The Huawei Y 100 is a pretty cheap smartphone. It’s only £79.99 and is a diddy little thing which could be the ideal first smartphone for youngsters, pensioners and those that have been scared off smartphones by the price.
Specs then, and we start off well with an 800MHz Qualcomm CPU and a Adreno 200 GPU. Around the back there’s a 3.2 megapixel camera, which is pretty good considering the sub-£80 price-tag. The 2.8″ 240×320 pixel screen is the main issue though, and within minutes you’ll find that although the 3.2 megapixel camera takes decent shots, the screen resolution just isn’t good enough to show this and you have to wait to upload the pictures or slide them across to your PC via the USB cable or email to see them properly. I’ve seen the exact same issue on other phones and it’s just like viewing hi-res images on those small digital key-chains. The screen just hasn’t got the detail to show the images properly. It’s not terrible by any means, but it’s something that needs pointing out.
The usual specs such as WiFI, GPS, Bluetooth and the compass / light sensors are all there and it’s powered by Android 2.3. Yeah, I know, it’s not the latest OS but hey, you gets what you pays for.
In size the Y 100 is about two thirds of a Galaxy SII. It has a rounded “pebble” shape with three soft keys at the front and one “action” button in the centre which has a silver surround.
The three touch-sensitive keys are back, menu and search. They’re well spaced and sit below the main screen. Below that, at the bottom of an arc-shape, there’s the action button I mentioned earlier. Just off to the right you might be able to see the microphone too.
At the top of the screen there’s the main Huawei logo, a small LED for telling you if the phone is charging or has web access and the main earpiece.
On the top edge you have a small but very easy-to-locate-and-press power button, a microUSB charging point (yes, at the top) and the 3.5mm audio port.
The outer section and rear portion of the phone has a soft rubber appearance whilst the main screen section is surrounded by black plastic. There’s a silver strip going around the edge which grows slightly larger on the side and thins out at the top and bottom.
The right side of the handset has the volume controls.
On the rear you’ll find the camera, external speaker and another Huawei logo. There’s a small groove at the bottom for accessing the battery compartment. It’s in there that you’ll find your microSD expansion slot. Alas there’s no included microSD so you’ll have to get your own – and we’d strongly recommend it because the on-board memory won’t last long at all.
From the unlock screen you can directly access the camera, messages, call history or simply unlock the screen. You can “wake up” the phone with the power button or the main action key.
Android powers the handset and the main screen lets you drag and drop widgets, shortcuts and folders. Sure, you can’t add as many as you’d normally expect on bigger screens, but there’s five panels to drag stuff onto and you can add your own backdrop and dart between the panels using the back key and then selecting the appropriate screen.
There’s a whiff of Huawei tweaking, but thankfully it’s not too intrusive and the basic Android interface remains largely untouched. Unfortunately at times I swore I could see the “lines” that made up the screen. It was just a little too small and a little too low res. Sadly a few of the games we tried didn’t like the lower-res screen either. You can almost tell that Huawei knew this as a Touchpal keyboard is used to type – it makes things a little more bearable on the smaller screen.
Included apps are fairly standard. I liked the fact that there was an FM radio out of the box and a backup facility, plus there’s a Documents To Go app should you want to try and view a document on this too. A couple of O2 apps have been added which are fairly nice.
Call quality and battery life is fairly normal depending on how you hammer the phone. It lasted well over a day in my tests, although I’ll confess that I had to keep switching back to another handset for more demanding tasks …. this isn’t a phone you want to “up”grade to if you’ve already got a top-end smartphone.
Let me start by saying that Huawei make rather excellent smartphones. We saw the Huawei D Quad in Barcelona and it looks fantastic, however the Y 100 has sacrificed a little too much. I can do without the flash, I can do without a hi-res camera or a super-fast CPU, but the screen was a cut too much.
I could learn to love the screen if the resolution was cranked up, but even at this low price I’d still be looking at the other handsets in the Huawei range first, specifically the Huawei G300 we reviewed, which you can pick up for around ￡20 more.