The Huawei Ideos does everything right to create a cheap phone with plenty of smarts. It's not going to take on the big, beautiful Samsung Galaxy S, but it's got an even newer version of Android and should only cost about £100 on pay as you go. We'll take ten!
The Ideos isn't in shops yet, and since Huawei isn't a well-known brand here, it will probably get renamed by the network that brings it to the UK. It should still be called the Ideos, though, so look for it on pay as you go for between £99 and £129.
All the Android
Huawei says it worked closely with Google to make the Ideos, which is evident in the Google logo that graces the back of the phone. This phone is pure Android 2.2 Froyo, the latest version of Google's operating system. That means you have all the latest features, except one -- there's no Flash on the Ideos. It just doesn't have the processing power to support Flash, sadly. But it does have all the rest of the goodies that come with the latest version of Android.
That means seamless support for Gmail, Google Maps, email and heaps more built-in features. If that isn't enough for you, you can download more apps from the Android Market. There can be something of a 'Wild West' feel to the Android app store, with amateurs vying with the big brands for the top of the apps charts. But, if you can find the best Android apps, you can make your phone do almost anything you can imagine, from opening Office documents to sending digital postcards. There's also a great official Facebook app and several excellent Twitter clients, including an official one.
The untouched version of Android and the partnership with Google means we can trust Huawei when it says you will get prompt updates for the phone as soon as new versions of the OS come out.
But don't think that, just because Huawei has avoided adding its own skin to Android, you won't be able to customise the Ideos. The Android user interface is so flexible you can personalise the phone every which way. There are lots of wallpapers -- including touch-sensitive and animated ones -- included, or you can use your own photos. Fill the five scrolling home screens with shortcuts to programs or specific contacts, or with widgets that update with live news and your social network activity. Setting up five home screens may be overkill for some people, but if you like to fiddle with your technology, you're guaranteed hours of fun tweaking the Ideos.
Cheap and cheerful
Of course, the Ideos does make sacrifices to keep its price down. The case isn't hideous, but it's cheap and plasticky. The large, round navigation key -- which Google loves to see on its phones -- isn't as sexy as the optical trackpad that you get on the HTC Wildfire. Like the Wildfire, the Ideos suffers from a low-resolution 320x240-pixel screen, which makes things look blurry.
In saying that, the Wildfire costs twice as much as the Ideos on pay as you go, despite its similar budget-Android target. With the Ideos, most of the important features are in place. The screen is responsive when you touch it, and it's capacitive, so you don't need to press too hard. The small, 71mm (2.8-inch) screen makes things pretty pokey, especially the on-screen keyboard, but good predictive text means it's still very usable.
The camera is another place where the Ideos skimps and saves. It's only 3.2 megapixels, with no LED photo light, but it does shoot stills and video, so you won't be short of a snapper when you really need one. Android also makes sharing a doddle, with support for uploading video to YouTube and photos to Facebook, among other services. Just be sure to pick up a microSD memory card to store your snaps, because we don't expect the phone to come with one.
Punching above its weight
The Ideos looks very similar to the HTC Tattoo, a cheap Android phone that we loved when it came out last year. Although they could be twins, the Ideos comes out on top because of its responsive, capacitive touchscreen and its up-to-date version of Android. And did we mention it costs around £100 on pay as you go? That alone could have us cuddling up to the Ideos, and, among its rivals at that price, it looks even more attractive.
On top of the bountiful Android features and apps, the Ideos doesn't skimp on connectivity. It has the latest 802.11n Wi-Fi standard and 7.2Mbps HSPA for fast Web surfing over 3G. Bluetooth and a mini-USB port both come in handy for swapping files, while a standard 3.2mm headphone jack means you can use any pair of cans.
The Huawei Ideos may skimp on a low-res screen and camera, but it's made exactly the right moves in bringing Android to the masses. 802.11n Wi-Fi and HSPA combine with the latest version of the Android OS to give the Ideos the leg-up on most other phones, at any price. Although you'll miss out on Flash Player, you won't regret saving some dosh on this responsive, usable phone.
Edited by Emma Bayly