Huawei’s X1 took the budget Android to new levels by sealing a beautifully simple package into a sub-$100 price. The Huawei Sonic works on that legacy but this time for the mid-range phone market without compromising on price value.The Sonic is typical Android smartphone fodder with a few elegant additives to make the user interface a little more crisp, while retaining the typical smartphone design that’s hard to offend. It sports a single 600MHz core backed by 256 MB RAM – enough grunt to push the Sonic to at least sub-sonic speeds and run smoothly.
The 3.5 inch screen has a resolution of 320 x 480 (or half VGA) which is adequate for day-to-day use but nothing to brag about. Edges aren’t as defined as on better screens and small text when web browsing will need to be zoomed on, but otherwise it’s adequate for a mid-range phone. The brightness is also fair and adjustable.
The standard Android keyboard hasn’t been played with, so in its base form it isn’t the best out there, especially when compared to competing Android offerings that are customised with bigger, easier-to-select keys.
While there aren’t really any real-world applications in Australia for Near Field Communications (NFC) yet, the Sonic has an optional NFC chip in-built – so it’s slightly future proofed.
The real beauty of this cheap mid-ranger comes in the slight alterations to the typical Android 2.3 interface. It’s not the Sense-style overhaul of HTC phones, but it’s managed to simplify an already-simple system without overburdening it with proprietary software additives.
The panel below the screen houses the typical four touch-sensitive buttons from home, settings, back and search. Atop this sits the 3.5 inch screen that is made up of five customisable home screens that scroll across in a cube-like rotation that lets users flip through screens infinitely in one direction (rather than getting to the rightmost page then having to swipe back left). The same home screen interface is used on the lower-end models like the X1, though the 600MHz processor makes the Sonic run features like this seamlessly rather than with slight bits of lag.
These home pages are preloaded with a range of useful apps apart from the default like the Smart Traffic manager for setting limits to data usage per month (to avoid unwanted bill surprises), backup utilities and one-touch settings for Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and GPS, for instance. The full app list is also revamped to make it easier to customise and view in a page system similar to the home screen.
The mid-range Huawei Sonic runs at an RRP of $248 through Big W, Dick Smith and Woolworths, and for the price and hardware combination, it’s a top buy. The recently release X1 is the best value smartphone you’ll find with its sub-$100 price tag, but if you want a cheap Android phone with more than the bare-minimum in power, the Sonic is an impressive underdog.