Android gives Huawei 858 a life

2012-01-13 22:29

Cape Town - Smartphones appear to be becoming universal, especially as regards their functionality as internet access points, but for most, the price of these devices remains a significant barrier.

While the big brands from Samsung, Sony Ericsson and Motorola slug it out for the top end of the market share, cheaper devices like the Huawei 858 (marketed in SA as the Vodafone 858) are quietly offering smartphone access at budget cost.

The device has relatively unspectacular hardware specs compared to devices like the Xperia or Galaxy range of smarphones, but it runs the Google Android operating system that breathes life into a device that might have been stillborn in this fast-paced industry.

The 858 has a comparatively slow processor speed of 528MHz and 130MB of onboard storage. When the standard among the big boys is around 1GHz dual-core, one can appreciate that the baby Huawei has a huge handicap to compete with top-of-the-line smartphones.

But it does.

Online access

Google's Android OS allows one access to the Android Market, and similar to other top-end smartphones; it can be set up as a wireless hotspot to allow web access for other devices.

Of course, it doesn't compare to the Android skins and the high definition displays on top-end devices from Sony Ericsson, Motorola and Samsung, but the tools are all there: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS, web access and a built-in e-mail client.

The genius of Android is that it makes this budget smartphone relevant in a growing market segment where online access is paramount.

There is a significant shortcoming though: To fully experience Android, one needs data and the 858 can chomp through a significant amount of data as apps constantly update themselves in the background.

One can disable this functionality, but that makes the experience somewhat poorer for it.

If another device manufacturer can somehow hammer out a data deal in the same fashion as BlackBerry maker Research In Motion, it would be a gold recipe.

BlackBerry dominates the mobile landscape in South Africa because users, particularly in lower income groups are sensitive to data costs.

The Huawei 858 doesn't even attempt to target users who can afford the top-end smartphones because they only make up about 2% of the market; it targets the 98% who want a web-enabled mobile device that serves their needs.

In that, it does the job well, but it hangs in the balance until data costs decline to a point where users don't consider carefully updating their Facebook status or browsing the web because they're concerned about airtime.

The 858 retails for R799, compared to top-end smartphones costing as much as ten times that running the same Android operating system.

- Follow Duncan on Twitter

  • NickvanderLeek - 2012-01-13 23:04

    what's the best phone on the market right now?

      Sean - 2012-01-14 00:07

      Samsung Galaxy S 2 overtook iPhone , not that I`m a big Samsung fan !

  • James - 2012-01-13 23:23


  • shaun.meintjies - 2012-01-14 00:33

    Stop talking nonsense, Iphone is still the best!!!!!!!!

  • Denise - 2012-01-14 06:58

    We are always going to have the fight, IPhone vs. Android, the thing is - an iPhone is expensive, the little Huawei is not. Duncan Alfreds does have a point though, the Android operating system chews airtime (or your data bundle) and you must immediately stop that from happening. One does not need 12 countries weather constantly updating, or know the time zone in multiple countries. The Android is built for Wi-Fi. If you have a modem and connect to the internet, change your modem to a Wi-Fi one. The android will happily use it, and as you are paying for Internet anyway the phone no longer costs you money. You leave your Wi-Fi area make sure that the "applications can sync data at any time" checkbox is unticked because each time you download an app and you are not on Wi-Fi it can cost up to R5. If you are careful and stay in a Wi-Fi area when downloading apps from the app market, you will be absolutely amazed as to what your little “cheapie” phone can achieve. There is an app for everything, as they say. No space on phone, no problem. App2sd will move everything to your memory card. Constantly fall asleep on the train and miss your stop? No problem, there is an app for that too. Have a look at the Android market – and then go and buy an Android. :-)

      kwill16 - 2012-01-14 08:16

      This is a really good article,thanks for all the information

      Nicholas - 2012-01-14 10:24

      And you can use Connectify to turn your 3G modem on your Windows PC into a wireless hotspot.

  • pages:
  • 1