Huawei IDEOS X5

I wasn't a big fan of Android when I picked up the X5. I often find that the so-called "customisation" of the OS means manufacturers get to put all kinds of ugly bloatware on an otherwise good phone, ruining any chance I had of liking it. My primary phone prior to the X5 was running Windows Phone 7 and I often defended it when Android-vs-Windows Phone 7 debates came up in the office.

Imagine my surprise after a couple of days using the X5, when I realised that, by god, I was falling in love with an Android device.

The Ideos X5 is not a remarkable looking device by any means -- it's got that typical black smartphone look -- but no one is going to be ashamed to carry it around. It looks and feels like a smartphone worth considerably more than $549, and it's a serious upgrade in specs compared to 2degrees' budget option, the Ideos U8150. The specs are actually nearly identical to those of smartphones that cost nearly double the price.

In our tests, the X5 was responsive, too. It benchmarks better than the Samsung Galaxy S according to the Quadrant Standard app, and runs a clean version of Android 2.2 with no bloatware. (As a side note, the fact that it's a plain Android install makes it much more likely to be upgraded to 2.3.)

The X5 also comes with Swype, which allows you to type out text messages by keeping your finger on the touchscreen and dragging it to the letters you need in order. It's a lot faster when you don't mess it up, but when you get a word wrong and have to go back and fix your mistake it costs time. At first it was frustrating -- I made many errors -- but once I got used to Swype I was texting much faster than I ever could by tapping words in.

Of course, the perfect smartphone remains the stuff of legends. With a cheaper phone you're going to be making a couple of compromises -- like the 800MHz processor and the battery which lasted me less than a day with medium usage. The Wi-Fi sometimes had trouble connecting too, until we fiddled with some settings. But mostly, these compromises are acceptable for the price.

The only real downside to the X5 is that it has a measly 2GB of on-board memory, but it can take a MicroSD card if you're a music/video junkie, or -- given that it uses Android 2.2 -- to store extra apps. The MicroSD slot is also on the inside of the back cover, making it difficult to get to. Even so, adding a fast 16GB MicroSD card at around $150 still means the price is remarkably affordable.

Maybe I'll use my $899 HTC 7 Trophy now and again, to check out the updates to Windows Phone 7, but I'm officially an Android convert. If you're going to buy an Android phone, don't bother spending your life savings on it -- the X5 will do the job.

At a glance:

● Qualcomm 800MHz Snapdragon processor● 3.8-inch capacitive touchscreen● Android 2.2● Only 2GB on-board memory

Rating: 4.5/5 stars.

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Tags AndroidPhonesconsumer electronicsHuawei Technologies

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Siobhan Keogh

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