If you're into white cell phones and resistive touch screens, retro-cool would be one way to describe the Huawei M735 for MetroPCS. If you're not, the word you could be looking for is "outmoded." The milk-white device has its appeal, but it also has one feature we haven't seen since the middle of the last decade and one that, like go-go boots and acid wash jeans, we're not quite ready to welcome back: a stylus for navigating the resistive touch screen.
To its credit, the M735 is a 3G-capable handset with e-mail, IM, pretty good photos for a 3-megapixel shooter, and a workable MP3 player. This BREW-based cell phone uses an operating system and interface quite similar to that found in the Huawei-made T-Mobile Tap, a benefit or detriment depending on your preference. On the downside, browsing speeds in our tests were more leisurely than zippy, call quality was variable, and speakerphone was on the quiet side. The stylus may not bother those for whom it's a novelty, but it hindered our speed. The Huawei M735 costs $99 without a contract.
MetroPCS called the Huawei M735 a "stylish" cell phone, and indeed, its distinctive look sets it apart from the pack of bland, black handsets. Its white body and rounded corners are reminiscent of the elusive white iPhone, but the physical comparison stops there. Silver trimmings and a touch of green, blue, and red on the buttons add a splash of color. At 4.1 inches tall, 2.2 inches wide, and 0.45 inch thick, the candy-bar-style M735 sits at the smaller end of the scale. It is petite enough for small hands, but not so tiny it will get lost in a purse or bag. The 3.7-ounce weight is a fine fit for the handset's dimensions.
The M735 has a 2.8-inch QVGA touch screen that supports a 320x240-pixel resolution. Unlike most cell phones we see today, the M735 uses a resistive rather than capacitive touch screen technology. While the screen feels smooth to the touch, it won't register light presses with your finger. You'll either need to press firmly to make a gesture or selection, or use the roughly 2-inch-long stylus that tucks neatly into the back of the phone. Resistive screens and the stylus are largely obsolete. In addition to taking more effort to use than a finger swipe, a stylus is easy to drop or misplace. Though we were able to navigate with our fingers, the stylus was often quicker and more precise.
Beneath the screen is a circular navigation toggle with a central Select button. On either side are the Tic Tac-shaped Talk and End buttons. The volume rocker and camera shutter are on the right spine. A 3.5mm headset jack is on the top, adjacent to the Micro-USB charging port. On the back is a 3-megapixel camera, far above the stylus pocket that sits at the bottom right corner of the M735's back. Pop off the back cover to access the microSD card slot. It holds up to 8GB external memory. Unfortunately, removing the SD card can be tricky.
The display itself is fairly clear and bright. There are five home screens that you can populate with widgets from a pop-out menu. If you're familiar with Samsung's TouchWiz 2.0 interface, you'll know exactly what do to with these widget trays. If you're not, adding and removing widgets may take some getting used to. We don't happen to be fans of this style. Along with the hardware stylus, the widget tray is one "feature" best left to the past.
At the bottom of each home screen are four static icons for the dialer, your message inbox, the app launcher, and a screen lock. After the screen times out, you'll slide the unlock bar to access the phone's display.
As for customizations, you can select the backlight time and brightness in the settings menu. There's also a banner you can customize, along with wallpaper for each of the home screens.
Note that since the M735 does not have an accelerometer (we don't hold it against Huawei), rotating the device won't produce a horizontal virtual keyboard. Instead, you'll need to tap an icon on the keyboard you see in portrait mode to expand to the QWERTY view. It is possible to type with your fingers, but the screen is a skosh small to accurately type this way--the stylus is faster in this case.
Although the M735 is most definitely not a smartphone, MetroPCS has done a sound job instilling it with useful apps. Before we get there, however, let's address the address book. It holds 1,000 names with room in each entry for multiple phone numbers, an e-mail address, a URL, and notes. You can also assign a calling group, a custom ringtone, and a custom image. Unfortunately, the phone lacks the ability to take a contact picture from the address book; you'll need to add it from the media folder or from the photo-editing mode after you snap the portrait.