Huawei Ascend P6 review: first look

Huawei-Ascend-P6ISO-900-2-462x472The Huawei Ascend P6 might not have the brand-name cachet of Samsung or Apple, but it could be a smartphone force to be reckoned with. The just-announced handset  joins the Ascend P2 as Huawei’s second flagship phone to be launched this year.

The Ascend P6 is a 4.7in phone running the latest version of Android Jelly Bean (4.2.2) and it’s a very handsome piece of kit. Visually, its design is reminiscent of the iPhone 4/4S with its starkly rectangular profile and metal band running around the perimeter.

It’s lighter, though, and incredibly slim. In fact at an astonishing 6.18mm from front to back it’s thinner than any other phone currently on the market, including the iPhone 5. This is no fudge. There are no protrusions to accommodate the camera on the rear, nor any extra curves – it actually measures 6.18mm all the way around the chassis.

Huawei-Ascend-P6ISO-3600-462x281Despite this, it’s a strong-feeling device, exhibiting hardly any flex when we twisted and pulled at it. And it looks attractive too, with finely-crafted metal buttons along the edges and a gentle curve wrapping around at the bottom edge. It comes in three colours – black, white and pale pink.

Under the hood, there’s plenty to like. You get a quad-core 1.5GHz processor of Huawei’s own manufacture and 2GB of RAM. There’s 8GB of storage coupled with a microSD slot, which allows expansion cards to be added via a small drawer alongside the SIM card on the phone’s right hand edge.

Huawei-Ascend-P6ISO-900-462x323Huawei made great play of the P6’s 8-megapixel rear-facing camera during the launch event. It has an aperture of f/2, which is pretty standard these days, and a minimum focusing distance of 40mm, which isn’t, promising detail-packed close-ups. Meanwhile, a new “image smart engine” aims to simplify the snapping process. A bit like the intelligent auto mode you’ll find on consumer cameras, this automatically switches between modes such as night and macro photography without any user intervention.

However, it’s the front-facing camera that catches the eye most, boasting a massive resolution of five megapixels. This is clearly aimed at taking high-resolution self-portraits, and appropriately there’s an automatic face enhancement mode to go with it, which smooths and softens skin blemishes.

Elsewhere, Huawei’s Emotion UI Android skin has seen a significant update, with more than 300 improvements. Highlights include the new Me widget, which you can use to collect various elements in one place – app shortcuts, photo frames clocks and the like – then shift them all around in one go. There’s Google Now-esque intelligence built into some modules, too. The clock, for instance, will switch to dual-clock mode when it detects you’ve just taken a flight somewhere new.


There are a couple of disappointments here. First, the display isn’t a Full HD unit, but a 720 x 1,280 display instead. Second, there’s no 4G support, which is surprising as the P6’s stablemate, the P2, was touted as the fastest 4G phone available at its launch earlier in the year. Huawei’s Richard Yu suggested this was due to power consumption, which is a cause of concern. We’re also not convinced that putting the headphone socket on the left edge at the bottom is a particularly good idea either.

These issues fade when you consider the price, though, which is set at €449, with contracts from around “£21 to £26 per month” when the P6 appears on the shelves in late July. That’s considerably cheaper than the market leaders, namely the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4.

We came away quietly impressed with the Ascend P6. It’s an attractive phone that’s incredibly  slim and light, yet doesn’t sacrifice screen size, proving that bulky phones don’t need to be oversized. We’ll bring you the full review as soon as we have our review sample.

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