Huawei IDEOS side profile

Huawei IDEOS side profileHuawei is a name that many consumers in the Australian market won’t recognise. In an entirely unscientific test, I asked a few friends – some nerds, some not – whether they’d heard this name and they just looked at me funny.

However, according to Wikipedia, Huawei – founded in 1988 – is the largest networking and telecommunications provider in China, and is the second largest company in the mobile equipment industry behind Ericsson.

All this should tell you that Huawei knows a thing or two about mobiles. Indeed, Huawei are behind a large number of USB broadband stick devices, and other 3G/wifi gateways – quite apart from the network-side technologies which they have developed.

The IDEOS, however, is not a USB broadband stick, nor an ugly piece of networking equipment. On the contrary – it is a diminutive 3G/HSDPA-capable Android 2.2-powered handset with similar form factor to the HTC Wildfire.

It’s small, easily fits in the hand – and while it might lack some of the polish of a more ‘name-brand’ device, the IDEOS – as you will see below – holds its own, especially considering the bargain-basement price of $159 outright on the Crazy John’s network.

The review unit was supplied by Crazy John’s with a prepaid SIM kit.


  • Bleeding-edge Android 2.2 out of the box
  • WiFi tethering built in
  • Comes with a 1gb micro-SD card in the phone, and a 4gb micro-SD in the retail packaging
  • The price – it’s $159. It’s CHEAP.
  • All things considered, it’s fairly quick… but…


  • … it does only have a 528 MHz CPU – CPU-intensive tasks, such as installing apps, can be slow.
  • The case is a little plasticky – it doesn’t have the nice metal touch of higher end phones – however the casing is solid – it doesn’t creak or rattle, and it feels sturdy.
  • 2.8″ QVGA screen – it’s smaller than the Wildfire.
  • First batch of IDEOS’ released do not have Crazy John’s APNs pre-programmed – consumers will need to insert these themselves – not a difficult task, but not for the novice either.


Usually phones in this price range are bare bones – you know the type, the kind found in post offices for under $100 that may be able to make calls, send or receive text messages, and that’s pretty much it.

Prepare to be surprised.

The IDEOS is quite small in the hand – it’s very similar in form to the Wildfire both in size and weight, and it sits comfortably, and balances well. The screen is well located for use of the on-screen keyboard, and within a matter of seconds, I was typing text messages out at the same speed I can type on a larger-screened device such as a Nexus One.

Like most Android devices, the IDEOS has four touch buttons below the screen, which (fortunately for me) are in the same order as the Nexus One also – back, menu, home and search.  There are a further two hardware buttons below the screen – green and red – which can be used to answer or end calls, and also other functions. From the home screen, green launches the phone app, and red usually functions to take you immediately to the home screen. Between the green and red buttons is a 4-way directional pad (with circular shape just to throw you off) and a clickable centre button. Navigation on the phone is easily accomplished using either on-screen gestures, or the directional pad, or both.

On the left side of the casing is a volume rocker, atop the phone is a power button and a 3.5mm headphone jack, and the bottom of the case has a micro-USB connector.

The most important aspect of a touchscreen phone of this size – if you’ve ever used one – is the screen. If its too small, or the input sensor too fiddly, getting meaningful input into the phone can be very difficult. Those of you familiar with my Wildfire review will recall I panned the screen for being difficult to use with (what I found to be) a high data input error rate.

Unlike the Wildfire, the IDEOS – even with its smaller screen – has a very good, sensitive touch screen, and the on-screen keyboard is a joy to use. Within minutes of picking up the phone I was easily typing at a good rate with minimal errors. In short, I found the keyboard a joy to use.  The keyboard is the default Android on-screen keyboard, as opposed to customised keyboards supplied on phones from other manufacturers. Some people love the Android on-screen keyboard – like me – and some loathe it.  At least on Android, you can replace it if you want!

The camera on the IDEOS is .. well .. let’s face it, you get what you pay for here. It’s a 3.2mp fixed-focus shooter, which means that while it will take photos, you shouldn’t expect miracles. Considering the fixed focus, lack of flash, and the price of the unit, the camera functions well and takes reasonable photos – suitable for uploading to social networking sites, but certainly not ones that I’d be sharing on an even footing with those taken on higher quality camera. I took a few happy snaps of my son last night so you can see how it functions:

As you can see, the photo on the left is relatively clear, however on the right you can see (or assume – correctly) that my son moved and I tried to capture the action shot, but the camera wasn’t up to the task. This is both a function of the fixed focus, and the slight lag of the phone due to slow CPU – the photo captured, and it’s acceptable but it’s hardly a quality image. I’d say the camera is adequate for quick snaps and maybe picture messaging, but certainly not for any serious use.

As for video.. well.. I’d say forget it. The video quality is not great, and I have a feeling the slow CPU leads to a slow frame rate and lots of blur. As you can see from the video below, it’s not a happy experience:



The IDEOS runs Android 2.2 (FroYo) out of the box, and is one of the few phones to do so. Unlike many Android phones in market at the moment, the IDEOS is not customised in any way with addons like HTC Sense, or the Samsung modifications seen on the Galaxy S. Its stock standard Android. For me, this is fabulous – and for the consumer it’s great. Those familiar with Sense, or any other front-end modifications, will know that they invariably slow things down a bit.

With a 528MHz CPU, the IDEOS wouldn’t cope well with the overhead, and this is an area where the Wildfire fell down – while the CPU could easily run Android, adding Sense on top slowed it down – you may recall I noted lag with keyboard input, switching apps, and opening the app drawer. The IDEOS does not suffer this same slowdown.

The downside of this ‘lack’ of front end is that you are stuck with vanilla-flavoured Android. To me this isn’t an issue – I quite enjoy the standard Android fare – however some prefer more gloss. To those people, I say buy the phone that suits your needs. This phone is targeted at the prepaid market, and mindful (again) of the price, you’re getting what you pay for.

The phone doesn’t come with any special pre-loaded applications, unlike offerings from other carriers, so what you’re getting is Android as Google intended. No bloatware that can’t be deleted, no useless apps taking up real estate – just plain, simple, and fast Android.

For those of you into modifying your phones, as far as I can tell at the moment, there’s no way to ‘root’ the IDEOS or install a custom OS. This may change in future, of course.


A section I like to include in all reviews, even if it doesn’t have pride of place at the top of the review, is how a phone performs as a phone – it’s something that’s often forgotten in this era of data-capable devices that can do everything apart from make coffee.

The audio quality and clarity on the IDEOS is surprising – the volume is loud and clear, and thanks to my army of volunteers (i.e. people who I can call and annoy) I can confirm that the call quality was high for me, and the other parties reported good quality also. No echo, no audio artifacts, just a clear audio channel.  The phone performed well both indoors and out.

Other telephony tasks – SMS and MMS – work entirely as expected: they send quickly, and MMS sent to the phone arrive promptly as well, although this is often as much a function of network performance as the phone itself.

In short, the IDEOS performs well as a  phone, and I found myself quietly surprised, again, at the quality of the phone.

Battery life

An important consideration with any smart phone, whether high- or low-end, is how long you can stay away from a power point before your phone dies, and you’re disconnected from the world. A number of you will be familiar with iPhones, or Nexus Ones, or Desires, which generally last a day of ordinary use – that is, take it off the charger at 0600, and you’ll be looking for a charger by nightfall.

I can’t say that I’ve given the IDEOS the same kind of workout I usually give in a review – I simply haven’t had the time. However, from when I received the phone on Tuesday afternoon (it’s now Friday morning) the phone has had one ‘top-up’ charge, and one full charge from flat.. and it has lasted two and a half days. In that time, I’ve made a few calls, send/received a few emails, checked Twitter a few times, and listened to a good deal of streaming and FM radio. It’s now pretty much flat.

However, from this experience, and from usage yesterday, I am confident that the IDEOS would stand up to my normal ‘test’ regime – that is, an hour of streaming radio in the morning, SMS and email throughout the day, a few calls, and web browsing on the way home, with enough charge to comfortably make it to a charger in the evening.

If you are using it less, your longevity will be more, however be mindful of this: it’s a small phone, it has a small battery, and smart phones do like to suck juice. Do not expect to get more than a day’s use out of the phone with moderate to regular use.


The IDEOS. It’s small, it’s relatively powerful, it’s extremely affordable. Compared to a lot of prepaid phones on the market, this phone is a step ahead – it’s priced such that it’s easily affordable, yet it runs the latest version of Android, has features that many prepaids do not have – wifi, GPS, still and video camera, 3G with HSDPA, and (on some models, at least) it’s unlocked.

If you’re a pro- or business- user, I wouldn’t recommend this phone. While text input is usable, and quite accurate, I wouldn’t want to be relying on it extensively. However, for the average consumer who wants to read their emails, maybe type one out every now and again, exchange SMS, and update your Facebook or Twitter profiles, this phone does that and more. It performs admirably as a phone – some prepaid phones have terrible audio quality – and yet combines this basic functionality with all that Android provides – easy extensibility, powerful OS, and a lot of built in features only found in higher-end devices.

Compared to other similar phones – the Wildfire comes to mind – the IDEOS is the better buy. The screen may be slightly smaller, but its many times easier to use, and otherwise it has almost the same features, it’s half the price, and in my opinion, a far better phone.

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I’ve had this phone for exactly 13months & 24 days… of course, the warranty is only 12months! just last week this phone crapped out, and now won’t charge or turn on… have tried a different charger but it’s had it… when I first bought it I thought it was good value, but now, just over 1 year later, its just more useless landfill… I don’t think I’ll buy another cheap (sub AU$200 or AU$300) smartphone – spending that much every year just isn’t fair… and you just know the manufacurers make them to die. In fact, I read the warranty… Read more »


Can this phone read flash aplications


I just bough the Huawei Ideos and I must say everything is working fine:
-Sync with Google Agenda
-McGuider GPS Software

Excellent mobile phone, the only minus is the quality of the house, it feels like plastic big difference with Nokia. The camera is like most of the mobile phones ok, only Nokia is far better then the rest with its camaera.


Hi Banjo

I also got ideos 2 days back and have installed Fring but not happy with it and actually was planning to return the mobile back.

I mainly use fring to make fringout calls. the voice seems to be breaking and i think this is due to the slow processor.

I have been using the Nokia 5800 and it works perfectly fine there. only in Ideos the problem is noted. Now planning to buy LG Optimus One around 330 AUD.

Anybody noted the same issue?



Hi, What is the reception like on this phone, do you get good signal in most areas?


I bought one of these outright and just put my mobile broadband SIM in it – works great as a ‘digital leatherman’ – the GPS navigation even automatically adjusts when you take a different route, and the wireless access point works great

Kevin Njoroge

Hi Chris,

I have a problem installing Adobe Flash Player onto IDEOS.

I have downloaded com.adobe.flashplayer-1.apk onto my SDCard and able to click “install” on ASTRO File Manager. However, I got an error message “Application not installed”.

Do you know what am I missing?

Thank you.


@yeu wen, it doesn’t support flash 10.1. its too slow and it runs on a A7 processor. to run flash it needs a A8 or higher such as snapdragon, OMAP or hummingbird

Yeu Wen

Thanks, KC. Well, it should still allow me to install instead, don’t you think? I thought perhaps you need to install as a root user or something as it cannot be found on market for me. What a shame …


Finally went and bought one today. Haven’t opened it yet.. why must I be so busy with other things?

Gary W

Very handy review, you’ve sold me 🙂 when I can get the Virgin prepaid model from Dick’s.

I’m not fussed about the camera, I wouldn’t expect any phone camera to replace my Canon. Just remember, any camera you have with you is better than any that you don’t.

Luke Smith

I paired mine up to my car stereo last night and used it to navigate home with the newly released Google navigation and it worked a treat navigating, playing M4A over BT and being a hotspot all at the same time.

It gets a bit chunky refreshing the screen at times but the driving directions are always timely.

Kevin Njoroge

Hi Luke,

It looks like you are a Android power user. Can you please tell me how to get Adobe Flash Player 10 onto my IDEOS? I have gone to but only see a static page explaining what the site is for.

Thanks a lot.

Yeu Wen


I totally agree with the review. IDEOS is a nice, cheap and cheery handset. Yes, it is plastic all over and toy-ish looking. But, it’s fun. You’re not looking for HTC Desire here, are you?

Bought it from DSE in Sydney about a week ago to replace my SE x10 mini pro. What a relief to see the unmodified Android 2.2! Compared to SE’s strangely customised Android, it is absolutely a joy to use.

P.S. I’m loving the yellow back cover 🙂


Just bought one form dick smith in knox shopping centre, melbourne. $199 unlocked. Put my 3 sim card in and boom… it worked.
Can’t seem to get the GPS to work. The symbol doesn’t come up in the notification bar and i can’t get my locations in map, any ideas?
This is still a great update from my Android 1.5 HTC Magic.



Thanks for this excellent review.


i was goin to ask how this phone handles games for 2.1+ ie angry birds i dont think it will fair well which is the biggest turn off for me atm as im after a cheap android phone to mess with but also play games on and being a POV uni student this was in my price range, will just keep borrowing the gfs newly made 2.1 optimus 🙂


Dude.. you could buy an optimus on prepaid with vodaphone or optus for $199. That ought to be within your povvo budget (well, it’s within my povvo budget)


This phone had potential to make me regret buying my Optimus GT540, but as it stands I’m happy with what I’ve got.

The IDOES might have a ‘better’ screen and come with Froyo, but my LG has a faster CPU and a larger, higher resolution screen.

If my LG broke today, I probably would get an IDEOS to replace it. Not because I wish I had got one rather than the LG in the first place, but just because I wouldn’t mind trying a different phone 🙂


I agree – I thought the GT540 at $190 unlocked was a good buy until I saw this phone. I’d trade the ability to play Angry Birds for the Wifi tethering capability of 2.2 that the GT540 won’t get…


Would one be able to use the directional pad for playing games and emulators like gameboid? I am particularly keen to use it for emulators since there’s no multitouch. Would that work, or not? Or would the screen resolution be too low anyway?

Button Face

I can’t see why not – despite it’s ring-like appearance, the dpad is quite useful as a 5 way controller. I can’t imagine that many games would be a great deal of fun on such a small screen, though.


That’s great! I’m not getting it primarily for gaming, but the ability to play old game boy games would be nice.. and they’ll go just fine on the small screen.


I went to my local crazy johns (Teat Tree Plaza) and they said they were not getting stock for a few days.


Has anyone here been able to find one of these in Canberra at an Australia Post store?


Just bookmarked this site. Useful information.


They’re great aren’t they? They are pretty balanced as well, except when Buzz is bashing up resistive screens


Is that a real problem though, if they were good like the n900’s or the jets then I would have a problem with bashing. They use REALLY cheap resistive screens and those are the ones to be wary of. That is all buzz is saying.


Good point. And yes, nokia aren’t great with the whole touchscreen thing. They’re great for normal phones though.

Buzz Moody

Sometimes the truth hurts.


n900 screen is actually quite easy to use, thought resistive, i found it capacitive-like.


It would be interesting to see how it stacks up against the Samsung Galaxy 5 which is about the same price and the LG optimus one and Motorola XT5 which are a bit higher priced and slightly better specked.

Luke Smith

I picked up an unlocked unit from DSE. Very happy with it – makes a great wifi router for my laptop and Galaxy S when I’m out and about.

If you want to factory restore it the images are here –

It can be rooted with Super One Click Root –


How did you get it to work Luke, I have win 7 64

Gary W

Good to hear that works as advertised. What plan are you on?


looks amazing i wish id waited 2 weeks i couldve had it


I’ve had my Ideos for about 5 days now and I think this review is spot on. I bought mine outright/unlocked from Dick Smith for $229.

The camera really is awful, but I am not much of a phone camera user so I don’t mind for the price I paid.

I was after a cheaper phone with good bang-for-buck and I couldn’t be happier with my purchase.


The camera is fixed focus. And the photo quality is pretty bad.


“Considering the fixed focus, lack of flash”

I was under the impression that it was auto-focus, and had a flash?

Button Face

Hi Tom – definitely fixed focus, and definitely no flash. Photo quality isn’t great, but it could be worse.

Joseph D Gould

“The IDEOS runs Android 2.2 (FroYo) out of the box, and is one of the few phones (if not the only one) to do so.” You can amend that to be just ‘one of the few’ as the LG Optimus One is Froyo out of the box as well.

Button Face

Thanks spoco2, corrected 😀


Not stock though.