The mid-range Android market is pretty swamped these days, with HTC, Samsung and many others having brought out handsets positioned as such in the last few months. Perhaps unwisely, Chinese manufacturer Huawei has decided to join the fray with their latest offering, the Vision, as it attempts to elbow its way to brand recognition in the UK. Will it prove a shrewd move by the newcomer or will this Android effort be surpassed by more established competitors?
The Vision looks, at first, a lot like a HTC phone with its aluminium backing giving the handset a sophisticated appearance and avoiding the tackiness trap some plastic-covered handsets fall into. It’s one of the thinner smartphones on the market at the moment at only 9.9mm thick and its big rounded edges give it a pretty sleek look overall. Unfortunately, the air of sophistication doesn’t run throughout the rest of the design – there are a few gaps around the casing that suggest the build quality isn’t of the highest standard.
On the front is a 3.7-inch touchscreen which doesn’t break any records in terms of quality but is pretty good for a mid-range phone. The size of the screen marks it out as a mid-range handset, but there’s more than enough room to fit everything on there.
As is standard for many Android phones there are four touch-sensitive nav buttons below the screen that bring up various menus. However, for some reason, they’re arranged in a different order to that which we’ve seen on most other handsets and this gets a little confusing at first, although once you’ve used the device a little, you soon become used to what each does.
Power and Operating System
The Vision runs the latest version of Google’s mobile platform, namely Android 2.3, which has pretty much become the standard version for even the mid-range Android phones these days. By and large Gingerbread has been a well received update in terms of functionality, but that still hasn’t stopped many manufacturers adding their own flourishes to it by layering their own user interfaces over the top.
Huawei having been pinning their hopes on their UI effort and they are not misguided – what they’ve produced can easily rival HTC’s Sense 3.0 and Samsung’s TouchWiz UIs in terms of looks and usability. Whilst the usual screens displaying apps, contacts, the weather etc are present, Huawei’s UI brings an impressive 3D-style interface to the table and the animations produced by it are really quite fantastic . Maybe it’s a little superfluous but Huawei’s UI is easy to use and manages to look good even on the average screen of the Vision, something that bodes well for the future if they are planning to move it onto a high-end handset with a big, high-quality screen.
The UI and operating system are powered by an impressive 1GHz processor, pretty powerful for a mid-range phone and evidence that even moderately-priced handsets are growing in their capabilities. There’s the pretty standard 512MB of RAM, which again is fairly standard for a handset of the Vision’s positioning, and this setup is more than capable of handling what the software asks of it.
Not all websites looked great on the Vision’s screen as the size and clarity is noticeably less than on more expensive phones, but that said, you don’t miss out on anything important. Partly making up for this up for this is the work done by the speedy processor in getting pages to load quickly; the speed with which they appear rivals any phone we’ve played with recently, so there’s very little waiting around. Many mid-range devices scrimp on certain aspects of functionality so it was pleasing to see that full Flash support is included too.
The Vision comes sporting a 5 megapixel camera with an LED flash and is capable of recording video at 720p. There’s also 2GB of internal memory and a microSD card support up to 32GB. Rather disappointingly though, the camera cannot be used unless there’s a microSD card fitted and it’s also worth pointing out that the rounded edges of the phone made it a little difficult to grip when holding it up to take photos.
Other tech specs
- 1400 mAh Battery
- FM Radio
- MP3 ringtones
- Wi-Fi 802.11/Bluetooth 2.1
The Vision is pleasing to look at, especially with the aluminium plate on the back, but it doesn’t feel as good as it looks. It creaks a little when you move it around in your hand and doesn’t feel as solid as some other similarly positioned handsets. Also, while the screen isn’t a letdown as such, it doesn’t push the boundaries at all.
Although the Vision has a couple of bad points it is still good phone, well worthy of consideration alongside the mid-range devices from other Android manufacturers. Whilst it’s true that this section of the market is reaching saturation point, we’d say that having another company joining the competition will keep everyone else on their toes and could push rivals to innovate even more while keeping prices down. The Vision, and its user interface especially, show that Huawei are capable of rubbing shoulders with the so-called big boys and the glimpses of greatness we’ve seen here hold the company in good stead for future releases.