20 June 2013

The thinnest phone in the world: Huawei Ascend P6 first impressions

Key Features: World's slimmest smartphone at 6.18mm thick; 1.5GHz quad-core processor Manufacturer: Huawei

Huawei Ascend P6


What is the Huawei Ascend P6?


The Huawei Ascend P6 is the world’s slimmest smartphone at just 6.18mm thick. It is the latest flagship phone from the Chinese manufacturer and is looking to challenge the Google Nexus 4 for the mantle of the best smartphone on the market at a wallet-friendly price point.

The P6 is a handset that treads the line between and mid-market and high-end handset, with a 1.5GHz quad-core processor lining up alongside a 4.7-inch 720p display and an 8-megapixel rear-mounted camera.

Set to hit retailers in August around the £300 marker, can the Huawei Ascend P6 really rival the Nexus 4? We’ve gone hands-on to find out.

Huawei Ascend P6 - Design


The Huawei Ascend P6 design is about more than just the svelte 6.18mm thickness - it's a notable improvement over the manufacturer’s past offerings. The P6 feels great in the hand, with the brushed metal body yielding no unwanted bend or flex. It weighs just 120g and feels nicely balanced, too.

Strangely, despite being just 6.18mm thick, the Ascend P6 does not feel unnervingly slight. In fact it feels like a solid, well-constructed phone that could stand up to the rigours of daily usage with little sign of wear or tear.

There is a nagging familiarity about the phone that is impossible to escape, however. The Huawei Ascend P6's design has more than an air of the iPhone 5 about it. Although considerably larger than its Apple-branded rival, its metal edging and brushed aluminium rear are more than a little familiar.

Huawei Ascend P6 - Screen


The Huawei Ascend P6's screen is a 4.7-inch 720p HD offering. As such it is a notable step back from the eye-popping 1080p Full HD likes found on the Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One. That doesn’t mean it isn’t impressive in its own right, however.

The P6 screen is sharp, vibrant and proved highly responsive during our hands-on. Photos and text looked detailed, and colours were rich and clear. We'll need to get it side-by-side with similar phones to get a proper idea, but on first inspection it seems unlikely to disappoint.

Huawei Ascend P6 - Performance


From first impressions, the performance of the Huawei Ascend P6 is strong. Apps load and close promptly with little fuss or fanfare and menu transitions are fluid and elegant.

Behind this is the P6’s 1.5GHz quad-core processor and 2GB of RAM. It's a pairing that pushes the P6 to the upper end of the mid-range market, enough that it should hold its ground against the top phones. It is a step on from the Huawei Ascend P2 unveiled earlier this year.

Although it has just 8GB of internal storage, the P6 supports expandable memory via microSD. This option is hidden away neatly under a key accessed slot on the handset’s side.

Running Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean, the P6 overlays the familiar Android OS with the latest rendition of Huawei's Emotion UI. On the first impressions, the Emotion UI is easy to navigate and offers a visually appealing, natural and intuitive interface to the phone, though there quite a few features we didn't time to explore during our hands-on time.

Huawei Ascend P6 - Cameras


Huawei has built more than your average point-and-shoot snapper into the Ascend P6. It has added a number of elements more akin to a designated compact, including a 4cm macro focal length and an f/2.0 aperture. In testing the macro capabilities proved accurate and precise, although it was a little sluggish to focus.

Shutter speeds seem more than acceptable and the camera’s handling of challenging lighting conditions was impressive - something we'll test further in future.

The Huawei Ascend P6’s forward facing camera felt a little disappointing in first use given its impressive sounding 5-megapixel resolution. With less defined edges, images viewed back on the handset’s screen lacked the colour management of the rear-mounted offering.

Beauty Shot mode, a feature said to produce more flattering pictures of your face, requires further testing but on first use and theory comes across as little more than a gimmick in the realms of the Dual Shot mode found on the Samsung Galaxy S4.

Huawei Ascend P6 - First Impressions


The Huawei Ascend P6 is a strong handset from what remains one of the lesser known global manufacturers. The P6 is a sign that the brand is finally putting as much effort into its design as it is the spec and low price point. If marketed correctly, the Huawei Ascend P6 could be the device to send Huawei into the mainstream. It won’t be troubling the Samsung Galaxy S4 or HTC One just yet, though.

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