Huawei Ideos X5 (unlocked) review:

Huawei Ideos X5 (unlocked)

Instant messaging apps aren't included on the Ideos X5 by default, but you can very easily install a variety of IM programs from the Android Market. What you do get right off the bat (at least on our unlocked device) is a plethora of preinstalled apps, including an e-book reader, games, a file manager, and a documents-viewing app. Carriers and manufacturers often preload apps onto phones in partnership with app-makers. That's a good way to discover new programs, but it amounts to significant clutter if you're uninterested in what's being offered.

The standard WebKit-based Android browser is just as easy to use on the Ideos X5 as it is on other Android handsets running Froyo. Tools include multiple browser windows, bookmarks, downloads, text search, and image-saving. Browser speed will depend largely on your signal strength and processor speeds. The Ideos X5 loaded CNET's mobile site in about 9 seconds and subsequent pages in about 7 seconds. The New York Times' mobile site loaded in 8 seconds in our test.

On the multimedia side, amateur producers will appreciate the 720p HD video recording and playback that comes with the smartphone's 5-megapixel camera. Indoor photos were a little dull until we adjusted the settings to fluorescent light, then they perked up. The same is true for videos. Upon playback, the video capture looked noisier than we'd expect. Clips that you produce still get the point across, though you'll find higher quality in media you play or stream, like HD movies or high-quality YouTube videos.

Dull indoor photos perked up after we adjusted the lighting settings.

Camera options and settings are easily accessible with Android 2.2. They include three focus modes and three exposure modes, five white-balance settings, three flash settings, and five zoom options. There's also a geotagging option. Video settings include five color effects, five white-balance settings, and four video quality settings, two of which optimize clips for MMS and YouTube. The Ideos X5 accepts up to 32GB of expandable memory, with 512MB RAM inside.

Like most others, the Ideos X5 also uses the stock Android music player, which sorts tunes by artist, album, song name, and playlist. Shuffle and party shuffle mix up the order, and the player displays album art when available. It's still a simple player by some smartphone standards, but it offers a nice experience, especially for those who are new to the Android platform.

Again, you can customize live and static wallpapers by pressing and holding a finger on one of the home screens and picking the wallpaper category. The same goes for organizing shortcuts, folders, and widgets. All other games and apps are available through the Android Market app on your phone.

We tested the unlocked Huawei Ideos X5 (GSM 850/900/1800/1900; HSDPA 900/1900) in San Francisco using T-Mobile's network. Call quality was variable during our tests. In some calls, voices sounded clear and natural, with no background noise or other interruptions. In others, we heard a persistent white noise in the background and hollow buzzing that distorted the speaker's voice at high levels. Despite the disruption, voices sounded true. Our callers, however, said that call quality was excellent and clear.

Huawei Ideos X5 call quality sample Listen now:

Speakerphone exhibited strong volume on our end, although it did continue to buzz and distort at the higher frequencies. Our callers, however, said our voice volume dropped to 25 percent of its full strength, and they had to strain to hear when we held the phone waist-level.

The Huawei Ideos X5 has a rated battery life of 4 hours. It has a tested talk time of 4 hours and 45 minutes. FCC tests measure the digital SAR at 0.34 watt per kilogram.

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