If you’re looking for a feature phone on T-Mobile, chances are you haven’t considered the Huawei Summit. That’s because the $49.99 phone looks, feels, and (mostly) acts like a smartphone. It even runs Android! But the Huawei Summit isn’t a smartphone—it doesn’t have access to Google Play or any of Google’s standard apps. And now that all T-Mobile phones cost the same amount per month across the board, if you’re interested in a phone like the Summit, you’re better off just getting the real thing.
Design, Plans, and Call Quality
When I first picked up the Summit, I thought it was a smartphone. It bears more than a passing resemblance to the T-Mobile Prism that Huawei made for T-Mobile last year. In fact, I’d venture to guess that it’s even the same phone loaded with a new operating system.
The phone measures 4.56 by 2.36 by 0.48 inches and weighs 4.41 ounces. It’s a very comfortable size to hold and use. The back panel is made of a grayish blue rubberized plastic, with a matte black ring surrounding the all-glass display. The 3.5-inch capacitive touch LCD sports a standard 480-by-320-pixel resolution. It’s not great compared with actual Android smartphones, but it’s pretty good compared to the much more modest feature phone competition. The on-screen keyboard is large enough to type on without an issue.
The Summit is a quad-band EDGE (850/900/1800/1900 MHz) and dual-band HSPA7.2 (1700/2100 MHz) device with 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi. It also supports T-Mobile’s UMA-based Wi-Fi calling, which is a nice fallback in areas where network coverage is lacking.
T-Mobile’s new contract-free plans start at $50 per month, which gets you all the talk and texts you want, along with 500MB of high-speed (3G, in this case) data per month, after which your speeds are slowed to 2G. $60 gets you 2GB of high-speed data, while $70 gets you unlimited high-speed data. These are excellent rates compared to competitors like AT&T and Verizon. The only issue is that these rates put all of T-Mobile’s phones on a level playing field, and in that context, the Summit isn’t as strong a deal compared with actual smartphones, which have many features the Summit lacks. We’ll get to those in a minute.
In my tests, reception was fine, and call quality was average. Voices sounded nice and full in the phone’s earpiece, but volume is somewhat low. Calls made with the phone sounded digitized, but good noise cancellation helped things out. Calls were fine through a Jawbone Era Bluetooth headset and standard Android voice dialing worked well without training. The speakerphone sounds fine, but it’s too low to hear outside. Wi-Fi-based calls sound okay as well. Battery life was average at 6 hours and 43 minutes of talk time.
User Interface and Apps
Here’s where it gets interesting. The specs say that the Summit runs Android 2.3.6 (Gingerbread), but it’s been heavily modified to make this a feature phone. For starters, I couldn’t actually find any information on the phone that says it actually runs Android. It’s unmistakably Android, though, despite the many changes.
When you turn the phone on, the lock screen lets you automatically access your call log, messages, or camera. You get three customizable home screens to flick between, which come preloaded with a number of useful apps and widgets. You also get the TeleNav GPS app for voice-enabled, turn-by-turn directions, along with a built-in FM radio. There’s excellent email support and a solid Web browser, and if you connect to Wi-Fi you’ll be surfing much faster than over 3G.
It might not sound like it so far, but the Summit isn’t a full-on smartphone. For instance, there’s no access to Google Play, which means you can’t download any of the 700,000+ plus apps available for Android phones. You can’t sideload apps, either. So if you want new apps you’re forced to choose from the limited selection in the preloaded T-Mobile Mall. And you don’t get any standard Google apps, like Maps or YouTube.
Additionally, all of this is powered by a woefully out-of-date 600MHz Qualcomm MSM7627 processor. While the touch screen feels adequately responsive, things like screen transitions and animations are noticeably stilted.
Multimedia, Camera, and Conclusions
The Summit comes with 160MB of free internal memory. There’s a free microSD card slot underneath the battery cover, and the phone had no trouble reading my 32 and 64GB SanDisk cards. There’s a standard-size 3.5mm headphone jack on top of the phone, and music sounded fine through wired earphones and Altec Lansing Backbeat Bluetooth headphones. The phone was able to play AAC, MP3, OGG, and WAV test files, but not FLAC or WMA. Video support is good for a feature phone, but not for a smartphone. The Summit can play H.264 and MP4 test files at resolutions up to 800-by-480, though they stuttered at the highest resolution in my tests.
The 3.2-megapixel auto-focus camera lacks a flash or autofocus. Shutter speeds are slow at 1.2 seconds, then a second longer to save. Colors lack vibrancy, and pictures look hazy, especially around the edges of the frame. The camera also records somewhat choppy 800-by-480-pixel at 15 frames per second.
The Huawei Summit is an above-average feature phone. So why the average rating? Because you can get a much more capable smartphone for the same monthly price. And let’s face it, the Summit isn’t a simple phone like the Samsung Gravity TXT. If you’re interested in a phone like the Summit, you’d likely also be interested in a smartphone. At this price, I’d recommend the HTC One S, which can be had for just $9.99, along with a supplementary fee for 24 months. It gets you a huge, high-resolution display, a super-fast dual-core processor, and an excellent 8-megapixel camera. The T-Mobile myTouch is also a decent smartphone with a lower monthly fee, while the HTC Windows Phone 8X might be appealing to smartphone newcomers and the Android-averse.
|Phone Capability / Network||GSM|
|Screen Resolution||320 x 240 pixels|
|Dimensions||4.56 x 2.36 x 0.48 inches|
|High-Speed Data||EDGE, HSPA 7.2|
|Battery Life (As Tested)||6 hours 43 minutes|
|Processor Speed||600 MHz|
|CPU||Qualcomm Snapdragon S1 MSM7227|
|Total Integrated Storage||0.15625 GB|
|Screen Size||3.5 inches|
|Screen Type||TFT LCD|
|Bands||850, 900, 1800, 1900|
|Screen Pixels Per Inch||165 ppi|
|Form Factor||Candy Bar|
|Bluetooth Version||2.1 + EDR|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc