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The Huawei Pal is incredibly easy to use.: First Look

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First Look: The Huawei Pal is incredibly easy to use.

3:10 /

With its limited features and poor call quality, the Huawei Pal isn't worth your time, even as a basic phone.

Hi. I'm Kent German, senior managing editor here at CNET. Today, we'll take a first look at the Huawei Pal. This is a new phone from MetroPCS. Now, I know. You're looking at this phone and you're thinking, is this really 2013, and am I showing you this? Well, it is. And, yeah. This is MetroPCS, so the carrier tends to go a little lower-end on their phones. And I know that not everybody needs a device that's really fancy. You don't need-- and not everyone needs something that does a million things, has all this stuff on it. So, there is a place and a time for a phone that just makes calls and sends messages. But I really don't think the Huawei Pal was the one you'd want. It doesn't make very good calls, actually. And that really is-- it's primary and pretty much only function. It is just way too basic. It takes out simplicity and runs with it way, way, way, way, way further than it should. So, now, we'll-- I'll talk about the design for a minute, though. It is a very simple candy bar. It's really from another decade, actually. It has a very small display, not much bigger than a postage stamp. Its color, I don't know actually how many hues is on it. And-- but it is simple. I mean, it's serviceable, the menu system is deadly easy. It's just got icons on the first page. And then, a list base menu system inside. You'll have to be very, very familiar if you used the phone for a lot of years. It is very light in the hand, it's so small. I can almost close my hand completely around it. You almost-- you really don't notice it's there. Below the display, there's a big navigation array. I kinda liked it. It is-- well, it has a nice retro feel. It reminds me of something, when I first started reviewing phones here at CNET, like ten years ago. It has circular navigation toggle. It's really big, it's raised above the surface of the phone. So, it's very easy to use. There's an OK button on the middle, a couple of soft keys-- one you could program as a shortcut to-- a feature of your choice, whether Talk and Ends Power buttons. There's a clear button, and then, there's a dedicated speaker for control. So again, it's spacious, very easy to use, simple to master. Keypad buttons down below, you know, there is no-- there is no keyboard, there is no physical keyboard, there's no [unk] keyboard. So, you're gonna be texting using only this-- alphanumeric keypad. Up on the top, there's a 3.5-millimeter headset jack. Over on this side, there is a micro-USB charger port that is only used for a charger. It doesn't have USB syncing, nothing you've-- and there's really much to put in this phone. Anyway, thought I'd just keep that in mind. There's no dedicated volume rocker. So, when you're on a call, you're gonna have to use that navigation toggle to change the volume. And interestingly, this isn't a huge deal, but this thing I noticed-- interestingly, you actually have to go side-to-side to raise the vol-- raise and lower the volume, not up and down. So, it's a little counter-intuitive. On the back, there's a single speaker. Actually, it's a pretty good output. But call-- our call quality isn't that great, as I said. Inside the phone, there's no camera, there is just a few megabytes of memory, there's a 1,000-contact phonebook. And you can pair your contacts with photos. But how are you gonna get photos in the phone? It's not-- that's another matter. You're gonna have to actually have somebody text them to you since you can't. There is no memory card slot, there's no camera, and there's no USB syncing. There is a web browser, so that, of course, is deadly simple. It only is gonna serve up the really most stripped-down mobile web pages. I mean, navigating around with that toggle, it just really felt like I was living ten years ago. But it is there, so you can use it. This phone, way too simple. It's easy to use, but just too simple as far as features and design. I'm Kent German here with the first look at the Huawei Pal for MetroPCS.

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