Why should you pay attention to the Huawei Ascend G510? Because it’s a £130 phone loaded up with dual-cores and a 4.5-inch screen – in other words – it’s incredibly good value for money, on paper at the very least.
Huawei has a legacy of cost-effective phones sporting considerably more clout than their price-tags suggest. First off there was the G300. This £100 handset made much lower specced, higher priced competition look nothing short of pointless last year. Then there was the G330. Not quite as impressive in day-to-day use, it still represented a low price-point offering, this time with two cores.
Now, the Huawei Ascend G510 raises the stakes once more, exclusively on Vodafone. Exploding the screen size to a Lumia 920 matching 4.5-inches and packing 1.2GHz dual-core power inside, no other Android that costs the same can match it spec-wise. It’s also loaded with 4GB internal memory, expandability, NFC, not to mention Huawei’s new Emotion UI.
Huawei Ascend G510 review: Design
If there’s anything that won’t wow you about the Huawei Ascend G510 it’s its body. Sturdy, black, flat fascia, three capacitive buttons, 4.5-inch display and buttons around the side.
Touch-screen by numbers, the Ascend G510’s plastic body is functional first and foremost. There’s a removable back cover, underneath which you’ll find the 1700mAh battery, microSD card slot and, oddly, a full-sized SIM slot rather than the microSIMs we’ve come to expect of late.
While it doesn’t look inspired, the matte plastic backing still manages to feel comfortable in the hand and provide adequate grip. The power button and volume rocker are oddly on the top left, though are easy to press. Also odd and less functional, the microUSB port is on the bottom left hand-side.
All in all, the Ascend G510’s design won’t be its selling point, though it shouldn’t turn you off all that much either, especially at the price.
Huawei Ascend G510 review: Screen
By way of contrast to the design’s mediocrity, the 4.5-inch WVGA screen is the biggest fascia you’ll get with dual-cores for the price. It’s a great size to show off the new UI, comfortable enough to work around and decent looking thanks to its IPS screen technology.
Not perfect, the Ascend G510 screen resolution is WVGA, putting it on the lower side of the pixel wars. It’s also not as superficial as those found on higher end handsets like the HTC Desire X and the Nokia Lumia 720. Still, for £130, we’re mightily impressed. Images and video look great; it’s responsive and viewing angles aren’t too shabby either.
Huawei Ascend G510 review: User Interface
Inside the Ascend G510 is Android 4.1.1 coupled with the manufacturer’s new interface, Emotion UI. Having made its premier appearance at CES 2013, Emotion UI is like an amalgamation of Android and iOS, with a healthy slop of eccentricity thrown in for good measure.
What do we mean? There’s no apps tray for starters. Like iOS, any new app that’s installed ends up on a home screen. These apps can be organised into folders, but can’t be hidden from sight.
Emotion UI still adopts Android’s loved widgets though, not to mention a handful from Huawei, such as their home widget which aggregates a feed of your gallery, clock, music controls and contacts to name a few.
Huawei also retains Android’s notifications bar. This comes complete with quick settings toggles and all the standard functionality expected from a smartphone running Android 4.1, like two-finger expanding notifications that can be swiped out of the way.
We mentioned a healthy slop of eccentricity loaded aboard the Huawei Ascend G510, and that comes in the form of themes and transitions. Themes are generally Apple-esque, while transitions are playful and bouncy for the most part.
The degree of customisability will suite many, but weighs down the hardware far too heavily.
For starters, it’s somewhat buggy. A number of apps force-closed and key UI functions threw surprises our way. The multi-tasking window for example, contained thumbnail previews that didn’t correspond with their respective app.
With hanging and slowdown being pretty common place, in-spite of charming elements, the heavy UI is more than the 512MB RAM can cope with, regardless of the number of cores on board.
Huawei Ascend G510 review: Camera and Multimedia
When it comes to the camera on the Huawei Ascend G510, we're impressed. The 5-megapixel sensor doesn’t have to be stellar to help justify the asking price, but it really is very good.
We’ll get the negative out of the way first – focus on this thing can be a little off at times.
Onto the positive and detail is grand, as is low-light performance. You’ll see from the macro shots that everything looks pin-sharp with some pleasing background blur. Dynamic range isn’t incredible, but neither is it bad, and pretty good exposure levels are generally the name of the game.
Perhaps the biggest surprise is the flash performance – it doesn’t mess up white balance, something pretty much every budget flash that springs to mind does.
Video is less impressive recorded at a low VGA resolution. That isn’t even widescreen, so results don’t look all that great on the device, or when exported.
Other multimedia uses are on-point. The screen is good enough to comfortably watch movies on. Apps like Netflix make getting content on board a walk in the park and streaming is a smooth experience. Your own movies will play back up to WVGA or thereabouts, and given the expandability, there’s plenty of room for all your content.
Huawei Ascend G510 review: Connectivity and storage
Packing HSPA, Wi-Fi and GPS functionality, the Huawei Ascend G510 is generally standard for the price when it comes to connections, though the NFC loaded on board is a nice perk.
Running Jelly Bean, the phone comes pre-loaded with Huawei’s stock Browser and is Google Chrome compatible.
What hampers everything though is the occasional stagger that ensues when thumbing through. It isn’t experience shattering, but it definitely doesn’t feel as powerful as the words ‘dual-core suggest’.
Huawei Ascend G510 review: Performance and battery life
We’ve suggested that, despite the £130 price-tag, the Huawei Ascend G510 still feels under-powered. Why? Because, any piece of Android put out there that can’t quite handle its own UI without stuttering won’t deliver a great user experience.
Indeed, in spite of its 1.2GHz of dual-core power, the Ascend G510 falls victim to this stuttering.
Could it be the 512MB RAM? Is Emotion UI too heavy? Probably a bit of both, and with handsets like the Nokia Lumia 510 delivering smoothness for £30 less, albeit on Windows Phone 8 and not Android, there’s stiff competition in the entry level smartphone market.
The 1700mAh battery inside does a decent job of getting you through a day, though don’t expect much more than that. We ended most working days with about 30% battery remaining and by the time we called it a night, 10% or thereabouts. Naturally, tethering and heavy screen use will exacerbate drainage.
Huawei Asceng G510 review: Conclusion
To say that the Huawei Ascend G510 isn’t great value for money is nothing short of a lie. In the same breathe, so is saying it isn’t without its flaws.
For £130 it’s the best big screen on offer. It’s perfect for any price conscious phone user who’s got a Netflix subscription and wants a phone that can supplement their Kindle for occasional eBook reading. It’s also loaded with the best camera/flash combination at the price too, so immediately, perfect for Instagram and Facebook.
The interface does stutter every so often though, and there are a couple of buggy moments in day to day use.
If you want the Android apps, want the size and want it all for £130 though, you won’t find it anywhere else, so you can confidently pick up a Huawei Ascend G510 from a Vodafone shop or Vodafone online today.