The $99 Android smartphone: Huawei IDEOS X1

Just a year ago it was hard to believe we’d have $99 smartphones, but the Huawei IDEOS X1 is exactly that. So is it cheap and nasty, or just cheap?

Features

The Huawei IDEOS X1 is an Android smartphone a large market that most manufacturers know exist but prefer to ignore. That market is cheapskates, and their numbers make them important, so the IDEOS is a welcome arrival for many.

Last year’s version of Android – 2.2 also known as Froyo – is the OS of choice here, beating out the even older Android 2.1 found on at least one competing budget Android smartphone.

At 2.8 inches, the screen is on the small side, and there’s only 256MB of RAM on the inside, so if you want to load it up with music or install lots of apps, you’ll need to add a microSD card. Optus includes a 2GB card in its prepaid kit, but for storing large playlists, go for a higher capacity card.

Huawei’s X1 is completely in wrapped in plastic, with a shiny chrome-coloured plastic trim surrounding the handset. A single tactile home button sits on the front, with three soft buttons on the screen serving for Back, Menu, and Search. The power button sits on the top left, with volume buttons on the right-hand side, all a part of the chrome-look trim.

On the rear of the unit is a lens for the 3.2 megapixel camera, plus a small speaker. A 3.5mm headphone port sits up top, allowing you to listen to music on your phone. At the bottom, you’ll find a fairly standard microUSB port for charging and transferring data to and from a computer.

Much like other Android phones, the Huawei IDEOS X1 also comes equipped with features once reserved for high-end devices, such as WiFi 802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth 2.1.

Performance

Despite the $99 price tag, the X1 offers a better touchscreen experience than we’ve seem on some of last year’s budget smartphones.

Here, the Huawei X1’s small touchscreen manages to be capacitive – a change from the resistive screens typical to cheap phones – allowing you to pinch the screen to zoom in on web pages. Strangely, this feature doesn’t work on images; instead, a magnification bar appears and allows you to zoom in or zoom out by pressing on the plus or minus on-screen buttons.

Huawei’s Android customisations remind us of those on the Apple iPhone, with a left-to-right scrolling menu system. Widget support is available from the home screens, but the tiny 320×240 resolution on the 2.8 inch screen means it’s hard to see much here. Switching between the five home screens  – each displays on a side of an animated rotating cube – is achieved easily via simple fluid swipes.

Interestingly, Huawei provides its own launcher – a program that changes the look and feel of Android’s menu and homescreens – and the regular Android, so you can effectively choose how the bottom icons look. You can also change the way your icons look and download other themes from the web. If you select this last option, Android Market looks up “ahome theme”, telling us that Huawei is using the $5 aHome launcher for its own solution (if you like the look of this and you have a different Android phone, you can grab it from the Market and run it on your own device).

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13 Comments

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  1. Kellweaz
    August 17, 10:33 Kellweaz

    You can not hook up to your wireless modem with this phone,,, huge let down

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  2. Ramesh Casseer
    October 07, 03:30 Ramesh Casseer

    doesnt this phone really support flash????

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  3. Uchitha Jayathissa
    December 29, 16:10 Uchitha Jayathissa

    Good Phone. but you have to think about the memory (RAM) when you are installing apps. It gets slow when there are many apps. Camara is Good. (3.2 MP) Direct GPS is week. But with the support with other wireless networks (AGPS) it works. You can can use WiFy in both ways (Hotspot,Client (direct or connected to computer as a wify adapter)

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  4. Erick Rodríguez
    December 30, 04:45 Erick Rodríguez

    Yo lo compré, pero me cobraron más 🙁

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  5. Humdy Abdelkader
    April 24, 21:25 Humdy Abdelkader

     How can I send a shutdown signal to the car using this phone?

    Reply this comment
  6. Michael Elfial
    June 11, 05:57 Michael Elfial

    It is a good choice if you look for something cheap or small – yes small, none of the more powerful phones is that small and easy to carry around. It is a bit slow, some of the everyday features on a high end phone are usable as a last resort only, but the point is – they are there! With me the battery life was good, perhaps those who had problems launched some hungry app.

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  7. penguin
    July 31, 22:06 penguin

    does anyone else have the problem where you cant use the phone whilst it is on charge????

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    • Leigh :) Stark
      August 01, 17:00 Leigh :) Stark

      I’ve seen something like this before on a few Android phones, actually. Is it that you can’t use it at all, or that the touchscreen becomes problematic?

      Reply this comment
  8. Knicks Mwangi
    November 14, 16:37 Knicks Mwangi

    wat type of microsd does the phone support coz i bought one and it doesn’t store files for long, 4 a few minutes then it says it can’t accept the vformat to this file

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  9. Chimmex
    May 19, 10:23 Chimmex

    Very good Android Smartphone, does almost everything an iphone 5 does

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