Finally, the Huawei Ideos X5, made it to the market - after it was first time showcased at last year's Mobile World Congress as the Huawei U8800. And unlike many other Huawei Android smartphones, the X5 is the company's first high-end Google experience Android smartphone which still sports Huawei's entry level price point, for what the company is definitely famous for (this about their 3G USB dongles). In terms of its features, the X5 isn't setting a new standard at all but it's definitely well enough featured to please its users since it's powered by a Qualcomm MSM7230 CPU at 800 MHz and running Android 2.2.1/Froyo. While Froyo isn't the latest Android version (this would be Gingerbread), it's still more than just state-of-the-art today.
The X5 is available in two flavors, the U8800 and the U8800H. While both versions are featuring quadband GSM/GPRS/EDGE as well as dualband UMTS/HSDPA/HSUPA at 900/2100 MHz, the U8800 features HSDPA rates up to 7.2 Mbps while the U8800H supports HSDPA rates up to 14 Mbps. For sure both versions also come with WiFi b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1 and aGPS as well as the typical accelerometer, proximity and ambient light sensors plus the digital compass.
The X5 features a 5 megapixel autofocus camera with supporting flash LED which allows to record 720p HD videos. The pretty basic TFT LCD capacitive touchscreen isn't as massive as other touchscreens, it's just 3.8", supporting 800 x 480 pixel (WVGA), but this means that the overall size isn't as bulky as other high-end smartphones are - the X5 measures 120 x 62 x 11.6 mm at a weight of 130 gram. However, a traditional LCD screen isn't as bright and crispy as Super LCD or (Super) AMOLED screens and it's not viewable from all angles. In addition to the main microphone on the bottom of the device, the X5 has a second microphone on the back, close to the camera. This dual microphone combination is used for noise cancelation which works fairly well! The internal memory has 512 MB RAM and 4 GB ROM which can be expanded with micro SD memory cards and depending on the configuration, the X5 comes with a microSD card in the sales box already. The Ideos X5 comes with a 1500 mAh Li-Polymer battery, the 3.5 mm stereo headset, a 110 - 220 Volt charger and a USB to micro USB cable.
The curved design might not be everyone's favor but the X5 feels and looks rock solid. The bezel is chromed plastic and the battery cover is a kind of soft-touch plastic, avoiding fingerprints and slipping. Bellow the touchscreen, the X5 features the Google typical navigation keys which are background illuminated capacitive soft keys with haptic feedback and includes search, back, home and the menu key.
As the battery covers shows, the Huawei X5 comes "with Google" which means it's a Google experience phone. If an Android phone wants to be a Google experience phone, it means that Google requests an unmodified Android experience, which also includes the graphical user interface (GUI). Furthermore Google requests preinstalling all Google mobile services. Therefore, the X5 features the pure Android 2.2.1 experience, with Google's Froyo UI but also features all the expected Google Android services - including Gmail, Google Maps Mobile/Latitude/Places/Navigation and the Android Market.
However, manufactures are also allowed to add further applications to their phones and Huawei has preinstalled a wide range of apps which includes such useful programs as Documents To Go, a File Explorer but also apps like Google Earth, the original Facebook and Twitter client as well Adobe Flash 10.1 Beta (which can be updated through the Android Market to Adobe Flash 10.2)! Also added are a couple of Games and other apps, some of them as full versions, others as trial versions only.
Thankfully, Huawei is using Froyo for the X5 which improved the user experience dramatically. For instance, the Android camera UI was pretty basic in previous version but since Froyo, it got much better.
Same for the photo and video gallery as well as the media player.
And while all the hardware specs and operating system features as well as preinstalled applications reads good on the spec sheet, only a benchmark test can give the answer how well all this plays to each other and surprisingly, it plays very well! According to Quadrant Standard, the Huawei X5 beats such devices as the Google Nexus One (Android 2.2+), the HTC Evo (Android 2.2+) as well as the Samsung Galaxy S!
And we are talking about a device with "only" 800 MHz while the previously mentioned devices feature 1 GHz Snapdragon CPUs! It clearly shows that it's not just about the used CPU and MHz but about the overall integration of hardware, operating software and applications!
First of all, the Huawei X5 is a rock-solid Android smartphone with state-of-the-art specs and features! It's even one of the very few Android smartphones which can support HSDPA up to 14.4 Mbps which is no wonder - with Huawei's experience in 3G USB dongles! And it's also not a bad looking device at all, even if the curved design might not be everyone's taste. However, for sure it's neither an iPhone nor anything else but it's what it is, a well features Android smartphone, designed for the consumer mass-market which is looking for a decent value for money. And that's what the X5 is delivering! Even with its weaker 800 MHz CPU, it totally exceeds the benchmark tests. Unfortunately not as good as the benchmark is the camera, which is always the Achilles heel of today's smartphones. While the X5 shoots decent photos and records fairly good HD videos in the daylight, lowlight conditions aren't what the X5 likes and also the LED flashlight can hardly support the 5 megapixel camera here. But then again, the X5 isn't the only smartphone on the market with problems in this discipline.
In terms of the software, the X5 is also well equipped and allows to use the phone straight out of the box. I don't have to mention all the Google mobile services here but preinstalling Twitter or Facebook makes much sense, since most smartphone users might use social media today. Furthermore it comes with Flash 10.1 Beta preinstalled which means the X5 provides virtually the same web experience as desktop PCs.
However, in other parts, Huawei killed the user with kindness by installing so much software, especially because Android doesn't allow to uninstall preinstalled software which means users might have apps in the menu list which are never used. But then again, this isn't a Huawei or X5 problem but a general Android design fault all Android devices are facing.
Nevertheless, the X5 is also a phone and as a phone it works quite well. Conversational partner can be heard loud and clear as well as they heard me loud and clear. It seems that the dual microphone combination works pretty good since it really seemed to actively canceled the noise around me. Also the battery is doing its job quite well; for sure, it always depends on the use case but it easily lasts a whole day, for voice calls and Internet use. And if not used at all, the X5 has a stand-by time of several days! I was slightly disappointed by the basic LCD display but on the other hand, I'm definitely spoiled by Super LCD and Super AMOLED displays and Huawei's used LCD display isn't anything worse than any other LCDs, it's just what an LCD is able to archive.
All together, the Huawei X5 is a well featured and equipped hot buy with a decent value for money! While similar equipped Android smartphones, which might perform in benchmark tests weaker, easily sell for 500 Euro or more, the Huawei X5 is available for around 260 Euro only. What else can a customer expect from a smartphone?
Cheers ~ Arne