Republic Wireless Huawei ASCEND 5W smartphone review 2017
comparing the new ASCEND 5W to the very capable MOTO G4

 

Huawei ASCEND 5W smartphone from Republic Wireless
Rating: 4/5 by Steve
Last Updated: Jan 2, 2017

 

CURRENT REPUBLIC WIRELESS DEALS
* click here for current Republic Wireless redemption codes, coupon codes, & special deals *
(updated July 24, 2017)

On December 13, 2016, Republic Wireless introduced the brand-new Huawei ASCEND 5W smartphone. Republic Wireless initially had a special introductory sale with a limited quantity of Ascend 5W smartphones for $129 that quickly sold out. As of January 2, 2016, the Ascend 5W is now back in stock at the regular price of $179. So is the Huawei Ascend 5W any good? I looked at the Ascend 5W specifications, and for $179, I think it's a good buy. The Ascend 5W is almost identical to the very capable $199 Republic Wireless Motorola G4 smartphone, which is a very capable and proven smartphone that I highly recommend. There are a few differences between the Ascend 5W and the Moto G4 that I'll cover below so you can decide which one is best for you.

HOW THE ASCEND 5W AND MOTO G4 ARE THE SAME:
+ SCREENSIZE: Both have large 5.5" HD-quality (1920x1080) screens, and both phones are essentially the same size and weight. I have a 4.5" Moto E2 and and 5.5" ZTE ZMax2, and I prefer the larger 5.5" screen. It makes it much easier to use the phone, and the larger phone still fits in my back pocket just fine. The 5.5" phone is the largest smartphone in our house, and it's what people grab when they want to watch a youtube video or ask Google a question.
+ PROCESSOR SPEED: Both phones have essentially the same Qualcomm Snapdragon processor with 2GB of RAM, which should be sufficiently powerful and speedy for most peoples needs.
+ MEMORY: Both come with 16GB of memory (the Moto G4 has a 32GB version for $30 more), and both allow you to add up to a 128GB  microSD card to expand your memory.
+ CAMERA: Both have a very nice 13MB main camera as well as nice "selfie" cameras.
+ PRICE: Both are well priced and and give you a lot of bang for the buck. I like to keep my phone cost as low as possible, so I don't worry as much about breaking or losing the phone.
+ UNLOCKED: Both are unlocked, and can be used with different providers if you decide to leave Republic (but the ASCEND 5W is GSM only, see below).
+ BATTERY: Both have large ample 3000mA batteries (batteries are not removable).
+ OS: Both are running Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow.

HOW THE ASCEND 5W AND MOTO G4 ARE DIFFERENT:
+ The ASCEND 5W has a fingerprint sensor for unlocking the phone. Cool feature. The Moto G4 does not.
+ The ASCEND 5W is $20 cheaper ($179 vs $199).
 + The Moto G4 is GSM and CMDA, meaning it can be used on AT&T and T-Mobile (GSM carriers) as well as Sprint and Verizon (CDMA carriers). The ASCEND 5W is GSM only, so would not work on Sprint or Verizon. This only matters if you ever leave Republic Wireless and want to use the phone with a different provider.
+ The Moto G4 is water-resistant. The Ascend 5W is not.
+ The Moto G4 wifi works on both 2.4GHz and 5GHz channels. The Ascend 5W wifi is 2.4GHz only. This only matters if you have a 5GHz wifi router, which can sometimes provide better wifi connections if the 2.4GHz channels are congested (with cordless phones, baby monitors, neighbors' wifi routers, etc).

WHO IS HUAWEI?
I know Motorola and trust them to make good phones. I've owned several Motorola phones, including two classic RAZR flip phones (no longer used) and three Republic Wireless Moto G (2014 1st Gen) smartphones which we've been using for the past two years with no problems at all. I like Motorola.
I'm not very familiar with Huawei though and have never purchased one of their phones before, but I've done some research on them (since I'm thnking about getting one of these Ascend 5W phones). Huawei is probably best known here in the US for making the very well-received Google Nexus 6 smartphone. Huawei also makes the Honor 5X, which has almost identical specs to the Ascend 5W. The Honor 5X has been out for a while now, and has positive reviews on sites such as TechRadar, AndroidAuthority, Wired, and CNET, with the general consensus being "Huawei's Honor 5X is a great deal for budget-phone seekers."

INITIAL USER REVIEWS:
While there aren't any user reviews on the Republic Wireless online store yet, I have read a few actual user reviews around the internet by people who were lucky enough to get one of the initial introductory sale Ascend 5W phones for $129. All of the comments are generally quite positive, as I expected. Also as expected, a few people have reported various issues, but according to a senior Republic Wireless representative on their online support forum, the percentage of customers starting help tickets for the new Ascend 5W phone is not significantly different from any the other Republic Wirelss phones.
The main comment I see mentioned is that  the Ascend 5W has the Huawei EMUI user interface (aka "skin"), which is a fairly heavily modified version of the Android OS user interface. It is a bit different from the more stock Android UI (user interface) on Motorola smartphones like the Moto G4. Those who notice the difference say they get used to the EMUI user interface pretty quickly, but it is different. One person suggested that if you try EMUI and you really don't care for it, it is simple to download and use a different UI (aka "skin" or "launcher") like Google Now. The EMUI interface appears to take up a bit more of the 16GB RAM than the Motorola G4 interface. Whichever phone you decide to get, at some point you'll probably want to add a microSD card to increase your memory (both phones have Android 6.01 Marshmallow which improves the usability of added microSD memory. You can get a microSD card from Republic when you order (Republic sells Kingston MicroSD cards... 16GB for $16, 32GB for $32, 64GB for $40), or you can get a 32GB SanDisk MicroSD card on sale for $9.95 at Amazon.
If you do buy the Ascend 5W smartphones, there are two EMUI "tweaks" that you might want to check out:
Ascend 5W EMUI Tip #1. Performance vs Battery Life: The Ascend 5W EMUI default setting for battery use is "performance". You can improve your battery life by changing to "smart". Under [Settings > Advanced settings > Battery manager > Power plan] select "Smart mode" instead of the default "Performance mode".
Ascend 5W EMUI Tip #2. Protected Apps: The Ascend 5W EMUI default setting is to shut down many apps when you power off your screen so that the apps won't continue draining your battery. But of course this can be a problem if you don't want the app to be closed, and may result in the phone seeming sluggish under certain apps or missed notifications for other apps (if the app gets closed without you realizing it). You can see check which of your apps are being automatically closed (and change them to a "protected app" if you want to keep them open) by going to [Settings > Advanced settings > Battery manager > Protected apps]. Protected apps won't be closed every time you power off your display screen. All other apps will be closed.

CONCLUSION:
The Ascend 5W and Moto G4 are very similar and are both great modern smartphones. They aren't the latest, most expensive iPhone or Galaxy S7, but they are both more that sufficient for most people. If you are currently using a typical 4.5" screen smartphone (like the Moto G or Moto E), and you don't mind the bigger phone in your pocket, you will probably LOVE the larger 5.5" screen (I know I do). You'll also notice if you're upgrading from an older smartphone that the new Ascend 5W and the Moto G4 are both faster and more responsive. Smartphones continue to improve at a rapid rate. I really think most people would be satisfied with either phone. As for comparing the two, both phones are GSM, and can work on AT&T and Sprint, but only the Moto G4 also has a CDMA radio, so it can be used on Sprint and Verizon. If this matters to you, you'd want to go with the Moto G4. The Moto G4 is also water-resistant, which might be important for people who habitually drop their phones in the toilet. The Ascend 5W has a fingerprint sensor for unlocking the phone, which is a cool feature, and it is a little less expensive. Both phones have big, bright, beautiful 5.5" screens, but if you are used to carrying a smaller 4.5" phone (like the Moto G or Moto E), you'll want to be aware of this. In the end, both phones give you a lot of bang for the buck and should make most people quite happy.

GET SIX MONTHS OF FREE SERVICE!
If you order the Ascend 5W starting December 13 and while supplies last, not only is the phone on sale for $129 (instead of $179), but you'll also get six months of free service (details here). You'll get six months of their $20 unlimited talk and text plus 1GB cellular data per month plan, which is worth $120 (6 months x $20). This means your net cost $9 ($129-$120) = $9! (plus taxes and shipping).
  12/13/16 SOLD OUT / SPECIAL "INTRODUCTORY OFFER" EXPIRED

MAKE SURE REPUBLIC WIRELESS IS RIGHT FOR YOU...
Republic Wireless has a 14 day money-back guarantee for new phone purchases. That said, if you are new to Republic, I recommend making sure their coverage will work for you. You can use the Republic Wireless Coverage Checker and enter your zip code to make sure they have good coverage in your area. Republic Wireless utilizes both Sprint (with voice/text roaming on Verizon) and T-Mobile (with voice/text roaming on AT&T) , and the coverage checker will determine which one will work best for you and show you the available phones with that service (i.e. the Ascend 5W is GSM-capable only and would not be available for customers who would be better served by Sprint Service). If neither service will provide good coverage in your area, the coverage check will let you know.

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Huawei ASCEND 5W specs Moto G4 (4th Gen) specs

price

$179 (16GB) $199 ($16GB) / $229 (32GB)
Huawei ASCEND 5W Moto G4 (4th Gen)

available

available starting December 13, 2016 introduced July 28, 2016 (available now)
Huawei ASCEND 5W Moto G4 (4th Gen)

display size / type

5.5" diagonal 1080p Full HD 5.5" diagonal 1080p Full HD
Huawei ASCEND 5W Moto G4 (4th Gen)

resolution (pixels)

1920x1080 pixels (~401 ppi) 1920x1080 pixels (~401 ppi)
Huawei ASCEND 5W Moto G4 (4th Gen)

screen

  Corning Gorilla Glass 3
Huawei ASCEND 5W Moto G4 (4th Gen)

phone width / height / weight

6″ x 3.01″ x 0.33″, 5.6oz 6.02″ x 3.01″ x 0.31-0.39″, 5.47oz
Huawei ASCEND 5W Moto G4 (4th Gen)

memory (ROM)

16GB internal
plus add up to 128GB removable via MicroSD slot
16GB or 32GB internal
plus add up to 128GB removable via MicroSD slot
Huawei ASCEND 5W Moto G4 (4th Gen)

battery

3000mAh lithium-ion 3000mAh lithium-ion
Huawei ASCEND 5W Moto G4 (4th Gen)

processor / RAM

1.5 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 octa-core processor with 550 MHz Adreno 405 GPU, 2GB RAM 1.5 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 octa-core processor with 550 MHz Adreno 405 GPU, 2GB RAM
Huawei ASCEND 5W Moto G4 (4th Gen)

main camera

13MP 13MP
Huawei ASCEND 5W Moto G4 (4th Gen)

camera flash

LED flash Color balancing dual LED flash
Huawei ASCEND 5W Moto G4 (4th Gen)

"selfie"  front-facing camera

5MP 5MP with wide angle lens & flash
Huawei ASCEND 5W Moto G4 (4th Gen)

OS

Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow
Huawei ASCEND 5W Moto G4 (4th Gen)

data speed

WiFi (2.4GHz), 3G, 4G LTE WiFi (2.4GHz + 5GHz), 3G, 4G LTE
Huawei ASCEND 5W Moto G4 (4th Gen)

water protection

none water repellent nano coating
Huawei ASCEND 5W Moto G4 (4th Gen)

cellular carriers supported

unlocked, GSM carriers only unlocked, GSM and CDMA, works with all US carriers!
Huawei ASCEND 5W Moto G4 (4th Gen)

 

read my full Republic Wireless review

CURRENT REPUBLIC WIRELESS DEALS
* click here for current Republic Wireless redemption codes, coupon codes, & special deals *
(updated July 24, 2017)

 

Comments / Questions / Feedback:

Comment by Jeremy Jollie on Thursday, July 27, 2017
Could you tell me what the SAR value is on the Huawei Ascend 5W is?

Reply by Steve (Cranial Borborygmus)
Hi Jeremy, I had to google "SAR" to see what it even means (which shows how likely I am to know what the value is). I guessed that SAR might mean "Standard Average Retail" but instead learned from Wikipedia that SAR means Specific Absorption Rate, which is "a measure of the rate at which energy is absorbed by the human body when exposed to a radio frequency (RF) electromagnetic field; although, it can also refer to absorption of other forms of energy by tissue, including ultrasound." As you might have already guessed at this point, I don't know the SAR value for the Ascend 5W. I think you might have to check with the manufacturer, Huawei, to get this information. Thanks for your comment and question!

 

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