If it's a small and simple smartphone you're looking for, the Huawei M835 may fit the bill. The very petite handset is the T-Mobile Comet rebranded, also known globally as the Huawei Ideos. The phone runs the stock Android 2.2 Froyo experience, without much additional fanfare. That's a wise move; for a phone with only a 2.8-inch touch screen, the cleaner design, the better. Still, the diminutive screen size quickly hindered typing and navigation on a handset that already suffers from lag time. Still, it's one of MetroPCS' most affordable smartphones, less than a third of the price of its most advanced model, the $300 Samsung Galaxy Indulge.
The M835 retails for $129, but at the time of this review, you can get it for $79 with an instant $50 rebate from MetroPCS. You'll use a $50-per-month unlimited voice, talk, and texting plan.
We enjoy a petite, attractive smartphone just as much as the next guy, but there comes a point when small is too small. There's nothing wrong with the glossy black smartphone's compact dimensions--4.1 inches tall by 2.2 inches wide. (At 0.5 inch thick, it feels thick for the phone's height. At 3.0 ounces, it leans toward the light side of the spectrum.) It's the Huawei M835's 2.8-inch TFT screen that dances the line. On a display that small, the QVGA 240x320-pixel resolution looks sharp, colorful, and bright (it supports 262,000 colors.) However, the icons are on the smaller side, and navigating icons and browser links may frustrate those with larger or less precise fingers. Even with the Swype keyboard installed by default, our text was riddled with errors. With all the room beneath the display, we wonder if Huawei couldn't have made a slightly larger screen. Like many other cell phones, the M835's display washes out in bright sunlight.
Below the display are four touch-sensitive buttons to go back, bring up the menu, go home, and search. Below that are tall, narrow Call and End buttons, and a large circular select button whose silver-colored rim also serves as a four-directional navigator. As we said, the M835 has a glossy, plastic black body with curved corners, and a soft-touch finish on the back cover. There's a Micro-USB charging port on the bottom, the volume rocker on the left, and the power button and 3.5-millimeter headset jack up top. There's an indicator light on the face that flashes green when you have a new message or alert, and flashes red when your phone is perilously close to dying.
The camera lens is on the back cover, and beneath it you'll find the microSD card slot. Sadly, the memory port is positioned in a way that you'll have to power off the phone and remove the battery to slide the card in and out, an inconvenience.
Like other smartphones, the M835 has Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, speakerphone, multiple e-mail accounts, texting, and multimedia messaging. As an Android phone, it also integrates Google services like Google Maps and navigation, voice search, and YouTube, and it has the standard Android music player as well.
The phone runs on Android 2.2 Froyo, with its customary five customizable home screens. It's unfortunate to see the phone one version behind Android 2.3 Gingerbread, although the differences between the two OS versions is slight enough that most people won't notice a huge loss. What Android fans may notice, however, is the phone's lack of hot-spot capabilities. Suppressing that feature is common for both more entry-level Android phones and for handsets on prepaid networks with all-inclusive rate plans. Using the hot spot to provide Wi-Fi for other devices usually costs an additional $30 per month on other networks, so in skipping that here, you'll also avoid the recurring monthly extra.