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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Huawei Ascend W1 review

The standard Windows Phone 8 mapping solution comes preinstalled on the Huawei Ascend W1, allowing you to locate yourself in the world and get directions home.

Locating our position sometimes took a couple of seconds, while at other times we had to wait around 10 seconds before our correct location was displayed on screen.

The maps are functional but no where near as comprehensive as Google's offering on Android which has additional features such as StreetView and public transport information.

You can download maps for use offline - which could come in useful if you go abroad or fancy a hike in the mountains out of the reach of mobile signal.

Panning and zooming around maps was generally fluid over Wi-Fi, although via 3G things could get a bit sluggish.

Huawei Ascend W1 review

What is not included out of the box is a turn-by-turn navigation system, which means those wanting to use the Ascend W1 as a sat nav will need to jump into the Windows Phone store.

We downloaded Nokia's free Here Maps and Here Drive Beta to give ourselves a dual mapping and navigation combo and ignored the pre-installed maps.

Here Drive Beta worked well when we took it for a spin across the country, managing to track our location and speed accurately and handily informing us when we went over the speed limit (which was hardly ever, honest).

The battery also managed to hold up pretty well during the two-hour drive and we didn't need to dash for the charger when we reached our destination.


Huawei Ascend W1 review

In terms of pre-installed apps the Huawei Ascend W1 is pretty light. There are none of the manufacturer-made offerings which adorn Nokia's Lumia range, but that's not necessarily a bad thing as it gives you a blank slate to work with.

The Windows Phone store is on board and is your one-stop-shop for apps, games and music downloads.

In terms of selection it's some way short of Apple's App Store and Google's Play Store, but it is growing every day, and favourites such as Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Spotify and Ebay are all present and ready for download.

Looking at what comes already on the Ascend W1 you get all the standard stuff including calculator, calendar, maps and web browser.

Huawei Ascend W1 review

A bonus of purchasing a Windows Phone 8 device is the inclusion of Microsoft's mobile version of its Office suite and OneNote, giving you access to Word, Excel and PowerPoint on your smartphone - all of which can be synced with your SkyDrive to make sure you have the latest documents in your hand.

Complex Excel spreadsheets can be a little tricky to tackle on such a small screen, but it's a handy feature if you need to make a quick edit or brush up on some notes before a meeting.

Games are downloaded from the Windows Phone store and your collection can be accessed via the Games app - which syncs up nicely with your Xbox profile allowing you to keep track of your achievements and the progress of your mates.

Some of the games are also linked to Xbox Live with their own set of achievements, while others are standalone offerings.

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.