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Thursday, March 7, 2013

Hands-on review: MWC 2013: Huawei Ascend G510

The Huawei Ascend G510 is promising a big screen experience at a low price point as the Chinese firm looks to tie up the bottom end of the smartphone market with an onslaught of new devices.

Playing big brother to the Ascend Y300, which shares the same design ethos, the Ascend G510 will sport a surprisingly attractive price. A Huawei spokesperson told TechRadar they expect the handset to go on sale for about £130 (around $200/AU$190).

The Huawei Ascend G510 release date is pegged for April/May this year, and we'd expect it to arrive in markets around the world.

It's an unassuming handset that sports the classic black slab look of many smartphones these days, with a sturdy plastic body hugging the glass-covered front of the handset.

The edges are slightly rounded, which enables the 134 x 67 x 9.9mm (5.3 x 2.6 x 0.4 inch) frame to sit pretty well in the palm, and the textured back cover adds a useful amount of grip so that we never feared dropping the Ascend G510.

The G510 comes in white as well as black, and the rear of the phone has a gloss finish, making it a little trickier to grip.

Something that did throw us, though, was the placement of the power/lock, which is usually found on the right side or on top of a handset.

Instead the button is located above the volume rocker on the left side of the Ascend G510, which meant we had to perform an unfamiliar finger movement to unlock the phone.

We're pretty sure it's something we'd get used to if we used the phone for a few days, but for the first few attempts it just feels weird.

That "big screen experience" that we mentioned at the start is provided by a 4.5-inch FWVGA IPS display.

It's pretty bright, Android Jelly Bean looks clear and for a handset with such a potentially low price the Ascend G510 is well equipped in this department.

As with the Y300, Huawei has stuck its premium Emotion UI overlay on, which features on the flagship Ascend P2.

This user interface does away with the app list altogether, providing you with only the home screens to manage your apps from, in a bid to make Android an easier platform for first time users.

Luckily you can easily create folders by dragging and dropping one app onto another, which means you won't have to use all nine home screens and waste time skipping between them to find what you want.

There's also a range of themes to choose from that change the icon style, wallpaper, font and colour scheme to give a look that suits you.

Adding to the personalisation options even more, Huawei has added a master widget that enables you to pop several widgets of varying sizes into one larger container - a design that reminds us slightly of Live tiles on Windows Phone 8.

Huawei has thrown a 1.2GHz dual-core processor into the Ascend G510 that doesn't have any trouble running Jelly Bean, but it doesn't have the same zip as the more powerful smartphones on the market.

When we flipped the Ascend G510 over to inspect the rear we got a bit of deja vu, since the design of the camera is very similar to the HTC One X.

So similar in fact, we couldn't help but put the two side by side for a camera design showdown. The winner? That's for you to decide.

The camera itself is a 5MP offering, plus there's a single LED flash to help you out in low light.

Launching the camera app was a quick affair, and shutter speed on the Ascend G510 was also pretty decent.

There's no HDR mode, but you can snap a panorama photo with the Ascend G510, plus you have a choice of a range of effects you can apply to your snaps.

Slightly disappointingly, the G510 is only capable of shooting VGA quality video. This lets the handset down a bit, since we're becoming used to seeing even lower end models offering up 720p recording.

Huawei has also popped a front-facing 0.3MP camera on the Ascend G510 if you fancy grabbing a mug shot or Skyping a loved one.

Another small downer is the 4GB of internal storage, of which only around 2GB is actually available to use, but there is a microSD slot that enables you to expand this, thankfully.

The Chinese firm hasn't stuck with the stock Android keyboard on the Ascend G510, instead opting to employ its own version. This is perfectly serviceable but we'd prefer a third party option such as SwiftKey if we were going to be doing some serious typing.

There's a reasonably sized 1,700mAh battery housed inside the Huawei Ascend G510, but the larger screen and bumped up processor may result in a mediocre life - we'll have to wait until our full review to see how it actually fares.

If it sticks with its attractively low price point, the Huawei Ascend G510 could be a winner at the budget end of the market, offering up a screen that's larger than most in its bracket.

The Emotion UI overlay may not be to everyone's taste, but we can see it helping those who are new to Android and to smartphones in general, and we're looking forward to getting the Ascend G510 in for a full review.

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