It'd be deceptive to say that the Comet has a premium appearance to it, but in the same breath, calling it "cheap-looking" would probably be doing it a disservice. It generally looks like Huawei has done everything it can to use ultra-cheap materials and make them look (and feel) higher-end, starting with matte black plastic on the back cover and front bezel trimmed with small strips of soft-touch material in between. The company mercifully limited its use of chrome to the d-pad's ring and the volume rocker, and the plate surrounding the d-pad has concentric ridges that produce a nice optical effect. We can definitely picture the Comet looking great in a variety of colors (in fact, Huawei showed a bunch of Ideos colors at IFA), but for now, black's the only option.
At roughly 104 x 56 x 13mm, make no mistake that the Comet is a very small phone -- as well it should be considering the tiny 2.8-inch screen. After spending the better part of the past couple years carrying phones with displays 3.5 inches or larger, there's something refreshing about handling such a small phone and knowing that it's more
than a dumbphone -- in fact, realistically, it's got 85 or 90 percent of the capability and functionality of the highest-end devices on the market today when you think about it. It's not particularly thin, but the thickness feels appropriate for the size -- not chubby in the least.
As for ports and controls, they're simple: micro-USB in the center of the bottom, 3.5mm headphone jack and power button up top, and the aforementioned volume rocker is on the left side. The power button is a little too small and too flush, making it tricky to tell whether you've pushed it at times... but this is one button that we'd much rather have too hard to push than too easy. On back, you've got the 3.2 megapixel camera next to two holes that look
like a dual LED flash, but they're actually for the speakerphone -- there is no flash on this one.
Moving back to the front, you've got the standard four Android buttons as touch-sensitive icons below the capacitive display, and below that, vertically-oriented Send and End buttons on either side of the circular d-pad. This area of the phone is really the only part that we take specific issue with: at a glance, it seems wasteful. As we mentioned before, the concentric ring design is kind of cool, but it doesn't serve any function, so you end up with this relatively huge expanse of dead space that could've been either used for more screen real estate or killed off entirely to make the phone smaller. In reality, we suspect Huawei was backed into a corner on this one -- making the display any bigger would've increased costs, and there are probably electronic guts behind this area that couldn't have been easily moved elsewhere without making the phone thicker or more expensive (or without sacrificing battery life). And we don't want to blow it out of proportion, either -- it really looks fine, it's just a styling element that simply wouldn't exist on a pricier device. Heck, most Android devices don't have physical Send and End buttons at all, though it's pretty nice to have one-touch access to the phone app.
On a related note, the circular d-pad is huge, and its design is a little confusing on a couple levels. First off, the recent trend toward optical pads -- particularly on Android devices -- has you immediately assuming that the big black area in the middle is an optical pad... but it's not. Rather, it's just a simple pushbutton for selection. Secondly, the raised chrome edge is a bit thin and flush, making it just a little bit trickier to push than it probably should be. Then again, if this huge space below the screen really is necessary at this price point (see the preceding paragraph), going with something like a trackball would've looked silly, so this is probably another case of Huawei doing the best it could with the hand it had been dealt. And we're seriously nitpicking, anyway -- you never need
to use the d-pad in Android, and if you decide to, you'll be able to use this one just fine.
The display is definitely the weakest link in the Comet's arsenal -- and considering that displays are one of the priciest components on any phone's bill of materials, that comes as little surprise. It's got a 2.8-inch QVGA TFT screen, which is kind of a trifecta of suck: it's smaller, lower-resolution, and less contrasty than today's Android trendsetters. But can it get the job done? The actual display is far enough beneath the capacitive layer (we'd say by 1mm or so) that viewing angles are kind of irrelevant, because as you tilt it, the display ends up being obscured by reflection off that layer rather than by any negative LCD effects. The good news is that, as we mentioned, the screen is capacitive, and it pays off: we had no issues with sensitivity, it felt fine, and we were surprised by what an easy time we had with the on-screen keyboards (more on that later). Strangely, it doesn't seem to support multitouch at all -- though then again, on a screen this small, the usefulness of it is debatable. We didn't really miss it.
Above the display you'll find the earpiece (of course) surrounded by a proximity sensor to the left and a notification light to the right that can be configured in the standard Android ways. The sensor is pretty weird -- it works just fine as far as we can tell, but it very noticeably flashes red every half second or so when you're in a room without much light. Interestingly, we weren't able to get the display to go out simply by covering it, we had to hold our hand over pretty much the entire face of the phone. Magic!
Considering the meek processor and small screen, we expected the battery to run forever on the Comet, but it wasn't anything spectacular -- possibly due to the fact that the battery is a relatively light 1200mAh. Then again, it was far from terrible: we got about 24 hours of relatively light use including an hour with the hotspot turned on. With heavy use, we think you could easily make it through a day, but you'll need to be sure to charge it nightly.
It's a fixed-focus 3.2 megapixel camera here, so we didn't expect much -- and we didn't get much. The pictures aren't half bad -- particularly when scaled down to sizes appropriate for computer screens -- but the video capture was absolutely atrocious. It outputs CIF video (352 x 288) at a low framerate with pretty awful audio... and, well, quite frankly, there's almost nothing positive to say about it. It almost feels like Huawei took a sensor designed solely for still photos and hacked it to do video. In fact, that's probably what they did.