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It's not every day that you see a budget smartphone with 4G capabilities and a camera that captures 720p HD video. Those features are usually found on high-end smartphones or even superphones. The Huawei Impulse 4G, however, is neither a superphone nor a high-end phone. Its 800 MHz processor and all-around average hardware put this phone right in the low-end to mid-range category. Yet, there it is with 4G and a camera that captures HD video.

So the question is, How does it perform overall? Yes, it may have a few nice features, but if it's not at least a half-way decent phone, then it's not worth buying. Honestly, the Impulse surprised me while I was testing it out. It won't fool you into thinking you're using a high-end, expensive phone, but if you have reasonable expectations, then you should be satisfied with your purchase.


Design & Features

The Impulse is an average-looking phone; there's no standout design features that set it apart from other smartphones. The top and bottom of the phone have a more curved design than most, but the rest is standard - black plastic with a soft-touch coating on the back. It's small and light-weight and feels solid given the building materials. The Impulse measures 4.72-inches tall, 2.56-inches wide, and .46-inches thick. The 3.8-inch display is larger than what you'll get on most low-end or mid-range Android smartphones, meaning that typing will be easier compared to some of the 3.2-inch or 3.5-inch displays. The resolution is also slightly higher than other devices in this category, but it's still a standard display. The WVGA resolution makes text look smooth when viewing it from a normal distance. The capacitive touchscreen was also smooth and responsive.

There is no dedicated camera button on the Impulse. The 3.5mm headphone jack, along with the Power/Screen Lock button, is on the top of the phone and the microUSB port is on the bottom. The volume rocker keys are on the left side. The Impulse does have an LED notification light. It is placed underneath the grill for the earpiece. The microSD card slot is underneath the battery cover but it is not necessary to remove the battery to access it. The phone ships with a 2GB card and supports up to 32GB of additional memory.


Usability & Performance

It's upsetting to me that the Impulse ships with Android version 2.2 considering the fact that version 2.3 has been out for nearly a year now. The average consumer will probably not notice, care, or even know what the difference is. If you are that "average consumer", then I'll briefly explain why this is upsetting. For starters, yes, version 2.3 has been available to manufacturers and carriers for nearly a year. It brings several improvements to the OS in terms of performance and features as well as design updates that give a modern feel to the visual appearance of Android. Now, the Impulse is not the only phone shipping with version 2.2 and it won't be the last, but it still boggles my mind that this is even a problem.

Huawei hasn't added any customizations to Android, which means that the phone will run much better than other mid-range smartphones that do have a custom UI. High-end smartphones and superphones can handle the weight of Android and a custom skin, but low-end and mid-range devices usually get bogged down and tend to lag more when the processor has to handle so much. It is because of this fact that the Impulse runs so smoothly. In fact, the Impulse's 800 MHz Qualcomm processor scored a mind-blowing 1642 on the Quadrant Standard test. While performing everyday tasks, the processor did a great job of keeping up with little to no lag. There were times when the processor had a brain-freeze of sorts and things got a little laggy, but that's to be expected with a device of this caliber. For the most part, performance was smooth and met my expectations for a mid-range device.

The Impulse does not have a physical keyboard so you'll be using an on-screen virtual keyboard for all of your typing. As I mentioned earlier, the 3.8-inch display is comfortable for typing on and the screen is responsive enough for a nice typing experience. Out of the box, the phone ships with the standard Android keyboard and Swype. You can, of course, download other keyboards from the Android market.

There is some debate over whether or not AT&T has a "true" 4G network since HSPA+ could technically be considered 3.5G or a step between previous 3G data technology and 4G data technology. Nevertheless, HSPA+ is what the Impulse uses for data and it is marketed as a 4G device. In my tests, the average speed I got for downloads was about 1.3 Mbps. AT&T advertises that their network is capable of 14.4 Mbps but you're never going to get anywhere near those speeds, just like your wireless Internet at home is never as fast as advertised. Real world speeds should be around 2-3 Mbps, so 1.3 is on the low end of the speeds I should have gotten. I tested the Impulse in several different parts of the Dallas area of Texas. Speeds will vary depending on coverage in your area. The Impulse can also act as a Wi-Fi hotspot for up to five devices.

Another standout feature of the Impulse is the camera and its ability to capture 720p HD video. This just isn't something you see on a phone that has an on-contract price of $30. In fact, it's unheard of. I was anxious to test out this feature and recorded a few video samples. To put it simply, it's nothing spectacular. It's rather disappointing, to be honest. The video quality was not terrible. I wouldn't call it HD video quality, but it was decent. The audio quality, on the other hand, was horrible. I included a video sample in my video review of the Impulse. Pictures taken with the camera did not meet my standards for a 5-megapixel shooter. The pictures were decent and had a good amount of clarity, but when compared to other 5-megapixel cameras with a higher quality lens, there's no contest. Still, this is a budget phone and the pictures are about what you would expect from a budget phone.

The Impulse uses a 1500 mAh Li-Polymer battery made by Huawei. Considering that it's a 4G device, battery life was actually pretty good. 4G devices are notoriously plagued with terrible battery life so even though I would recommend having a charger handy, you may be able to get through a full workday or schoolday if you play your cards right.


Conclusion

The question I posed in the beginning was, Yes it's a mid-range phone with a few surprising and cool features, but how does it perform overall? Those features are useless if the phone isn't usable. Overall, I'm impressed by the phone. It's still an inexpensive device so there will be some hiccups here and there and not everything performs as well as it should, but it's a great phone for the price.


Wrap-Up

What's Good: Great processor performance; decent still-picture quality; decent battery life; larger display than on most low-end and mid-ranged Android smartphones.

What's Bad: Poor video capture quality; 4G speeds in my tests were not that great; ships with outdated version of Android.

The Verdict: For the price, it would be hard to find anything better than the Impulse.


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98 Reactions to this post

"Is it worth getting low-end Android phones?"


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Michael Ngugi M
Michael Ngugi M high end phones al th way if u can afford th better.but i love androids usage adaptability...it sort of puts th mark right in th middle that u can use me th same way wetha u hav an ideos or a galaxy s2...&u shit heads who think iphone's God sent...speak less or none whea android silently walks on ua oncoming grave.
Prabhath Jay
Prabhath Jay no .. if u jst want to say im an android user then its fine
Hubert John Abiera
Hubert John Abiera Nope. High specs are almost required to have a non-laggy Android experience.
James Myers
James Myers @Jon,indeed. Running sense 3.5 gingerbread 2.3.5 which all was made for a dual cored phone ,and I'm using it on my inspire. No low end phone here.
Jon Jerico Calanio
Jon Jerico Calanio High end is best end. Galaxy S II, here I come. And to say that Android is glitchy? You might not have used mine. A rooted, CM7'ed Inspire 4G that rarely breaks a sweat when it comes to apps and games.
Benjamin Pastrana
Benjamin Pastrana Stop the iPhone hate, specially if you got a low end android. Makes you look like a fool.
Tom Parker
Tom Parker Isn't every iPhone low end.
Jonathan Jones
Jonathan Jones Go from a high end to a low end and the question is answered.
James Myers
James Myers @ioan,just like hp,Windows,etc. There's a first to get the idea of a high end smartphone,but now that Google thought beyond the box,inside of staying in between the lines. Apple plays u dumbasses. Updates like two Or three minor things then renames it iPhone 5! Lmao. And after three releases since the bigger screens for android,Apple is FINALLY making it a 3.5" screen? Something like that. Now they sue everyone because why? They are falling behind. Not in sales,but in support,development,and customization. Ppl think because Apple idiots buy the newest iPhones,because the screen is a while inch bigger for $600 are complete jackasses. When android updates,its actually a update. To put it easy,while Apple is suing ppl and stealing others ideas,HTC,Samsung,LG and Motorola are moving on and moving far past Apple. The support and development of a OS is what makes a OS on top,not the sales....dumbass
Ioan-Radu Tanasescu
Ioan-Radu Tanasescu If it's worth it? I would say no, a low end device is a low end device, most people will not be happy with it and want more. Plus, low end devices tend to brake faster (though it's not a rule). I kept switchin phones and ended up spending twice the cost of an iphone 4 on cheaper phones, in the end I did get the iphone and now finally I'm not thinking about switching my phone. As for all you Apple haters out there just remember that Apple invented this kind of phone, android would have been very diferent or would not have existed at all if it were not for Apple. All os's have goods and bads, it comes down to what you preffer.
Larry Waters
Larry Waters NO.
Wilberto Ortiz
Wilberto Ortiz yep... Optimus M on Metrop Pcs is bangin...
Yossarian Norman
Yossarian Norman "Low-end" phones as you call them will always have a place in the market because it offers people that can't make the initial investment in a "high-end" phone the chance to get a smartphone. A healthy market place is about having options. And the more price ranges you can get your product in the better of a chance you have that your product will sell. Sure there are other factors like to amount of hype you can create for your product and marketing it in a way that people will feel like what they have is the best thing in the world. But the strategy of creating a product that saves the consumer from paying a high cost during their initial investment has and will allows be a good one.
Jamil Cooper
Jamil Cooper This phone has great size screen. Before this manufacturer would put out small screen. I would by this for a first time android user. But it is almost out dated. Dual core is future of running android. Nice phone overall. Great report.
Erik Rosli
Erik Rosli To all fanboys alike, please grow up. Each OS has its pros & cons. However, there are better things to do in life rather than fighting over some OS. You know, like getting a job or making through college. :)
Nathaniel Hull
Nathaniel Hull Android is customizable, open freedom..... iphones u hafta pay just to sneeze on it.... but its a smooth device cuz its locked down to what the company only wants on it... oooo u can change ur wallpaper!!!
Nathaniel Hull
Nathaniel Hull Haha, android doesnt suck, damn kids grow up!!! Any smartphone has glitches, ive used both android n iphone, def took android back, if u say android sux u musta only tried it when it first came out... cuz its da sickest shit out there... and there really isnt much low end out thats newish or new
James Myers
James Myers @zach @Nick. Yall talk about fan boys? Looks at you stupid dumbasses. Come on here talking shyt thinking Apple is the bomb. I have a single cored inspire 4g running custom Rom (Apple lacks),over clocked to 1.5ghz (Apple doesnt allow), full page widgets and customizable notification bar(Apple still lack,except stolen widget design). And oh yeah, OPTIONS OPTIONS. U dumb idiots can't judge what u haven't owned. My phone lasts me 22-36hrs with ease. Exactly and now go tweet on your little screens what I just said. Don't worry,talk trash,I.won't be checking back for either of yalls idiotic responses. :) good day dum dums
Josh Hutton
Josh Hutton Nope, just like a PC, You buy cheap you get cheap. Get an Apple product, at least they work.
Justin DesRoches
Justin DesRoches Even though android may glitch sometimes you can customize it MUCH more and therefore it is worth it. Also save up for high end. Low end is not worth the money and problems.
Zach Cline
Zach Cline And teron- The iphone doesn't need a dual core processor just like the ipad 2 honestly doesn't need one. The iphone has been smooth since day one and it takes android devices dual core processors for them not to suck and some of them still lag!!!
Zach Cline
Zach Cline They aren't just phones.
Vic Espinoza
Vic Espinoza No. Top of the line to get decent performance....... My 2cents
Yasir Sohail
Yasir Sohail Android it self is a low end OS.
Luciano Ace Escobedo
Luciano Ace Escobedo Apple fag boys make me laugh there just phones so stfu lol
Nick Kalman
Nick Kalman @Teron I have Windows Phone 7 it doesn't have dual core and I don't feel it really need one cause OS works super fast. Google needs to work on their OS and then you won't need dual core for your phone.
Teron Facey
Teron Facey Surprise surprise @ zach...no shock there If the iPhone this all and powerful bad ass phone why does it need a dual core processor?
Teron Facey
Teron Facey I'm not sure if I comment on this. But not everybody can afford a 500 dollar phone.
Robert Skeen
Robert Skeen Oh hell no!
Tony Godswatching Overme
Tony Godswatching Overme No
Ivan Aleman
Ivan Aleman Is the Samsung Infuse consider high end phone?
Hector Portalatin
Hector Portalatin If you just care about talk n text then your golden but for web apps n other features than you might wanna consider a high-end
Anonymous
Anonymous you mean an iphone?
Iman Irk
Iman Irk Yes..optimus v works great!
Sean Prophecy Augustin
Sean Prophecy Augustin Nope
Lamar Sarracino
Lamar Sarracino Hellz no!!!! Low memory, no special hardware for fast downloads or shitty viewing of videos and slow response touch screen!!!!!!
Zach Cline
Zach Cline @ Nick. Because fandroids just have to have the dual core processors and battery draining 4G lol. Oh wait... They'll be waiting on updates to even be able to use LTE. Good luck with that.
Michael Figueira
Michael Figueira I don't see the point. I get OEMs are trying to make affordable Androids, but if you gotta spring for the data package, you may as well buy a beast of a phone that can take advantage of it.
Nick Kalman
Nick Kalman @Marti Ruiz what is the point of having stupid flash. I have iPad and never missed flash. Who needs flash? Android has flash but their tablets sux. There's no tablet market, there's iPad market - and I wasn't one who said that it first. ANDROID SUCKS
Alfredo Tapia
Alfredo Tapia Andriod is the shit and apple is bull shit.....so if u want a low end phone get a iphone
Sam Rick
Sam Rick NOPE!
Marti Ruiz
Marti Ruiz @paul ipad suck for porn cuz dont support flash player lol
Ryan Mueller
Ryan Mueller Depends but you use it for
Ricardo Lopez
Ricardo Lopez android is the best fuck the rest
Zach Cline
Zach Cline Android brings itself down with it's glitchy OS.
Simon Yu
Simon Yu For a first time transition? totally up the person, if they want to try out the smartphone game but don't want to go all in for $200 sure. But I don't think it's worth it, if you're going into a data plan, you go all in.
Zach Cline
Zach Cline Android devices suck. High end or low end.
Anonymous
Anonymous Well, I would say no, low ends get booted out too easily...and it brings android down...
Gerard Hyacinthe
Gerard Hyacinthe If money is tight just wait for special sales or til the price drops because the new shit is coming.
Vonda Corbett Smith
Vonda Corbett Smith I have an Evo Shift and I consider it a low end phone. Has a lot of lag and is glitchy. I will splurge and buy a higher end phone next time. Would love an iPhone on Sprint but I really prefer something with a keyboard.
Joe Czo
Joe Czo Most of the people on here know about cell phones so obviously they're gonna say NO. But for people that don't care about specs or don't know much about "smarphones" yeah they're worth it to them.
Gerard Hyacinthe
Gerard Hyacinthe I outgrew both mytouch 3g & 4g within 6 months and at the time they were considered mid range models. Now I'm waiting for that T-Mo gs2.
Shivdev Singh Bhatia
Shivdev Singh Bhatia No nonono no no
Krushi Vemula
Krushi Vemula No way. Older high end devices(nexus s,evo, inspire, atrix) cost just as much these mediocre handsets. Plus low end devices cant take advantage of many of the things they require you to pay a data plan for. Ussualy you can bargain out those high end devices if you thearten to leave to a new carrier anyway.
C Bryan Thomas
C Bryan Thomas If you buy a low end Android phone you might unjustifiably conclude that the Android operating system is unstable and undeveloped. If you really want to experience the power and virtually unlimited features you need to get something more high end.
Paul Davis
Paul Davis I have a blackberry for work and an ipad2 for porn and play.
Paul Davis
Paul Davis If your a 14 year old boy or a serial child rapist that likes 14 year old boys..... Get an iphone
Marti Ruiz
Marti Ruiz I.wannt galaxy s 2
Mike Pitts
Mike Pitts Well android doesn makr the phones. The companies make them.
Ben Mattson
Ben Mattson no
Marti Ruiz
Marti Ruiz Low end suck
Angel Miguel Peguero
Angel Miguel Peguero dwpends if im broke lol
Bryan Villaseñor
Bryan Villaseñor Get an iPod touch for games and Blackberry Torch for Phone they're the best combo!
Jose Hernandez
Jose Hernandez No..no...no...!!
Chris Payne
Chris Payne No! There are so many ignorant consumers out there who will hate Android because they bought a piece of crap device. Spend the money, get a high-end device and see what Android can really do. It's like trying to run Windows 7 on a computer that was released with Windows 98.
Dexler De Jesus
Dexler De Jesus no....crappy
Erik Rosli
Erik Rosli There's a market for everything. Plus it's a good thing that Android is available to many manufacturers unlike *cough* Apple. There are tons of Android phones to choose from that suit your needs. You and I probably won't be getting this phone, but it won't stop others from getting an Android phone that they can afford.
Bryan Villaseñor
Bryan Villaseñor If you want a Smartphone business phone then get Blackberry if you want games get android or iphone
Charlie Seeley
Charlie Seeley Well, the specs on paper usually differ from how the device actually runs. Take the Moto Atrix for example. It had an amazing list of specs when it was first released, but when you actually used the phone with the original software, there was more lag than what would be considered acceptable. You really need to test a device yourself instead of just paying attention to labels like 'High-end' or 'low-end' to know if it is the device that suits your needs in a smartphone.
Brandon Ricker
Brandon Ricker No if u do u got the word sucker on the forehead
Dennis Petrospour
Dennis Petrospour Hell no
Meerak Hahs
Meerak Hahs yes.
Fernando Diaz
Fernando Diaz If you wanna get a low end phone, just get an iphone.
Spliff Meister
Spliff Meister i agree with Bryan 'Villasscrvyntnor' lol Iphones are Kack
Ed Covert
Ed Covert The new low end devices aren't bad at all. I bought the HTC Wildfire S for my daughter and while it's not my G2 it IS a good, sooth running phone. She loves it.
Bryan Villaseñor
Bryan Villaseñor Haha you guys are dumb its all about Blackberry OS android and iphone are like games not really a phone
Brandon Johnson
Brandon Johnson I think the answer should be a resounding no, those things are only cheap up front and you'll eventually grow to hate android because of it.
Adrian Salazar
Adrian Salazar If u cant afford a high end smart phone stick with a feature phone....
Ricardo Lopez
Ricardo Lopez naaa better to get a high end android smartphone from last year at the same price
Dewayne Williams
Dewayne Williams No its not worth it, The monthly bill will be the same. If you cant afford a good android phone stick with a feature or basic phone.
Jaiden Lee Raisbeck
Jaiden Lee Raisbeck To beginners it would be so that you could get use to the OS and if they dont like it then they haven't just spent $500 on a phone that they wont use
Ernest Marvin Esteban
Ernest Marvin Esteban Well, it is better than feature phones. Not everybody has money to spend
Michael Gonzalez
Michael Gonzalez Kind of like buying a low end ferrari... What's the point
Karen N Edgar Garcia
Karen N Edgar Garcia Yes if you're a noob
Stephen Gunnoe
Stephen Gunnoe It's not worth getting ANY android phone.
Anthony Peña
Anthony Peña Yes they have their pros and cons but overall its still a phone
Matt Polkiewicz
Matt Polkiewicz No, if you're getting a contract, there is really no point to buying a low end device. The plan is going to cost the same each month, and the difference in the device price up front is so small. A much better idea is to wait for a high end phone you like to come on sale at Best Buy Mobile or Amazon, then just buy it on contract there. The only real point of low end phones is buying them off contract or on carriers like Virgin Mobile. Still, you're much better off getting a used high end phone IMO
Maryck Brown
Maryck Brown well.. some disigns are crappy but its the OS your looking at
Adrian Salazar
Adrian Salazar No cause u have noob android users complaining how Android sucks and dont realize that its there shitty low end phone and end up giving android bad rep....
Alen Teplitsky
Alen Teplitsky Spotify works just fine on my work Droid pro.
Francis Mogote
Francis Mogote majority of the consumers wouldn't know much what a "low-end" is, compared to a "high-end." They'll most likely listen to what the retail worker would say. I understand that majority of the world has smartphones nowadays, but it'll take a while for them to truly understand their phones. To answer the question, it depends on the user.
Kaylee Sill
Kaylee Sill Nope why when u can spend a little more on high quality for 2 years
Foryasoul Nance
Foryasoul Nance Dats why I don't fuck with android phones they water down there phones like ford cars everybody got a ford I fuck with iPhone they only come out once a year rolls royce of phones and they hold there resell value fuck android iPhone 4 ho
Ryan Hunter
Ryan Hunter No
Namkell Kelly
Namkell Kelly Yeah if u can handle the lag and freezes. I went from the sanyo zio to the EVO....ill neva get anotha low end device
Matt Jackson
Matt Jackson Well at least low end smart phones are honest...you know your getting crap from the get go no expensive experiments!
Ben Baggley
Ben Baggley Nope, they are putting down the Android name; people buy cheap phones because they've seen other expensive phones with Android and expect them to be the same, then say "oh Android is crap" when they realise how bad the phone is.
Farru DMetri Mendezz
Farru DMetri Mendezz Android phone are da besttt!!!!! Iphone sucks.....




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