Huawei Ascend Y530, First Take: Entry-level smartphone with 'simple' Android UI option

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It isn't easy being an Android smartphone maker these days. Your flagship handsets are scrutinised for cutting-edge features, yet they're criticised if these features seem to be unnecessary, or are unnecessarily complicated.

Ever faster multicore processors are sometimes deemed by reviewers to be faster than needed, with the trade-off between power consumption and responsiveness often cited. Higher-resolution screens can be dismissed, as there comes a point where pixel count goes beyond being a factor in smooth text and graphics rendition. What's a manufacturer to do in the face of such criticism?

The 145g Ascend Y530 is a 4.5-inch (480 by 854 pixels) Android 4.3 smartphone powered by a 1.2GHz dual-core Qualcomm MSM8210 SoC with 512MB of RAM and 4GB of internal storage (1.8GB available), expandable via a MicroSD card slot. It has 802.11b/g/n wi-fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and HSPA (but not LTE) connectivity. There are front (0.3Mpixel) and rear (5Mpixel) cameras, and the 1,750mAh battery is rated for 8h GSM talk, 590h on standby and 6h wi-fi browsing. Image: Huawei

One area where Android handset makers can make a mark — for better or worse — is in user interface design. Huawei's latest attempt to make Android more user-friendly is an option on its new entry-level smartphone, the Ascend Y530.

With a list price of £149.95 (inc. VAT) SIM-free (now available from Argos at £119.99 inc. VAT), the Ascend Y530 will appeal to first-time Android users, who Huawei suspects may be put off by the complexity of the standard Android user interface. So, alongside Huawei's standard skin for Android 4.3, the company offers what it calls a Simple Android Interface (SAI) on the Ascend Y530.

Huawei's Simple Android Interface (SAI) offers three customisable large-icon screens, inlcuding a button to return to the standard Home screen. Image: Sandra Vogel/ZDNet

The multi-screened standard Android skin is easily swapped with a much simpler trio of screens offering large shortcut icons. You can personalise many of these icons to link to a frequently used app, or your most contacted friends or colleagues.

It is not a bad idea in itself, but it does fall down in some key respects.

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The default UI is the standard Huawei-skinned version of Android. To access the SAI you have to go into Settings — and in so doing you'll prove that you can navigate the standard UI.

Some, but not all, of the SAI's large icons can be replaced with your choices. Image: Sandra Vogel/ZDNet

The large icons on the SAI can't all be customised. You don't have the option to remove the weather app, phone, messaging, people or camera links from the first screen, or the calendar from the second screen. You can, however, remove the link that takes you back to the standard view from the third home screen, and the link to settings. Do this and you can still get to settings and the standard UI via the notifications area, but you'll need to know that's possible. Most likely, by the time you've found all this out, you'll be expert enough not to require the SAI any more.

If you tap one of the SAI options, you go into a fully-fledged Android app rather than a 'simple' version, so you'll have to make the best of getting to grips with it.

These may sound like churlish criticisms of an attempt to make Android accessible to novice users. They're not meant to be. However, it's difficult to see how the act of making large icons is enough on its own to constitute a 'simple' user interface.

Similar large-icon-based screens are employed as an alternative to the more complex Android UI for in-car use, and there I can fully see the point. I can also see a place for a simplified user interface for the visually impaired.

But for such users Huawei's current offering doesn't go far enough. One icon tap and you're into standard Android apps with their small text, icons and menu options. Until Android itself gets a 'simple' UI option, efforts like Huawei's on the Ascend Y530 can only ever be skin deep.

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SAR Value 0.93 W/kg (body), 0.45 W/kg (head)
Integrated Components FM radio
Body Color Black
Technology WCDMA (UMTS) / GSM
Type Smartphone
Integrated Components FM radio
Navigation A-GPS, GLONASS, GPS
Band WCDMA (UMTS) / GSM 850/900/1800/1900/2100
Mobile Broadband Generation 3G
Phone Form Factor touch
Service Provider not specified
Operating System Family Android
Operating System Android 4.3 (Jelly Bean)
User Interface HUAWEI Emotion UI
Input Device Multi-touch
Phone Features
Phone Functions Speakerphone, call timer, conference call, flight mode, vibrating alert
Sensors Accelerometer, ambient light sensor, proximity sensor, G-sensor
Messaging & Internet
Cellular Messaging Services MMS, SMS
Mobile Services Google Maps
Messaging Services MMS, SMS
Sensors G-sensor, accelerometer, ambient light sensor, proximity sensor
Clock Speed 1.2 GHz
Processor Number MSM8210
Manufacturer QUALCOMM
Processor Core Qty Dual-core
Communication Features Internet browser, mobile Email client
Data Transmission EDGE, GPRS, HSDPA, HSUPA
Wireless Interface Bluetooth 4.0, IEEE 802.11b/g/n
Technology TFT
Display Resolution 480 x 854 pixels
Diagonal Size 4.5 in
Diagonal Size (metric) 11.4 cm
Smartphone Diagonal Size 4.5 in
Color Support color
Personal Information Management alarm clock, calculator, calendar, reminder, synchronization with PC
Focus Adjustment automatic
Camera Light Source LED light
Still Image Resolutions 2592 x 1944
Features video recording
Front-facing Camera 0.3 Megapixel
Media Player
Supported Digital Video Standards MPEG-4, 3GP, H.264, H.263
Supported Digital Audio Standards WAV, AAC, AMR, MP3, AAC +, OGG, eAAC+, MIDI
Graphics Accelerator Qualcomm ADRENO 203
Navigation Software & Services Google Maps
Supported Flash Memory Cards microSDHC - up to 32 GB
Run Time Details Standby (GSM): up to 591 hrs
Standby (WCDMA): up to 612 hrs
Talk (GSM): up to 430 min
Talk (WCDMA): up to 640 min
Digital Camera
Focus Adjustment automatic
Camera Light Source LED light
Still Image Resolutions 2592 x 1944
Video Recorder Resolutions 1280 x 720 (720p)
Features video recording
Navigation System
Navigation Software & Services Google Maps
Brand Huawei
Product Line Huawei Ascend
Model Y530
Packaged Quantity 1
CE Input Device
Type touch sensitive screen (multi-touch)
Sensors G-sensor, accelerometer, ambient light sensor, proximity sensor
Phone Functions call timer, conference call, flight mode, speakerphone, vibrating alert
Digital Player (Recorder)
Supported Digital Audio Standards AAC, AMR, MIDI, MP3, OGG, WAV, eAAC+
Supported Digital Video Standards 3GP, H.263, H.264, MPEG-4
Installed Size 512 MB
Flash Memory
Internal Memory Capacity 4 GB
Max Supported Size 32 GB
Supported Flash Memory Cards microSDHC
Graphics System
Graphics Accelerator Qualcomm ADRENO 203
Optical Sensor
Sensor Resolution 5 megapixels
Front-facing Camera
Sensor Resolution 0.3 Megapixel

Where To Buy

Where To Buy

Huawei Ascend Y530 (black)

Part Number: ASCENDY530BLK