Released in early August, the Huawei Ascend Q is Cricket's answer to text and e-mail lovers looking for an Android phone.
Hardware and design
The Ascend Q is an attractive phone, whose most eye-catching feature is a portrait QWERTY keyboard, which has ridged buttons that rise well above the phone's screen. The shape makes for great fingerholds, but the keys themselves are pretty scrunched together. Bright green accents handily show off alternative button functions, and also add a youthful vigor.
Complementing the QWERTY is a 3.2-inch touch screen. That's small for virtual keyboarding, but with that out of the way, your only fear is squinting to read the screen. That comes down to personal preference, but I was able to use the taller, narrower phone one-handed.
It comes with a 3.2-megapixel camera, which I didn't have a chance yet to try, a 800MHz processor, a 1,500mAh battery, and a 4GB microSD card -- 3GB of which is dedicated to the music program. You can go up to 32GB in external storage, but keep in mind that you'll lose your Muve capability without a compatible SD card.
OS and Muve Music
The Ascend Q runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread and features Muve Music, Cricket's proprietary music service for downloading unlimited music for listening, ringtones, and ringback tones. It's a great concept, but the software is getting long in the tooth and in need of a more polished and smoother experience.
While it's disappointing to see the Ascend Q on Gingerbread, it isn't unexpected. The majority of prepaid carriers are still working on their Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich portfolios.
Pricing and outlook
The Ascend Q costs $139.99 without a contract and is available now. It's one of Cricket's few keyboard phones, and with Muve and Android, it offers a fairly full package for a decent up-front price. Tge 3G speeds won't be snappy, but the music plan is a great option for audiophiles. Stay tuned for a full review in the coming weeks.