Huawei’s Ascend G300 (also billed as the U8815) is a lower-mid-range smartphone running Android 2.3 ‘Gingerbread’.
While not marketed as such, the G300 feels like an upgrade to last year’s Ideos X5 – a phone we rated highly for delivering performance and functionality well above its price point. The G300 takes a more rectangular shape than the curvy X5, and pushes the screen size from 3.8-inches to 4.0 while keeping the same WXGA (480 x 800-pixel) resolution.
The G300 also replaces the X5’s mirrored-silver plastic bezel with a matte-silver plastic that looks a little less gaudy. Where the X5 had a bit of a ‘cheap’ feel, the G300 looks and feels more at home among its mid to high-end competitors. It’s reasonably thin at 10.5mm, and weighs in at 140g.
The phone runs ‘factory Android’ – the stock version of the operating system free of skins, overlays or vendor-modifications. This makes future upgrades to later versions of Android more likely to be delivered, though currently no such upgrades are available from the shipped Android version, 2.3.
Driving the G300 is a single-core 1GHz processor with 512MB of RAM. In the freely available AnTuTu Benchmark app, it scored just above the original Samsung Galaxy S, and just below the Google Nexus S – that’s well below the performance level of the current top-end models such as the Samsung Galaxy SII. However, real-world performance is surprisingly good for a smartphone priced at just $449.
Switching between home screens, starting and closing apps, and other such UI tasks that often exhibit lag in lower-priced models, all proved delightfully smooth. 720p HD video playback was flawless, and web browsing over Wi-Fi was one of the most painless internet experiences I’ve seen on a phone in terms of loading and rendering times. Web browsing over 3G was similarly impressive whenever good reception was available.
We tested a range of common Android apps, finding that same level of performance across the board. Graphically-intensive 3D games might not fare so well, but we didn’t stumble across anything the G300 couldn’t handle during our testing.
Call quality is perfectly average – some readers expressed unhappiness with the X5’s microphone quality, but the G300 does not appear to share that issue. Clarity and volume are acceptable when tested on the Vodafone NZ network (the carrier from whom the phone is available).
The phone packs a 5-megapixel camera, with a bright LED flash. The G300 is as useful for everyday photography as any basic smartphone, but doesn’t offer any particularly novel photo features or above-average image quality. Video recording is equally functional though in no way awe-inspiring.
The only place the G300 strongly hints at its mid-range price band is its limited 2.4GB of onboard storage. This is sufficient for a reasonably large app library, though it’s quickly consumed by music, videos and more storage-intensive games. Expansion is supported through a MicroSD slot, which accepts cards up to 32GB in size.
Altogether the Huawei Ascend G300 is a remarkably capable phone for its price. However, that is the only remarkable thing about it: the G300 allows smartphone buyers on a budget to have the same sort of experience they would with many high-end devices. That’s still enough to receive an ‘Excellent’ 4-star rating – just don’t expect it to be a conversation-starter like some of the more flamboyant devices on the market.