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18 November 2014

REVIEW: Huawei Ascend Y550

 Smart and cheap.

Asia has always dominated the micro electronics sector... with one notable exception. Although most of our gadgets might be assembled in China, the super power itself did not for a long time possess any great international brands... until now. Already causing a storm at home for producing affordable tech, Huawei are now starting to make a name for themselves in the UK. And so we had a play with their latest low-end phone, the Ascend Y550.



It's not often you can pick up a sim-free smartphone for under £70, or indeed one on a 4G contract for just a tenner a month, so certainly the Huawei Ascend Y550 already has a lot going for it. The Chinese company has made a sturdy wee thing here, boasting a 4.5 inch touchscreen, Android 4.4 (although more on that later) and a gig of RAM. The handset itself reminded our hands and minds of the old iPhone 3G, with a chubby outer curve and rounded back. You get a 5MP camera on the back, and a not-at-all-bad 2MP version on the front.


The Huawei Ascend Y550 feels very robust and firmly made, despite that low price tag. We're pretty certain it could survive a knock or two, even without a case, so its' a definite winner for parents getting their kids their first phone, maybe?

And it is first time smartphone owners that the Huawei Ascend Y550 has probably been made for, as the Andriod overlay that Huawei seem to favour, the Emotion UI, completely does away with the app drawer, meaning all your apps sit right there on the home screen, ala the iPhone. There is also a Simple UI theme which does away with all but the most essential apps, and looks quite like the Windows Phone interface. Again, this would help first-timers, but die-hard fans of Android would probably find it limiting.


The Huawei Ascend Y550 features a 1.2GHz quad-core processor which, although impressive for a phone at this price, might struggle with large and complex apps. We played a few solid rounds of Star Wars: Galactic Defense, and when lots of things were kicking off onscreen the phone had a tendency to freeze and quit the app. But, once again, for the casual user who just needs to call, text and browse the internet (over 4G, we might add) there will be no problems.

The screen isn't fantastic, weighting in with a resolution of 854 x 480, but you really won't notice that if all you are doing is normal 'phone' stuff, especially when running the Simple UI theme. And the camera is absolutely fine for social media uploads and selfies, and given enough outside light (we found the images a bit patchy when taken indoors at night) you'll be fine.


But (and this is such a personal 'but' that you might have to ignore it altogether) the 'back' button, probably the most used of the Android buttons, is on the left hand side. This makes it really awkward for a right-handed person (or 90% of the British population) to reach. Just saying, Huawei.

So at the end of the day, no matter what you think about the screen resolution, the camera capability, or the power of the processor, you can pick up this smartphone (which it most definitely is) right now for £69 sim-free. That is pretty remarkable and a similar effort from the likes of Samsung or HTC would be more than twice that. So if you need something cheap but effective for your kids, or if you're looking  to break into the world of smartphones for the very first time, this could be for you.

£69.99 Sim free/from £10 per month (with free phone) on contract.



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