The story behind the difficult birth of the Huawei Ascend W1 Windows Phone

Hello everyone. We just spotted this story behind the very much postponed product from one of Microsoft's most reluctant OEM: Ascend W1 by the Chinese phone maker Huawei. Huawei is expected to be formally (and finally) announcing the W1 on the upcoming CES 2013. I'm not sure how many of you guys are actually waiting for it, but in case you are hot in anticipation indeed, the following story will probably explain all the quietness and terrible delay that paved a bumpy road for this phone.

Rewind to January 2011, when Huawei showed its Ascend P1 (Android) to the world on CES. Soon after that, the company (along with a few other OEMs) were invited by Microsoft to Redmond to have a sneak peak at what the software giant has up its sleeves for the next generation of mobile operating system. They were showed some early previews of Windows Phone 8, and the ecosystem's future roadmap.

As early as March 2011, Huawei had already made up its mind on joining the Windows Phone family. The Ascend W1 project was established, and put into... slow motion. Initially the phone was supposed to look like this:

I trust most of us have seen this picture already. Unfortunately Huawei's engineers were not quite serious about W1 from the beginning. Later they somehow found out that they can't build the camera neatly into the phone body according to the original plan. The annoying part just has to be elevated a little bit. In the end they moved the camera to the center and gave it a round shape. This way the camera looks more natural. Little progress as it was, it took Huawei a few months. By then it was already June 2011.

And Huawei's marketing position for W1 was (and still is): colorful shells, big screen. Sound awfully familiar within the Windows Phone ecosystem, eh?

January 2012, Huawei sent a team to Redmond to work closely with Microsoft. Still in slow motion. By October 2012, a.k.a. the grand revealing of Windows Phone 8 devices, the W1 was basically ready. However, things have a way of happening all at the same time. Huawei had been under a lengthy investigation by the US government for being a potential "security threat", and by October 2012, the US government just made up its mind that Huawei was a threat indeed. Probably for this reason, the W1 was absent from Microsoft's grand campaign.

Meanwhile, Samsung announced Ativ S, Nokia announced a new line of Lumia phones, and HTC made a whole series of "signature devices" for Microsoft. Huawei did try to make a bit splash by leading bits and bites of W1 onto the web, but didn't get much positive effect.

So, finally here it is. CES 2013, Huawei Ascend W1. But rumor says Huawei won't release any peers for Ascend W1. This probably makes good sense, because the device is definitely not impressive any more in specs after a year-long delay, and "be colorful, be big" is just about the universal positioning of all Windows Phone manufacturers these days. Instead, Huawei is allegedly working on a massively improved specs-wise successor to W1 already.

Source: WPDang

  • Who cares?
  • More manufacturers > more choices > better for the platform
  • I agree.
  • I sorta disagree, its more like :
    More good/original manufacturers > More good choices > Amazing for the platform.
  • I also disagree. The greater than symbol should be an equal sign. ;)
  • China does, to say the least
  • Cough...920T...cough
  • they need options, the more options the better!
  • It took a while for anyone to comment on this article so I was legitimately asking the question.
  • If it's priced lower than the $249 of Lumia 620, then people would probably care. Otherwise, people would pass on the W1 for the Lumia 620.
  • I see this company like any other. Just want a piece of the pie!! I mean I've had a few of their phones with Tmo but I never knew it till I took the battery out one day. Overall a good smartphone, Plus after all the negative PR their getting, maybe they'll sell it unlocked without a carrier. And cheap....;)
  • Huawei phones are always cheap.
  • This is how HTC was before...remember Cingular 8125 (Wizard 100). Look at HTC now.
  • The issues facing Huawei are not solely hardware or spec related.  The company has an image problem, particularly in the US and other parts of the western hemisphere.  There are ownership concerns, charges of espionage and the company has "partners" that are really subsidiaries doing business trying to sell switchgear where it is not allowed.  Couple that with a broader perception about China playing a back-door role in lots of different schemes, its treatment (or lack thereof) of IP and therein lies a problem for Huawei and ZTE.  Yes, it's political, but many "perceptions" usually are. 
  • Yea and it does not look for them.... A phone is a phone is a phone...
  • Maybe if this is $100 off contract or $10/mth value plan phone on T-mobile it would do ok
  • Don't know about the general quality as I never had a huawei device before, but judging from the images this doesn't look all too promising. Like the back would come off any minute.
    I'm still mostly interested in seeing if MS is announcing their own device or not.
  • If MS is going to launch their own device it won't be at CES since they won't even be there, we would also see some leaks if it was really close to ready.
  • You do have a point, there were far too few leaks so far and it might be an internal testing device and maybe it's just wishfull thinking. Anyhow, suppose it really is coming, I'm totally fine if they announce it a few months later.Especially seeing as how I'm only eligible to upgrade after 18 months and I bought my Lumia 800 last April.
  • Maybe the pic is off or I misunderstood, but I thought MS made a HW requirement to put the micro USB charging port in the middle? Would be wise to set a standard to help build an accessory ecosystem.
  • Shoot, even HTC has theirs upside down..
  • Doesn't seem too bad. Just makes me realize PureView wouldn't be too bad with one hump.
  • Will never buy Huawei. =/
  • If the Huawei W1 is priced the same as the $249 of Lumia 620, people would probably pass on it and go for the 620. If it's priced lower than the 620, perhaps around $200, I think it would sell lots of units in emerging markets and even in Europe as well. It could potentially lure people to try out WP8 and help increase the user base of the platform.
  • lol after all that they aren't going to release it instead we are going to wait well at least its going to have better spec so its worth the wait for people who want better spec
    anyways more devices options always better for the consumers
  • This article has too many assumptions. Most of it is probably true, but you never know what they truly have up there selves.
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  • Just voted... Lumia 920 is the best phone I've used...and yes I tried them all
  • Looks like L920 already won.
  • They were right on not releasing this phone. Its ugliness reminds me too much of awful Android designs.
  • I don't care Huawei, but still wish to see more OEMs are making Windows Phone
  • I think the addition of Huawei will only serve to strengthen the platform and offer consumers more choice.
  • That camera "bump" is just ugly...
    And isn't there a standard to have the micro-usb centered...?
  • If they have been determined to be a threat to security of the US, why are you and others promoting them?
  • They can always release it outside the US, that might work. It's still a Windows Phone which is a good thing
  • They haven't been determined as a threat. They've been determined as a potential threat - in the event of if the US and China were to go to war. The fear is that if that ever happened, the Chinese government could put pressure on Huawei to potentially compromise our telecom network infrastructure. However the report from the committee deemed handsets of no concern. Its the core network switching equipment the government is worried about.
  • I had a ideos and it was great. Two years ago 99€ I loved it
  • They need to change their name. Huawei (pronounced Wah-Way) is just bad sounding.
  • They did use a different name their first few years in the US (Futurewei). Needless to say it caused much confusion among customers and partners so they dropped the dba and went back to Huawei.
  • Bleh that phone is ugly, I would rather only quality OEM's make quality devices, no need to diminish wp8 aesthetically, never owned one of their phones so just a superficial opinion
  • I dont care
  • Looks like they dropped that phone on top of the Ugly Tree and it hit every branch on the way down
  • If it's not the amazing phone we wait for, keep in mind the w1 will probably help wp8 to be in a good position, in China...
  • Inexpensive phone for the far east. It will never come stateside or Europe. Perfect phone for price conscious buyers.