When Microsoft announced its hardware partners for Windows Phone 8, we were surprised that there was no mention of Huawei. You see, in the lead-up to the event, we'd seen enough evidence to be sure that the Chinese outfit would become the fourth phone maker to join Nokia, Samsung and HTC. When the Ascend W1 debuted later at CES, Huawei made no great effort to explain the delay, but with the vehementpolitical opposition it's currently facing in the US, perhaps it had cold feet. Now, several months down the line, we have our first chance to put the Ascend W1, its first Windows Phone 8 device, through its paces.
With a £130 off-contract price on O2 UK (or $230 at Walmart in the US) and a spec sheet that screams "2011," it's clear that Huawei's aiming this at the same audience as Nokia's lowest-priced Lumias, the 520 and 620. That puts it squarely in the reach of smartphone virgins, the "price sensitive" and those looking to dip a toe into Windows Phone's hot tub with more of a secondary handset. But should the W1 be the device new users pick to be their entry point into Microsoft's mobile world, or will we once again say that it's the Lumia 620 that deserves your hard-earned cash? The answer resides below the fold.