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Huawei Verge review:

Familiar design, forgettable performance

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Indoor shot Kent German/CNET

Photo quality is dismal at best, but that's what you get for such a low-resolution camera. Colors were muted, there was a lot of image noise, and the camera couldn't handle the contrast between light and dark areas. So like I said, it's not a camera phone.

Outdoor shot Kent German/CNET

The Verge has a bare-bones WAP browser. You're forced into the carrier's MetroWeb portal to start, but you have the freedom to move around from there. But even then the browser is more tedious than it's worth. I know that I've been spoiled by a touch screen, but with good reason. Navigating with the toggle takes forever and the stripped Web pages aren't any fun. There's also the matter of the data speeds, which I'll address below. MetroPCS also has the @Metro store for purchasing apps and using various services from the carrier, such Metro411 and MyMetro, for checking your account status. Here again, though, the experience just isn't worth the trouble. The Verge has about 66MB of user-accessible memory.

I tested the dual-band (CDMA 800/1900) Huawei Verge in San Francisco using MetroPCS' network. Call quality was resoundingly average. It wasn't terrible by any means, but it wasn't great, either. There was plenty of volume, which was nice, but there was a slight echoed effect and the audio paused on a few occasions. Voices sounded natural for the most part, though, and I didn't hear any static.

Huawei Verge call-quality sample Listen now:

Callers reported mixed conditions, as well. It was best when I was calling from indoors and not so good when I was outside. Most of my friends said the Verge picked up a lot of background noise as well. I didn't have a big problem with automated calling systems except under the same outdoor conditions. The speakerphone gets loud, but there's a lot of distortion at the highest levels.

A nice touch is that the Verge has a handy menu that pops up when you're making a call. Without disconnecting you can look up a contact, type a message, or write a memo. Inside, the Verge runs smoothly on its 192MHz processor, but there's not a lot to tax it anyway. Data speeds top out at 2.5G 1xRTT, which are achingly slow.

The Verge's 1,150mAh battery has a promised life of 5.5 hours talk time and 14.5 days standby time. During our talk time test, the device lasted 8.5 hours. According to FCC radiation tests, the Verge has a digital SAR of 0.79 watt per kilogram.

I won't cut a phone for being basic, but I'll strike it down for not doing its job. And that's why I can't recommend the Verge to anyone who just needs a phone to make calls. I admire Huawei's minimalist design angle, but the camera and browser don't do it any favors. And more importantly, its call quality doesn't measure up. Even if you're on a budget, the Samsung Freeform III is very much worth the extra $20. For that price you'll get a full alphabetic keyboard, more features, and superior performance.

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