One of the key features of the Impulse 4G is that it supports AT&T's HSPA+ network, which AT&T claims is 4G. This makes it one of the most affordable 4G handsets on the market. We'll get to its HSPA+ speeds in the Performance section below.
We tested the Huawei Impulse 4G (GSM 850/900/1800/1900; WCDMA 850/1900/2100) in San Francisco using AT&T Wireless. Call quality was decent on the whole. Voices sound loud and clear, and as natural as a cell phone call would get. There was hardly any background noise either, though we did detect the occasional buzz. Callers reported similar call quality, and praised the clarity of the call.
Speakerphone sounded good, though it did have more buzz and distortion than we expected. Callers said we were much quieter, and we had to speak up to be heard.
Huawei Impulse 4G call quality sample
We have to say that our experience with the Impulse 4G's HSPA+ speeds were wildly inconsistent. In downtown, we had horrible speeds. Using Ookla's Speedtest.net app, we got an average of 1.01Mbps down and 0.31Mbps up. When were at home in the outskirts of San Francisco, we had very good speeds of around 5.78Mbps down and 0.77Mbps up. They still don't compare to the LTE speeds on Verizon, but they're good for HSPA+ speeds. Similarly, when we were in downtown San Francisco, we had to wait almost three minutes to load the full CNET Web page, while we loaded the same page in just 25 seconds at home. Thus, we have to say that our speed test is inconclusive since it varies wildly from place to place.
The Huawei Impulse 4G is a decent entry-level smartphone for AT&T customers. It has a workable 800Mhz processor and basic smartphone features like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, and good e-mail support. However, it's saddled with Android 2.2 with no clear sign of a possible upgrade in the future, and we don't think its inconsistent HSPA+ network qualifies it as a true 4G phone. Yet, for only $29.99 with a new two-year agreement, you might be able to overlook its deficiencies.