Huawei Y300 expert review
Huawei isn’t a particularly well known brand here in the UK but it may just be about to make a huge impact on the market with its new smartphone, the Ascend Y300. Combining a sturdy design with great hardware and software, the Y300 is the ideal device for anyone who is looking for their first smartphone. Agent Dale Collins has managed to get his hands on one, let’s see how it holds up!
- Low Price Point
- Sturdy Design
- Great screen for the price
- Lack of software special features
- Low screen resolution
Upon picking up the Ascend Y300 I was immediately impressed - it felt strong and durable, rare qualities in a smartphone found in this price range. Straight off the bat I am impressed. The Y300 also has some rather unique features that set it apart in this market such as:
- Scratch-resistant glass screen
- Perfect weight
- Sturdy polycarbonate casing
- Micro USB port on the left side
In my opinion Huawei has taken some key features from its competitors and crafted them within its own budget. Certainly not a bad formula for creating a great device. The overall size of the Ascend Y300 is ideal to fit in your hand or pockets, coming in at 124.5mm x 63.8mm, with a thickness of only 11.2mm. The polycarbonate casing provides a premium, strong feel and means the device weighs in at 130 grams, which I think sets it apart from others.
The glass on the front is smooth with a nice scratch resistant coating which leaves me feeling safe that the Ascend Y300 won’t be easily damaged when co-habiting my pocket with a bunch of keys, coins and other gadgetry. Personally, I feel adding the Micro USB port to the top left side of the device is a bad move because it makes it a lot harder to use in a car for navigation and also makes it extremely uncomfortable to hold whilst it’s plugged in to charge, although these are relatively minor issues that won’t affect most people. Underneath the plastic back cover I was pleased to see a microSD slot, capable of taking up to a 32GB microSD card and removable battery. Overall I’m impressed with the build quality of the Huawei Ascend Y300 and am excited to see how it will hold up to some software testing.
Processor and Memory
The hardware found in the Ascend Y300 is rather impressive for a budget handset and I’m certainly not concerned about the power that this phone offers. It should easily live up to any task that you throw at it. The tough polycarbonate shell houses:
- 1GHz Dual-Core processor
- 512MB RAM
- 4GB Internal Memory
When powering on the Y300 I was really impressed by just how fast it booted up, I ran through the initial set up and was promptly greeted by the home screen. The power of the dual-core processor was already starting to work its magic right before my eyes. Flicking through the various home screens was swift and responsive and apps loaded up in an appropriately snappy manner. Only after trying to run nearly every app that comes preloaded on the Y300 simultaneously did I start to experience any kind of slow down. This was easily sorted by closing all apps through the task manager. One downside to the Y300 is that it only comes with 4GB of internal storage and doesn’t allow storage of any photos, meaning you have to put an microSD card into it. This is a bit of an oversight by Huawei and might cause a few people issues out of the box, it’s nothing a 2GB microSD card can’t put right though. I’m still extremely impressed with what the Y300 has to offer.
The Ascend Y300 comes with a very respectable 1730 mAh battery giving around 6 hours of heavy use or charging once a day with medium use. I found the in-built power saving feature helped improve the battery life considerably, which turns off your Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and operating system animations when enabled. It also lowers your screen time out to 15 seconds, sets your brightness to its lowest level and switches off background data. Quite a nice range of power saving tips and tricks to have at the tap of a button.
The Y300 caught me by surprise a little bit here I have to say. Audio on budget devices can be extremely hit and miss but through both the loud speaker and using headphones I was quite impressed with the sound quality. The loud speaker provided crisp audio while not over powering the speaker and causing distortion. Using headphones I found the audio could become tinny at times and have a bit too much bass at others but this was only when I had the device on full volume which I do not recommend doing for your hearing’s sake. As with most phones these days the headphones supplied are OK but our tip for any mobile device would be to buddy it up with a decent pair of in-ear headphones as they do a lot to boost sound quality. It’s amazing how good a cheaper device can sound running through a quality pair of cans.
The camera on the Y300 is actually quite impressive, offering a respectable set of specs:
- 5 mega-pixel rear camera
- LED Flash
- 480p Video
- VGA front camera
The 5 mega-pixel rear facing camera on the Y300 provided clean and crisp photos that showed good detail, although it struggled when trying to focus on certain subjects in our tests and the LED flash helped to counter any issues when taking photos in low light conditions. Video quality was a very good performer and managed to keep up with the majority of movement. The VGA front facing camera also provided clear quality for video calls through Skype which is all I can really see this being used for regularly.
The Y300 does have a high quality display for a device of its price, the highlights of which are:
- 4-inch LCD screen
- 480 x 800 resolution
- 233 ppi (pixels per inch)
- 5 finger multi touch
The 4-inch LCD display provides a great viewing experience with amazing clarity due to the 480 x 800 resolution, although I feel it could be slightly better with colours lacking a little depth at times. The clarity of the screen allows you to have Androids standard of four app shortcuts on screen at any time. The most impressive part is the 233 ppi (Pixels per inch), this means that content displayed on the screen have the highest possible quality. This high pixel density makes games and modern, stylish apps like Flipboard look particularly swish.
The Y300 comes preloaded with Android version 4.1 (Jelly Bean) and resembles the stock version of Android that we see on the Nexus 4, although slightly modified to fit Huawei’s standards and incorporating its own little touches such as:
- Removal of the App Drawer
- Power Saving
- Notification panel shortcuts
- Backup options
The removal of the app drawer, or main apps list as some know it, is something I am rather sceptical about and would like to see returned in future updates. The main reason for me is the amount of battery this could use up. I have found having dozens of home screens full of apps and widgets causes my battery to die faster, so I see this being a potential problem. However, the ability to uninstall an app from the home screen by simply pressing and holding it is a really nice feature. Huawei has compensated for the removal of the app drawer by adding cool animations when flicking between screens, kind of like turning the page on a book. You can easily choose your favourite of the nine options by pressing and holding on the home screen.
Power Saving is always something I look for in a smartphone as I love to get the most out of my battery. The power saving option on the Y300 is slightly different to other devices and I find it should only be used when your battery is starting to get low and your only need is to make phone calls as it disables your mobile data, background data, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and even drops the brightness of your screen. Unfortunately you have no flexibility in changing the features you wish to disable, meaning you are stuck with one generic set of features to switch off. I have seen that this does make a significant difference in the expected battery life when activated, meaning it serves its purpose well.
Being able to quickly and efficiently switch on items such as your WiFi is quite important; the addition of the customisable notifications bar is definitely useful. You have the flexibility of adding and removing a certain set of shortcuts, which include:
- Mobile Data
- Auto Screen Rotate
- Silent Mode
You also have a host of other shortcuts too. This is something we have seen previously with Android devices, but usually they lack the customisation side of things, which for me makes this a winner.
Huawei has added their backup application, which makes backing up all your content extremely simple and easy to do, in fact it is done with the push of a button. The backup app allows you to back up a host of features including:
- Text Messages
- Call Logs
- System Settings
- Custom alarm settings
- Email accounts
and a whole lot more. All of this content is backed up to your microSD card, meaning you are able to recover it if something goes wrong just by putting your microSD card back in your Y300. I found the only issue is that you are unable to set a timer for backups meaning you have to manually do it every time, which I recommend you do at least once a week. An automated feature here would be a great addition to the Huawei software arsenal in future updates.
Who is this phone for?
The Y300 is a sleek, sturdy and relatively powerful smartphone aimed at people who may have previously had a smartphone and are looking to move to the next level or even someone who is purchasing their first smartphone. The features packed into the Y300 make this phone an ideal device for children as it allows for incredible entertainment through the Google Play Store and won’t be easily damaged. It’s not a phone that is crammed with additional content but it does offer some interesting twists on Android favourites like the home screen and power saving setup to keep things interesting.
I found the Y300 to be a cracking little smartphone that is powerful yet remains neat and tidy. The combination of the 5 mega-pixel camera and the standout 4-inch LCD screen make for the ideal phone for quick and easy snaps no matter what the lighting conditions are. Huawei’s take on Android is an interesting one and while the removal of the traditional apps list is a strange one at first, it doesn’t take long to get used to. Rumoured to be coming in at around the £69 mark on a pre-pay basis, it’s well worth considering for the excellent screen and media playback functionality alone!