Huawei Ascend XT Review

Huawei Logo

I used to be a ZTE guy. My last three phones were all ZTE devices except for that foray into Windows Phones with Nokia Lumia devices (a 521 on T-Mobile and a 635 on AT&T). Now, I am a Huawei guy. The bang for the buck with cheaper cell phones was once OWNED by ZTE but now Huawei has thrown their hat into the ring with the Ascend XT which features specs that ZTE matches but at least three times the cost (normal pricing, not Black Friday sales price).

First, a little background of my experience with cell phones. As mentioned already, I have been pretty much a ZTE guy – all the way back to their little single core, 512 megs of RAM, 3 or 4-inch (can’t remember specifically) device that I started with. It ran fine for what I needed at the time – much better than my prior phone, a flip phone. I eventually moved onto the device that would stick with me for several years, a ZTE ZMAX 2. A friend of mine had purchased several of these over the course of about six months within my first year with the device. His view was quite different than mine as he experienced problems in the first week that I did not experience till my device was put through hell (I work a skilled trade during the day).

Huawei Ascend XT

Eventually my ZTE ZMAX 2 would succumb to the microphone not working for phone calls, though it recorded audio just fine when using the audio recorder app. Weird. Then the headphone jack went out on me. That one was the deal ender for me as I can listen to audio throughout the day to help pass the time (I am not a big phone call kind of guy – ask any my clients at my PR company I run in the evenings after work). I bought a Bluetooth headphone adapter (normal headphones are cheap compared to Bluetooth headphones). This fixed my audio problem for a bit. Then I realized the Bluetooth on the ZTE was crappy – move more than 3 feet away and it lost connection. Even putting the phone on one side of me and the Bluetooth headset adapter on the other caused audio problems. I debunked this being the adapter by connecting to my tablet that features a newer Bluetooth and was able to get about 30 feet between me and the tablet before audio problems occurred.

Why am I explaining all of that within a review of the Huawei Ascend XT? Because the Ascend XT doesn’t have those problems. It is also a better option financially than anyone looking at the slightly lower priced ZTE ZMAX 2 (at least on AT&T’s networks, I am not sure about other service providers).

Normally priced at just over $100 (between $120 and $130) the Huawei Ascend XT is an excellent value for the money. Why? Here are the specs:

6 inch display
720×1280 pixels
245 pixels per inch (PPI)
2 gigs of RAM
1.5 GHz Octa Core Qualcomm Snapdragon 616
Adreno 405 GPU
16 gigs of internal memory
8 megapixel camera (3264×2448)
2 megapixel “selfie” camera
Android 6.0 (Marshmallow), Emotion User Interface
FM radio
Bluetooth 4.0, with LE (whatever LE is)
Li-Ion 3000 mAh battery
17 hours of talk time
28 hours of music play

If you are like me, you look at those specs and scratch your head on a lot of them. Here is a comparison for you. The ZTE ZMAX 2, and most cell phones in the sub $150 range are quad core affairs. Nothing wrong with that – I just knew my next phone was going to be an octa core device, though I was hesitant to buy one from overseas, so I had to wait for local prices to drop.

Size comparison between several popular phones.

I wanted an octa core device with three to four gigs of RAM but those are still quite close to $300 in my neck of the woods, so they were out of my price range. I stay under $150 because of my job – if I break the phone it is easier to justify paying $150 or less (and easier to come by) than $300+. Some of the people I work with have the new iPhone 8, the variation that is $1,000. That is madness to me. That is more than I paid for my first three cars combined.

Two gigs of RAM is pretty much the bare minimum amount for a device today. Three or four is nicer but apparently RAM prices have gone back up because devices within that range are quite pricy.

Back to the nitty gritty here.

Dead Ahead Zombie Warfare Review

The Ascend XT is quite snappy. Much faster than the ZTE ZMAX 2 – as it should be since it is more powerful hardware under the hood here. Games such as Dead Ahead Zombie Warfare load quicker, are smoother, and generally more fun to play. Dead Ahead was one of the first games I loaded up to test as I am horribly addicted to it. My first impression was the loading was a lot quicker as I was used to being able to load the game and then maybe start getting a cup of coffee before I heard the familiar in-game radio chatter that told me the game was loaded. Not so with the Ascend XT as the loading was done in about half the time. Quite impressive. Then there were the animations once you got into a level – it was like playing the game for the first time. Even with a ton of zombies on the screen everything was smooth with no slowdown or jitteriness.

What I really like about the Ascend XT is that it not only has screen capture (volume down + power button) but screen recording with audio (volume up + power button). This is great for me as I do a lot of game reviews and want to include video clips as much as possible with them. With every other device I have had I had to install a third-party app to record the screen, often without sound. Having this function built in is great. Maybe this is a function in Android 6.0?

I will be publishing reviews using the Huawei Ascend XT from now on as I have retired the ZTE ZMAX 2. While a great device, the ZMAX 2 simply cannot compare to the newer hardware available. If price is a critical concern for you when picking your next Android phone, then the ZMAX 2 is still a fine choice in my opinion. Please note though, Walmart will have the Ascend XT on sale for $50 on Black Friday. This is not a “Door Buster” or anything sale so you should be able to pick this device up later in the day when the elbowing and shoving minded customers have gotten their $5 coffee maker or $2 quilt/movie/candle set. Normal price is about $120 to $130 so this is a great price drop and may be worth your time to check out Walmart, at least one day this year.

Now, what games do you all want to see running on this thing? I take requests and do my best to cover them so let me know in the comments below.

Carl is a portable gamer (mainly PSP and Android) currently getting his butt handed to him in MIniclip’s Beast Quest on Android. Got a cool tip or inquiry about Gaming on Batteries? Contact Carl and he will be in touch ASAP.

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