At the high-end of the market smartphones have been getting bigger and brighter with several manufacturers really pushing the boundaries of what can be done. Huawei has been looking elsewhere, turning its hand to making handsets aimed at lower down the market. The mid-range Vision came out earlier this year and now we have the budget Blaze.
If what you’re looking for is a small, compact phone that can easily be stored away in a pocket or bag then the Blaze certainly fits that criteria. For such a cut-price phone the design is fantastic, simple yet stylish and very easy to hold. The rubberised plastic back makes it very comfortable and easy to grip and the overall build quality is excellent, making it feel sturdy and more expensive than it actually is.
The screen is small, at only 3.2 inches, but the Blaze is designed to be a compact phone so there was never going to be a large, four-inch screen here. The resolution is very low, at only 320×480 pixels, but that’s understandable considering the size of the screen and because everything is squeezed into the small space the image quality doesn’t suffer too much. The touchscreen is impressively responsive and has multi-touch support which is useful when viewing things like detailed webpages on the small screen.
One downside of the screen’s sensitivity is that it can become a little fiddly when trying to pick out small icons. With everything being bunched together on the small screen it can be easy to accidentally tap the wrong thing. I found this did become quite annoying when typing on the onscreen keypad especially.
Power and Operating System
One of the Blaze’s major downsides is its lack of processing power. It’s a budget phone, certainly, but even considering that the 600MHz processor inside it just isn’t enough compared to many other handsets around. It causes problems when using the phone’s various functions and it means there isn’t enough power to enable you to view Flash on websites.
On the upside, Huawei have squeezed Android 2.3 Gingerbread into the Blaze, which is quite a feat since you may not be wrong in expecting such a low-price phone to be running an older version of Google’s operating system. However, it runs slowly due to the lack of processing power and can’t really be compared to faster, more expensive Gingerbread phones. Although switching between the phone’s homescreens is fluid some apps can be noticeably slow to open and there is a real sense of lag in using the OS. It’s a shame that such a good-looking phone is let down by its lack of power.
Problems caused by the lack of power become apparent again when browsing the internet. Even with a fast connection webpages are very slow to load and, because of the small screen, text is difficult to read. The pinch-to-zoom capability does make up for this a little but it can still be fiddly and will see the user having to scroll around a piece of text in order to take it all in. Because there’s no Flash, embedded YouTube videos won’t play but the standard Android YouTube app makes up for this a little. Even so, the Blaze really can only be used for the simple, basic online activity and isn’t suitable for anything more.
The camera doesn’t offer much considering the capabilities of some more-expensive phones but if what you are looking to do is just take a few snaps to be used online then it can handle it. Its only 3.2 megapixels so you aren’t going to get great image quality and it doesn’t handle colours particularly well but it would be surprising to see a phone of this size and price with anything more powerful.
Other tech specs
- Standard battery, Li-Po 1200 mAh
- Document viewer
- Photo viewer/editor
- 512 MB ROM, 256 MB RAM
- Google Search, Maps, Gmail, Talk
The real problem with the Blaze is that the lack of processing power makes it slow and uncomfortable to use and it really isn’t capable of running the software that’s on it. Gingerbread on the Blaze really can’t be compared to the same OS on many other phones because the lack of power stops you from getting the most out of it.
Anybody buying a phone in this price-range will not be expecting it to compare to the high-end phones so it’s a little unfair to judge the Blaze that way. Its compact design is both practical and stylish and it is very comfortable to hold and stow away. Maybe Huawei were being ambitious in putting Gingerbread on it when the processor clearly isn’t up to the task but it at least shows that the Chinese manufacturer is capable of doing some radical things. Overall, even though the Blaze lacks power and any dazzling features it is both cheap and convenient.