Hands on: Huawei Ascend Y550 review

Bringing 4G to the budget market

What is a hands on review?
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Our Early Verdict

The Ascend Y550 is another entry to the low cost 4G market, perfect if you want fast data speeds that won't cost the Earth.

For

  • Low price
  • Simple UI option
  • 4G and microSD

Against

  • Boring design
  • Average screen
  • Default UI isn't great

The Huawei Ascend Y550 is the Chinese firm's latest assault on the budget end of the mobile market, and this time it has a handset rocking 4G and a low price tag.

Based heavily on the EE Kestrel - a handset Huawei built specifically for the UK carrier - the Ascend Y550 opens up the low-cost 4G offering to other networks and markets.

I was lucky enough to get hands on with the Y550 ahead of its big reveal at IFA 2014, and while it wasn't running final software I was able to get a feel for the handset.

The Y550 release is pegged for October 2014, and it's expected to gain more traction in western markets over the Ascend G620S, which launches alongside this device.

There's currently no official price for the Ascend Y550, but considering it's based on the £99 (around $155, $175AU) EE Kestrel in the UK you can expect a similarly reasonable price tag.

Huawei Ascend Y550 review

It means the Ascend Y550 will go head to head with the recently announced HTC Desire 510, another handset which is offering 4G at a low price.

In terms of specs there's not much to choose between the Ascend Y550 and the EE Kestrel, although the design has been changed and the front facing camera gets a bump to 2MP.

Round the back you'll find a 5MP snapper, while under the hood sits a 1.2GHz quad-core processor, 1GB of RAM, 4GB of internal storage and Android 4.4 KitKat.

Huawei Ascend Y550 review

That 4GB of internal storage is pretty disappointing, but there is a microSD slot hidden under the removable rear cover, along with a microSIM port and a removable 2000mAh battery. The microSD slot supports cards up to 32GB in size.

Back to the front of the Ascend Y550 and you'll find a 4.5-inch display is taking up most of the space, but a resolution of 854 x 480 isn't quite as impressive.

That's the same resolution as the display on the Desire 510, but the HTC is bigger at 4.7 inches so pixel density is a shade better on this Huawei.

Huawei Ascend Y550 review

The low cost Motorola Moto G 4G boasts an HD, 720p 4.5-inch screen, making the Huawei look a little sub-par in comparison.

On screen this means app icons and text can look a little pixellated, and the Y550 won't be a smartphone which is flaunting its movie playback capabilities. That's not to say you can't watch a movie on it, it's perfectly capable, but your eyes might hate you.

Huawei Ascend Y550 review

The distinctly plastic finish of the Ascend Y550 follows in the footsteps of previous low cost Huawei devices, with a stock candybar shape and a slightly volcanic protrusion on the rear where the camera is.

It looks and feels cheap, but that's not really an issue, and the Ascend Y550 is solidly made - I reckon it's capable of taking a few knocks in day to day usage.

Huawei Ascend Y550 review

You'll find the power/lock and volume rocker buttons on the right side of the handset and both are easy to reach and manipulate thanks to the modest size of the Y550.

Up top there's a headphone jack, while down below the obligatory microUSB port is present. It is, at least, functional in its design.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Phones and Tablets Deputy Editor

John (Twitter, Google+) got his first phone aged 12 and since then he's been fixated on all things mobile, churning his way through a multitude of handsets, tablets and operating systems. Signalling his arrival at TechRadar by becoming a Guinness World Record holder in his first week (for the highest score on Super Mario Bros using a giant controller), John hasn't looked back since.

What is a hands on review?

'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.