updated 04:08 pm EST, Thu January 10, 2013
Ascend D1 LTE bound for Japanese market
If you're familiar at all with astrophysics, you'll understand how the gravitational pull of Huawei's Ascend Mate phablet drew us back to the Chinese manufacturer's booth for the second day in a row. This time, we crossed the event horizon in order to check out Huawei's other offerings, namely the Ascend D1 LTE and Huawei's Windows Phone offering, the Ascend W1. Huawei also had a few tablet offerings on display that we'll get to later, but for the moment these two actual hand-friendly handsets were our targets for handling.
The Ascend D1 LTE is an Android 4.0 handset bound for Japanese carrier NTT Docomo. It's got a 4.5-inch 1280x720 display that Huawei has dubbed a "Super Retina screen," and we can attest that it's quite crisp. The D1 LTE is a compact affair that is quite comfortable in the hand. Its casing is plastic, but it doesn't feel at all cheap. Its dual-core 1.5GHz MSM 8960 processor zipped through Android 4.0 quickly enough, but we'd have much preferred to see the device running one of the more recent builds of Google's operating system. We weren't able to confirm with the attendant whether this handset will be seeing an upgrade to a flavor of Jelly Bean, but, considering its internals, we don't see why it wouldn't be able to do so.
The Ascend W1 seems somewhere in between Nokia's Lumia series and HTC's Windows Phone series in terms of design, leaning a bit more toward the latter. It's a light handset, and its casing is pleasant to the touch. The area surrounding the lens and flash is raised, drawing to a point not unlike a circus bigtop. That's an interesting design decision, but nothing too groundbreaking. As to the actual 5MP rear camera, we were happy with its performance. It actually appeared to start up more quickly than did Nokia's Lumia models, in our experience, and the dedicated camera button was quite responsive.
Given that the Windows Phone 8 app ecosystem is a beautiful ghost town, it's difficult to tell how well the Ascend W1 would handle anything in particular. It's got 512MB of RAM, 4GB of internal storage, and a dual-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm MSM8230 chipset inside, but the units on display didn't have much in the way of apps preinstalled. It did handle the not-Metro interface quite smoothly, though, so W1 owners will be pleased to know they can zip through WP8's tiles to their hearts' content, as that's basically all you can do on the platform until its app store gets some fresh blood.