Huawei Ascend is the $150 Android smartphone you might actually want to own

When the Huawei Ascend launches on prepaid carrier Cricket Wireless later this month, it will cost $150. That's not after a rebate or with a two-year agreement, mind you -- for three portraits of Ulysses S. Grant, you actually own the phone. Of course, you always get what you pay for to some degree, and the Ascend certainly isn't a top-tier device -- it's a humble HVGA handset made of cheap plastic that felt like it wouldn't survive a drop. The 3.5-inch capacitive touchscreen was dull and actually slightly rough to the touch, and the 3.2 megapixel fixed-focus camera around back doesn't shoot VGA video (just CIF), let alone quality snapshots. Still, it's got physical buttons in all the right places (including a bendy metal Send / Menu / Back / End panel on the bottom) and a surprisingly responsive Android 2.1 UI with a few neat quirks -- like a nine-panel home screen -- so we could honestly see this EV-DO Rev. A handset being a pretty fantastic Android for first-time users. We'd choose it over the Motorola Citrus in a heartbeat, that's for sure, especially when Cricket gets its Sprint roaming agreement in order later this year. Of course, that's assuming the Huawei Ideos doesn't arrive at an even cheaper pricepoint. We've got a brief video of the Ascend after the break, as well as a MiFi-like Huawei device called the Crosswave -- won't you give it a look? %Gallery-104369%

Myriam Joire contributed to this report.