An Android smartphone for just £100
Most smartphones are expensive with prices easily reaching hundreds of pounds, even when bought on contract, but the Huawei Ascend G300 shows that this doesn't have to be the case.
Currently available exclusively from Vodafone, this smartphone runs the Google Android 2.3 ‘Gingerbread' operating system and has a surprisingly modern specification, but costs just £100 up-front on a pay as you go (PAYG) tariff.
Despite its low price, the Ascend G300 is a good looking smartphone. The two-tone white and silver finish may not be to everyone's taste, but the all-plastic case still feels solid and sturdy. It's not the thinnest or lightest Android smartphone we've reviewed either, but that's really being picky, since it's only 10.5mm thick and weighs just 140g.
The Ascend G300 is also easy to use with one hand, since it bucks the big-screen trend set by the current crop of premium Android smartphones by sticking with a 4in display. This is nonetheless more than adequate for a smartphone and while its 480x800 pixel resolution is lower than those of premium Android phones, the screen is still crisp, clear and bright.
We've criticised other budget smartphones for being slow and lacking internal storage for apps, but we can't level the same accusations at the Ascend G300. Its single-core 1GHz processor may not match the dual-core and quad-core chips used in more expensive phones, but it's fast enough in its own right.
The Ascend G300 was reasonably fast in a benchmark that measures web browser performance, for example, and both the web browser and the general Android interface feel smooth and responsive. It isn't quite as responsive as a more expensive dual-core smartphone, but it's far smoother than other budget Android handsets. It does become noticeably more sluggish when downloading apps in the background, particularly when typing, but then so do many other single-core Android smartphones.
The Ascend G300's 675MB of internal app storage is bigger than that of other budget smartphones, but its capacity is further enhanced by an additional 2GB of onboard storage that's separate from any microSD cards you choose to plug in. Downloaded apps are automatically installed to this extra storage space too, taking much of the headache out of app management which otherwise blights Android 2.3 Gingerbread.
Huawei has promised an upgrade to Android 4 Ice Cream Sandwich for the Ascend G300 later this year. Normally we would criticise an Android smartphone for not including the latest version of the operating system, especially a version as polished and refined as Ice Cream Sandwich, but it's something we can forgive in a budget handset this cheap.
One area where the Ascend G300 fares badly is with its camera. The autofocus works well and its five-megapixel snaps are clear and detailed when taken in good light, but quality drops off rapidly in less-than-perfect lighting. The flash doesn't automatically trigger until light levels are very low, and while it does a good job of illuminating subjects, the four seconds of shutter lag it introduces makes it a chore to use. Battery life is a saving grace though – the Ascend G300 lasted for 10 hours in our video playback test with flight mode enabled and the screen at 50% brightness.
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The camera could be better, but that's our only complaint about the Huawei Ascend G300. It's a good option for anyone who wants a low-cost Android smartphone
Good specification; well-made; bargain price
Camera is poor in low light
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