Huawei blaze

The Huawei Blaze comes in a surprisingly stylish little chassis, but there's clearly not quite enough power in here to make it a serious contender for anyone other than undemanding new smartphone users.

It's still nice to get a quality capacitive touchscreen at this sub-£100 price point, and Huawei's own user interface adds some nice extra features, which make it a passable choice for those after a cheap Android phone. But using it's a constant compromise.

We liked

The curved glass front, which wraps around the top of the phone, is a nice design touch. The screen itself is also responsive to the touch, making it one budget phone that feels pleasant in the hand.

The body of the phone is also pleasantly slim, giving it a look and feel significantly above its super-budget station.

It's generous of Huawei to enable us to toggle its own user interface on or off, so you can have the Chinese manufacturer's take on Android customisations or a clean version of Android 2.3.4. Although with the latter, you still see Huawei's custom widgets, so it's not 100% the "pure" Android experience.

We disliked

Performance is a bit slow. It never crashed or broke in any catastrophic way, but widgets can take a while to respond, as can the phone in general if you're multitasking to any significant degree.

The 3.2MP camera is poor. Still shots gloss over detail, with grassy scenes and trees blended down into weird, impressionist mush. Video is better, but it's vague on colour reproduction.

The curved screen seems easy to scratch. After only a few days there were already several deep blemishes from our usual careful use.

Battery life was poorer than we expected from a modern Android phone - and we don't expect much. Getting less than a day of life from a modest 3.2-inch phone is quite a disappointment.

Final verdict

Initially, it's an impressive thing. Curved screen, slim case and plenty of weird little customisations from Huawei make the Blaze a fun smartphone to play with for the first few hours.

But the slowness of it gradually wears you down. Widgets are clunky, web use has you waiting for things to happen, the capacitive touchscreen buttons often lag and fail to respond to your first touch.

Compared to the budget Android phones of 2010 such as the ZTE Racer and the Galaxy Europa, the Huawei Blaze is quite a bit better in terms of style, but you're still not getting anything like the same slick Android experience as found on the high-end handsets.

We were expecting a lot more from the budget-busting Huawei, but with a poor camera that lacks a flash and a slow processor inside, the Huawei Blaze is just a slightly prettier than usual, rock-bottom priced smartphone, with all the performance caveats this end of the scale tends to come with.