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Huawei Ascend G510 Review

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Rating: 8/10

Pros:

  • Great value for money
  • Large bright screen
  • Decent camera
  • Excellent battery life
  • Generally well made

Cons:

  • Awkwardly placed USB port
  • Underwhelming custom UI
  • Slow when web browsing
  • Flimsy back cover
  • No physical camera button

The R1500 to R2000 segment of the phone market is an important one in emerging markets like South Africa. Huawei has a rather unique device for this segment, as the Ascend G510 has a rather sizeable 4.5 inch screen. Screens of this size are usually featured on more premium smartphones.

I have had almost a week and a half to get to know the Ascend G510 and have become rather fond of the phone.

Design

The Huawei Ascend G510 is generally well made. I initially thought it was a much more expensive phone, partly due to its large screen and partly due to its solid construction.

The phone has a removable cover, which is rather flimsy, but this is not apparent until one removes it. The back cover has a lined texture to it, making it easy to maintain a grip on the G510.

The placement of the cameras, headphone port, speakers and capacitive buttons is well done. While the volume rocker is easy to reach, one has to stretch a bit to reach the power button.

To my disappointment, the G510 has no dedicated camera button and there is no quick way to access the camera. I feel that a button or shortcut to the camera from the lock screen is a must have in a smartphone.

My biggest gripe is the placement of the micro-USB port. It sits on the bottom left side of the device and obstructs one’s left hand when charging the phone and typing.

The inclusion of a notification light above the screen is a most welcomed addition. It’s small touches like these that go a long way in enhancing the overall user experience.

Screen

The Huawei Ascend G510 has a 4.5 inch IPS LCD display with a resolution of 854 by 480 and a pixel density of around 218 pixels per inch. The phone upsets the budget conscious phone trend with a large screen and a vibrant and bright panel.

With regards to outdoor viewing, the screen does not support over saturation technology (like Nokia’s ClearBlack panels), but I found the display adequately bright to make it functional for use in full daylight.

The touch screen is responsive and sufficiently sensitive, to the point that one can operate the phone through thin fabrics.

Hardware

Being a budget friendly smartphone, the Ascend G510 lacks the more expensive hardware of its bigger Android brothers. The 1.2 GHz dual core processor and 512 MB of RAM suffice for most tasks.

When it comes to a smooth operating experience, the G510 is not quite on par with the Nokia Lumia 520 and 620, but your average user won’t pick up this difference without doing a direct comparison.

Casual gaming shouldn’t be a problem as long as complex textures are turned off. Generally, multitasking shouldn’t cause any hassles. The one area where the G510 shows some cracks is when doing web browsing, where it often stutters when zooming and switching tabs.

I was pleasantly surprised by the Ascend G510’s rear camera. The 5 MP rear camera is capable, not on the iPhone 5’s or Lumia 920’s level, but far from the horrid sub-par levels, for which budget phones are known.

Daytime shots are crisp and have a dynamic colour pallet. Indoors, photos are prone to motion blur from slow shutter speeds, but it is possible to take a decent photo with a steady hand.

The G510 surprised me with its night shots. I took a stunning photograph, in the evening, of some buildings in Sandton from a rooftop. The camera showcased a well-lit, smooth textured picture with little motion blur. I must note that I did rest my arms on a wall to steady my grasp on the phone.

The front camera is adequate for VGA resolution camera. Photos are grainy and video calls will display lag if the room is not sufficiently lit.

The Ascend G510 has great battery life with its 1750 mAh user replaceable battery. I consistently achieved nearly 24 hours of moderate use without a charge. I even managed to get four and a half hours of 720p video play out of the G510.

Call quality is excellent for both parties on the G510 and speaker has an average maximum volume for a phone. The LED flash is rather bright, but it won’t show up a digital camera’s Xenon flash.

Operating System

The Huawei Ascend G510 runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean with Huawei’s custom Emotion user interface. If you’re wondering why the G510 doesn’t run the newest version of Jelly Bean the answer is that Huawei reserves Jelly Bean 4.2 for its premium devices. That’s fair enough.

I really like Android Jelly Bean. It’s a versatile and customisable operating system in its stock form. It does come with drawbacks, like security problems and a larger learning curve than iOS and Windows Phone.

Huawei has changed the operating system a fair bit and in many ways made it simpler to use. There is no app tray, so all your apps sit on the phone’s home screen. I’m not a fan of ridding Android of its app tray. Though it does dumb down the learning curve for a first time smartphone user.

The Emotion UI offers some interesting screen transitions and wallpapers but it is generally underwhelming. In my opinion, Huawei could have gone to more effort to make it a little more unique and exciting.

Android offers hundreds of thousands of apps, including all the big name essentials like Instagram and Vine. If having all the latest apps is essential to you and you’re looking for a budget smartphone, then Android is the way to go.

Conclusion

The Huawei Ascend G510 is an excellent entrant into the sub R2000 segment of the smartphone market. It has made a big impression on me.

Having the Nokia Lumia 920 as my every day smartphone, one would think the Ascend G510 would appear rather dull, but I was pleasantly surprised. If I was given no option, I would be more than happy switching it with the G510.

It offers almost all the luxuries that only more premium phones use to offer and is thoroughly worth your Rand if you are looking for a smartphone on a budget.

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Writer and editor for Tech Net Africa.

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