The low-end Android handset segment is beginning to get a little crowded recently – we got the Micromax Andro A60, Intex’s previously announced Rs. 5,500 Android handset which was supposed to release this month (whatever happened to that?) and a few others. The Huawei U8150 IDEOS is a strange one, however. It’s not as cheap as the aforementioned handsets, instead looking to offer a more value-for-money option.
The big question is whether the IDEOS manages to bridge the gap between the Micromaxes and Intexes, and the Galaxy 3s and Optimus Ones. Let’s take a closer look to find out.
Form Factor and Design
The candybar IDEOS, with its funkily coloured back panels, is like a middle-aged man trying to dress youthfully. The piece we got sent had the Aqua Blue back panel, which is not a colour I particularly hate, so it’s one I’m rather sympathetic to even if I wouldn’t recommend dressing like that. Apart from the Blue, the IDEOS also comes with Purple and Yellow back panels. Uhh… yeah. Anyway, what’s interesting is that the phone carries no Huawei branding at all, instead boasting a Google logo on the back panel, right below the camera.
Back to back
There’s a circular navpad below the 2.8-inch QVGA (240 x 320) capacitive touchscreen and the touch-sensitive keys and on its sides are the call take and end keys. All of these light up when the phone is active, so you don’t have to spend much time memorizing their positions before you get used to them. There’s a micro-USB port at the bottom, volume keys are on the left, and the 3.5mm headset jack is on the top-right of the device.
The phone feels quite well-built and doesn’t feel cheap at all, apart from the bundled handsfree, that is. It just feels cheap, poorly designed and even looks like a horrible performer. More on that later, and onto the few problems the device has. While the circular navpad in itself isn’t a bad idea, it would’ve been nice if it was an optical trackpad instead – like the HTC Wildfire’s. As it is, the inner circle serves as nothing but a clicker, and that just seems like a bit of a waste to me. The microSD card slot is under the back panel, which isn’t much of a problem, but it’s also under the battery – which means no hotswap. The power button on the top-left of the phone is way too small, which is a real headscrather. Locating the button when you’ve gotten used to it is not an issue and the button itself functions well, but there’s a bunch of wasted space around there that could’ve been used to provide a bigger button and more convenience for the user.
And of course, the screen resolution is a downer. While I understand the need to keep the costs as low as possible, in my humble opinion 240x320 is too low. The screen just looks extremely blurry, which brings the overall experience down a notch.
Features and Performance
The IDEOS is powered by a Qualcomm MSM7225 chipset that originally runs at 528MHz clock speed. Huawei have overclocked it to 600MHz though, in an effort to make the phone a smoother device for the operating system it’s running – Android 2.2 Froyo, and it’s a stock version, too. It lacks multi-touch capabilities though, just like the Andro A60. Apart from this, the phone is boosted by an Adreno 200 GPU.
The UI is a bit sluggish in spurts, though. While it’s smooth enough in parts, you’ll notice those small little frame drops when scrolling through your menu, which will put you off. It certainly put me off, as did the load times when multi-tasking. It’s clear FroYo is slightly too much for the processor to handle – only slightly though, and the improvements 2.2 itself brings to the table makes Huawei’s decision a wise one.
Input options are a bit limited out of the box, with only the QWERTY virtual keyboard as an option. Installing Swype is an option, but the vanilla release doesn’t support QVGA screens, so you’ll have to get your hands on a modified release.