Look and feel
A compact smartphone that slips easily into any bag or pocket, and feels like a smooth but solid pebble in the hand
Ease of use
Android Gingerbread runs fine and the keyboard is surprisingly usable despite the tiny screen, but web browsing and playing with apps takes a little patience
A bog-standard two-megapixel camera fades in comparison to the three- or five-megapixel efforts in similarly priced phones, while the teeny on-board storage needs to be supplemented by a microSD card
A single-core 800MHz processor provides standard budget phone performance, so don’t expect to play any 3D games, but everything else runs smoothly enough
A true highlight. Even when streaming media and playing with apps all day, we didn’t have to recharge
Review by Sunetra Chakravati,5/23/2012 5:08:10 PM
Compact build, great battery life, surprisingly usable keyboard
Restrictive and pixelated screen, bog-standard camera
Huawei’s Ascend Y100 is an £80 budget Android mobile phone that’s taking on the LG Optimus L3, Orange San Francisco II and other cut-price handsets. The aim is to offer all of the usual smartphone features (camera, apps and web browsing to name a few) for a price that won’t make your wallet weep. But will the Ascend 100 appeal to skint smartphone buyers?
The Huawei Ascend Y100’s tiny 2.8-inch screen makes this one of the dinkiest smartphones we’ve ever reviewed. It’s certainly light at just 104g, but the rounded body feels hefty enough considering its size. That gives the phone a premium, solid feel, while the rubberised back is soft and scuff-resistant. Imagine clutching a smooth pebble and you’ll get the idea.
That tiny frame packs away a basic 800MHz single-core processor, so don’t expect it to play the latest games. In fact, the likes of Temple Run only made it as far as the loading screen before crashing back to the desktop, although more basic games such as Angry Birds Space ran without a hitch at a good frame rate. Bear in mind that the compact screen makes gameplay a little tricky at times though, especially when precise actions are involved. Battery life is a winner thanks to the low-power processor, so you’ll easily get a full day of use even when constantly playing with apps or snapping away with the camera.
Small but satisfying
Android Gingerbread is the OS of choice, and it does the job well despite the restrictive panel. The dinky display is impressively bright, although not too crisp. You’ll need to zoom right into websites to read the text and photos look rather pixelated, but the screen is definitely easier on the eye than the LG Optimus L3’s. Viewing angles are narrow but it’s only an issue if you and a friend are trying to read something on-screen at the same time. Video streams well and is perfectly watchable, but we wouldn’t want to watch a full-length movie.
You’d think the restrictive screen size would make typing a pain, but the keyboard is surprisingly usable thanks to the responsive touch-screen. Add in some neat little touches such as the ability to swipe up a letter to capitalise it (or swipe down to type the secondary symbol), and we had no trouble bashing out lengthy emails and texts. You can flick between three different keyboard types, including traditional numeric pad, but we stuck with the QWERTY effort.
Web browsing is also surprisingly smooth considering the limited performance. Even complex websites packed with high-res photos loaded quickly and didn’t stutter when we skimmed through them. A 2.8-inch screen isn’t ideal for delving into the world wide web, and net addicts might end up with sore eyeballs if they spend hours a day squinting at the tiny display, but for a quick check of the headlines or train times, it works perfectly.
You also get a basic two-megapixel camera, but despite the ability to shoot video, this really is a last resort for capturing your memories. Photos are blurry and pixelated when viewed on a monitor or TV, and there’s no flash. There’s also an annoying pause of 1-2 seconds between hitting the virtual shutter button and the photo actually taking. If you’re a constant snapper you’d be better off with the Orange San Francisco II, with its five-megapixel camera.
If you’re a bit out of pocket but serious about browsing the web, playing with apps or taking snaps on the move, we’d recommend a larger budget phone such as the Orange San Francisco II or HTC Explorer. The Huawei Y100’s 2.8-inch screen is rather restrictive, best suited for checking emails and texts. However, if all you want is a compact phone with great battery life, which can access the internet or download apps in a pinch, then this phone will do the job.