Huawei’s Ascend Y200 is the company’s latest handset targeting the entry-level market. Its biggest asset — an Android smartphone packing an IPS LCD at under Php6k. Check out our full review of the Huawei Ascend Y200 after the break.
Huawei is positioning the Ascend Y200 to compete with other entry-level Android phones like the Galaxy Pocket (and the old Galaxy Y) as well as the LG Optimus L3. Like its big brother, the Huawei Honor, the Ascend Y200 also features a fast boot up time of 5 seconds.
Design and Construction
Huawei has clearly outdone themselves with the Y200, there are a couple of notable surprises included with their entry-level slab of cheap goodness — aside from the great build quality.
We were definitely surprised when we saw the LED notification light, it gives a faint glow of either red, green, blue or orange depending on the current status of the phone. It’s a welcome addition, we rarely see top-end Android smartphones that feature a notification light let alone an entry-level one.
The front fascia of the Y200 possess an eerie reminiscence with that of the HTC Wildfire S and Desire C smartphones. Also, the similar group of three touch-capacitive buttons can be found under the display, it’s up to you guys to decide if this is just a coincidence or not.
Unfortunately, the protective cover of the display is made out of plastic that easily gets scratched — no gorilla glass here (for that asking price? We really can’t complain), the chrome-like black trim that wraps around the edge of the phone is also a fingerprint magnet.
Despite our numerous attempts to exert pressure on the sides and middle part of the display, we weren’t able to see the ‘rainbow effect’ and barely heard any creaking. Huawei did a great job with this thing, It’s on par with the likes of Samsung and Nokia phones’ build quality.
Not much can be found at the right side of the phone.
The volume buttons are made out of rubberized plastic. It’s easy to locate the volume keys without looking at the phone, also, the keys give off a solid and tactile feedback with just the right amount of travel when pressed (no wobbles here).
The power/lock key and a 3.5mm headphone jack are found at the phone’s top part, there’s also a nailscoop for prying off the plastic back shell. It’s worth noting that despite the solid feel we get when pressing the power key, it can be a bit hard to press/locate since it’s little too flush with the phone’s chassis — thus, it requires a bit more effort than usual to activate the screen.
Uncluttered with just the micro USB slot and the microphone pinhole found at the bottom.
The 3.2MP camera and a speaker grill lies at the back part of the Y200, its back shell is covered in a pattern similar with Samsung’s Hyperskin which aids in keeping the phone from slipping off our sweaty palms while keeping fingerprints away. Another surprise is the tiny hole found near the upper right corner of the camera, a secondary microphone used for cancelling out background noise during calls (more on that later) which isn’t normally included with phones at this price range.
The back cover of the phone is made from a sturdy piece of polycarbonate plastic and needs quite a bit of effort to remove. Once the back cover is off, you can then gain access to the 1,250mAh battery, a regular-sized SIM card slot and a microSD expansion slot.
The overall design of the Ascend Y200 is professional looking despite its relatively cheap price. Once held, the 120 gram weight of the phone gives off a reassuring feel, it’s not too heavy nor light, the weight is just right. Add to that the solid slab feel and an adequately sized 3.5″ IPS display and you’re good to go.
The screen is the main selling point of the Y200 (as we have previously mentioned), while the limited 256k color output and 320×480 resolution are a bit of a disappointment, the 3.5″ IPS display on the Y200 boasts some serious viewing angles. Some of the main competitors within the 6k peso range are the Galaxy Y and Mini phones from Samsung and those things have awful viewing angles (not that everyone composes text messages on their phones from a 140-degree angle), lower resolutions and even smaller screens (240×320, 3.0 -3.15″) apart from the ugly color saturation.
(Note: images may appear pixelated due to the screen’s refresh rate, the phone’s display is a LOT clearer in real life.)
Whether lying on the bed and checking Facebook photos or if viewing SMS upside down, the color of images and readability of the characters on the screen will never appear washed out for sure.
The IPS panel on the Y200 does not make that much of a big deal but at least Huawei has done something to make using the phone more pleasurable without sacrificing the price. The display is the main input of a touchscreen phone after all, so a little improvement goes a long way.
Android OS and the Emotion UI
The Emotion UI is Huawei’s custom skin built right on top of the Android 2.3 Gingerbread OS, upon turning the phone on, first thing we’ve noticed about the interface was the highly functional lock screen. Once the display springs to life, users are greeted by a thin ring with an orb-like padlock inside, placing a finger on top of the orb makes four icons appear around the thin ring where you can drag it to. Dragging the orb to the north brings you straight to the call logs, dragging it to the west opens the messaging app and so on…
The UI that Huawei has implemented on the Y200 is quite smooth. Scrolling through the homescreens, messages, apps and contacts was buttery. Even the stock Gingerbread gallery was gliding along smoothly, we’re guessing it’s due to the Adreno 200 GPU coming into play, the relatively low pixel count of the display is quite easy to run for the aging graphics processor. We rarely saw stutters and skips. Even adding or dragging widgets is a breezy task — which we cannot say the same even with some higher-end smartphones out there.
Messaging and Internet Browsing
Since we’re used to the roomy displays of the Galaxy Note and most phones with 4.3″ [or larger] screens, it took us a bit of time to get used to the somewhat tight 3.5″ face of the Y200. Typing on the portrait keyboard was — for the most part, a cramped affair. We found ourselves switching between the portrait and landscape keyboard quite frequently, it’s pretty obvious that we’re inclined to take advantage of the larger landscape keyboard. A no-brainer.
The keyboard is responsive but sometimes it can be a little tacky, needing a split second to catch its breath. We cannot say that it is accurate unfortunately, it kept popping out letters that weren’t meant to be there every now and then.
Also, there’s something really annoying with the way Huawei has built the touch capacitive keys. The touch sensitive areas are not accurate, the blank space between the display and the top parts of the three capacitive keys are able to sense our touches — thus, causing mistouches to the home key when typing on the keyboard.
We kept wondering why the messenger app kept on crashing/bringing us back to the home screen while typing. Upon further observation, there’s actually nothing wrong with the app or keyboard itself. It’s the inaccurately printed conductive layer that’s causing the mistouches. We’ve noticed that it only happened whenever we hit the lower part of the ‘Space’ key or the letter ‘P’ in portrait and landscape orientation (respectively). It’s not something that can be fixed by software updates unfortunately.
Web browsing on the Y200 was actually pretty good, it’s definitely capable. The pinch-to-zoom was a little laggy but scrolling and general usage of the stock Gingerbread browser was okay. Sadly, Flash player bogged down the browser a lot so we had to disable it, viewing Flash videos on YouTube at 360p was certainly doable with a little bit of patience (there’s an app for that anyway).
Multimedia and Camera
The 3.2MP camera on the Y200 is not the kind of cellphone camera that one would want to keep using frequently. The shutter speed is slow, images often turned out blurry, colors are often washed out or pale and there’s no flash. We maybe asking too much, this is just a budget phone after all so let’s not push it.
Here are some sample photos we’ve taken with the Ascend Y200:
We didn’t bother taking videos with the Y200 since the quality isn’t going to win any awards. There’s no room for HD videos on phones within this price range, (except in the near future of course) sadly.
We’ve had some difficulties playing MKV and Dvix/Xvid videos with the Y200’s stock media player, it’s either the player would crash or the video formats are not supported at all. The phone’s screen is too small for watching movies anyway but if you happen to be a movie junkie, nobody’s stopping you from installing the MXplayer.
Playing music on the Y200 was okay-ish, sound quality is definitely not better than your iPod/Zune. The bass is weak, mids are muddy and the highs are hissy/sibilant. Nothing special.
It’s worth noting that while the speakerphone manages to pump out clear sound from voice calls, it’s not good for listening to music or setting your alert tones too loud. The sound ends up getting distorted when the volume is maxed out, just a heads-up.
Performance and Benchmarks
The phone’s measly 256MB RAM and 512MB ROM was barely able to let us download Temple Run, we had to delete every update that the stock Google/Android apps has downloaded just to make room for the game. Unfortunately, we were not able to play Temple Run on the Y200 since the game kept on force closing even before the main menu started to appear. We were — however, able to play Tetris! Tetris sailed smoothly alright but It’s just not as fun as Temple Run.
Out of curiosity we’ve (painstakingly) done some benchmarks on the Y200. Quadrant score is a low 1,177, Antutu Benchmark gave it a decent 2,243 and NenaMark 2 ended up with apaltry 15.4fps.
Nothing impressive but at least the thing was capable of running the benchmarks right?
Call Quality and Battery
A phone can’t be called a phone if it cannot make calls and last at least a whole day.
After using the Y200 for almost a week, all we can say is that taking calls with this thing is certainly enjoyable. The people we talked to has told us that our voices were loud and clear albeit, a bit warmer than usual. Voices on our end of the line were certainly clear and crisp, we could hear them well. We’re not sure about the background active noise-cancelling feature but our friends have mentioned that — although our voices sounded a teensy-bit robotic when we gave them a call [inside a loud fastfood chain] they could still understand us clearly without much background noise. It probably works.
As for battery life, this thing likes to sip very little juice.
The Y200 can easily last three days with light usage, one to a day and a half with moderate – heavy use. Not being able to play games that we’re not addicted to certainly helped but the battery life on this thing is just astonishing.
We normally unplug the phone around 9am, daily smartphone routine includes: Browsing for a few minutes to half an hour, an hour and a half worth of calls, answering several emails, about a hundred SMS sent and lots of social media usage mainly twitter, Facebook and Yahoo Messenger (frequently shifting between WiFi and mobile data)… there’s still about 35-40% of juice left at the end of the day, certainly not bad.
For a phone that costs under P5,500, this handset is packed with almost everything you need. The active noise-cancelling, LED notification lights, 320×480 IPS LCD screen — these little things that Huawei has included with the Y200 is what makes the phone shine. It blows everything within the same price range out of the water, not to mention the great build quality.
Huawei is a brand that most of us are unfamiliar with — or at least a brand that most of us trying to avoid due to the stigma that the phrase ‘made in China’ had cast upon us. I certainly wouldn’t have second thoughts purchasing the Y200 if I had a need for it.
Huawei Ascend Y200 specs:
3.5-inch IPS LCD @ 320×480 pixels, 165ppi
Qualcomm MSM7225A 800MHz
Adreno 200 graphics
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
Dual-mic noise reduction
GPS w/ aGPS support
Android 2.3 Gingerbread
1250mAh Li-Ion battery
Suggested retail price: Php5,490
What we liked about it:
* very affordable
* great viewing angles
* the only IPS LCD at its price category
* zippy UI
* LED notification light
* active-noise cancellation
* long battery life
* great build quality
What we didn’t like about it:
* keyboard lags
* capacitive buttons inaccurate
* a bit insufficient RAM and ROM
* poor camera quality
* distorted audio from the speakerphone
* poor audio quality from the 3.5mm output