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printed September 16, 2014
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Review: Huawei Activa 4G for MetroPCS

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Screen

In order to achieve its $149 price point, Huawei needed to cut costs somewhere. The display is one area Huawei looked to minimize those costs. Think 2007-era specs, and you'll be right. It measures 3.5-inches across the diagonal and has 320 x 480 pixels. It is by no means awful, but can't hold a nit to the displays of today's leading smartphones. Pixels are easy to pick out and leave on-screen elements such as text and icons with slightly jagged edges. The Activa uses LCD technology, and I found it was bright enough for indoor use, but the Activa's display became useless when out under direct sunlight.

Signal

MetroPCS offers both 1X and LTE coverage in my neck of the woods. The Activa 4G performed about on par with other MetroPCS devices tested in the metro NYC area. Compared to the recently-tested LG Connect 4G, for example, the Activa was good at connecting to the 1X network and a little bit better at connecting to the 4G LTE network. It still managed to miss and drop calls here and there, but it always connected to the network and offered data throughput -- even if that throughput was painfully slow.

Sound

The phone calls that I was able to connect with the Activa were no great shakes. In fact, they were rather crummy. For starters, there was a lot of noise, crackling, and echoes present during phone calls. Human voices took on robotic tones from time to time. These were made worse by the poor volume powers of the earpiece. It's not nearly as loud as it needs to be. Phone calls sent through the speakerphone were also of poor quality and of low volume. The ringers and alert tones are OK, but not great. It would be easy to miss a call were the Activa in a backpack, purse, or anywhere else but on a table or desk next to your hand. The vibrate alert is good.

Battery

For such a small phone, the Activa packs a whopper of a battery at 1830mAh. I found the Activa's battery life to be good no matter where I took it and how I used it (i.e., network conditions didn't appear to detrimentally affect the phone). The phone regularly lasted from 7AM to 11PM with no problem, and often had enough charge left over the following morning to make it to lunch. Hardcore users who live in fully saturated LTE markets will want to charge it every night, but casual users can probably go 36 hours between charges.

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