Huawei latest effort in the smartphone market is its flagship Ascend P6. Huawei tends to make budget smartphones, especially for the UK scene, but the Ascend P6 is a shot at the big guns – namely the iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy S4.
It's off to a great start then when we tell you it cost just £309 on a SIM-free basis which is cheaper than a lot of mid-ranged handsets. We won't go into contracts in detail but at the time of writing we've seen it for less than £20 per month. At this low price, it the Huawei Ascend P6 a great deal? Read on and find out. See also: Huawei Ascend P6: the pink iPhone that makes you look 10 years younger.
Huawei Ascend P6: Design and build
The Ascend P6 is 6.18mm thick (hence the model name) making it the thinnest smartphone in the world. It's incredibly thin, and light too at about 120g which is impressive. See also Group test: What's the best smartphone?
You might be begging for more battery life rather than a thinner phone but nevertheless, its size certainly helps it seem smaller than it is – it has a 4.7in screen.
There's no escaping the fact that a lot of the Ascend P6 design looks like it's been borrowed from the iPhone 5. It has the same flat aluminium sides, rounded corners and shiny bevelled edges. Put it in a slip case and you'll easily convince your mates that you've upgraded to an Apple smartphone. The only real differences are the screen size (it's bigger than then iPhone) and the rounded bottom edge. Oh, and it also comes in pink.
Whether the iPhone-esque appearance is it put-off or not is up to you. We like the design and think it's one of the best looking Android smartphones on the market but we can understand if you don't particularly want to own what your friends might call an iPhone rip-off. The idea of an iPhone style phone running Android might get your mouth watering.
A strange bit of design is that the headphone jack is plugged with the SIM card and SD card removal tool – something we only found out after a while with the phone. It's a neat idea but we're not sure what you're supposed to do with it when headphones are plugged in. It's small and will be easily lost.
The Ascend P6 also shares something else with the iPhone: excellent build quality. A lot of time and effort has clearly gone into making this phone and the result is a premium feel way beyond what the price tag suggests. If it feels precious you'll be pleased to hear that Huawei includes a basic silicone case in the box.
We like the design but can understand if you don't particularly want to own what your friends might call an iPhone rip-off.
Huawei Ascend P6: Hardware and performance
Specs-wise, the Ascend P6 doesn't quite match up to the other flagship device on the market. We knew the price had to be justified somehow.
We've come to expect Full HD resolutions thanks to the Samsung Galaxy S4, Sony Xperia Z and HTC One. Although the Ascend P6 has a good sized screen at 4.7in it only has a 720p resolution. Nevertheless, it's definitely no slough and can be used with gloves on. It's just not the best you can get.
With a 1.5 GHz quad-core processor and 2GB of RAM performance shouldn't be a problem for the Ascend P6. In general the phone runs very well but not flawlessly. It's nothing to be worried about, just small things like an occasional wait for an app to load or a web page to render.
This is reflected in the benchmark results. The Ascend P6 scored a middle of the road 1638 in GeekBench 2, 22 fps in GLBenchmark 2.5 and 1292 ms in SunSpider using the faster of the two browsers, Chrome.
Storage is a clear money saving area for Huawei with only 8 GB of internal space which is half that of many rivals. About 5 GB is available to the user but there's a microSDHC card slot for up to 32GB cards.
There's no NFC or support for 4G LTE networks, which is odd considering Huawei announced the Ascend P2 at this year's MWC with a speedy CAT4 LTE chip. Huawei said an Ascend P6 with LTE will come later in the year, probably in November. This might be an important reason for you to opt for an alternative handset.
Huawei Ascend P6: Cameras
Huawei touts impressive photos thanks to an IMAGESmart Engine with auto scene recognition and other features such as HDR video and in focus macro shots from 4cm away from the object.
At 5 Mp the P6 has the highest resolution front camera we've seen. It seems a bit overkill but nevertheless produces a stunningly good picture. Perfect if you enjoy taking selfies with the front camera of your phone.
An 8Mp BSI main camera is certainly not overkill and while some handsets have 13Mp whoppers the Ascend P6 can hold its ground here. We found photos and video to be excellent quality with the macro mode easily one of the best we've seen on a phone.
HRD, panorama, smart and effect modes are all handy but a feature called Beauty level which Huawei claims can make you look up to 10 years younger is simply a gimmick and nothing more.
Huawei Ascend P6: Software
Huawei has loaded Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean onto the Ascend P6 but it looks a bit different to vanilla Android because of the Emotion user interface. We really like Huawei's latest skin; it's highly customisable with plenty of themes, lock screens and even screen transitions to choose from.
You can also change the style of app icons and customisable profiles provide an easy way of changing settings for a meeting or when you jump in the car, for example. The customisation continues in the notification menu where you can select which settings you want access to.
One thing we're not so convinced about is the lack of an app menu; instead the apps are simply placed on home screens like iOS. Huawei may have gone a little bit too far when borrowing from the iPhone.
The 'Me Widget' is the main part of the home screen and has things like a clock, weather and photos. Although it has different sections, you can customise it to how you like. It is also intelligent so, for example, will add a second clock and weather when you go abroad. We like the slightly geeky 'My Permissions' app which allows you to see what your apps are up and do things like restrict their 3G and Wi-Fi data access.
Huawei Ascend P6: Battery life
The Ascend P6 has got a 7.4Wh (2000mAh) battery inside and power management software. We managed to get one and a half working days out of the handset but with fairly light usage so we expect the majority of users will only get one a typical one day.
The phone holds its charge well when on standby but using the phone for things like gaming, web browsing or watching video really drains it quickly.