When we first saw it at CES, the Android 2.2-powered Huawei Ideos X5 (U8800) left a good impression. Its trim body has a premium feel that accentuates a large screen, and the specs are more upmarket than the more entry-level Huawei Ascend. There's a 5-megapixel camera, an 800MHz processor, and 720p HD video capture and playback.
Interestingly, there's still much we don't know about the GSM Ideos X5, like its price, specific release date, and carrier. Yet, we know that it is already on shelves in Europe and Asia, and is slated for U.S. shores in mid-2011.
The Ideos X5 is an understated looker, thanks in part to a shiny, dark gray metal rim that frames the phone's black face. The top and bottom are rounded, and the remaining edges are soft. At 4.7 inches tall by 2.4 inches wide by 0.4 inch thick, it's a slim-feeling slab of a device. The metallic perimeter increases the premium look, but it also adds weight, making the 4.8-ounce Ideos X5 a bit on the hefty side. A soft-touch finish on the back cover makes the phone comfortable to hold and grip; however, the phone feels a tad blocky on the ear.
The Ideos X5 features a 3.8-inch capacitive touch screen with a WVGA 800x480-pixel resolution. As with all Android phones, you're able to control the brightness, but even on the automatic setting, the display looked crisp and bright. Support for 16 million colors helps keep the TFT screen looking colorful as well. Below the screen are four touch-sensitive buttons: Back, Menu, Home, and Search. You'll find the Micro-USB charging port on the bottom of the phone and the volume rocker on the left spine. The power button and the 3.5mm headset jack are on the top, with the camera lens and LED flash on the back. Unlike most Android phones, there's no hardware camera button, a pity. Below the back cover is the microSD card slot; the Ideos X5 takes up to 32GB in expandable memory.
As we mentioned, the Ideos X5 runs Android 2.2 (Froyo). Unlike many other implementations of Android where the manufacturer has added a skin, Huawei stuck with Google's stock design. There are five home screens you can fill with application shortcuts and widgets, in addition to the preloaded shortcuts for the camera, contacts, text messages, and app market. Three onscreen buttons comprise the toolbar at the bottom of the screen; they open the dial pad, the list of apps, and the default browser.
Anyone familiar with Android will feel comfortable navigating the Ideos X5. Those who are new to the mobile OS will experience the same learning curve that comes with using the menu key and long presses to pull up an additional context menu.
In addition to the standard virtual keyboard included in the Android operating system, Huawei has also bestowed the Swype keyboard by default. If you're not crazy about Swype's alternative input method--you trace out words with your finger instead of tapping letters sequentially--you can always switch to the original keyboard. However, Swype is beloved by many, and we appreciate the option to use it.
As far as features go, the Huawei Ideos X5 has everything you'd expect in an Android phone. There's voice dialing, a speakerphone, threaded text and multimedia messaging, and the full range of wireless options: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, 3G, and GPS. The phone book is limited only by the available memory, and there's room in each entry for multiple numbers, e-mail addresses, IM handles, group IDs, photo caller IDs, and so on. You can merge contact information from various accounts, such as Gmail and Outlook; as with every Android phone, some of our contact information was out of sync.
E-mail support is also standard. The Ideos X5 caters to Gmail, POP3, IMAP, and Exchange accounts. A combined inbox color codes messages from all your accounts, but you can also view each account separately; we prefer the latter. Android supports e-mail attachments as well.