Huawei IDEOS X5 Preview

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Introduction and Design
This is a global GSM phone. It can beused with T-Mobile USA andAT&T, but without 3G.

Introduction:


Somewhat overshadowed by the plethora of big name handset announcements during CES, the Huawei IDEOS X5 quietly arrived on the scene with its mid-range specs in tow. Although we had some brief hands-on time with the upcoming Android 2.2 Froyo smartphone during the event, we're getting some intimate one on one time with a prototype unit that should allude to what we'll all expect once it's officially released by one of the major US carriers. And just because it doesn't have the brand recognition of its competitors, the IDEOS X5 may seemingly open the doors for Huawei in breaching the US market. However, it may take more than a well rounded performance and decent specs to leave its mark amongst consumers.

Design:

Quickly picking up the prototype handset, there isn't anything overly compelling about it to make us assume it's something refreshingly new. As a matter of fact, it follows in tradition to any other slate-like device on the market, but surprisingly resonates with an overall quality feel. Specifically, its chrome trim bezel accents naturally with its soft touch rear cover – which of course, keeps it looking clean and free from scratches. Moreover, its ample size actually doesn't make it feel bulky compared to devices packing 4” and up displays. As a whole, we're quite satisfied with its build quality, The Huawei IDEOS X5 easily separates itself from the manufacturer's previous effort found with the T-Mobile Comet.



You can compare the Huawei IDEOS X5 with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

In recent memory, devices packing on displays with WVGA resolution were generally deemed as high-end, but we're starting to see it become more common – thus permeating into the mid-range segment. And that's what we're treated to with the 3.8” WVGA (480 x 800) display of the Huawei IDEOS X5 as it brings forth some clear and crisp visuals that are happily agreeable to anyone's tastes. Furthermore, the display is able to exhibit some neutral looking colors.

After getting situated with its layout, the capacitive buttons beneath the display have enough space between them and the bottom of the handset to reduce accidental presses. Additionally, the piercing back-lighting allows us to view them in any situations.


In terms of physical buttons, there are relatively few clinging onto the sides of the handset; we find a reasonably sized volume rocker on the left edge and a dedicated power button on the top side. Aside from that, the IDEOS X5 boasts the traditional 3.5mm headset jack and microUSB port we're accustomed to seeing on most smartphones.


In the rear, the 5-megapixel auto-focus camera juts out from the surrounding area and is a cause of concern because the lens is in direct contact of whatever surface you place the handset on. In addition, we find both the LED flash and speakerphone grill placed to the right of the camera. Sliding off the back cover provides access to the SIM card slot, battery, and microSD card slot – the latter of which is hot-swappable.


Overall, it'd be almost unlikely to find the Huawei IDEOS X5 undergo some drastic design changes with the eventual production unit – except for the carrier branding it'll be flaunting. Ground breaking by any mean? Definitely not, but it's a stark contrast to the undesirable look and feel of their previous attempt in the US with the T-Mobile Comet, which is to say that... yes, we like it.

Huawei IDEOS X5 360-degree View:





Interface and Functionality:

As much as we'd love to see this running the latest flavor of the platform, Android 2.2 Froyo on the Huawei IDEOS X5 is still an up-to-date experience. With its 800MHz Qualcomm MSM 7230 processor, the IDEOS X5 provides enough horsepower in getting you by all the normal functions of the phone without exuding any evidence of choppy performance. Testing out its processing prowess, it's still quite capable in exhibiting some fluid movements in moving about its homescreen even when activating a graphically intensive live wallpaper. Furthermore, there's nothing wrong sticking to using the stock Android 2.2 Froyo experience since it can potentially minimize the time required in seeing updates.

Since it's running the stock experience, there's nothing new to learn about the platform as everything you'd expect is intact. With the apps panel, it's presented in that all too familiar 3D cube format that carousels items with its slick looking effects. Again, it does it so fluidly thanks to its processor which continues to show off its capable form. And when it comes to personalization, there are an abundant amount of items to modify to make the look and feel of the platform unique – such as the usual set of widgets, folders, wallpapers, and shortcuts.


There's no arguing that Froyo manages to integrate various aspects of social networking into the mix with some of the core apps, specifically, your contacts. Of course, you'll be able to view the usual assortment of information regarding each person, but you'll also be greeted to links and recent posts for their respective social networking accounts. Finally, the handset comes pre-installed with the Facebook and Twitter apps, which on their own, will aggregate information within their respective widget options.


Thanks to the decent amount of real estate offered by the IDEOS X5, sending messages won't pose much of a problem with its on-screen keyboards. In fact, there are three available that you can choose from, including Swype, which is able to keep up with our swift motions. Moreover, you've got the stock Android keyboard and one from Huawei that doesn't stray far from the layout of the stock one. Naturally, buttons are a bit cramped with the portrait options, but switching to landscape accommodates even the largest of fingers.


The prototype handset is preloaded with a variety of Google branded apps, like Google Maps and Earth, but there are a handful of demo games on board – like Bubble Bash 2, Iron Man 2, Prince of Persia, and Uno. On top of that, we find an augmented reality application in Layar that will provide you a first person perspective of local businesses. However, you can't count out the notion that we'll see carrier branded applications with the final product – which some will or will not appreciate.





Camera and Multimedia:

Seeing that it lacks a physical shutter key, we're resorted to navigating to the camera application in order to launch the app. Once that's done, we find ourselves in the familiar stock camera interface that's mostly clutter free – thus giving you more focus on what you're shooting. Obviously, there aren't that many manual options compared to other devices, but we're still presented with the usual ones like focus modes, scene modes, color effects, and white balance. Taking a photo is accomplished by placing your finger on the on-screen shutter button, which kicks in the auto-focus, and then releasing your finger to take the shot. In our experience, the handset takes some time to focus and shoot the image – which means that it requires a steady hand during the process.

Having in mind that image quality is subject to change, we'd still like to note that with the prototype, quality with its 5-megapixel camera is somehow abysmal which is most evident indoors where noticeable amounts of noise can be found. Outdoors though, it's a little bit more tolerable, but we wouldn't consider it as a replacement to your usual point and shoot. Specifically, we're subjected to shots that are muddy looking, soft in tone, and with bland color production. And even though it manages to pack on an LED flash, it doesn't seem effective on subjects that are more than 5 feet away – not to mention the drab and monotone colors it produces.



Surprisingly, the Huawei IDEOS X5 packs the ability to shoot in 720p which isn't something we necessarily find gracing most mid-range devices. Although we're jubilant knowing that it offers it nonetheless, its quality is anything but far from rewarding since what we got out of our prototype lacked any distinguishable details. Even worse, it shoots it at the slow as molasses rate of 16 frames per second which translates to a choppy recording. We really hope that by the time the handset will come to market, its photo and video capturing capabilities will be enhanced so that they live up to today's high standards..

Huawei IDEOS X5 Sample Video:

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With its stock Android music player, it displays all the usual items on-screen when playing a song – such as the album cover, track information, and controls. However, it's able to differentiate itself ever so slightly by offering a variety of equalizer options. Using the default setting, audio from the speaker is neutral in tone and lacks any vibrancy. Switching to the “SRS WOWHD” equalizer setting, it drastically injects some low frequencies which translates to an overall more powerful output when it's placed on the loudest volume setting.




Internet and Connectivity:

Being the GSM device it is, it'll more than qualify to run on a variety of networks around the world, but its 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi will get you faster data speeds when you're outside the presence of a carrier's reach. Additionally, it features aGPS to get a fix on your location and Bluetooth 2.1 with EDR to get your casual set of wireless devices to connect with it.

Praising Android 2.2 Froyo primarily because it brings forth support for Adobe Flash Player 10.1, the web browsing experience with the Huawei IDEOS X5 is tastefully satisfying. Meaning, it's able to load pages identically to what you find on a desktop PC. Pictures render perfectly while text will automatically adjust to the specified zoom level. Altogether, the experience is more than enjoyable, but we do notice some evidence of slowdown with pages that are heavy with Flash content. Nevertheless, it doesn't adversely detract from the overall good experience it has to offer.





Performance:

So far, we find the calling quality withthe prototype to be acceptable thanks to the natural voices heard onboth ends of the line. However, we find the earpiece to be lacking involume which required us to shove the phone closer to our ear to hearvoice properly. And with the speakerphone, it reacted the same waybecause volume output seemed to be lackluster – even at the highestsetting. That's one thing that we'll check once more when the finalunit becomes available, seeing that Huawei engineers might still havesome work to do with it.

Since our prototype only connected via EDGE, it doesn't particularly paint the true telling of its battery life.Though, we have to admit that on normal usage, it managed to provide usover a day of battery life before requiring a recharge. Obviously, 3Gconnectivity will impact the results more and we'll be able to furthergauge its level with the final unit.

Expectations:

First and foremost, the Huawei IDEOS X5 is by far a refreshing departure over the offering we experienced with the T-Mobile Comet– Huawei's last Android powered device for the US market. Positioned tobeing a mid-range device, we're glad that it dances on the fine line ofbeing a high-end model with its high-resolution display andavailability of 720p. Furthermore, the design and construction arevastly superior to the Comet – even though it might come off as beinglike any other typical touchscreen phone on the market.

However,one thing to keep an eye out for is what pricing will grace thisAndroid 2.2 device. That's because it'll have a drastic effect onwinning over consumers – especially in the US where its brandrecognition isn't as prominent. If it were given a price tag under$100, it'll easily attract customers with its mix of features and wouldbe able to rival the LG Optimus Oneas the device with the most bang for the least amount of money. But ifit were to tangle between the $150 to $200 price range, it mightquickly be overlooked in favor of some of the other well known Androiddevices out there.

Huawei IDEOS X5 Video Preview:

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