I`ve been getting to this for nearly 5 months, but I’ve finally gotten here. To be fair, this phone came out at the same time my Galaxy Nexus arrived. I attended the launch of the Huawei Vision back in November, which was held at the White Rabbit Gallery in Sydney. The Vision was handed out to attendees and was pre-loaded with an augmented reality app which reacted to various QR Codes placed around the gallery on exhibits, quite a novel approach and really got me to focus on the phone and the main thing that users will be looking at regularly the curved 3.7″ Display.
Huawei have done an excellent job with the LCD screen, they advise that each Vision screen takes up to 17 hours to craft and the curvature actually does give a 3D effect. Huawei has already won the 2012 IF Design Award with this phone and at first look it’s hard not to make the comparison with the Nexus One, the Aluminium uni-body design and similar specs make it instantly an attractive unit to hold. The unit has a slide off cover at the bottom where you can insert your SIM card and a microSD card but apart from that the unit is sealed and there is no way to remove the battery, there is however an option to hard reset the phone by pressing and holding the Power key and Volume up key for 10 seconds.
Huawei have done what myself and a number of other tech reporters have called for and shipped their devices with vanilla Android, what they have then done is offered a pre-installed launcher SPB Launcher in this case, whilst the launcher is present and a novelty to use, my personal preference is to use the untouched Android Gingerbread launcher, although going backwards from Ice Cream Sandwich is a bit of a jarring experience.
Along with the SPB launcher, Huawei has pre-installed some applications and games : Aldiko, Asphalt 6, Blue, Documents to Go, ES File Explorer, Facebook, Hi Space, Layar, Order and Chaos HD, Shazam and also an alternative to the stock Gingerbread keyboard -Touchpal. I’ve only used three Android keyboards previously : Stock Android, Swype and Swiftkey, to date Swiftkey is the keyboard I keep returning to and after using Touchpal for a full week, I finally gave in and just installed Swiftkey X. Touchpal is ok but is not as good, a suggestion to Huawei would be to look into pre-installing Swiftkey X or even their new Beta.
There are no plans for an Ice Cream Sandwich update for this phone but this in my opinion is a good thing, it runs Gingerbread quite well and that is really what everyone in the end is after. As an Android power user I did tend to struggle a few times using Gingerbread after Ice Cream Sandwich but for people entering the smart phone market this is not going to be an issue.
What we like
To start with, I love the design. The phone is overall a joy to hold, it sits easily in the hand and the aluminium chassis has a reassuring weight to it unlike some newer ‘plasticy’ phones, don’t get me wrong, I like some of the newer phones manufactured out of plastic or polycarbonate as they now call it, but the comforting weight of an aluminium chassis can’t be ignored. Also the phone slips easily enough into a pocket and can barely be felt so if you’re conscious of size this phone will suit nicely.
I love the software options provided on the phone, which for a start runs stock Android option when you first turn the phone on, with Huawei bringing out newer and higher specced phones this year I sincerely hope they continue this trend with those phones. They have included a range of basic applications such as Twitter and Facebook, a few games and the alternate keyboard and in doing so they’ve understood what Android is about : Options.
Sounds strange but this phone actually has excellent GPS, I do a fair bit of jogging and I found the Huawei Vision managed to pickup satelites quite quickly as opposed to other phones I’ve used for this purpose. I also found the recorded tracks to be a little more accurate than other phones I’ve used for this purpose.
The phone also has inbuilt ROM which appears when you connect the phone to a PC which then allows you to install Drivers and the HiSuite software which allows you to backup data including contacts, music, photos and . It also allows you to take screenshots of the phone which is a way of getting this functionality without resorting to getting root access on the phone.
What can be improved
The screen whilst nice to look at, also tends to sometimes miss touches and swipes particularly when using the keyboard and I found this to be the case after trying several different keyboards and getting the same issue, it also occurred when playing games and navigating around the Operating System and different applications so perhaps a little more tuning on the touch sensitivity of the screen may help.
The phone which seemed to be excellent with GPS tended to be a little flaky with Wi-Fi, I had issues with it even finding Wi-Fi networks both at home and out and about, the other issue I had was the phone did not seem to pick up a particularly strong Wi-Fi signal even when situated right next to the router. The other issue with Wi-Fi was the tethering option, I find tethering drains the battery quickly so I tend to plug phones in to charge whilst tethering, this seemed to overheat the phone after an hour of tethering. In terms of data speeds the phone supports HSDPA 14.4 Mbps, HSUPA 5.76 Mbps so I was surprised to find that the speeds I received on this phone seemed to drag, so I wasn`t overly impressed with the 3G data capacity of the phone.
The other major thing I feel should either be replaced or worked upon is the speed of the camera, it seemed to take an inordinately long time for the camera to focus and take a shot, perhaps I’m being over critical after using the instant shot of the Galaxy Nexus on ICS for too long but I found the shots to be somewhat lacking in speed, although the shots appear to be quite Ok.
Software wise I found a lag when switching between applications, the stock launcher runs well however SPB Launcher tends to devolve into a weird mish mash of all sorts of different parts of Touchwiz/Sense/MotoBlur style animations and settings, so I highly recommend sticking to the Stock Android launcher. The phone does come with 512MB of RAM but this seems to be not enough as the phone sometimes halted when either launching or switching back and forth between apps. I also found on one instance, attempting to use PhotoGrid that the phone just simply did not have enough memory to do what the app was made for, wether that was just bad software design or the phone I’m not sure.
Audio was an issue in terms of volume as well, I found that I had to install Volume+ just to be able to hear podcasts whilst jogging. An upgrade to some high-end earphones alleviated this issue somewhat but I did find that compared to other phones I’ve used that the volume was just very low. Audio clarity on the other hand was fine, nothing to rave about but clear enough once loud enough to be heard.
Niggles that aren’t major but that I encountered and feel potential purchasers should be aware of, if you remove the back cover with the phone turned on, the phone automatically shuts down. The phone has a sound that plays on the boot animation every time the phone boots, I did have a random reboot or 3 during the two weeks I used the phone. The charger also emits a hum or buzz whilst charging the phone, not terribly loud but noticeable if you happen to be standing next to it.
There were 2 things with regards to hardware design that I feel should be mentioned, the headphone jack and the power button which are located on top of the device, this is purely a personal preference thing. I prefer the headphone jack to be located at the bottom of the phone due to it slipping in and out of a pocket more naturally with headphones attached. The power button I find to be in a more natural position on the right hand side of the unit, again both of these things are a personal preference not something bad.
Battery life seemed to me to be quite short, but as someone who uses their phone constantly this is more an indication of my usage patterns, I got around half a day of usage out of the phone, but that was using Twitter constantly, background syncing two Gmail accounts, playing podcasts during exercise and also excessive surfing of the web and watching YouTube videos.
- Android 2.3.5 – Gingerbread
- 1GHz Single Core Snapdragon CPU
- 3.7″ 480 x 800 LCD Display
- 118×59.9×9.9 mm
- 121 Grams
- 5MP Rear Camera with VGA Front Facing Camera
- 2GB ROM with microSD Card Slot
- HSDPA 900/2100
- Aluminium Unibody Chasis
ConclusionDo I like the phone, Yes. Whilst it is considered a low-end device and from the looks of the What Can Be Improved section it appears I’ve given it a flogging, the Huawei vision is still quite functional enough for day to day use for people looking to enter the smart phone market, for a power user I would recommend you outlay some more money for a more highly spec’d phone, the build quality is excellent and it does come with a stock Android experience which I find personally to be excellent.
The Huawei Vison was launched exclusively with Allphones who were initially selling it for $279 outright but in their latest catalogue they have it for $238 outright but you also can get it on an Optus contract for $0 on a $19 a month plan. If you really are after a sleek handset then this phone in the lower end of the market, then this phone would definitely be one of the ones to consider.