So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Huawei Sonic Android phone
Huawei Sonic review: A mid-range Android phone for $188? You better believe it
- Very low price
- Android features and flexibility
- Responsive 3.5in display
- No flash
- Menu icons look ugly
- Poor quality camera
The Huawei Sonic provides a reasonable features list for quite a low price. As long as you can live with its limitations, such as the lack of Flash and a poor camera, it's very hard to beat for value.
Price$ 248.00 (AUD)
How much smartphone can $188 buy you? That's what supermarket chain Woolworths is selling Huawei's latest Sonic Android phone for in Australia. The Sonic may not look as flashy as an iPhone, but its combination of a decent 3.5in touchscreen and the latest Android software provides all the all the features and functions or higher end smartphones for an extremely low price.
Huawei Sonic: Design and display
Like most budget Android phones, the Huawei Sonic won't win any design awards, though it's far from an ugly device. It looks very much like an upscaled version of another Huawei smartphone: the $99 IDEOS X1. Like the Optus-exclusive X1, the Huawei Sonic is made almost entirely from plastic, with a chrome band around the edge attempting to add a touch of class, and rounded edges making it comfortable to hold.
Unlike the IDEOS X1, however, the Huawei Sonic feels better built, and opts for the standard four touch-sensitive shortcut keys below its display. These aren't backlit, which is a disappointment, though they are generally responsive when pressed.
At such a low price point, it's usually the display of a smartphone that suffers the most, but the Huawei Sonic is a nice exception. Its 3.5in capacitive touchscreen is large enough to type comfortably on, while also allowing the physical design of the handset to remain a reasonable size. The resolution of 320x480 is a little low compared to the competition, meaning text isn't as crisp, and the quality of images can't be compared to phones with higher resolutions. The screen also has poor viewing angles and is tough to see in direct sunlight, but considering its price tag, the Sonic's display is hardly a negative during day to day use.
Huawei Sonic: Software and performance
The Huawei Sonic runs the latest 2.3 'Gingerbread' version of Google's Android platform, which is a real plus at this price point. The Sonic offers most of the features and functions of far more expensive Android smartphones including the ability to act as a wireless hotspot and provide full turn-by-turn navigation capabilities. Naturally, it also offers third-party apps through Google's Android Market, and being an Android phone it has automatic and seamless synchronisation with a range of Google services including Gmail and Calendar.
Huawei has slightly tweaked the standard Android interface on the Sonic. Five home screens for live widgets remain, but the cube animation when swiping between screens is a nice touch, and we like the button that shows a view of all five home screens at once. Huawei has also altered the look of the icons in the main menu, however they look rather ugly — thankfully this can easily be changed by downloading one of the many launchers in the Android market that will alter the look and feel of the interface. We also like the toggles for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, data and screen auto-rotate in the notifications drop down.
Huawei also includes a few handy extras on the Sonic: a straightforward file manager, a voice dialler, the Documents to Go suite, and an app that will backup and restore the contents of the phone to or from a microSD card. Huawei also bundles the Sonic with its Hi-Space cloud solution, which is described as a cloud computing solution that has its own apps store. A quick search in the app store did not reveal much that can't already be found on the Android Market, however.
The Huawei Sonic has a modest processor (single-core, 600MHz) and limited memory (256MB RAM), but still manages to support multi-touch zooming — meaning you can pinch the screen to zoom in and out of certain apps. The limited processing power means the Sonic does not offer full Flash support for Web browsing. Performance is fine for day to day use, but the Sonic is a little slower when loading graphically intense Web pages.
The Huawei Sonic comes with a GPS receiver, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity and a 3.2-megapixel camera that doubles as a VGA video recorder. There is no flash for low light photography, and the quality of the camera is rather poor, with a lack of detail and plenty of image noise souring most photos.
The Huawei Sonic has a microSD card slot for extra storage, located behind the rear battery cover. Battery life is reasonable for an Android phone, as the Huawei Sonic will easily get through a full day of use in most instances.
The Huawei Sonic is available exclusively through Dick Smith, Big W and Woolworths stores, with Woolworths selling the phone for as low as $188.
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