makes it feel more like a dedicated snapper. Note that there's no secondary front-facing camera, so video calling is out.
A phone's processor can also be a place to economise but, although there's no dual-or quad-core chip packed into the Ascend G300, the 1GHz single-core processor is respectable, matched with 512MB of RAM, and in practice the phone rarely slows down. Oh, and unlike some Android phones, this one comes with a microSD card slot so you can expand storage beyond the built-in 2.5GB.
Battery life is unexceptional, but not disastrous, though daily recharges will suit you and the phone. Call quality and signal strength are also important because, you know, it's a phone. Thankfully, both are good.
The Ascend G300 has its own keyboard app, the CooTek TouchPal, which features instructions littered with enough grammatical inaccuracies to put you off immediately. For instance, on launch it boasts: 'This input method have so many killing features so that you can input very fast on your phone!' It works OK, but it's not a patch on SwiftKey, TouchType's excellent alternative keyboard app.
TouchPal is the first instance of Android overlay you'll come across, so it's not a good start. Huawei's additions to vanilla Android are mostly limited to the top level of the interface. For instance, the lock screen has four choices available, dependent on which way you swipe the padlock icon. At launch these are unlock, phone, camera and new message but you can configure at will.
Beyond that, the on-screen icons rotate in a funky way as you turn between home pages, but that's about it. Vodafone (which has the phone exclusively for three months) has a big home screen widget with useful buttons to toggle Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and flight mode on and off, among other extras. This is a handy way into the handset for smartphone newbies.
The Huawei Ascend G300 is a capable, stylish smartphone with lots of strong features that outgun its low price. There are more powerful handsets available, but in the budget range Vodafone and Huawei have come up with a strong choice for customers upgrading to their first smartphone.