Well, if you insist… Android is built on touch screen technology, but the common flaw in budget end phones is that too many sacrifices are made in this area. Small phones like the HTC Wildfire S or Samsung Galaxy Ace may hit the right places with either the camera or processor, but rarely is the screen a stunner. If the screen dimensions are smaller, then the resolution has to compensate. Sony Ericsson got this spot on with the Xperia Mini Pro, but more recently the Samsung Galaxy Y was a poor alternative.
This then couples with a 1GHz single core processor, Corning Gorilla Glass and Android Gingerbread 2.3.6 all for £100 on Pay As You Go. It basically ticks all the boxes from the outset and forms what we would consider to be the optimal specification for a usable Android device. The biggest difference with G300 is that no major sacrifices have been made unlike most other budget handsets.
Resolution is a key driver for having a good user experience. The G300 offers a 4 inch 480 by 800 pixel resolution which produces a magical pixel per inch result of 233. Not great, but certainly not bad. The LCD panel is not the brightest either, but it is certainly bright enough for most tasks but suffers like most AMOLED or LCD screens in direct sunlight. Sensitivity was slightly lacking overall, and few times we had to double tap the screen to trigger functionality but it has scratch resistant Corning Gorilla Glass to compensate.
So with that in mind, it punches way above its weight in terms of the competition. It makes the screen on the Galaxy Ace look like it has been built out of Lego. It is great for the vast majority of tasks, but just be prepared to zoom in a little when browsing the web.
The G300 has the feel of a premium handset feel and fits well in the hand; nice and solid. Although primarily comprised of plastics, it does not feel like a cheap phone which is a good trick for Huawei to pull. Currently, only available in white on Vodafone, it also does not look like a poor attempt at an iPhone unlike the T-mobile Vivacity. If you gave this to someone and asked them how much it cost, I would be surprised if the estimates that came back were south of £250. All in all, a very classy handset.
Don’t expect big things form a budget snapper. Ever. But you do not need to write the G300 off either. It takes perfectly usable shots outdoors in good light, and colour reproduction is good (although there is a bluish tinge to shots when they appear on screen). There have been criticism over an overly aggressive processing engine on board but in our experience the shot were perfectly usable. A phone like the G300 is for Facebook and not the Family Album, but even so you could get nice 6×4 prints from Jessops to turn out quite nicely indeed.
Video capture was on a par with the competition in this bracket, which really means it is rubbish with no fancy HD tendencies.
A lightly skinned Android Gingerbread launcher is in residence on the G300. The icons that have been added are colourful and clear, and it is easy work your way around the phone. It appears that Huawei engineers have been sniffing around the ‘modding’ community because that is exactly the sort of function that is common place in customised Android builds. An example is the infinite scrolling for the home screens which essentially allows you to cycle through the five home screens in a continual loop. Also, the lock screen is of note which eschews the traditional swipe from once side of the screen for a far more functional four way short cut to specific apps such as recent calls, messenger, camera and the device unlock. Simple but useful stuff along with the ability to put apps into customised folders. There is also a useful keyboard which can be customised to the users taste, be that QWERTY or numeric based. Those pining for the days of tapping a number key multiple times to get to the correct letter will be pleased.
It appears that Huawei engineers have been sniffing around the ‘modding’ community…
Although the lock screen apps cannot be customised at present, this has been promised to arrive in the summer with an upgrade to Ice Cream Sandwich. Which is a staggering bit of news, and Huawei should be applauded as such. They claim that because they are not heavily altering the G300 Android launcher, they can turn around updates much quicker. It also explains the software only handset keys that are evident at the bottom of the device – very Galaxy Nexus.
The specification does mean that HD video playback is not on the cards, but it will do everything else you throw at it, Flash included. Angry Birds looks very nice on it too and if the native bloat-ware is not to your tastes, then there is Google Play for apps galore. We would recommend getting a decent music player such as WinAmp, and probably add Dolphin Browser and Go SMS to take it up a notch. But that is the beauty of Android, isn’t it?
The on board 1500mAh battery is acceptable and you should get a good day out of it – no relative concerns there providing you charge it at bed time. This goes for the vast majority of Android phones anyway.
The Bad Stuff
There is only one niggle and that is the volume on the internal speaker. It basically renders speaker-phone functionality useless as it stands, although sound quality via headphones is perfectly fine. In this day and age, most will have a Bluetooth car kit, so the speaker volume may not be a deal breaker for many, but be warned. If concerned, check out a demo unit in a shop and set a 2 minute alarm maximum volume to be sure. If everyone in there turns to stare at you when it goes off, you know you are ok.
What’s It Up Against
In this bracket, there is only really the own branded T-Mobile Vivacity or Orange San Francisco II to compare with. But both are inferior when it comes with the overall specification despite offering arguable better screens (smaller in size buy high ppi meaning they should be sharper). Also, the build quality of the San Francisco cannot compare – not that the SFII is poor, but it feels overly plastic and is a fingerprint magnet.
Despite being recent offerings, the competition is not up to scratch for two reasons; 1GHz is the bare minimum for a phone with this screen size and the Ice Cream Sandwich will be released this summer. The phone apes the preferred design of the Nexus devices (i.e. no physical buttons) and Huawei’s modifications to the Android interface are minimal. The end result is that it will have an element of being future proofed, will be able to cope with the majority of the bells and whistles that android brings and is cheap.
The End All…
The G300 is the quintessential budget smartphone, and as far as we can tell there is nothing else out there that will hold a candle to it without paying at least double. Bin your budget HTC and Samsung phones: the Huawei is the only ticket in town for entry level Android. If only Huawei would sort out the volume issues for the built in speaker, the phone might be nigh on perfect for the average Joe or Jolene.
The Huawei G300 is a Vodafone exclusive until July and is available for £100 plus a £10 Top Up on Pay As You go. Those interested in a contract can pick it up for as little as £15.50 per month via http://tidd.ly/5e26c196.