Huawei IDEOS X5 review

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Huawei might not be a huge name in the UK yet but globally the handset manufacturer means business. The company is the biggest telecoms manufacturer is China and is second only to Ericsson worldwide.

But big doesn’t always mean beautiful and the IDEOS X5 – the latest handset the company announced back at CES – doesn’t leave us wanting more.

Aesthetically, the phone is very pleasing. A smooth and silky front side with rounded edges, backed up with a pleasant to hold matt casing makes the handset great to look at as well as comfortable to handle.

It only comes in black but this gives the device a classy appearance that wouldn’t ring true in white or some other brash colour.

The screen is entirely flush with the casing as the back, menu, home and search buttons are all touch sensitive and run along the base.

This did cause a lot of accidental pressing though as when using the capacitive touchscreen to scroll through menus or web pages, it often caught one of the other commands.

The screen itself, however, is very satisfying to both look at and use. At 3.8-inches with 480×800 pixels and multi-touch, it does the job perfectly and was very reactive. Again, those buttons just get in the way though – enough that we need to mention it twice.

The camera is an impressive addition. At 5-megapixels and with a very bright flash, the quality of snaps is stunning for what is just a mid-range smartphone.

It is a bit temperamental though as when it takes photos, it decides whether to have a massive delay or click instantly without any manipulation of the settings.

When it comes to the operating system, we are a big fan of Android and the fact the IDEOS X5 runs its latest iteration, 2.2 – aka Froyo – is definitely a plus point.

Admittedly, the Vanilla version is not quite as usable and good looking as those with extra UIs, such as HTC Sense, but it is very user friendly and power economical.

The menu screen in particular we found incredibly funky, with the icons coming towards you as if they were the opening credits to a Star Wars movie. The five home screens give plenty of room to place your chosen apps, along with extra widgets, such as our favoured clock programme.

However, switching between the screens and scrolling in general on this handset is kind of jerky, as is the case with a lot of mid-range Android devices, and this does ruin the device’s otherwise smooth looks.

It is not a powerful phone compared to the number of rivals it has. The IDEOS X5 only runs a 800MHz processor which slows pretty much every activity down on this phone, from the web browsing to watching videos.

Don’t get us wrong, all these activities are possible on the handset but you might need to have the patience of a saint to wait for them to function fully.

Storage is also a little mediocre at 2GB internally but, as with many handsets of its kind, there is the option of a microSD card, giving it the possibility of up to 32GB.

Battery life with this handset is a bit hit and miss as well.

We found it would last two whole days when barely used, but the minute any data is downloaded or the Wi-Fi kicks in, the battery drains faster than a keg at a frat party. We can almost see the battery bar falling away like the countdown clock as it sits on the desk next to us.

The handset is yet to be released in the UK but we estimate it will come in between the £250 to £300 mark when it lands around May time.

It is also likely the IDEOS X5 will only be available SIM free, rather than on a contract with one of the operators.

That is a hefty amount to pay out for a pretty bog standard phone that might impress someone who has never touched a smartphone before but would disgust users of the iPhone or HTC Desire.

The IDEOS X5 is by no means the worst handset in the world but it doesn’t even come close to its higher end competitors. I

t is a mid-range, middle of the road device that, despite its beautiful appearance, leaves us thinking your money could be much better spent elsewhere.

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