Even though Huawei is one of the largest phone manufacturers in the world, it’s not as famous as a manufacturer of high class phones. With the last year’s P1 model, it was obvious that there were some changes, which continued with P2, and finally with newly-presented Ascend 6. If you’re wondering why 6 and not 3, it’s because of the implication that it’s only 6 mm thin. We’ve had the chance to try out the test model and see for ourselves how good it is and whether it’s really the thinnest smartphone in the world.
The packaging contains the standard elements, such as the phone, a nicely-looking and a compact charger with USB cable, decent headphones, and to our surprise, a silicone case for extreme conditions. In an era where Android phones are made out of plastic, even the most expensive ones, ascend P6 is a real treat for sore eyes. Whole back side is made out of polished black metal, and a metallic frame in shape of the letter “π” surrounds it on all sides, except on the bottom. The phone is very thin, and according to Huawei, it’s the thinnest phone in the world and with great dimensions, it rests comfortably in the hand.
Bottom edge is rounded, made out of hard, black plastic; we suppose in order to get better Wi-Fi reception. The edges are very interesting, so on the left side there’s only a small, metal disc in the lower part. After a bit of experimentation, it turned out it’s actually a headphones out, and the metallic disk a part of the needle made for pulling out micro SD and micro SD card slots. These slots are on the right side, and as for the needle, we suggest putting it in the phone box after the first use, since odds are that you’ll lose it easily if you carry it around and use it as a headphones out. On the right side there’s also the volume rocker and the power button, which are very well positioned and in thumb’s reach, even when phone is held in only one hand – it’s obvious that they ergonomics in mind. On the upper edge, there’s just a micro USB port and an additional microphone for dealing with ambient noise during conversations.
The back side is completely made of metal and has a nicely designed Huawei logo and LED flash and a solid camera which doesn’t stick out of the device. There’s also the speaker, and in order to be heard properly, there are laser-cut holes on the metal lid. Because of the use of polished metal, but also due to the great dimensions and weight, you can get a solid grip on the phone and gives a rests nicely in the hand. The choice of materials enabled the fingerprints to be barely noticeable, which we especially liked.
Aside from the small part on the bottom, the whole front side is covered with scratch-resistant glass that’s also quite resistant to fingerprints. The coating is excellent – it enables fingers to easily slide over the surface, and if need arises, touch sensitivity can be increased, that enables the screen to be used even while wearing gloves.
Even though the newest trends are forcing the 1080p resolutions for best Android phones, Huawei Ascend P6 stuck with 720p, which is a good choice, in accordance with diagonal length. The screen is very good, with excellent viewing angles and great color calibration. Contrast is slightly flawed, but lighting is phenomenal, easily better than top models, which is not an easy feat to manage. Nice addition is the capability to change the warmth of the colors, so you can set the colors to resemble blue or yellow more.
At first glance, the hardware base sounds impressive – excellent screen, quad-core processor paired up with appropriate graphics and a large amount of RAM. Still, after a bit of tinkering, we’ve found stuff that we didn’t appreciate – small amount of internal memory for data storage, and it also lacks NFC. We’ve received WCDMA phone for testing, meaning without LTE. We’ve heard vague rumors that LTE will be available come fall, but it remains unclear whether it will be made available via a software update for all devices, or a new P6 version of the model with LTE modem will be published.
The cameras are a story on their own, because they have unexpectedly large resolutions. The main, back camera has potential, but software image processing after image is shot needs to be upgraded – it often happens that in order to remove the grain, the details are also removed, so they get the water color look. It’s especially surprising that the front camera has a large resolution also, although that potential hasn’t been fully realized. In image shooting application, you have special options for taking pictures with this camera, including the Beauty Mode, which will automatically remove wrinkles and lines. We don’t have confirmation for that, but it would be nice if final version had an application intended for female audience, that would enable high resolution images to be edited for trying out new hairstyles or makeup styles.
|Huawei Ascend P6 - U6|
|Processor||Quad core HiSilicon K3V2 1.5 GHz|
|GPU||16 core HiSilicon|
|Memory||2 GB RAM, internal 8GB, microSD|
|Display||4.7'', 1280x720 pix, TFT capacitive, scratch resistant glass|
|Interfaces||microUSB, Bluetooth 3.0, WiFi n, WCDMA, GPS, MHL, OTG|
|Camera||Back: 8 MP with autofocus and LED flash; Front: 5 MP|
|Battery||Li- Ion 2000 mAh|
|OS||Android OS 4.2.2|
|Dimensions||132.7 x 65.5 x 6.2 mm|
In standard use, the phone works nicely and it’s pretty fast. Browsing the web, reading emails and documents – all of those functions work as they’re supposed to. On the other hand, synthetic tests have shown interesting results. Through sheer hardware power, this phone would first need to be compared with Galaxy SIII model, with which it’s neck to neck – sometimes it’s better, sometimes it’s not. The question remains how much will the final version differ than this one. We hope it will be a lot and that all of its flaws will be taken care of. The main reason, aside from eliminating the bugs that we’ve run into is better support for 3D. Even though the tests have shown that P6 is powerful enough to run the newest games, we didn’t really have a chance to game nicely. On this test model, NFS Most Wanted and Real Racing and Temple Run Brave had low FPS, so we expect that they will run better on the final version. We base that on the experience with the pre-installed Riptide GT game, which works great with all of the effects and without the slightest drop in FPS, so we've enjoyed for the first time an excellent water-racing game.
Newest version of the Huawei user interface named Emotion UI looks nice and it has shown significant improvement compared to the previous versions. Launcher settings are much more plentiful than before, and it also has theme support, which, as Huawei promises, will also be plentiful. Home screen and App drawer are merged into on app, so in case you slide right of Home screen, you’ll automatically end up in application screen. Widgets can still be installed on Home screen and to the left of it – which is an interesting solution that we’ve already seen on some custom launchers. User interface navigation buttons are integrated into the screen surface, an option that we’ve never liked because they reduce the actual size of the screen.
Part with notifications is classically done, but the icons change depending on the theme, and they can be changed at will. By the way, P6 is only the second phone that appeared on the market with the newest version of Android 4.2.2, but doesn’t use some of its features, such as additional widgets on lock screen. Standard Android browser is preinstalled, but on a device this powerful is a shame not to use Chrome.
An almost-forgotten function of profile settings, that we liked, is implemented and neatly designed on Ascend P6 smartphone. Many new widgets have been added, including the unavoidable weather forecast. For data processing of Office environment, newest version of Polaris Office is used, and it can serve for editing existing files and creating new ones.
As for the multimedia, video files are supported only through the gallery, without a specific application for playing movies with subtitles, so you’ll quickly download one of the alternatives from Play Store. As for the music, the things are much better, since music app looks nice, and supports a wide range of formats, and it’s extremely functional. The headphones that come with the phone are nicely adapted in terms they follow the line of the phone, both in physical and design way. Even though they produce good audio, they don’t give the impression that they will work for a long time.
From what we’ve seen so far, Ascend P6 is full of promise. It’s hard to predict how the final versions of both hardware and software will look like, but if they meet our expectation, it will be great. Even the test version is a very nice smartphone, extremely thin and comfortable to use. Design and ergonomics are merged in the right way, which we’ve especially liked. The hardware part is of adequate strength it just needs a bit more polishing. We’re hoping that the final version with a good price will be made available soon.