Preview: Huawei Vision smartphone

The Huawei Vision has an aluminium unibody design and a curved 3.7in display

Chinese smartphone manufacturer Huawei certainly knows how to build a bargain Android phone. But does it know how to build a bargain Android phone with style? That's what it is attempting with the launch of the Huawei Vision.

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The ultimate appeal of the the Huawei Vision may be its ultra-competitive $279 price tag, but the real story here is the design and build quality that $279 gets you. The Huawei Vision has a curved, 3.7in touchscreen and a unibody design that is carved from a single piece of aluminium. It is a similar casing used in many of HTC's Android phones, including the flagship HTC Sensation and Sensation XE handsets. It feels pleasing to hold, combining rounded edges with a case that's just 9.9mm thick. The downside to this design is that the battery is not removable.

Huawei says the Vision's capacitive touchscreen is made using similar technology implemented in the production of Swiss watches. The company also claims that each Vision screen takes "up to" 17 hours to manufacture due to the slight curvature. It feels impressive enough to swipe, though in our initial hands-on the screen wasn't as responsive as we hoped it would be.

Curved screen and aluminium body aside, the Huawei Vision is a pretty standard affair. It is powered by a 1GHz single-core processor, has 512MB of RAM and comes with 2GB of internal memory. The memory can be expanded with a microSD card slot, though removing the rear battery cover (located towards the bottom of the phone) immediately powers down the phone, which is a rather unwanted surprise. The Vision also has a 5-megapixel camera with single-LED flash that doubles as a 720p HD video recorder.

The Huawei Vision runs the 2.3 "Gingerbread" version of Google's Android operating system. It uses the standard, "vanilla" Android interface but Huawei has pre-loaded the SPB Shell 3D launcher (normally $14.95) in the Android Market, which is basically a fancy home screen that has a 3D-style UI. The phone also comes pre-loaded with Aldiko book reader, Documents To Go, ES File Explorer and three games — Angry Birds, Asphalt 6 and Order and Chaos HD.

The Huawei Vision will be sold exclusively through Allphones for $279 outright and is also available on Optus' $19 cap. The $19 cap includes $70 worth of calls and text and 100MB of data per month, along with unlimited access to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, eBay and Foursquare within Australia.

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