Huawei is one of the few Windows Phone OEMs that have not been discouraged by the dominance of Nokia. Recently the Chinese phone maker just released its Ascend W2 to the Chinese market. We have heard quite a bit about the successor to the W1 in the past. But today we finally get to see it in full function.
Let's go over the specs of W2 first. It's not a superstar device by any definition: 4.3" touchscreen with a resolution of 800x480, dual core processor clocked at 1.4GHz, 512MB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage, a 5 megapixel rear camera that does not come with a LED flashlight like most other smartphones do these days, and no front-facing camera at all. That's right. It's not a high end phone, and never intended to be sold as one. Ascend W2 is currently sold on Chinese e-commerce website 360Buy for CNY 999 (US$ 163), or even cheaper if you are of higher-tiered membership at 360Buy.
Chinese website WPDang got a hands-on device, and found it not really an exciting gadget, but kind of worth the price.
W2's port and buttons follow a unique layout: Power, volume buttons and the USB port on one side, camera shutter one the other side all by itself. There's no apparent reason or advantage to such design, probably being unique just for being unique's sake.
The three LED buttons at the bottom of W2 could adapt themselves to the phone OS' theme color. We have covered this before, and this is something never done by any other Windows Phone OEM yet. The feature is pretty much useless, but nevertheless looks neat. Actually with all those talk about colorful designs, Nokia should have done this long ago.
The back lid of W2 is made of plastic. Under the hood, there's a microSD slot for extra storage, and an old style tray which is for a full sized SIM card, instead of micro SIMs we commonly see in new smartphones this era. The old style SIM tray doesn't help cutting down manufacturing cost by any means as we understand, but makes the process of switching SIM cards one remarkable adventure every single time: pry the back side open, yank the battery out, switch the cards and put everything back.
Software-wise, Ascend W2 has a few minor but quite nice features packed in, making it a bit more appealing than competitors on the lower range of the market:
- Huawei Firewall: A built-in call and SMS blocker that could protect users from blacklisted numbers.
- Storage manager: A phone storage management tool akin to the ones offered by Nokia and HTC.
- Toggle LED button vibration: Some of us feel it utterly annoying that every time the back, home and search buttons on Windows Phones are trigged, the whole device briefly vibrates. Huawei is now offering an option in phone settings to quiet your phone down. Only Samsung has done this before.
- Toggle "Glove Mode": "Glove Mode" is how Huawei calls what's named "super sensitive screen" by Nokia. Ascend W2 sports a similarly sensitive screen that could be operated with gloves on. And in the phone settings there's an option to turn that feature on and off.
The Chinese version of Ascend W2 is currently only available for China Mobile's TD-SCDMA network. There's no word on when it will be released on other more widely used networks, or in any other country.