Huawei Ascend W1 red

At CES 2013 Huawei announced its Full HD Ascend D2 but it also unveiled the Ascend W1. We were there to take a look at Huawei's first Windows Phone 8 smartphone so here's our Ascend W1 hands-on review.

In the Windows Phone 8 market, Huawei has to compete with Nokia, Samsung and HTC. The first thing which struck us about the Ascend W1 was its smaller size compared to the beast which is the Lumia 920 and the still large HTC 8X. With a 4in screen, the Ascend W1 fits much more neatly in the hand than its rivals. It's slightly thicker than the 8X at 10.5mm but a little lighter at 130g.

We don’t know how much the Huawei Ascend W1 will cost yet but we expect it will be a more affordable handset than the ones on offer from HTC and Nokia. The Ascend W1 will launch with O2 in the UK sometime in the first quarter of the year.

See also: Group test: what's the best Windows phone?

Huawei Ascend W1 blue

Like other Windows Phone 8 smartphones, Huawei makes the Ascend W1 in a range of bold colours – black, white, blue and red. O2 will sell it in blue and red (aka ruby-pink).

Internal specs are mediocre but typical of what we expect to be a cheaper handset. The Ascend W1 comes with a 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 dual-core processor, 512MB of RAM and 4GB of internal storage. Luckily there is a microSD card slot for expansion. We didn't notice any performance problems with the Ascend W1 but we weren't really able to put it through its paces properly at CES.

The 4in IPS screen with its 480 x 800 resolution is good nothing special, particularly when you consider the Full HD displays being shown off at the same time as the Ascend W1. The price difference will be considerable though.

Huawei Ascend W1

A 5Mp rear facing camera with an LED flash is equally nothing to shout about but should provide the odd reasonable snap. The front facing camera is a low grade VGA quality.

The Windows Phone 8 operating system is as Microsoft intended, there's no mucking around with overlays here. Huawei doesn't even install any of its own apps on the Ascend W1. This is a shame since Nokia provides plenty of good quality apps which enhance the Windows Phone 8 experience a good deal.

Huawei Ascend W1 side

Huawei has fitted the Ascend W1 with a 1950mAh battery which it claims will provide 470 hours of standby time. We haven't been able to test the phone's battery life but with a relatively high capacity for the components there's potential here.


The Huawei Ascend W1 might not be the most exciting and innovative smartphone around but it could well be the best budget Windows Phone option.

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