Huawei Ascend W2 Smartphone Review – Good or Bad
The W-series of smartphones from Huawei are characterized by their use of Microsoft's Windows Phone operating system. This novel feature makes them somewhat rare and very different from other smartphones because smartphones overwhelmingly use Google's Android and Apple's iOS to a lesser extent.
The operating system is the connection between yourself and the smartphone. It holds everything together and is the interface through which you make the phone do what it is that you want it to do. Choice of operating system is important and can greatly influence your satisfaction with a smartphone.
Like its predecessor the W1, the Huawei Ascend W2 is a budget smartphone. Except for the presence of Windows Phone, it's not that different from any other smartphone in its class. Before deciding if the phone is right for you, it's therefore important to focus and look at what's good and bad about Windows Phone as an operating system.
Good: Windows Phone is faster and more efficient than Android
Smartphone manufacturers are allowed to use Android for free and that has resulted in Android becoming the dominant mobile operating system by far in terms of market share. However, while this has reduced the overall price of smartphones to the public, the use of Android does have its disadvantages.
For starters, Android makes use of a socalled Virtual Machine, which in practice tends to reduce the speed at which software runs. Without getting into too much technical details, the Virtual Machine acts as an additional buffer between the underlying hardware and the interface that people use to control the device.
All of this increases the amount of overhead that the hardware and the processor in particular has to deal with. The additional work that needs to be done results in a slower device. In comparison to Windows Phone and iOS, Android phones tend to run slower with the use of equivalent hardware.
The Huawei W2 is no different. Although it may be classified as a budget phone and is equipped accordingly, the performance of the W2 is more comparable to mid-range Android smartphones than to budget Android smartphones. In this regard, the use of Windows Phone in the Huawei W2 is a good thing.
Good: the Huawei W2 comes with a bigger battery than most budget smartphones
The Huawei W2 has an additional advantage over its competition which mostly uses Android. Since there's less overhead to deal with in Windows Phone, the processor in the W2 doesn't have to work as hard or as often. This means that less energy is used or wasted and this will in turn make the phone last longer.
On top of that, the Huawei W2 also comes with a bigger battery than the average budget smartphone. Many budget smartphones try to be as cheap as possible and one way to help accomplish that is to install a smaller battery.
However, the Ascend W2 is different in that it doesn't skimp on battery size. Combine that with the efficiency of Windows Phone and you get a phone that will easily last through the day in the Huawei W2. A major strength of the Huawei W2.
Good: the Huawei W2 is available in several colors
Unlike most budget smartphones which tend to be available in black only, the Huawei W2 is available in a wider range of colors that will better suit people's tastes. You have the option of choosing between black, yellow, red and blue. That's good because other phones don't give you a choice at all. With the W2, you get to decide for yourself what's best for you.
Another cool feature that you won't find everywhere is the ability of the capacitive buttons at the bottom of the phone to sync with the color of the phone. For example, if you have a blue smartphone, the three buttons will light up in blue. This looks nice, especially in the dark. Most people will probably find this appealing, even if it doesn't have much practical value.
Neutral: the Huawei W2 has an above average amount of internal storage, but it cannot be expanded
Most smartphones in the class of the Huawei W2 tend to come with around 4 to 8 gigabytes of internal storage. The W2 with 8 gigabytes is at the higher end of that scale and it's much more than what you'll get with most budget smartphones. That's the good news.
The bad news is that the amount of internal storage cannot be expanded due to the absence of a MicroSD slot. Many smartphones do have the ability to install a MicroSD card, but the W2 does not have that option, unlike most of Huawei's other smartphones.
If you run out of room, you will need to transfer files out of the phone. You can of course make use of Cloud storage such as Microsoft's Skydrive or some other Internet storage using a Wi-Fi or 3G cellular connection, but this method is less convenient and more time-consuming than if there had been a MicroSD card.
Neutral: the Huawei W2 is well-equipped in some areas, but lacking in other areas
Besides the amount of internal storage, the Huawei W2 comes with a 4.3 inch LCD touchscreen, which is bigger than what you'll find on the average budget phone. Viewing angles of the screen are also good. Colors do not become dull or washed out.
There is a dual-core processor and 512 megabytes of memory, which is fairly standard for a budget phone. There is a five megapixel camera in the back, but there is no camera in the front. It does support GPS, but there is no radio.
In short, the Huawei W2 is strong in some areas, but weak in other areas. Internal storage and screen size are better than most budget smartphones, but it lacks a MicroSD slot, frontal camera and radio, which many other budget smartphones do have. So not good, but not bad either.
Neutral: some people may not be familiar with the brand Huawei
Many people tend to be hesitant to buy a product from a company they are not familiar with. Huawei smartphones are an example of those products. All else being equal, it's almost certain that someone will pick another brand with which people are more familiar with.
However, it may be good to know that Huawei is actually one of the biggest companies in the world with tens of billions in annual revenue. This may put some people at ease because doing business with a big company carries a certain margin of safety that you don't get with a small company.
For example, a big company is much less likely to screw over their customers with bad products because they will not easily jeopardize everything they've build up. On the other hand, a small company has much less to lose and is more likely to rip people off. They can more easily disappear, something that is impossible to do if you're a big company.
Therefore, even though people may be worried about the quality of Huawei smartphones, it's unlikely that there's good reason for worry. Huawei is a big company and they have too much at stake to not try to put out a good product. In my opinion, that makes it worth taking a chance on Huawei if you're not sure.
Bad: the Huawei W2 is more expensive than most budget smartphones
The Huawei W2 tends to retail for around $175 unsubsidized, which is actually in line with the asking price for smartphones in this class with Windows Phone. However, it's also higher than equivalent smartphones using Android.
Apple's iOS is not used in any budget smartphones and Android is therefore the primary competitor of the W2. In my opinion, the W2 would be a lot more attractive if it was priced below $150 and ideally at around $125. That would take away the price advantage of Android, but that may be hard to do.
It's important to know that Windows Phone does not come free unlike Android. Smartphone manufacturers need to license the operating system and pay a fee to Microsoft. This raises the cost of Windows smartphones and they will therefore be more expensive than equivalent Android smartphones. This is a huge advantage of Android over Windows.
So even though the Huawei W2 is priced well compared to other Windows smartphones, it doesn't compare all that well against budget smartphones using Android. It compensates for it in other areas such as speed and efficiency, but it will always be at a disadvantage as long as Windows Phone comes at a price.
Bad: Windows Phone has much less apps available
The higher cost of Windows Phone has led to fewer smartphones being produced that use the operating system. In turn, software developers have produced fewer apps for Windows Phone because there are far fewer smartphones out there that use it.
For that reason, there are far fewer apps available for Windows Phone in comparison to Android and iOS. Unless the app is very popular, there is a good chance that you won't be able to find a compatible version for your Windows smartphone. The most popular apps are available for Windows Phone, however.
The only way that this problem can be resolved is if Windows smartphones become more prevalent. Developers will respond by making more apps available. That could happen in the future, but that time has not yet come. For now, using a Windows smartphone such as the Huawei W2 comes with the disadvantage that there are far fewer apps for you to choose from.
Summary and comparison of the Huawei Ascend W2 pros and cons
In my opinion, the Huawei W2 is a good phone compared to other Windows smartphones. It seems sturdy enough for a budget phone and looks like a good option as long as you restrict yourself to Windows smartphones only.
However, compared to other budget smartphones that use Android, the W2 makes a much less compelling option. It may be faster and more efficient, but it's also more expensive and is less compatible with apps.
Unfortunately for the W2, the disadvantages of the W2 are much more noticeable than its advantages. People may not notice or care that it's faster and has better battery life, but they will certainly notice the difference in price and the fact that it doesn't have a large software ecosphere.
The W2 is after all supposed to be a budget smartphone. For people looking at this type of smartphone, price is important and the W2 falls short in that regard. For this main reason, the Huawei is probably not suitable for most people.
There are simply too many Android smartphones out there that can do what the W2 can and at less cost. The average person doesn't care what operating system they use, as long as the phone works. Android does that and the Huawei W2 doesn't offer much else besides Windows Phone.
The exception is if you really have to have Windows Phone as an operating system in your smartphone for whatever reason. Windows Phone is not a bad operating system and in some ways is actually better than competing ones. As long as you're willing to pay a premium for the right to use Windows and can live without access to a lot of apps, the Huawei W2 will get the job done.
- Windows Phone is faster and more efficient
- Windows Phone includes Microsoft Office
- Very good battery life
- Good screen for a budget smartphone
- Capacitive buttons can sync with smartphone color
- Available in multiple colors
- More expensive than other budget smartphones
- Far fewer software apps available
- Is not expandable with MicroSD slot
- No radio
Huawei Ascend W2 specifications
Windows Phone 8
Qualcomm Snapdragon™ MSM8230, 1.4 GHz dual-core processor
Band (varies by version)
WCDMA: 850 / 1900 / 2100 MHz
WCDMA: 900 / 2100 MHz
GSM / EDGE: 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 MHz
Black / blue / yellow/ red
Dimension (H X W X D)
134.0 mm x 67.0 mm x 9.9 mm
About 160 grams
4.3-inch Multi-Touch IPS Touchscreen /w 16M colors
WVGA (800 X 480, 217 PPI)
512 Megabytes (MB)
8 Gigabytes (GB)
Memory card slot
microUSB, USB 2.0, 3.5 earjack
Bluetooth 3.0, WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
Accelerometer, proximity sensor, ambient light sensor, A-GPS