Review: Huawei Ascend
Bluetooth devices paired easily with the Huawei Ascend. Reception wasn't great with my Bluetooth headset. It would often cut out, especially when I shifted the phone around from pocket to pocket. Pairing with my stereo Bluetooth speakers worked better, but I still lost some music as the reception faded. The phone transferred image files from the gallery to my laptop with no trouble.
The lock screen on the Ascend offers a nice, big digital clock, but the screen can be slow to light up sometimes, often requiring a few presses of the screen lock button. Only certain buttons will wake the screen, including the Menu, Back and lock buttons, but not the Send and End keys, which seems counter-intuitive. Huawei offers plenty of clock widget options, including a weather clock, that you can add to the homescreen panels.
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GPS navigation worked very well on the Huawei Ascend. The phone uses Google Maps for turn-by-turn directions and location-based searching. Map graphics could take a long time to load, but this was more of a problem for basic place searching. I had no such trouble using the navigation feature, and the phone always kept up with my progress and quickly suggested new routes when I traveled off course.
The phone also comes with Poynt, a location-based search tool in the vein of Sherpa. It's a nice looking app with a carousel menu, and it did a nice job finding local restaurants, gas stations, movie theaters and the like. Once you've found a spot using Poynt, you can get directions from Google Maps and navigate to the location.
In addition to the Android App Market, Cricket offers its own app store. There are ringtones and ringbacks. There's a section for “Applications,” but these are all simple mobile games from Gameloft, Glu and Capcom. Nothing really special here. The phone also comes preloaded with a number of game demos that can never be removed from the device. So, if you're not a fan of Midnight Bowling 2 or Uno, you'll still have to look at it for the duration of your time with the Ascend.
The phone comes with Cricket's MyBackup software for backing up your contact information. This wasn't necessary for me, since I use accounts that synchronize automatically. But if you don't want to use a Google account for contacts, you still have a backup option from Cricket.
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Phone Scoop is on site in San Francisco to take in all the breaking news and hands-on experiences of the fall CTIA trade show. Be sure to check for full coverage and handset first impressions here.
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