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The other day, I reviewed the Huawei Ascend Y210. While it wasnít a great phone, that wasnít the point of it. The idea is that itís $78 Smartphone to entice feature phone users away from their flips and keypads. When you consider that, itís an intriguing proposition.

Anyways, the Y210 has an equally priced sister - the Y201. While theyíre priced the same, there are a few minor differences: The Y201 has a slower processor (800Mhz vs 1Ghz), but it has a higher resolution camera (3.2MP vs 2.0MP) and lower capacity battery (1250mAh vs 1750mAh). It also lacks the Y210ís bundled 4GB memory card. The Y201 is thinner plus it has a light sensor (for auto-brightness).

It's available from Virgin Mobile.

The Y201ís 3.2MP camera is actually a lot better than the Y201ís 2.0MP. Itís produces much cleaner and clearing images plus the colour is more vibrant. Itís not great by any means but it is an improvement over the Y210ís. Video is captured at 640x480 and like the Y201, the microphone is awful.

Since theyíre so similar thereís no point doing a full write up for the Y201. Just make sure you check out my Y210 review while youíre at it because itís much more detailed. The screen appears the same and the software is also more or less the same.

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In case you donít want to read the Y210 review; the screen is a 480x320, 3.5Ē STN display with a plastic cover. It very reflective, susceptible to fingerprints and doesnít work that great outdoors.

The resolution isnít super sharp but itís not as bad I thought it would be either. Itís problem is that the screen feels kind of cramped because itís small and the resolution isnít that high.

Still, itís actually pretty good for a STN display. Colour looks fine, thereís minimal ghosting and the viewing angle isn't that bad.

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3.5mm headphone jack, power button

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volume buttons

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nothing to see on this side

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3.2 megapixel camera, camera

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MicroUSB

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1250mAh battery, SIM card, MicroSD

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The body feels reasonably solid. The battery cover also covers up the bottom part. It has a texture on it and feels a little more classy than the Y210ís spartan back.

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The back kind of reminds me of the Google Nexus One while the front, looks a lot like the Nokia Lumia 610.

As far as performance goes, while the processor is clocked 200Mhz slower than its sister, the Y210ís performance bottleneck lies in the small amount RAM. Unfortunately, the Y201 has the same amount of RAM so it suffers from the same problems like programs closing and lag on large websites.

While the Y201 comes with some extra sensors, Iíll be honest, aside from the brightness sensor theyíre not all that useful because there isnít enough RAM and storage to install lots of programs that use them.

Another thought about the brightness sensor, since the Y210 has a much larger 1750mAh battery it doesnít really need one that badly anyways. Itís more of a nice thing to have.

On the software front, the Y201 is running Android 2.3.6 Gingerbread. Itís more or less the same thing you get with the Y210. Given the Y201ís small amount of RAM, itís probably best that itís running an older version of Android.

Itís been lightly customized by Huawei. The best thing about it is that you can toggle the WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, Mobile Data and Orientation from the notification area pull down. While most Android phones these days have this feature, itís not standard on 2.3. You also get a FM Radio and Documents To Go viewer.

CPU performance is adequate. While the Y201ís processor is clocked at only 800Mhz vs 1Ghz on the Y210 their performance bottleneck lies on the amount of built-in storage and RAM.

In case youíre wondering, the Y201 is about 20% slower than the Y210 in benchmarks.

I mentioned that the Y201 doesnít have a lot of RAM. It comes with 256MB of which around 80MB is left after booting. This isnít enough RAM if you plan on installing more than a handful of apps. It also means some apps may randomly close due.

If youíre wondering what apps you can run on the Y201; I managed to install Angry Birds on it. While it runs, the low memory means it will close sometimes.

Like the Y210, the Y201 also only comes with 512MB of built-in storage most of which is taken up by Android. Thereís also no memory card in the box. That means you have around 100MB available for pictures, music and programs. It fills up really fast. Just updating the built-in programs with Google Play can eat up all the extra storage.

Iím a little annoyed that Bell included their Mobile TV, Self Serve and Music Store apps with the Y201. Normally Iím not bothered by these programs because itís easy to hide them on newer versions of Android. The problem is that the Y201 doesnít have much built-in storage and you canít remove them so every byte counts.

As a phone the Y201 does a decent job. The earpiece, RF performance and sound quality are all average so they should be good enough for most users.

In the end, while the Huawei Ascend Y201 isnít a very powerful Android phone, it is an interesting alternative to a feature phone.

However, if I were to choose between the Y210 and the Y201 Iíd probably go with Y210. First off, you get the 4GB SD card. One could always argue that you could go out and buy a card yourself but at this price point most users probably arenít going to do this. The Y210ís bigger battery is also a nice extra as is the slightly faster processor.

Pros:

  • Solid
  • Screen
  • Affordable


Cons:

  • Not enough storage
  • not enough RAM