Huawei Ascend G300 – A solid and likeable phone


The Huawei G300 is marketed as a mid-tier Android in the local market, though outside in the European markets this is pitched slightly lower to make it compete better. The phone features a design that makes it look like a Google Nexus in design, but feel like an 2011 HTC with its cool metal exterior, the HTC effect is further enhanced by its super IPS LCD screen.

Hardware

The G300 like the Y200 reviewed and tested earlier features an energy efficient A5 Cortex (from Qualcomm) processor, paired to an Adreno 200 graphics GPU. However unlike the Y200 the G300 features a higher 1Ghz clock speed, and also has 512MB RAM, making it perform far more snappy.

Screen and Display

One of the most eye catching aspects of the G300 is the IPS LCD screen, that has an HTC feel in the flat and sharp effect. The screen has a perfect 4″ size, with 800×480 pixels. The display quality is definitely very good as it performs well indoors and outdoors.

The screen is not protected by a Gorilla glass layer, but Huawei seems to have its own supplier for a similar implementation, as over 3 months of use without any screen protector has shown no scratches even though the phone has shared the pocket with keys many a times.

The display touch responsiveness is smooth and solid, though the touch type buttons at the bottom tend to require a second tap in some cases to work.

External design and build

The phone has a HTC / Google Nexus feel with its metal + plastic body and simple design. While it may not win any awards for the external design, the design has a very good hand feel, and the weight balance is superb. The quality of the materials are definitely good, as they have taken ware and tear extremely well.

Interface and software

The G300 shares the same approach like the Honor and Y200 tested, that it has minimal customization. It would have been great if Huawei had partnered with custom launcher such as Halo, Nemus which are lightweight but offer mode cooler interfaces that mimic newer Android builds, and yet consume very little resources.

I used the version of the phone running gingerbread, and for some reason Huawei only released the ICS build on this phone for the Vodafone version, and the international version was not provided the updated. Surprisingly the newer phones in the market now have ICS running. I feel Huawei may have changed the internal hardware of the newer phones to ensure it ran ICS well. This maybe a good move, as based on my experiences with Sony who were one of the few to release ICS on 2011 phones with only 512MB memory, the problems were close to horrific for many.

However I am sure many buyers who brought the G300 early on will feel they were let down, and Huawei should see how they provide the ICS build for these customers, since the Vodafone version with the same hardware was provided an ICS build.

ICS would bring the far more attractive interface, and also improve the app support which is now starting to focus more for ICS and JellyBean as the phones move away from Gingerbread in 2012-13. The biggest advantage being the improved browsing experience, and the ability to run Chrome.

Camera and multimedia

The G300 features an 5MP camera with auto focus and LED flash light. The camera implementation is very close to stock Gingerbread, and though it is decent, having the CameraFX app to boost your camera capabilities is recommended.

One the still and video aspects, the camera performs decently under good light, but under poor light the capabilities are average at best. The video is passable but is limited to 640×480 VGA, with no HD capability.

The stock video player has limited codec support as is the case with most phones other than Samsung, and the best app I have found in the market has been MX Player that allows this phone to play most formats upto 720p. I have tried playing many formats including MKV, FLV, Xvid, Divx, and they played smoothly.

However one area that the G300 falls against the competition is the omission of the front camera. For many the smartphone has replaced the key reason to have a PC which has been Skype for video and voice calls. Now with power of Android the user base has even more options with Viber being a key competitor to Skype. The lack of a front facing camera on the G300 might deter a fair percentage of buyers, since most of the competitors feature a front camera as standard.

Storage and expansion

The G300 has 4GB of internal storage that should be sufficient since this is unlikely to be capable of running high end mobile games. However if you want to store music, video and photos, you will definitely make use of the available micro SD slot that is capable of taking a card upto 32GB.

Call quality, signal strength and battery

Huawei seems to have mastered the call quality and signal strength, as the G300 like its Y200 and Honor models, excelled is on the signal strength and call quality. The phone has very good connectivity and outdid the Sony phones we have used as it never dropped a call. The powerful speakers means the loud speaker performance is also good.

The phone battery was able to provided 2+ days of use with occasional internet and wifi use, and video watching in addition to calls. If used only for calls and with no internet usage the phone can take last 3+ days or more depending on the screen usage.

Desktop Software

Huawei provides its highly capable HiSuite application that provides backup capabilities, file transfers, software upgrades, etc. The software has improved a bit in recent times, but still the interface is badly in need of modernization, as the overall capabilities are far superior to more better known brands!

Connectivity and Networks and value adds

The phone comes with the standard Micro USB that doubles as the charger and connectivity port. The phone does support mass storage mode, which is useful.

The phone also features an FM Radio (with RDS) that is a very wanted feature in Asia!

Performance

The phone is capable of being very fluid due to its minimal customization for day to day telephony related work. The graphics capability is also on par with most phones in the market the G300 competes, and should be able to play most standard games with an acceptable frame rate.

In the area of web browsing the phone starts to show its age, compared to the dual and quad-core phones, though a normal user can avoid this buy using Opera for daily browsing, or Boat Browser.

A few popular benchmarks, the Quadrant in particular is higher than similar configured Sony phones due to the far faster internal storage on the G300 (Sony phones have very little storage, and hence the tests are run on the microSD card) and G300 seemingly having 1.5X the 2D performance of the Sony Neo.

However strangely the higher performances noted on Quadrant on not shown on GeekBench and Antutu which tests the memory and storage. Antutu did confirm the better storage performance, but the 2D performance advantage was not evident on this test, and with the new Antutu 2D test the performance seems to be lower.

One place that Sony has gained a solid reputation is on their browser optimization that is considered among the best on leveraging average hardware, and the Vellamo HTML5 test shows that where the Neo trounces the near identical spec G300 by a clear margin.

Huawei Ascend G300 1Ghz, Adreno 200, Gingerbread Sony Neo MT15 1Ghz, Adreno 205, Gingerbread
Quadrant 2061 1144
GeekBench 2.0 529 545
Antutu 2.9.x 3200 3050
Antutu 3.0.x 3802 4681
Nenamark 2.x 19.5 fps 14.1 fps
Vellamo 2.x HTML5 644 993

Conclusion

When I initially got the phone for testing, the pricing of the phone was more closer to Galaxy S2 than the mid range phones, but the phone has now been discounted and is extremely well priced that it under cuts the far less capable phones such as the Samsung Galaxy Ace in every department including screen size, processing, screen quality, etc.

Featuring identical hardware to the HTC One V, Sony Xperia J (aka what I call a re-bodies Sony Arc with cut down multimedia capabilities), etc the Huawei currently has to fight the competition on price, since outside China its still building its brand, though in its home country its already well and truly made its mark. While the recent Sony dual-core NovaThor range such as the Sola, Xperia U may offer better performances, all of them feature small screens and lower capacity batteries, and also have the troublesome Sony ICS build, that makes them not true competitors for the G300.

The Huawei G300 has a superb screen and great battery life and call quality that makes it a super buy for a person wanting a day to day Droid, and want to avoid using the unbranded Chinese phones whose software and hardware will not have the same reliability. The phone may not have a stunning design, but its rugged design and pricing counters that.

UPDATE: Huawei has started to replace the G300 with the G330 which features a dual-core processor, etc, but this model has not yet arrived in our markets as yet.

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Things to consider when buying an USED phone


With the luxury of provider subscribed phones being a rarity in markets like Sri Lanka, many power users will opt to purchase used phones due to the hefty pricing for brand new phones by the official suppliers and even by smaller retailers.

However buying used phones, the buyer carries a few more risks mainly,

  1. The phone could be stolen phone
  2. The phone could be a locked phone
  3. The phone could have some serious technical or software problem
  4. The phone may not be what it supposed to be!
  5. The phone can be a fake

However some of these may also apply for new phones!, since smaller retailers who sell “NEW” phones are well known for selling used phones which have “repackaged” to look new.  Hence the only way once can be truly safe is to buy new, but seriously take this example,

New price of a Galaxy S3 is 95K, and yet in one year the phone can only be resold for around 50,000 at best.  You can buy a near new used S3 for around 55-60K right now, and you can still use and enjoy all the goodies and only loose out on 10K, that to me makes a lot more sense.

So how you prepare yourself to ensure you can minimize the danger of buying a lemon when buying an used phone.

Here are some best practices that may apply, if you have any more please comment 🙂

Only buy a phone that is COMPLETE and includes the original box

  1. Never buy a phone if the phone does not have the original box.  The IMEI no of the phone and the IMEI no in the box must match.
  2. Make sure the model no in the box and the phone match
  3. Make sure the color indicated in the box and the color of the phone match

If the phone does not have a box, the possibility of the phone being a stolen phone is very high.  With the growing collaboration between telcos of blacklisting stolen phones, and telcos hungry to sell phones to clients than have them use cheaper used phones, getting such a phone may only be useful as having a music player if its blacklisted.

The problem more than the black listed is if the phone had been stolen and reported to the police.  The police now can easily work with telco to track the phone when it gets used, and by law regardless of the paperwork you have, you the buyer will be deprived of the phone (= your money), and spend time at the cop house, along with other issues.

So if a guy says he brought it without a box to avoid taxes, etc, you have to decide if the price reduction is worth the risk. Also note that if you buy an incomplete phone (with no box) , selling it later can also be a problem, so my best advice, avoid buying without the box.

If the phone has a different color, or model no, it means it either has been repaired, customized or running a custom firmware, all danger signs.

Avoid buying phones which have the logos of big telcos on the phone or start up screen

In most countries such as US, Europe, Australia, Singapore, Korea, etc phones are part of the package, so you don’t pay for the phone much but you get “lured’” into it buy paying sizeable monthly charges for call and data use. However the problem is that these phones provided are locked to a telco (e.g. AT&T, Sprint, etc), and if you put another SIM this phone will not work.

Ingenious sellers and even small retailers work around this buy replacing the firmware of these phones with global/international versions which in many cases make these phones unlocked.

HOWEVER there are situations where when you run an update, the update service of the phone manufacturer detects your IMEI and updates it with the new correct firmware, effectively locking your phone once again.

Apple users in particular have to be vary of locked phones, as many sellers will sell phones with different approaches that make the phone work now, but the very next update will lock the phone.

Do some research and see what firmware versions come on the phone

With phone manufacturers specially for Android not wanting to upgrade phones to the latest Android versions mainly to make you buy a new phone, rather than because your current phone hardware is incapable of running the new versions, the customized ROM/firmware market has become big business.  XDAdeveloper, CyanogenMod are popular places for such ROMs.

However these custom ROMs may work out well for many techie users, but for the normal smartphone users, the quirks and dangerous of using a custom ROM has its complications.  Custom ROMs also have a tendency to make your phone go faster by speeding up the processor and graphics more than the standard (called overclocking), or by using tweaked software, the side effect of this is that the phone can be running a lot hotter and can reduce the lifetime of the phone and battery by a great margin.

Avoid buying “GREAT DEALS”, as these can be fake

The growing high quality clones are another scare.  Earlier a fake just looked like the original but did not behave, but thanks to the Android platform, Chinese clones now look physically like the original and also feature the software that are near identical.

One of the biggest fakes going around is the Samsung S3 Vietnam version, supposedly with 8GB and only support VGA recording! However the phone is identical in looks and in software for most non-techie users, until they find that they are running a pretty low end smart phone that has been designed to mimic Samsung’s flagship!

Make sure the important accessories are included

Some phones are expensive not just for the phone but for the accessories, E.g. HTC headsets from Beats Audio.  So make sure you are not being suckered of by accessories.

Accessories include the original USB cable (clones don’t last long, original cables are super quality), original charger, spare memory card, headset, etc.

More to come 🙂