Huawei Impulse 4G First Impressions

Sydney Myers – writer
Published: September 19, 2011

The Huawei Impulse 4G's spec sheet may not sound impressive, but when you consider that it's a 4G device and it's currently only $30 on-contract, things start to look a little more appealing. (Whether or not you consider AT&T's 4G network to be a "true" 4G network or not is a different story. The point is it's being marketed as a 4G device.) By all accounts and purposes, the Impulse 4G is a mid-range or even low-end device, depending on how you look at things. However, it ships with some pretty impressive features like a 5-megapixel camera that captures 720p HD video. It also has one of the largest displays I've seen on a low-end device, coming in at 3.8-inches. These aren't things that will necessarily blow you away, but they make you do a double-take.

I've had the Impulse for a little over a day and have a few first impressions of the device that I'd like to share with you.

  • Let's start with the one thing that most people will look at first - the processor. On paper, it's not much, just an 800 MHz Qualcomm chip. On the other hand, while using the phone for a few minutes, I could already tell that this was a pretty decent processor. Then I did a Quadrant Standard test to get a benchmark score for the CPU. The score? 1,564. Now, that's no Droid X2 or Galaxy S II, but it's pretty darn good for an 800 MHz processor on a mid-range device. It's one of the best scores I've seen for a device of this caliber.

  • Part of the reason the processor is able to, well, process information so quickly is because the Impulse doesn't ship with a manufacturer-added UI, meaning that there is a whole lot less going on behind the scenes. Yes, I agree that the Impulse should have shipped with Android 2.3, especially considering that 2.3 Gingerbread has been out for a year, but Android 2.2 Froyo is what you get out of the box.
  • I mentioned earlier that there is somewhat of a debate over whether or not AT&T has a true 4G network. The peak speeds for AT&T are 14.4 Mbps and, trust me, you'll never get that. So far, the average download speeds I'm getting are 1.2-1.6 Mbps and I'm pulling about 700 kbps-1.1 Mbps for uploads. This isn't awful for AT&T's 4G network, but compared to what you get on other carriers' 4G network, it's pretty terrible. But that's comparing apples to oranges.
  • I forgot to mention this in the unboxing, but the Impulse does ship with Wi-Fi Hotspot support. It even comes with a widget that gives you quick access to this feature. (Keep an eye on that data usage though. This is the feature that gets people in trouble.)

  • I've honestly taken one picture with the Impulse's 5-megapixel shooter so I really have no comments on this feature. I'm surprised that it supports 720p HD video capture and will be testing out this feature further.
  • One quick note on battery: It was fully charged Saturday morning and I let it sit on standby for the entire day with background notifications turned on for e-mail and messages. After one full day and one night, the battery is at 57%. I'll do further usage tests to see how well it performs.

So, that's all I've got so far. I wasn't expecting much from the Impulse but it has been a pleasant surprise in a number of areas. Check back into PhoneDog in a few days with my full review!

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