Thanks to MetroPCS' standard swatch of Internet-connected apps, you have more goodies on here than one might initially think. Still, the Pinnacle is best suited to be a texting and talking phone. The friendly look and feel of the address book includes basic fields for up to 1,000 contacts, with a spot for a photo ID and for group calling. It's a little thin on extra fields for memos and birthday reminders, but you do have a Web site slot and space for multiple phone numbers and e-mail addresses. The Pinnacle starts you off with 10 ringtones, and there's always silent mode.
Wi-Fi isn't a staple on the Pinnacle, but Bluetooth 2.0 is, and of course texting and multimedia messaging. You'll also find old standards such as an alarm clock, a calculator, a calendar, a memo app, a voice recorder, a stopwatch, a weather shortcut, and a world clock. The MetroWeb browser brings you the Internet, and if you've got a microSD card installed you can play its songs through the music player.
If you want additional apps and wallpaper beyond the presets, you'll have to go online through one of the MetroPCS portals and download them.
There is a 1.3-megapixel camera/camcorder on board, but it isn't very satisfying for anything beyond a casual shot. The photos sometimes lacked vibrancy or were oversaturated when taken indoors during daylight hours. Outdoor pictures showed balanced color reproduction, and the focal point is entirely dependent on you. Without a flash, low-light shots are a lost cause. (Compare our standard studio shots here.)
Luckily, there is pretty much the full complement of effects and adjustments on the camera settings menu, like white balance and effects, a self-timer, and even extra frames.
I'd shy away from video completely, if you have the choice. The capture was delayed and blurry compared with real life, and playback was equally blurred.
I tested the dual-band (CDMA 800/1900) Huawei Pinnacle in San Francisco on MetroPCS' network. Call quality went from mediocre to worse. On my end, volume was low and my caller sounded a little distant and robotic; his voice sounded almost wavy, coming in and out. Despite the rocky voice quality, the call clarity remained intact. I didn't catch any white noise or other blips and interruptions.
On their end, callers complained that my voice sounded "disturbingly loud." I apparently also sounded somewhat distorted, with choppiness and missing syllables. My testing partner agreed that there was no background noise in the calls.
Huawei Pinnacle call quality sample
Speakerphone volume was so low it was nearly unusable. On the highest volume setting, I still had to strain to hear. On the plus side, there wasn't much echo or reverberation and the line stayed clear. On his end, my test partner heard normal amounts of echo and hollowness, plus a distortion that made my voice sound unnatural. Volume was fine, however, and he decided that speakerphone was OK overall, but not fantastic.
The Pinnacle has a rated battery life of up to 4 hours of talk time and up to 10 days of standby time on its 900mAH battery. During our talk-time test, it lasted 6.33 hours. According to FCC tests, it has a digital SAR of 1.14 watts per kilogram.
If only the Huawei Pinnacle gave me excellent call quality, or even just plain good audio, I'd call it a cell phone find. I find the physical design of the QWERTY feature phone appealing, and the interface even more so, with its user-friendly icons and menus that feel familiar without being hackneyed. I appreciate the onboard tools, and the price is right -- as long as you recognize that MetroPCS won't give you blazing data speeds on its sub-3G network. The call quality wasn't so bad on my end of the line that it would keep me from placing calls completely, but over time I could see myself becoming annoyed and keeping calls to a minimum. I'd still recommend the Pinnacle to a sliver of MetroPCS subscribers who understand the phone's limitations and would mostly use the onboard tools and text messaging.