Huawei Ascend W1 review

Who's ready for a cheap Windows Phone 8 thrill?

Huawei Ascend W1
The first of the budget Windows Phone 8 handsets

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The Hauwei Ascend W1 comes with the usual internet connections - 3G and Wi-Fi - allowing you to easily hop online with the help of Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser.

If Internet Explorer isn't your cup of tea, well, tough. It's the only choice of browser you get with Windows Phone, with no third party options knocking around in the Windows Phone store.

Huawei Ascend W1 review

There's nothing overly complicated when it comes to the browser on the Ascend W1, with the URL bar located at the base of the screen, but there are no back or next tab keys, just three dots which opens up the wider menu.

From this menu you can open multiple tabs, access and set favourites and jump into the deeper settings of the browser.

Huawei Ascend W1 review

It's not easy to tell how many tabs you have open, as you need to select the tabs option from the menu to get a thumbnail overview, which slows down the browsing experience - something we don't need to worry about on Android, iOS or BlackBerry 10.

As you may expect from a handset which is setting you back £120 internet performance is variable, with the lightning speeds of high-end handsets absent from this part of the market.

Huawei Ascend W1 review

We found the Ascend W1 was on par with the Nokia Lumia 620, loading mobile sites is a relatively quick 3-4 seconds.

Desktop sites are the handset's downfall though, with content heavy pages such as the world famous taking over 20 seconds to fully load, although you could start moving around the site after about seven.

Browsing over 3G sees several extra seconds bolted onto the load times, depending on your signal strength, so you may want to leave those image rich sites for a Wi-Fi connection.

Content renders well enough to view, but there is a noticeable lack of sharpness and colour, with pages looking a little washed out.

Annoyingly there's no text reflow on the Ascend W1 which means you'll be scrolling sideways as well as down to ready large swaths of content.

You can conduct a web search from the URL bar at the bottom of the screen, but there doesn't appear to be a way to change the search provider off Microsoft's Bing - something which can be done on the likes of the Lumia 820.

John McCann
Global Managing Editor

John joined TechRadar over a decade ago as Staff Writer for Phones, and over the years has built up a vast knowledge of the tech industry. He's interviewed CEOs from some of the world's biggest tech firms, visited their HQs and has appeared on live TV and radio, including Sky News, BBC News, BBC World News, Al Jazeera, LBC and BBC Radio 4. Originally specializing in phones, tablets and wearables, John is now TechRadar's resident automotive expert, reviewing the latest and greatest EVs and PHEVs on the market. John also looks after the day-to-day running of the site.