With 3G quickly becoming “old tech”, it’s time to make way for the new. The Huawei Ascend Y550 is a budget smartphone that features 4G LTE technology, a zippy 1.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm processor and a 4.5 inch IPS display. It all sounds great on paper, but let’s see whether the Huawei Ascend Y550 can really provide a decent budget smartphone experience.
Aesthetics / Design
First thing you notice when you see a smartphone is the design. For most people the design is what draws you in. The Y550 doesn’t scream high quality. It’s relatively budget smartphone-esque. Nothing too fancy, but it feels very sturdy and looks decent enough.
We’re reviewing the black version, with the other colour option being white.
The front of the phone features the front-facing 2MP camera, the large 4.5-inch display (which seems to be becoming the norm for most smartphones nowadays) and the usual capacitive touch buttons that we see on most Android smartphones.
The general layout of ports and features is similar to most other smartphones, which is definitely a good thing.
We’ve got the main camera, along with an LED flash and microphone, on the rear of the phone. And also the speaker located near the bottom.
Moving to the sides of the phone we have the volume buttons and power button, which provide easy access when holding the device in your hand.
Removing the back cover (which I’m not used to being an iPhone user!) reveals the removable 2000mAh battery, as well as the slots for both a microSD card (up to 32GB) and SIM card.
Audio & Video, Display, Camera
Most people like to use their smartphones to listen to music, whether that’s on the bus, or just while walking around town. Now, as with smartphones, it’s easy enough to do. Just download your music player of choice, Spotify in my case, and you’re good to go. However, don’t be expecting audio quality on par with high-end smartphones such as the HTC One or iPhone. The audio quality, for a budget smartphone, is decent enough but with a lack of bass the overall audio quality is left sounding a little quiet / powerless even on full volume.
With regards to video quality, it’s watchable, but I wouldn’t recommend viewing any feature-length films unless you don’t care too much for your eye sight. This comes down to the overall display quality, which, despite the website stating that the “IPS screen delivers an abundance of visual detail”, is nothing to get excited about.
With a display resolution of just 854 x 480, you have to go in with a clear mind. Jump straight in expecting the quality of full HD displays and you’ll just be severely disappointed. However, with a screen size of 4.5 inches, I’d be expecting a slightly higher resolution than the one on offer. The colours, though, seem quite vibrant when watching videos so the display quality in general is ok for everyday use considering the low £100 price tag.
The Y550 features a 5MP rear camera, which in low lighting doesn’t work too well with colours going a bit faded and overall picture quality being subpar for a modern smartphone. Night shots, when the flash is used, do appear of a better quality and shots in the daytime are ok. You’re not going to be replacing your DLSR with this phone, but combined with the decent quality 2MP front-facing camera, the everyday user or first-time smartphone owner is where this device would be best suited.
Software, Battery Life & Storage
Next, we come to the software. The Huawei Ascend Y550 runs Android 4.4 KitKat, which runs very well. There appeared to be no lag between switching home screens, whilst navigating the phone or whilst playing games, so the quad-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm processor and 1GB of RAM seem to be doing a good job together.
The general look of the software as a whole is pretty basic, but you do have the option of changing the theme so that you’re not stuck with just one look.
One of the features I like is the notification menu, which as with all Android devices includes your shortcut icons for WiFi, Data, Bluetooth, GPS and you’re more basic options such as Auto Rotate, Screenshot and Torch. The design is clean and the layout works well, with the added ability of moving shortcuts around to your desired position.
As you can see in the above image, we have an option called “Ultra Battery.” This is a feature that allows you to really go in to power saving mode by giving yourself access to only the crucial parts of your phone. Those being, the phone dialer, messages and your contacts. Everything else gets disabled, which in my opinion is a brilliant feature. Crucial for saving those last dregs of juice in your battery when left without a charger.
Talking of battery life, my experience with the Y550 has been mainly positive. Everyday tasks like checking Facebook, making a few calls and sending a few texts and playing the odd game meant that the battery life lasted my working day. Excessive use on any device is going to drain the battery, but with the added feature of the the “Ultra Battery” option you could definitely get a fair few days use out of the Y550.
The storage option for the Y550 leaves much to be desired with just 4GB of space. If you intend to use the phone for games, Spotify’s offline playlist feature, or storing your own music, photos and videos, you might want to consider purchasing a microSD card to expand the memory up to 36GB (4GB internal / 32GB external).
With budget smartphones, you get what you pay for, and the Huawei is no different. With a decent processor, minimal features and an average display, it’s everything you’d be expecting for the £100 price range. There were a few handy features we liked that could mean you sway in a certain direction when weighing up your options. Does battery life matter to you? An easy to use interface? Expandable memory for storing photos and videos? Then the Huawei Ascend Y550 could be perfect for you. And it’s not going to break the bank.
- Sturdy / solid design
- Android 4.4 KitKat – Runs very well, no lag, easy to use.
- Software has helpful tips scattered around (good for beginners / non-techy folk)
- Low price tag
- 4G and microSD slot
- Audio quality lacks bass
- Simple generic design
- Poor camera quality
- Only 4GB of storage, unless you purchase a microSD card
- 4.5″ screen, but with a 854 x 480 resolution resulting in poor display quality