Phones like the giant Samsung Galaxy Note 2 beg the question – what is the optimum screen size for a phone? There are direct physical downsides to using a phone with a screen larger than 4.3 inches, like not being able to get your hand around the thing, and many will find the four-incher of the Huawei Ascend G330 an excellent compromise.
It’s large enough to make playing games or watching the occasional TV episode comfortable, but not so big as to dwarf all but freakishly large hands.
The tech behind the Huawei Ascend G330’s screen isn’t anything too impressive. It has a 800 x 480 pixel display with a TFT panel. More expensive phones bring higher-tech screens with many more pixels, resulting in sharper, more impressive-looking images, but performance here is more-than acceptable for a low-cost phone.
Extreme viewing angles pose no problems, with what is on-screen staying clearly visible. Colour reproduction, contrast and brightness are all commendable for a screen not employing some of the latest tech tweaks.
Aside from the extra sharpness of a super-high-resolution screen and the more sumptuous impression left by some Super AMOLED panels, such as on the Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini, you don’t miss out on a great deal. And many may prefer the Huawei Ascend G330’s display to the Samsung’s as it is non-Pentile – a term that relates to the way the screen’s pixels are arranged, which leads to reduced sharpness.
Unlike some budget smartphones, the Huawei Ascend G330 features as ambient sensor. This sits within the phone’s fascia, monitoring how bright the surroundings are. Switch to auto brightness setting and it’ll ramp up the backlight intensity in lighter environments, and dim it when not required - not every corner has had to be cut to get the phone down to the right price.
Like most budget smartphones, the Huawei Ascend G330 runs Google’s Android operating system. It uses the 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich version of the software, with a lightly customised interface designed by Huawei.
The custom interface doesn’t mess with the Android basics and, thankfully, doesn’t try to jam in any superfluous 3D elements or unnecessary animations. Its key changes amount to a new lock screen, a custom home screen app launcher and a selection of widgets.
In truth, we’d prefer to see the generic Android versions seen in the Google Nexus 4, but none of the Huawei Ascend G330’s visual tweaks are disastrous. The custom icon dock is tasteful enough, and the lock screen is simple and useful, letting you launch one of three user-picked apps from standby.
One of the biggest disappointments of the Huawei Ascend G330 UI is the clock widget, something that’s often used as the starring attraction of an Android phone’s main home screen. Next to the clock of HTC Sense, it’s not a looker – although when you can easily download an alternative from Google Play, it’s hardly a massive problem.
The pre-installed virtual keyboard is something that needs fixing straight out of the box too. As standard, it uses a Huawei-made layout that doesn’t cope with the natural inaccuracy of thumb typing well.
The Huawei Ascend G330’s keyboard feels clumsy given how large the screen is. Switching to the free alternative TouchPal , the overall typing experience improved.
Huawei hasn’t loaded the Ascend G330 with a centralised social networking interface, but does come with the official Facebook and Twitter apps pre-installed. Other apps include BBC iPlayer, the EA Games portal, Flashlight, and the full roster of Google apps. Including EA Games at this point wasn’t a great idea, as it hardly gives access to any games. However, this may improve by the time the phone is on shelves, and games support in the proper Google Play app store is perfectly acceptable.
There are a few Huawei-made extras too. There’s a DLNA media streaming interface, a backup to SD tool and an Android app installer – for those who want to side-load apps rather than just relying on the Google Play store.