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Your basic Android smartphone

U.S. Cellular recently picked up the Huawei Ascend II, an entry-level Android 2.3 Gingerbread smartphone that doesn't stray far from the basics.

Updated:Caption:Photo:James Martin/CNET
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Design

The Ascend II's design is attractive enough, with smooth round lines and a grippable soft-touch back cover. It's fairly petite without being tiny, so it's easy to cart around.

Updated:Caption:Photo:James Martin/CNET
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Typing troubles

The 3.5-inch screen isn't too shrunken on its own, but typing was tough on the default keyboard, especially without Swype or other keyboards preinstalled to help out. I made a lot of errors.

Updated:Caption:Photo:James Martin/CNET
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Top view

I kind of like how the headset jack straddles the top and back.

Updated:Caption:Photo:James Martin/CNET
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Photo test

First, the compulsory note: All photos were taken with automatic settings. While they have been resized, they are otherwise unaltered.

The Ascend II has a 5-megapixel camera, which certainly isn't extravagant, but could be capable of producing great pictures. It doesn't. Without a flash or autofocus, taking photos was a crap shoot.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Jessica Dolcourt/CNET
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Focal foul

I was aiming for the chiseled Captain Marvel. Instead, Mr. Bacon stole the spotlight.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Jessica Dolcourt/CNET
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Toys

The Ascend II did better than it could have with this scene. The focal field is a tad deeper than for some smartphone cameras.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Jessica Dolcourt/CNET
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Flower power?

Looking at this blurry photo of flowers, taken in early morning light, makes my eyes hurt. The color representation is good, though.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Jessica Dolcourt/CNET
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Also unfocused

Here the leaves look better than the blooms, which I was trying to make my main subject.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Jessica Dolcourt/CNET
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Table

The slatted chair-and-table combo outside CNET's office looked decent photographed with the Ascend II.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Jessica Dolcourt/CNET
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Studio shot

The Ascend II did OK with the standard studio shot, but not every object is in focus.

Updated:Caption:Photo:James Martin/CNET
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