ascend w2

We take a look at some of the best Windows Phone devices you can buy today

We’re entering the busiest time of year for gift giving. This past Friday marked the official holiday shopping period where consumers will spend big on gifts for friends and loved ones. What better gift than a shiny new smartphone running Windows Phone? Here’s a quick guide to help determine which device is right for you or someone you’re shopping for.

Windows Phone doesn’t have the OEM variety like Android does, but we still have great phones available in the ecosystem for different users at different price points. We’ll break it down so you can find the phone for someone on your list.

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Huawei's second Windows Phone is a budget device with a ton of perks

When it comes to budget Windows Phones for emerging markets (or those with limited financial abilities), Nokia comes to mind. However, China-based Huawei knows a thing or two about low-cost smartphones and with the recently announced Ascend W2, they’re carving a nice niche for themselves in the East.

While many in the West will dismiss Huawei as “cheap” or not worth their time, our exposure with the Ascend W2 may change your mind. Sure, the device falls on the low-end for features but it’s a solid budget offering that Window Phone fans should be proud of. It represents the brand well and we think it’s an excellent choice for new and aspiring shoppers.

Head past the break for our video tour, high quality photos and thoughts of this phone.

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Huawei have made the Ascend W2 UMTS version official - giving consumers in the smartphone market yet another option when deciding on which smartphone to purchase. According to the below press release the device should be available now in China (but has already been listed at retailers) - with roll outs later this month to Russia and the Netherlands, and further markets to follow in due course. 

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Huawei is attempting to fill in the Windows Phone market where Nokia is either absent or not as strong, and although their Ascend line is not half-bad, it’s not as (pardon the pun) luminous as Nokia’s offerings. Still, the Ascend W1 and the recent Ascend W2 do show that the massive Chinese company can make a solid low to mid-range Windows Phone.

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Earlier this year, we saw Huawei's Ascends W1 Windows phone launch in Russia at a very wallet-friendly price of 11,990 rubles, which at the time was the same price as Nokia's Lumia 620. Now Hi-Tech@mail.ru is reporting that later this month, Huawei's other Windows Phone device, the Ascend W2 will follow suit, heading to Russia at the Lumia 620's current price of 8,990 rubles ($279.00).

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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.

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While most of the Windows Phone world is focused on Nokia’s big move, we can’t forget (or dismiss) some of the other OEMs who are bringing new devices to market. Such is the case with Huawei and the Ascend W2, a device which was initially rumored to be a worthy flagship contender but has since dropped to mid-range status.

While the specs of the device make this on par with the Lumia 720, Huawei does bring something new to the table: colored LED capacitive buttons, dependent on your Accent color of choice.

We’re not going to lie, that’s a pretty unique and innovative feature that we would have predicted Nokia to have come up with. In short, when a user changes the Accent color in Windows Phone 8 to one of the 20 pre-set color patterns, the Back, Windows and Search key will also reflect that color choice.

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If you just glance at headlines you’d feel like we’re living in a Nokia world when it comes to all the OEMs making Windows Phone devices and apps. We haven’t had anything substantial from Samsung or HTC since the launch of Windows Phone 8. But there is a dark horse in the OEM scene – Huawei.

The Chinese company doesn’t have a big presence here in the US, but between making brazen comments about buying Nokia and upcoming handsets you might start noticing them a bit more. One of those handsets, the Ascend W2, has been making the rounds the past few weeks in leaks, teases and now in person at the 2013 Mobile Asia Expo.

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In a very late breaking story, the site WinP.cn is reporting that a new ad from China Mobile shows the soon-to-be-announced Huawei Ascend W2 in video. The image appears to match up with those shown by @evleaks

The ad itself is not for the W2 itself, as numerous other Samsung phones are shown too. Instead, this appears to be an ad for the TD-SCDMA based China Mobile, which then uses several smartphones to bolster its image as leading network provider.

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Our colleagues over at Android Central are at today's Huawei event in London. Why are we bringing you this news on our website? Well, there's the slim chance we could well see new Windows Phone hardware from the company. Remember the Ascend W2 that has appeared numerous times? Huawei has already teased a mysterious smartphone on social networks, so it wouldn't be such a far-fetched idea that the handset maker could have one with them today.

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Huawei evidently is banking on all colors for their upcoming 4.3” Ascend W2, due sometime this summer with what we imagine is a Windows Phone 8 hardware and software (GDR2) refresh.

We’ve previously seen the mid to high range device in Blue and Yellow, so why not add Red to the mix? At this point, we’re more curious about what colors they won’t do as we know Black and White is probably a given as well.  (Can we get a Green up in this hizzy?)

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Yeah, yeah, we know Nokia didn’t invent colors on smartphones, nor are we necessarily upset that more OEMs are embracing the bold and bright options that nature gave us, but we’re a tad suspicious here of the Huawei’s Ascend W2 that has now been revealed in yellow.

Truth be told, the device is not bad looking at all, except for all of that bezel. The W2 is supposed to be more high-end than the current W1, which itself is not a bad entry level device.

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Evleaks, who is fairly accurate when it comes to leaked renders of upcoming Windows Phone hardware, has published the above render on Twitter. It's believed to be the Huawei Ascend W2, a more advanced successor to the Ascend W1. We've previously looked at the Ascend W2 and how previous reports suggested it was going to be the thinnest Windows Phone yet, but this is the first we've seen of this design.

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The guys behind popular Chinese app Love Wallpaper HD has dug out traces of several interesting devices out of their server log. Among the traces left by various handsets, the following oddities were caught:

  • Huawei H889L
  • Samsung SCH-I930
  • Nokia RM-860_nam_usa_100
  • Nokia RM-877_nam_att_205

As to what exactly these devices are, we can only make wild guesses. Huawei isn't working on a lot of Windows Phone devices, so that one should be fairly easy. Most likely H889L will be the rumored Ascend W2. As to Samsung, we know the Ativ S is codenamed GT-I8705, and Aive Odyssey SGH-T900M. Therefore SCH-I930 should be a whole new device, instead of some new variation of existing ones.

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Huawei hasn’t exactly set the Windows Phone world on fire with a higher end device. Sure the W1 is a nice budget phone for those just getting into the smartphone game, but most people reading this site would probably prefer something a little more impressive. Today the specs of the Ascend W2 from Huawei leaked online, showing off a device more in line with the Lumia 920s and Ativ S devices of the world.

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