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Hands on: Huawei Ascend W1 with Windows Phone 8

Android was once the obvious choice for those who wanted a smartphone on a budget, but now Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 platform is looking to barge in on the action.

Phones like the Nokia Lumia 620 and the new Huawei Ascend W1 offer excellent hardware, colourful designs and smartphone software for under £200, and are ideal for those on pay as you go. We went hands on with the latter recently to see whether you really can get a decent smartphone for under £150.

Huawei has followed Nokia’s lead in using bright colours, and here in the UK we have pink, black, white and blue versions. We spent some time with the blue and pink versions, although that pink colour is rather deep and more like a red, if you ask us. The back covers have a soft touch finish and are made of a tough yet light plastic which wraps around the sides.

The design is an interesting one, with the front of the phone seemingly raised out of the back part, with a ‘step’ between the two. Whereas the back is colourful and soft-touch, the back is glossy and black. Centred in the gloss black fascia is a 4-inch IPS display, sporting a 800 x 480 resolution. The display of the W1 isn’t in the same leagues as the latest Full HD phones of course, but we were impressed with the quality and sharpness, especially for the money.

Inside the phone you’ve got 512MB of RAM, 4GB of internal memory, a 1.2GHz dual-core processor and all manner of connectivity. Only NFC and 4G are missing in this area, but for £120 we wouldn’t be expecting the very latest in mobile network tech here! You’ve also got a 5 megapixel rear camera with LED flash and a VGA front facing camera. The back camera won’t do Full HD video which is a shame, but if you only occasionally shoot little videos then 720p HD quality should do the job.

Perhaps the most impressive part of the Ascend W1 is its battery. It features a large 1,950 mAh battery, which is just a shade smaller than the one used in the much larger, much more powerful Nokia Lumia 920. We’re told this should see about 2 days of battery life, which isn’t all that common in phones these days.

If you’re looking to pick up a capable phone with a colourful design and the latest software, for £120 on pay as you go, you won’t go far wrong with Huawei Ascend W1. Its nearest competitor is the Lumia 620 for around £149.99, which we also love.