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Huawei M735 (MetroPCS) review:

Huawei M735 (MetroPCS)

The essential tools are all there: a calendar, an alarm, a voice recorder, and a memo pad. There's also a world clock, a calculator, a stopwatch, and a weather forecaster. As for connections, the M735 supports Bluetooth 2.0, mass storage mode, and airplane mode.

On the communications front, the 3G-capable M735 handles texting and photo messaging. Instant messaging for AOL, Windows Live, and Yahoo clients is available for free through the Mobile IM app. E-mail comes to you from the Mail@Metro app, a standard addition to most MetroPCS-offered phones. While it has a basic, outmoded-looking interface, the mail app isn't hard to sign in to Yahoo, Hotmail, Gmail, and AOL accounts. You can also sign on to further Web Mail accounts, and can manage multiple accounts from the same interface. There are a few tools and shortcuts to make the mail client simple enough to navigate, including a handy feature for seeing who you most recently contacted.

Although the phone doesn't technically have GPS, MetroPCS does provide location services with its included Metro Navigator app for turn-by-turn directions. Keep in mind that the Navigator app, like others, requires downloading before you can use it. An app store, backup service, and directory are other MetroPCS-sponsored services you'll find on the M735.

The browser, on the other hand, has been co-branded by MetroPCS and Opera. We're ordinarily big fans of the Opera Mobile browser, but we found this implementation to be overly slow, even in areas with strong 3G signal (the M735 uses the older, slower EVDO Rev. 0 rather than the newer, faster Rev. A). It took almost a minute to fully load CNET's Web site and 15 seconds to fully load the New York Times' mobile-optimized site. It's worth noting that CNET's very graphically rich desktop site loaded, not the usual mobile-optimized site that loads faster. Still, Opera Mobile, a standard HTML browser, typically works better on smartphones with high processing power. MetroPCS would have done better choosing Opera Mini, a lighter, typically faster version of the browser optimized for Java phones. On the upside, phone owners will get the full Web experience, as long as they're patient.

If you have a microSD card installed, you can take advantage of the M735's music player. Right off the bat you choose from one of three modes (album art, waveform, lyrics, when available). Controls aren't fancy, but they're sufficient. You can sort by artist, album, or playlist; pause, skip, and mute, your tracks; create a playlist on the fly; use the repeat and shuffle tracks; and rotate through equalizer presets. The phone also makes it easy to begin playing a song via Bluetooth and set the tune for an incoming ringtone, and so on. We did notice a slight hiccup each time we selected a menu item--this seems related to the phone's system-wide response to button presses. Volume was strong and the songs sounded fine when we paired the M735 with a moderate set of headphones. We were able to simultaneously play music and send an e-mail, but using the hardware camera button closed the player.

It's no substitute for your point-and-shoot, but the built-in 3-megapixel camera isn't half bad at taking most indoor shots, so long as you adjust the brightness.

That handily brings us to the multimedia portion of this review. On top of the typical options and settings, the 3-megapixel shooter has some touch-sensitive controls: swipe vertically to zoom in or out (if you're at lower than the maximum resolution) and horizontally to adjust the brightness. You can also achieve the latter by using the navigation toggle. After snapping a photo, it's easy to turn the picture into one of your five wallpapers or a contact image. You can also share the picture or view the gallery.

Tapping the screen once pulls up hidden options. Tap each option to cycle through five resolutions, five white-balance settings, night mode, three self-timer presets, and four border effects. There's also a choice for shutter sound, and an option to take a single shot or action modes that snap off four or nine shots in rapid succession. Photos were not bad for the megapixel size; the colors were fairly strong and edges fairly sharp in indoor lighting. Natural lighting improves the outcome as usual. Although it's no knock on the phone, just keep in mind that the M735 has no video-recording feature, so you won't be able to capture movies. The M735 has 68MB of internal memory and, as we mentioned, can hold up to 8GB more.

We tested the Huawei M735 in San Francisco using MetroPCS' network. Call quality was variable, with some very good and some very poor calls. Voices sounded natural and mostly true. Volume was perhaps a bit weak; with the volume all the way up, we could hear with no problem. Sometimes, however, we heard a persistent high whine, compounded by spates of heavy distortion that caused callers to sound like we ran their voices through an Auto Tune program. Our callers didn't notice the distortion, but they did note that we sounded muffled at times and cut off at the highest frequencies.

The speakerphone control is a little tricky to find at first, and speakerphone functionality suffered from low volume that made us lift the phone closer to our ear. Apart from the volume, voices sounded fairly true to life on both ends.

Huawei M735 call quality sample Listen now:

The M735 has a rated battery life of 6.5 hours talk time and 14.6 days standby time. Our tests revealed a talk time of 6 hours and 56 minutes. FCC radiation tests measure the M735's SAR at 1.11 watts per kilogram.

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