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Old August 23rd, 2012, 07:10 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Review of Ascend G300

Here's a review I wrote of the Ascend G300. It looks like images didn't copy over quite right, so might want to check it out with all the formatting and images here:

Huawei Ascend G300 Review - The giffgaff community

Cheers,

Will

---

The Huawei Ascend G300 is one of the most popular budget phones on giffgaff, with many owners writing in to our feature on the top 10 budget handsets with praise for the handset.

Huawei are a rising firm in the mobile world, coming out from the shadows of network operators like Vodafone and O2 to provide handsets under their own Huawei brand - following in the footsteps of ZTE and HTC who did the same months and years before. The Chinese company's handsets have gotten a good reputation for delivering quality at a very aggressive price point, and it seems none exemplifies this more than the Ascend G300.

In this review, we'll have a look at how this phone measures up against its other budget bretheren like the HTC One V and the Orange Monte Carlo. Let's begin.

Specifications compared to the competition

In this chart, we'll see how the Ascend G300 (first row) stacks up against its competitors operating at a similar price range - at least on paper. I've chosen to compare it with three other handsets: the HTC One V, the most well known 'budget' option from a major vendor and Orange's San Francisco II and Monte Carlo, as made by ZTE.


Android CPU GPU RAM Display Resolution Storage microSD Camera Battery Dimensions Weight Price
Ascend G300 2.3 1 GHz Adreno 200 512 MB 4" IPS LCD 480 x 800 4 GB 32 GB 5 MP w/ LED flash 1500 mAh 122.5 x 63 x 10.5 mm 140 g £98.49
One V 4 1 GHz Adreno 205 512 MB 3.7" Super LCD2 480 x 800 4 GB 32 GB 5 MP w/ LED flash 1500 mAh 120.3 x 59.7 x 9.2 mm 115 g £219.99
Monte Carlo 2.3 800 MHz Adreno 200 512 MB 4.3" TFT LCD 480 x 800 512 MB 32 GB 5 MP w/ LED flash 1500 mAh 125.9 x 67.8 x 10.4 mm 120 g £142.76
San Francisco II 2.3 800 MHz Adreno 200 512 MB 3.5" TFT LCD 480 x 800 512 MB 32 GB 5 MP w/ LED flash 1250 mAh 117 x 58.5 x 10.6 mm 120 g £118

So what can we learn from this? Well, we see that the Ascend G300 is, on paper, very powerful for the price, even against other low-cost phones. It's a little over half the cost of the HTC One V, which has a smaller display and otherwise exceeding similar specifications. The One V does have a more iconic design as well as that critical Android 4.0 upgrade though, as well as the piece of mind that you'd get for buying from a major vendor over a lesser known option.

Against the Monte Carlo and San Francisco II, the Ascend G300 looks even stronger. It has a faster CPU, by 200 MHz, and much more internal storage. The IPS display of the G300 is also superior to that of the ZTE phones, which operate on older TFT LCD technology.

Unboxing

Now that we've seen how the Ascend G300 compares to its rivals, it's time to unbox our Ascend G300 and really examine how well this phone performs in the flesh.

The box is simple enough, showing a picture of the phone and its default home screen on the front. There's also some Vodafone branding, but this can be safely ignored. The back of the box has the phone's specifications, which we covered earlier.



The in-box bundle is quite standard for a smartphone - the phone itself, a battery, a micro USB to USB charging cable, a USB to AC UK adapter and a set of in-ear headphones. Everything seems to be of decent quality, although the headphones aren't up to the quality of the excellent Samsung earbuds that offer excellent noise cancellation abilities.



Physical Features

The G300 is a good looking, if fairly boring phone.

The front of the phone is dominated by the 4" IPS display, with fairly minimal bezels. At the bottom of the screen are three capacitive buttons - menu, home and back, left to right. Above the display is the word 'Huawei'. Just above this is the fairly invisible earpiece. There's also an RGB notification light mid-way between the word and the earpiece and offset a bit to the right. The frame is ringed by silver aluminium-looking plastic.

The display, once turned on, is pretty good. 4" is probably as large as you'd want to make an 800 x 480 WVGA display without it looking too stretched out. You can easily tell this is an IPS display - viewing angles and colour reproduction are both excellent, with little reduction in colour even when looking at a near 90 degree angle.



Turning the phone over, we see that the backpiece has an aluminium look as well, with the rest of the chassis made of a stylish white plastic. The back cover is embossed with a few logos - Google and Huawei. At the top, there is the loudspeaker, second microphone for noise cancellation, camera and LED. It's an asymetric arrangement, but it's not entirely displeasing. The loudspeaker isn't brilliant, seeming about as loud as the rather aenemic one found on the Galaxy Nexus.

The G300 feels pretty good in the hand - a bit cheap perhaps compared to a flagship handset, but the aluminium ring and backing does a lot to add a sense of quality. The chassis groans and flexes under pressure, but I didn't feel that I had to hold it delicately or anything.



With the back cover off, there's room for the 1500 mAh battery, a normal sized SIM card and up to 32 GB of micro SD storage. Thankfully, you can change both of these without needing to take out the battery.



On the top of the phone, we've got the lock button and 3.5mm headphone jack. These are reasonable placements, and the lock button is fairly easy to find in the dark.



On the left side of the phone we have the volume buttons. These have a nice solid feel considering the price of the phone - it doesn't feel spongey or hair-triggered.



On the right, we've just got a little groove for taking the back cover off. This flexes a bit alarmingly as you do so, but it goes back on again nice and snugly.



Finally, on the bottom we have a centrally located micro USB port for synching and charging duties. It's unshielded, but that's rarely an issue unless you work in a particularly dusty or dirty environment.



Now that we've had a look at this phone's physical features, let's move onto getting it to work on giffgaff and then having a look at the software onboard.

Preparing for giffgaff / unlocking

While I had heard that this phone required unlocking to work with a giffgaff SIM card, that is not the case. I put in my giffgaff sim card and got access to the network immediately!

To get MMS and mobile data working properly, I just put in the correct APN settings into the phone (name: giffgaff, access point: giffgaff.com, username: giffgaff, password: password) and mobile data worked right off the bat.

So in truth, this is quite an excellent phone for giffgaff, at least when purchased from Amazon - I imagine it might be a different story if the phone was purchased from Vodafone directly, for example. If you do find that the model you've purchased is locked to Vodafone and the giffgaff SIM doesn't work initially, then this eBay seller has been recommended to us by readers. You can also have a look at Unlockapedia for more options.

Software

The Ascend G300 ships with Android 2.3.6, Gingerbread, although Android 4.0 is expected to be made available this month. The phone uses the fifth iteration of Huawei's Android skin, called Huawei Android Platform 5.1. The skin is fairly light, offering a few new animations and a black-blue colour scheme that looks nice.

The home screens are as good as any I've seen in Gingerbread, with support for folders and a few good added widgets. There are only five available (and no option to add more), but you can choose a homescreen to be the default one. There's a cube transition effect as you swipe from one to the next, and once you reach the end you loop around to the first home screen again.

The app drawer is also fairly standard, although it does also include an editing mode that allows you to easily add and remove apps and folders, which can make it easier to hide away cruft that you're not interested in.



As well as slightly different colours and icons, Huawei have also included a new lock screen which is quite functional. It offers a choice of four unlock behaviours - you can do the default unlock, or swipe in a different direction to immediately get to the call log, camera and SMS apps. These aren't customisable, but the default options are solid enough for most users.

The default apps - messaging, email, contacts, dialer, camera, etc - haven't been changed much from the defaults. That's not an entirely bad thing, with the Gingerbread stock options being fairly solid, if a bit less clean and unified as those you'd find in Android 4.



In terms of software performance, I was pleasantly surprised - even with a single core, 1 GHz CPU, Android was relatively fluid, with fairly minimal delay swiping around home screens. Apps loaded relatively quickly, although 2D and 3D performance was often a bit worse than I'm used to once actually in the app. Certainly this isn't an ideal games-playing machine, but social media apps and Draw Something worked just fine.

Camera

The camera app is the standard grey number from Gingerbread, so there are few surprises here. There are the requisite white balance, colour mode and detail settings, with no real advanced features to talk about.

The actual performance of the camera is good for the price of the phone, with the 5 megapixel sensor providing good quality photographs outdoors and in good lighting. The auto-focus wasn't perfect, particularly in low-light situations, but it was workable enough. The LED flash performed adequately as well.



All in all, a fairly standard camera that won't obviate the need for a point-and-shoot, but will still serve in that all-important 'the-best-camera-is-the-one-you-have-with-you' role.

Bloatware

Bloatware on the Ascend G300 isn't too bad, although it is sadly unremovable without root access. Here is a list of the apps that you can't remove: AppSelect, HelpLogin, Music Shop, My Web, Qype, Updates, Texas Hold'Em, The Sims 3 Trial, UNO Trial and TouchPal Input. With 4 GB of storage, the situation isn't too bad at all. I have 2 GB of 'internal SD card' space and 300 MB of 'internal storage' space after installing Draw Something and a collection of benchmark apps, which seems reasonable.

Speaking of benchmarks, let's have a look at how the phone performs in these!

Benchmarks

A good way of judging a phone's combined software and hardware performance and compare it to other models is to run benchmarks. These tests, available as apps or websites, allow you to perform a quantitative analysis.

Quadrant is a general purpose benchmark that’s quite popular amongst the critical Android crowd, looking at CPU, memory, I/O, 2D and 3D graphics. The Ascend G300 scores fairly decently here, with a score that's only a mite behind the dual-core OMAP processor found in the Kindle Fire and Galaxy Nexus. This is down to a fairly good I/O score, with the single core 1 GHz CPU performing to a fairly low standard as expected.



GLBenchmark is a graphical benchmark. I ran it in two versions - Egypt on-screen and Egypt off-screen - which measure relative GPU performance at the device's standard resolution and a 1280 x 720 offscreen window, respectively. The Ascend G300 didn't score highly here, with its Adreno 200 GPU providing a meagre amount of processing power. Don't expect to play any graphically intense games on this phone.





Our final test was Vellamo, a browser benchmark that tests rendering, Javascript, networking and the rather nebulous ‘user experience’. The Huawei phone got a score of 809 here, similar to the Kindle Fire and only a little behind the Galaxy Nexus - an impressive result for a phone running Gingerbread instead of Ice Cream Sandwich.



I ran a few other benchmarks as well. In the interest of brevity, I'll just list the results here without a graph so that you can look up comparisons if you're interested. The G300 scored 24.7 MFLOPS and 21.8 MFLOPS in Linpack single and multi-threaded, respectively - about half that of other phones compared in the other benchmarks. Sunspider also showed poor Javascript performance, with an overall score of 3319 ms (where lower scores are better). Finally, in Browsermark the phone showed a score of 59981 Browsermarks - about two thirds that of the Kindle Fire and a little better than half that of the Galaxy Nexus.

Conclusion

The Huawei Ascend G300 is a brilliant phone, capable of much more than I'd have thought possible for £100. It will serve as an excellent introduction to Android for the budget-conscious - you might not be able to play the latest 3D games on it, but as a media player, internet browser and phone its specifications and software are up to the task. With solid if low-range hardware, an inoffensive skin and the promise of an Android 4.0 update to come soon, the G300 surpasses its rivals at HTC and ZTE and truly deserves its reputation as an excellent budget phone.

Tune in next week, when I show you how to unlock, root and install the latest version of Android on this budget handset to turn it into something even greater. Thanks for reading and be sure to let me know what you think in the comments below.

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wsjudd is offline  
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Old August 24th, 2012, 06:15 AM   #2 (permalink)
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great review.......look forward to the next instalment for rooting etc
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Old August 24th, 2012, 09:55 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Great review. I returned my first one purely on grounds of very low ringer volume, but reading on forums the ability AnEq equaliser to boost the sounds influenced me to try another one, and am delighted.
The only problem I have is I can't find how to or even if you can send address book to my Parrot 3000 evolution car handsfree.
At the moment I have to select from the phone book which really defeats the object.
All in all though a cracking phone. Delighted.
Anyone out there can help me with my handsfree will ake me happier still
Cheers
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Old September 28th, 2012, 04:38 AM   #4 (permalink)
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The only disappointment I have is it's is not the best as an mp3 player, my last phone a motorola defy sounded great, the Ascend sounds a bit gutless and mushy in comparison.
The screens unresponsive at times too but all good otherwise.
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Old October 6th, 2012, 09:33 AM   #5 (permalink)
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It's the best android phone for the money, but the built quality could be better, much better. While holding it you can hear the click sounds that mask is making.
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