The Huawei Ascend G300 was something of a revelation. For a mere £100 on pay as you go it offered the kind of spec and features that you'd expect to find on a handset costing twice as much.
It's starting to show its age now though -- its 1GHz single core processor is a tad sluggish by today's standards. So Huawei is back with an updated version, the Ascend G330. It's got a faster dual-core processor, yet the price remains low -- you can get it for free on a £10 per month contract from TalkTalk as long as you sign up for 24 months. SIM-free, you can find it for under £200, but it's not yet widely available.
Should I buy the Huawei Ascend G330?
Despite a few niggles, the G330 is still a very good option for those who want a powerful Android phone, but don't have a huge amount to spend on their mobile.
Its main advantages over the budget competition are its relatively speedy dual-core processor and large and reasonably high resolution screen. Both of these features make it a great handset for web browsing, playing games or watching movies.
You will need to be prepared to put up with a few slight software bugs rearing their head now and again, however, at least until Huawei fixes them with an update. You may well find you need to top the phone up with juice every evening due to it's below-par battery life.
At the moment it doesn't approach the great value of the G300, but hopefully when it's more widely available its price will plummet.
The G300 wasn't exactly drop-dead gorgeous, but it didn't look too bad for a budget phone. Unfortunately Huawei has taken a step back on the design front with the G330. It looks about as exciting as a rainy day in Burnley.
The problem is that Huawei has dumped the two-tone colour scheme in favour of an all-black design. This only serves to highlight the plasticky chassis, making the phone look that bit cheaper than its predecessor.
Nevertheless, the curved edges make it reasonably comfy to hold and the slightly rubberised battery cover adds an extra element of grippiness. On the whole the handset feels quite solid, but the battery cover doesn't fit quite as snugly against the back of the phone as it should, so there's a slight amount of give when you tap on it with a finger.
The physical buttons for the lock switch and volume controls are raised just enough from the chassis to make them easy to press and the three touch buttons beneath the screen are quite responsive too. The standard 3.5mm headphone jack is sensibly placed at the top of the phone, while the micro-USB port is found at the bottom. The latter doesn't support MHL, so unlike some middling and high-end devices you can't send HDMI video out through it.
The full-sized SIM card and microSD slots are found under the battery cover, although the latter is slightly awkwardly placed. It sits just above the battery slot and you actually have to remove the battery to get at it. Still, it accepts cards of up to 32GB in size, allowing you to supplement the handset's meagre 4GB of internal storage space. That's a welcome feature that not all phones have (I'm looking at you, Nexus 4 and iPhone 5).
OS and apps
The older G300 originally ran on Android 2.3 Gingerbread, but later users on Vodafone got an upgrade to Ice Cream Sandwich. We had hoped Huawei might have loaded 4.1 Jelly Bean on to this phone, but unfortunately you only get Ice Cream Sandwich.
This is a shame. Jelly Bean is so much smoother and faster to use than ICS, thanks to the changes Google has made under the surface to speed up the user interface and make it more responsive.
Nevertheless, at least it's much better than Gingerbread, as it brings some useful features such as the ability to clear alerts by swiping them away in the notifications tab, better error correction on the keyboard and improved cut and paste.
Huawei has also added its own tweaks over the top. There's a new lock screen with a four-way unlock circle, where swiping up takes you to the calls log, swiping right opens the SMS app, swiping down starts the camera and swiping right unlocks the phone normally. You can also scroll left or right at the top panel to call up the phone's music playback controls.