Huawei has unveiled the first of its Ascend range as it tries to impose itself on the smartphone market. And Pocket-lint got some hands-on time with the Huawei Ascend G 300 before it goes on-sale this Friday.

First things first. Don’t let the price tag put you off. Vodafone has bagged a three-month exclusive on the phone and is offering it  free on a £15.50 a month contract or you can fork out £100 on pay-as-you-go.

However, this is no low-end hastily put together tack fest.

Consisting primarily of a metallic body, the only plastic on display is a thin trim around the screen’s border, which helps account for its sturdy 130g weight.

Talking of the display, it’s a WVGA capacitive four-inch touch-screen made from Gorilla Glass, unusually high-end for a phone at this price point.

Though Huawei has added its own skin to the UI – Huawei Android Platform 5.1 (HAP) - the Ascend G 300 still feels very much an Android phone.

That said the HAP overlay software does add a few useful touches, albeit nothing we haven’t seen before.

For example you can unlock the phone directly to one of four features by sliding the padlock icon to the icon of the particular feature you want to use. It’s customisable, so it makes sense to choose your four most-used features or apps.

Fundamentally the phone runs on Android, and although it will be launched with Gingerbread, it will be upgradeable to Ice Cream Sandwich later this summer.

The 1GHz processor helped speed things along both in terms of navigating our way around the phone, as well as firing up applications.

Huawei is keen to champion the G 300’s ability to play catch-up TV over Wi-Fi, either via a downloaded app such as BBC iPlayer or using the phone’s browser.

Again nothing new, but that display really did come into its own with a clear and sharp picture, while the streaming was flawless despite multiple connections to the Wi-Fi hotspot we were using.

Huawei claims the Ascend G 300 is the PAYG handset that doesn’t compromise. That is to say, that compared to other phones at this price, the manufacturer hasn’t skimped on various features or build quality.

While the latter is certainly true, the camera experience did leave us a little wanting.

We should stress that we got only a short play with the snapper, but the only way of zooming in was virtually, on the screen, despite the volume keys being ideally placed. And again, we bemoaned a lack of physical capture key.

In terms of internal memory we’re looking at 2.5GB though this can be boosted by up to 32GB with a microSD card.

The Huawei Ascend G 300 is available exclusively at Vodafone free on a two-year plan at £15.50 a month, which in turn will get you 100 free minutes, 500 texts and 250MB of mobile data.

Alternatively the phone is also available on PAYG for £100 when purchased with at least £10 top-up.

It’s an indication of how far smartphones have come that you can get hold of a phone with a build quality and feature set that the Ascend G 300 offers.

We’re looking forward to having a more thorough play with the Huawei Ascend G 300 when we’ll be bringing you a full review.

However, if you're wanting to splash the cash you may want to wait for Huawei's flagship model, the Ascend D quad which the Chinese manufacturer has confirmed will be coming to the UK later in the year.

What do you think of the Huawei Ascend G 300.