AT&T has been getting some pretty good phones this year, although their selection is nowhere near as good as Verizon’s or even Sprint’s, in my opinion – they’re getting lazy, I see. This fall has seen them adding a few new offers, and one interesting eye catcher is the AT&T Impulse 4G, which doesn’t look like anything special, but it’s interesting to see because it’s made by Huawei, the company who started as a humble OEM parts manufacturer, then expanded to produce their own hardware, including various computer peripherals (I’m sure a lot of people have used a Huawei USB 3G modem) and recently even smartphones and tablets, of pretty good quality, I must say.
Their most famous phone is the Huawei Ideos, which offers a lot of features for a very low price ($85 without a contract) and is a hit in most developing nations, including many African and Asian countries that have no landline or cable penetration to speak of. And now they’ve gotten a contract with one of the largest US networks – a pretty good deal.
Now, about the Impulse 4G: this device is either the epitome of minimalistic design or it’s just stupidly simple :-). I mean, there are no external features to speak of, and the form factor is as generic as they come, with the phone having round corners, a big 3.8 inch screen (800×480 pixels resolution) on the front with 4 touch navigation buttons, and a plastic cover on the back, right below the camera that sits at the top.
A lot of people will like the style (I know I do – it’s simple and to the point), although many may think it’s too bland (obviously they’re those who’d want a Galaxy S2 or HTC Sensation). Either way, it’s the insides that count, and the Impulse 4G certainly delivers. It’s a low-mid range smartphone for people on a budget, so you can’t expect it to overpower the high end dual core monsters, but its single core 1.2 GHz processor does a pretty good job at running anything from the most resource intensive apps to the latest games. The processor is aided by 512 MB of RAM – standard fair, and even a bit on the low end nowadays, but enough to run anything you’d want without any lags.
There is no internal storage to speak of, but the micro SD card slot should provide everything you’ll need – you can use cards of up to 32 GB in size (and unofficially 64 GB micro SDXC cards are also supported). You’ve also got your standard issue Wifi and Bluetooth adapters, GPS, 3.5 mm audio jack, support for tethering, and a 5 megapixels camera on the back that supports HD video filming and has an LED flash for all your low light condition photos.
Huawei certainly dropped the ball software wise, however: instead of using Android Gingerbread, they are shipping the phone with Android 2.2 Froyo pre-installed – not really cool and I don’t understand the reason behind that, as the hardware is supported and the OS is open source and has already been ported and modded to every platform possible – maybe it’s AT&T who made this happen? It’s highly likely that an upgrade will be available soon, though, so I wouldn’t worry too much about that.
The Impulse 4G is a great purchase if you’re very price conscious and are looking for a new contract – it’s only $29.99 with a 2 year contract from AT&T, and for what you get, there’s really no better alternative. Kudos to Huawei for bringing yet another very affordable and relatively powerful smartphone to everyone who needs it.