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Huawei Ascend Y550 packs 4G LTE on a rock-bottom budget

Huawei's new 4.5-inch Android KitKat phone boasts 4G LTE and a very affordable price tag.

Andrew Lanxon Editor At Large, Lead Photographer, Europe
Andrew is CNET's go-to guy for product coverage and lead photographer for Europe. When not testing the latest phones, he can normally be found with his camera in hand, behind his drums or eating his stash of home-cooked food. Sometimes all at once.
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  • Shortlisted for British Photography Awards 2022, Commended in Landscape Photographer of the Year 2022
Andrew Lanxon
3 min read

When 4G LTE first made its way to phones, it was a feature found only on the most high-end devices, packed with top-end technology and with a sky-high price tag to match. Things have changed in the last 12 months though. A lot.

The Huawei Ascend Y550 is a 4.5-inch Android phone with 4G LTE for those super-fast data download speeds. You should be able to pick it up for less than £100 in the UK, which converts to around $165 or AU$175. That's pretty aggressive -- it's around two-thirds of the price of the 4G version of the Moto G, for example.

Huawei hasn't said exactly how much the phone will cost, or which countries it'll be available in, but it's due to go on sale within the next month, so keep your eyes on CNET for more information.

Take a look at the dirt-cheap, 4G LTE Huawei Ascend Y550 (pictures)

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Design and display

Huawei has evidently not lavished any money on a fancy design here. Its plain grey, plastic body is thoroughly uninspiring. With such a cheap pricetag, you really can't expect luxurious metal or glass.

The grey plastic curves around the back, which at least feels fairly comfortable to hold. With a 4.5-inch screen, it's easier to hold than the 5-inch giants you see nowadays -- I could just about stretch my thumb over to use it one-handed. The back panel is removable, giving access to the microSD card and SIM-card slots.

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Andrew Hoyle/CNET

The 4.5-inch display has an 854x480-pixel resolution, which is at the bottom end of what I'd expect to see on any smartphone's screen, even one this cheap. In my brief hands-on time, the screen seemed fairly bright with decent colours, although icon edges didn't have the sort of clarity you'd enjoy on higher-resolution panels.

Features

You'll find Android 4.4 KitKat on the Y550, over which Huawei has pasted its Emotion UI software. The skin makes a bunch of visual changes to Android, most notably removing the app tray, forcing you to keep all your apps and widgets on the multiple homescreens.

I'm not personally keen on this change as it makes it difficult to keep your homescreens neat and organised. If you're more used to the iPhone -- which also doesn't have an app tray -- you might feel a little more at home. Emotion UI also lets you apply a range of themes to customise the look and feel of the interface.

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Andrew Hoyle/CNET

A 1.2GHz quad-core processor provides the phone's power. That's unlikely to be devastatingly rapid, but it should be enough for the sort of basic tasks a super-budget phone will be used for. The phone runs on a 2,000mAh battery, which is pretty generous. Given the undemanding low-res screen and low-powered processor, I expect you'll be able to get at least a good day of use from the phone, if not more. I'll be putting that to the test in our full review.

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Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Around the back of the phone is a 5-megapixel camera and there's a 2-megapixel camera on the front. That's a higher resolution front camera than we typically see on budget phones, so if you're really into your selfies but don't have loads of money to spend, the Y550 may be worth a look. I'll be testing the quality of both cameras in the full review.

Outlook

Hardened tech fans looking for the best of the best won't have read this far, so I'll assume those of you still here are interested in a decent all-rounder for not much cash. The Huawei Ascend Y550 seems to be just that -- its screen, processor or camera are far from top-end, but seem adequate for the essentials and the addition of 4G LTE is welcome at this price.

On paper, it seems like a bargain, but we'll have to wait until we put it through our rigorous tests to see if it's worth even the small asking price.