BEING a relatively new entrant in the Malaysian consumer mobile scene must be a real challenge for Chinese brand Huawei. The name is vaguely familiar to me although I have been using the brand's broadband mobile device since more than a year ago. Whatever misgiving I had before proves to be baselesss after I had my hands on the Honor U8860, a touchscreen smartphone from Huawei.
The design is a play on opposites - a smooth glossy flat panel in front matched with tough jagged exterior for the bulging, curvy back panel. With the screen off, the front panel easily serves as a mirror - given ample lighting. Female users would surely appreciate this. The rough surface of the back panel makes it easier to find the phone when stashed deep inside the handbag.
This simple candybar smartphone is adorned with two buttons that serve as the On/Off trigger and the volume adjuster.
The prominent silver buttons are also a contrast to the black review unit, adding a nice modern touch to the whole design. I like the fact that the buttons needed a bit more push pressure, avoiding accidental inputs while handling the phone.
Its unique interface gives users several options besides simply unlocking the handset. With one drag gesture, you can also quickly access the call log, messages and camera. You need to drag the lock icon towards the specific command you want to execute, avoiding the need to go through the homepage.
This well-thought interface also solves the problem I faced with a few other touchscreen smartphones previously, that unlocked easily when being carried around.
There are five homepages that you can easily personalise to take care of your daily needs. To customise, hold down any desired apps at the application page until it is added onto a homepage. You can also customise the permanent widgets that appear on all homepages with the same method.
The screen has a bit more resistance than many touchscreen smartphones that I have encountered though. Playing the Temple Run, for instance, I had to apply more pressure on the screen to register the moves, thus making it quite a hard game to play on the Huawei Honor.
Overall, the screen does produce a more natural colour, which is evident when viewing photos, movies and webpages. That said, it fared averagely under the sun.
The QWERTY keypads feels a bit too tightly spaced, giving a congested feeling as you type. Typing in Portrait mode can be a chore.
If you are used to a fast-paced typing, you might have to go with a slower rhythm, or risk pressing the wrong alphabet unintentionally. The easy fix is to type in Landscape mode that gives you a much improved typing experience.
Web surfing is also best done in Landscape mode, though its browser is not the quickest I've experienced using my existing data plan.
With a high-definition 8 mega-pixel camera, the Huawei Honor takes decent enough pictures and it also comes with a front camera for video calls. The camera offers setting levers that are quite impressive, nearly similar to a regular digital camera. Settings for exposure, picture quality and white balance would be a treat to those with photography knowledge.
As a GPS-enabled device, the Honor offers A-GPS functionality. However it is the geo-tagging feature that makes this product more attractive when you shoot photos.
The MP3 player has a feature that allows lyrics to appear when the song is playing, provided you download the lyrics as well (karaoke lovers, take note! ). A bit of a disappointment though that the MP3 did not come with an equaliser which can be found in most feature phones and smartphones of late.
Other audio-related features include Sound Recorder and Voice Command that I discover works nicely enough with two syllable or less names.
With features as good as any mid-range smartphones, the Huawei Honor can hold its own in the competitive market. With an affordable price tag and nearly a full day of regular battery use, this is one attractive gadget for Android lovers.
You also have the opportunity to upgrade its OS to Ice Cream Sandwich. For those of you who are sceptical of Chinese tech brands, give this phone a try and you would be pleasantly surprised.