Say hello to the Huawei Vision, a brand new Android phone that put all of its budget-conscious rivals to shame. We got hands on with the low end device at the Chinese telco giant’s London launch last night: read on for our initial impressions and find out why we’re so excited.
UPDATE: Huawei says it is looking at Ice Cream Sandwich, but there are no plans for an upgrade right now. We doubt that’ll stop the hackers, mind.
You might not have heard of Huawei, but they’ve been around for years. They’re behind almost every network branded phone you care to mention, but recently, they’ve been trying to “do a HTC” and build their own brand. Earlier in the Autumn, it released the £99 Huawei Blaze, a competent Android phone slightly let down by a small screen and fusty default keyboard.
Now it’s back with a bang, and the Huawei Vision, a more powerful and far more impressive mid-range follow up that’s barely any more expensive, and far better specced.
Remember the HTC Legend and its luscious unibody metal ways? The Huawei Vision takes the same machined aluminium approach and upgrades the hardware: it’s 9.9mm thin, with no sign of that unseemly HTC chin, and a feels shockingly premium for a device we were told will cost only around £150 unlocked.
Four capacitive buttons sit below the 3.7-inch curved LCD screen, which we found was responsive to multitouch gestures, and impressively bright though let down by the rubbishy TouchPal default keyboard, which is great for Chinese typing and not much else.
Android 2.3.5 itself is its usual charming self, and with no drawbacks this time – a 1GHz processor means you won’t have any problems with games or Adobe Flash. The phone comes with the swanky SPB 3D shell preloaded, which smoothly scrolls through panes like HTC Sense on the Sensation family of phones – not bad considering it costs £9.45 in the Market. Huawei’s other custom apps seen on the blaze are missing, such as its social networking widget and 3G data watchdog, but these are easily replaced. Unfortunately, no one could tell us if the Huawei Vision would be updated to Android 4.0 “Ice Cream Sandwich”, but we’ve followed up with the company and will update when we hear back.
So what’s the catch? It would appear to be the camera: it’s shockingly slow. In the admittedly dingy confines of the launch venue, it took around six seconds to go from pressing the shutter to the photo being taken. We’re hoping Huawei fixes this in due course – it certainly doesn’t bode well for the final quality of the 720p HD video the 5MP camera is supposed to be able to shoot either.
The Huawei Vision is out before Christmas at Phones4U in three colours: silver, gold and charcoal grey. Even if HTC needn’t worry yet, by the looks of things, arch rival ZTE certainly has its work cut out for it.