Huawei Ascend Y300, a Pretty Good Buy

If you think £100 is a small price to pay for an Android handset then you are going to love the prospect of the Huawei Ascend Y300, which comes in at just £69.95 – and that includes a £10 PAYG top-up. You can find it for this price as we write at Carphone Warehouse. Your first thought might be to be lured by the cost, your second might be to wonder if you get a phone that’s got some giant flaws for the money. Well, there are good things about the Huawei Ascend Y300 and not least among them is a four-inch screen. It seems that budget phone makers have finally decided that wherever else they cut corners it should not be the screen.

The Huawei Ascend Y300’s 800 x 480 pixels might not be ground breaking, but they’re good enough for web browsing, seeing a reasonable SMS trail, email, viewing photos and looking at video. In fact, these days, a four-inch, 800 x 480 screen is our minimum acceptable standard.

Huawei has also built a front camera into the Ascend Y300. This is something that budget phones will often lack, and it’s nice to see the ability to take self portraits here, as well as make video calls. The main camera, with its fi ve-megapixel capability, isn’t anything to shout about, but photos are reasonably good and if you are just interested in quick snaps it will do.

One area where corners have defi nitely been cut is the build. The plastic casing is a bit chunky and the phone is quite thick in the hands. But it felt solid enough and should take a fair few knocks. There’s quite a lot of unused space around the screen, which doesn’t fi t into its surroundings nearly as snugly as screens can in higher-end phones. But at least there’s a textured effect to the backplate.

When it comes to the innards it is immediately clear how Huawei has cut down on costs. The processor is 1GHz dual-core and it has 512MB of RAM backing it up. This is really a minimum specifi cation for a modern handset. For everyday tasks, though, the Y300 is up to the job. There’s 4GB of internal storage which isn’t a great deal, and only half of this is accessible. Quite irritatingly it is partitioned with 1GB each available for apps and data. Thank goodness for the micro SD card slot.

Android 4.1 has had a bit of makeover. You can have up to nine home screens. This seems like a huge number, but you might need them. Huawei has done away with the apps drawer, instead dropping newly installed apps right onto a home screen. This sounds really odd, and it does take a bit of getting used to, but in fact, after a little bit of acclimatisation time, we found it to work quite well.

The problem might come if you are a big fan of widgets – lots of app shortcuts will reduce widget space. But you could always put apps into folders to save on space, and it’s no more work to fl ick through home screens searching for an app than it is to go to the app drawer.

To be fair to Huawei, dropping the app drawer isn’t something that it has decided to implement only at the budget end of its range. It’s also a feature of the super-large Huawei Ascend Mate. So the company must think it is a good move rather than simply one for the cheap phones.

In the end, the Huawei Y300 represents a pretty good buy. Large screen, chunky but robust, and with plenty of home screens to play with, the only real problems that you might encounter are processor related and a serious shortage of internal storage.