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Huawei Ascend W1 review

Who's ready for a cheap Windows Phone 8 thrill?

Our Verdict

You're not going to buy the Huawei Ascend W1 for power, you're going to buy it for practicality and value for money. When you consider the Huawei Ascend W1 will set you back just £120 it's difficult to fault, as you're getting a pretty good deal.

Product features

  • Built-in Memory : 4 GB
  • Rear Camera Resolution : 5 Megapixel
  • Battery Talk Time : 10.50 Hour
  • Screen Resolution : 800 x 480
  • Processor Core : Dual-core (2 Core)

View full specification

For

  • Cheap
  • Great battery life
  • MicroSD slot

Against

  • Average camera
  • Slow web browsing
  • No sat nav out of box

After more leaks than a wicker canoe, the Huawei Ascend W1 was finally unveiled at CES 2013 as the Chinese firm's first Windows Phone 8 smartphone.

Aimed at the bottom end of the market, the Ascend W1 doesn't sport the premium polycarbonate unibody of the Nokia Lumia 920 or the sultry design of the HTC 8X, as it looks instead to rub shoulders with the Lumia 520 and various Android handsets such as the Ascend G330, Orange San Diego and ZTE Blade 3.

With its rivals in mind you won't be surprised when we tell you the Ascend W1 will set you back £119.99 on PAYG, or £13.50 per month on contract.

Huawei Ascend W1 review

O2 currently has an exclusive deal to range the handset, although we're told Huawei is in talks with other carriers about selling the W1.

You can pick the Ascend W1 up in a fetching shade of Electric Blue or Electric Pink. It also comes in black (as our review model did) and white, but it's not clear if the dark hue will be making its way to shop floors.

Huawei Ascend W1 review

The first thing you'll notice is instead of the glass fitting snugly into the body of the phone, on the Ascend W1 there's a noticeable ridge running all the way around the handset, giving the impression that it's just been slapped on top - reminiscent of the HTC One V.

There's a noticeable lip below the screen where the coloured plastic rear protrudes slightly, and it's not a look we're particularly keen on - although it does give you a flash of blue or pink from front on if you've chosen one of those colour options.

Huawei Ascend W1 review

The Ascend W1 does feel a bit bezel-heavy especially below the display, with the three navigation keys housed in a sea of black coupled with the chassis peeking out below.

This adds extra length to the W1, but it's not too much hassle in terms of the size as the W1 measures a manageable 124.5 x 63.7mm.

Huawei Ascend W1 review

At 120g the Ascend W1 is a good weight for a 4-inch smartphone, and while the handset measures 10.1mm in depth, the slightly curved polycarbonate back rests nicely in the hand and provides some grip.

The all-plastic construction is hardly a surprise considering the price, but the Ascend W1 does at least feel sturdy and capable of taking a few knocks.

Huawei Ascend W1 review

There's an easy to reach power/lock key on the top of the handset, sitting alongside a headphone jack, while on the left there's an equally well positioned volume rocker switch.

On the right you'll find a dedicated camera key towards the base of the W1 - a requirement for any handset running the Windows Phone platform.

Huawei Ascend W1 review

The microUSB slot on the bottom of the device is aligned to the right side instead of the traditional middle and while this makes absolutely no difference when it comes to using the Ascend W1, it did get us wondering why Huawei had positioned it to one side. Answers on a postcard, please.

Nip round the back and you can expect a dose of deja vu, as the design of the 5MP camera lens and single LED flash is almost identical to that of the HTC One X.

Huawei Ascend W1 review

Towards the bottom of the Ascend W1 there's the Windows Phone logo sitting above an elongated speaker grill, which we found kicked out a decent volume - although audio quality wasn't the greatest.

A bonus here is the fact you can peel off the rear cover of the W1 to gain access to the 1,950mAh removable battery as well as the microSIM and microSD ports.

Slightly frustratingly, you need to remove the battery to access both of these slots, so you won't be able to quickly swap SD cards as you please.

Tech Specs

Product TypeSmartphone
Network BandQuad Band
Input MethodTouchscreen
TouchscreenYes
BluetoothYes
Wireless LANYes
USBYes
Contract TypeSIM-free
Maximum Memory Card Size Supported32 GB
Built-in Memory4 GB
Built-in FlashYes
Memory Card SlotYes
Cellular Data Connectivity TechnologyEDGE, GPRS, HSDPA, HSUPA, UMTS
GPS ReceiverYes
Multi-SIM SupportedNo
Near Field CommunicationNo
Integrated TV TunerNo
Product FamilyAscend W1
Cellular Generation3G
Cellular Network SupportedGSM 850, GSM 900, GSM 1800, GSM 1900, WCDMA 900, WCDMA 2100
Multi-touch ScreenYes
Rear Camera Resolution5 Megapixel
Number of SIM Card Supported1
Front CameraYes
Memory Card SupportedmicroSD
Phone StyleBar
ColourBlue
Operating SystemWindows Mobile
Brand NameHuawei
Battery Talk Time10.50 Hour
Screen Size10.2 cm (4")
Screen Resolution800 x 480
Touchscreen TypeCapacitive
Weight (Approximate)130 g
Processor CoreDual-core (2 Core)
Maximum Video Resolution1280 x 720
Processor ManufacturerQualcomm
Wireless LAN StandardIEEE 802.11b/g/n
Bluetooth StandardBluetooth 2.1
Operating System VersionWindows Phone 8
Messaging TypeSMS (Short Message Service), MMS (Multi-media Messaging Service), Email
USB StandardUSB 2.0
Pixel Density233 ppi
Front Camera Resolution300 Kilopixel
Height124.5 mm
Width63.5 mm
Depth10.2 mm
Radio TunerNo
Battery Standby Time470 Hour
ManufacturerHuawei Technologies Co., Ltd
Product NameAscend W1 Smartphone
Processor Speed1.20 GHz
Processor TypeSnapdragon S4
Product LineAscend W1
Screen TypeLCD
Sensor TypeAccelerometer, Proximity Sensor
Manufacturer Part Number51054944
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.huawei.com
Marketing Information

Long and Lasting

The Huawei Ascend W1 was designed to outlast and outperform. Our 4-inch screen benefits from our unique power saving technology that saves 30% power consumption. A high capacity 1950mAh battery keeps you charged up through days of staying in touch, staying informed, and staying entertained.

Power from within

Breath-taking speed from Qualcomm's Krait structured MSM823 dual core CPU with 1.2GHz achievable frequency; Jaw-dropping graphics with built-in Adreno 305 graphics processor, with 400MHz achievable frequency; download speed up to HSPA+ 21Mbps. Thanks to the 28nm processor, you'll enjoy videos and gaming at their best. All the fun and convenience of Windows Phone 8 comes together here, at an outstanding price too.