15 July 2015

Huawei Ascend G620S review

Key Features: 5-inch 1,280 x 720 pixel IPS screen; 
Android 4.4.4 with Emotion UI 2.3; 
Snapdragon 410 1.2GHz CPU

Manufacturer: Huawei

What is the Huawei Ascend G620S?


The Huawei Ascend G620S is the latest stab at updating the vision of the ideal budget phone that Motorola nailed so well with the Moto G. It costs around £120, but has a decent 5-inch screen, 4G and a 64-bit processor.


It’s not too bad for the price at all. We only wish it didn't seem quite so deliberately limited to show it’s a lower-end model. It uses a rather old version of Huawei’s custom UI, making the Huawei Ascend G620S seem a little dated in parts.

Still, for the price it’s not too shabby at all.

Huawei Ascend G620S: Design


The Huawei Ascend G620S looks a bit like how Samsung phones used to look before the company started to really get things right over the last 12 months. That sounds like an insult, and kinda is, but expectations for the design of a sub-£100 are never that high. It's a plastic phone with a texture on the back.

And at least it’s not just a plain black rectangle, at least in the finish we’re looking.

The Huawei Ascend G620S comes in black and white versions, and the white one has a silver trim and silver soft keys. There’s a fake leather texture etched into the plastic back cover too. But it’s fairly subtle, with a fine grain and no fake stitching to really draw attention to the style.

It still feels pretty cheap, but some of you may prefer this finish to the glossy plain plastic you get in some other budget phones.

The rather funny thing about how budget phones have starting using bigger screens in the last year or so is that models like the Huawei Ascend G620S aren’t really any smaller than top-end phones like the Galaxy S6. They feel larger, in fact, because that extra bit of chunky in the screen bezel and thickness makes them seem a bit tubby.

Hoping for a small and easy Android? The Huawei Ascend G620S might seem a bit large. But if a petite frame doesn’t matter too much, it poses no real issues. The buttons, hardware and soft keys, are all quite easy to reach. One obvious budget drawback, though, is that the soft keys don't light-up. They're just shiny silver accents.

It doesn’t have every benefit common to phones with a removable plastic, either. There’s a microSD card slot to let you add to the 8GB memory easily enough, but the battery is non-removable. It’s held in place under a metal sheet.

Other basic hardware elements are more-or-less as you’d expect at the price. 4G is onboard and the usual complement of wireless connections are here. But you don’t get ac-speed Wi-Fi, an IR transmitter and other such bonus bits. There is NFC, though, missing from some budget rivals.

Huawei Ascend G620S: Screen


We’re more than happy to miss out on a few connectivity extras in a phone if the result is a great screen. What we get in the Huawei Ascend G620S is a good one, although not quite at the top of this new budget class.

It’s a 5-inch screen of 720p resolution, getting you decent sharpness, but far enough off the Retina standard to make it clear there’s a bit of compromise going on. The Huawei Ascend G620s offers 294ppi, showing slight pixellation close-up.

This is normal, though: we’re still a way off seeing a 1080p phone for under £100 from a name people have heard of (and yes, we count Huawei in that class). And if you're upgrading from a lower-res budget model, this should seem like a big upgrade. Where the Huawei Ascend G620S drops down a notch is in its screen architecture, which is a bit less advanced than the best.

The display layer appears a little bit recessed beneath the very top-most layer of the screen. As well as just looking that bit less swish, it reduces contrast and outdoors visibility a bit. In very bright sunlight the Huawei Ascend G620S struggles. Higher-end screens merge some screen layers and get rid of air gaps to give the display a bit more pop.

You can get a slightly higher-end screen if you pay about £130-140. But even the £20 saving of the £120 Huawei Ascend G620s matters at this price. Top brightness is pretty potent, and while colours aren’t as vivid as phones higher-up Huawei’s range, they’re also reasonably natural-looking.

There’s an ambient light sensor too, letting the Huawei Ascend G620S judge the level of backlight brightness required.

While there are some compromises for the price, it’s fairly good.

Huawei Ascend G620S: Software and Android


One area likely to put a few people off the Huawei Ascend G620S is software. First, it runs Android 4.4.4 rather than Lollipop 5.x, a kinda dated version at this point.

More importantly, it also uses an ageing version of the custom Huawei Emotion UI that actually dictates what the phone looks and feels like more than the core Android software. It has version 2.3 rather than the 3.x version you get in Huawei’s more expensive phones, such as the Ascend G7.

It does seem to be about putting the Huawei Ascend G620S in the cheapo box too, as phones just as powerful like the (Huawei-made) Honor 4X use the newer version (one possible explanation is the amount of RAM available). Parts of Emotion UI 2.3 look a bit dated now, especially the settings menu.

The basic layout is the same as the newer version, mind, and it’s not going to please everyone. Its big change is that it drops the separate apps menu. All you have are homescreens, just like an iPhone.

What this means is that whenever you install an app, it just finds a spot on one of your homescreens. And version 2.3 of Emotion UI seems to be particularly spotty about exactly where it puts ‘em. Some searching will be required.

It’s only really an annoyance for that initial period when you're constantly installing new apps, though. You can put folders on your home screens, minimising how many homescreens you’ll need, and letting you organise the phone that bit more.

However, thanks to using dated software all-round, the Huawei Ascend G620S definitely lags behind something like the Motorola Moto G in this area. Emotion UI does have a few extras you might like, though.

It uses themes that totally reskin the phone including wallpapers and icons. The default theme is actually one of the best, but there are loads of extra ones you can download from the Themes app if you want something a bit more ‘out there’. Again, Emotion UI 3.x themes tend to be a bit better.

The Huawei Ascend G620S is also a little laden down with extra apps. It’s not Huawei stuff that’s the issue, but all the Gameloft bloat that’s on there. We hope it’s earning Huawei a few quid for preinstalling so many Gamloft titles as it does clutter up the phone’s storage fresh out of the box. There’s only 8GB on there (around 4GB is accessible) so while there is a smidgen of extra space, there's not an awful lot going spare.

Huawei Ascend G620S: Performance


In the past we’ve seen quite a few Emotion UI 2.3-based phones perform quite badly, with general lag making them appear compromised. And a bit rubbish. However, the Huawei Ascend G620S runs really quite well.

It uses the Snapdragon 410 CPU, a 64-bit quad-core 1.2GHz processor, and 1GB RAM. While a low-end spec, it’s still very good for a phone selling at around the £100 mark. We did notice a bug or two, in particular a Calendar-crashing one that seems to be an Emotion UI foible, but using the Huawei Ascend G620S is a largely stress-free experience once you get used to how it rolls. There's some occasional lag, but it's very minor.

It’s also not a bad gaming machine, just like the arch-rival Moto G. It sails through 3D games with only slight frame rate drops in the most challenging (or under-optimised) titles like Asphalt 8. Even if its software may be a bit less-optimised than the latest vanilla edition of Android, the Huawei Ascend G620S is just as good as pretty much any other £100-odd phone for games.

The Geekbench 3 result supports this too. The Huawei Ascend G620S scores around 1330 points, roughly 10 per cent greater than the Snapdragon 400 Moto G.

It would be nice to have more storage to give you extra room to install games and store music, but it’s unrealistic to expect this at the price.

Huawei Ascend G620S: Camera


The Huawei Ascend G620S has an 8-megapixel camera with an LED flash and a basic 2-megapixel front camera. At £120, you can’t ask for much more.

Its photos are surprisingly respectable, with punchy colours and none of the red tone-mushing issues we see in many cheap phones. This is partly thanks to a rather clever ‘smart’ mode that not only judges exposure and colour temperature reasonably well, but can focus closer than the Auto mode, handy for macro shots. It’s also good at reducing the amount of noise in low-light situations and bumping-up the exposure so that what’s in-shot is reasonably clear.

Natural dynamic range is pretty poor, but then there’s the HDR mode to help out with that.

What it isn’t, though, is remotely fast. And its slowness does take some of the fun out of using the camera. The Huawei G620S’s camera app takes almost five seconds to load, there’s some shutter lag, and both the Smart and HDR modes are significantly slower than the Auto made. And that’s not fast to start with.

So while the results can be decent if you have patience, the Huawei G620S will probably see you miss a few of those quick-shot photo moments. Oh well.

Huawei Ascend G620S: Battery Life


The Huawei Ascend G620S wins back a few points with its stamina, which is pretty solid. It only has a 2000Ah battery, which is about as small as we’d like to see in a 5-inch Android phone, but it does remarkably well here.

We’re not talking easy two-day stamina, and heavy users can drain it down in a day (we did with all-day WhatsApp, an hour of Netflix streaming and a couple of hours of 3G/4G podcast streaming). However, with ‘normal’ use you should find you have around 30 per cent battery left by bedtime to see you through into the second day without a charge.

Do note, though, that the reflective screen means you’ll need to crank up the Huawei Ascend G620S screen to the maximum brightness when you go outdoors. Its stamina works best for office workers, not outdoors types.

In the looped video test, which involves playing a 720p MP4 until the battery runs dry, the Huawei Ascend G620S lasts for 10.5 hours. That means it comfortably outperforms the Moto G 5-inch, likely down to the aggressive Huawei power management, the 64-bit processor or a less power-hungry screen. Or maybe all three.

Huawei Ascend G620S: Sound Quality


We’re going to have to end this Huawei Ascend G620S review on a bit of a bland note, but we can’t go without mentioning its call quality, even if it is 2015. It’s perfectly fine, and we experienced no drop-outs during calls.

The tone of the speaker goes for clarity by not smoothing out the sound too much or adding too much lower-end warmth. As such, voices don’t sound exactly pretty, but you will be able to understand them. There’s also a secondary mic on the back for noise cancellation.

It’s the same story with the speaker. It’s nothing special, but doesn’t embarrass the Huawei Ascend G620S. You get a single speaker on the back. It doesn’t distort at top volume like some cheaper phones, but isn’t terribly loud and is fairly thin-sounding.

Should you buy the Huawei Ascend G620S?


The Huawei Ascend G620S is a very solid budget Android phone that offers pretty strong value if you can swallow its quirks. Just look at what your get for around £100: 4G, a decent processor and a fair 720p screen. Not bad, is it?

The bad bits include a highly reflective screen, a pretty slow camera and software that’s dated and unusual in parts. As the screen is that bit more reflective than the Moto G, this is not the new king of budget phones.

However, if you find it at a good price and need to save cash, go ahead. While there are some strange bits and some signs this is a real entry-level phone, there are no show-stopping annoyances.

Verdict


A solid budget 4G Android phone with decent battery life and just a few budget-grade bits.

1 comment:

  1. Solid review man! Thanks for your thought!

    ReplyDelete

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