CHINESE PHONE MAKER Huawei announced its latest flagship Ascend P6 smartphone on Tuesday, as the firm continues its push to compete with the big names in the industry.
In a bid to rival the Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One, Huawei has stuffed the Ascend P6 with "innovative features" such as a 5MP front-facing camera and a redesigned user interface, along with a super-thin casing that measures just 6.18mm thick.
At just 6.18mm thick, there's not much to the Ascend P6. However, that's not to say there's not a lot to like, as the handset is very light at 120g and feels comfortable to use thanks to its slender profile.
There's no doubting, though, that Huawei has taken inspiration from Apple when it comes to the design of the Ascend P6. Its edges are curvier and its bezel is smaller, but the aluminium edging of the device makes it look and feel a lot like an iPhone. This is not a bad thing as we've long praised the iPhone as one of the best designed phones on the market, but with Android users not often huge fans of the iPhone this potentially could damage the phone's chances of success.
Another thing we're not too keen about when it comes to design is the pink model, with Huawei clearly in the mindset that us women want a totally pink smartphone. However, we don't, and the pink model looks cheap and tacky compared to its black and white siblings.
Although Huawei didn't dwell on the Ascend P6's display during its unveiling, we think it's one of the phone's standout features, especially considering its £400 price. Measuring 4.7in, the Gorilla Glass screen boasts 1280x720 resolution, and while it's not quite as crisp as the screen on the HTC One, for example, it stacks up nicely compared to an iPhone 5, delivering crisp colours and decent viewing angles.
Powering this screen is a quad-core 1.5GHz K3V2+ processor, made by Huawei and paired with 2GB of RAM, which the firm claims is one of the fastest mobile chips on the market today. While we have no complaints on first impressions, with everything working swiftly and smoothly, we have yet to test this fully.
Perhaps the specifications that Huawei is most excited about is the Ascend P6's dual camera setup. On the rear there's an 8MP camera coupled with a number of photo editing tools, such as the ability to make yourself look 10 years younger, apparently, which seemed to perform well during our time with the phone. Despite the florescent lighting at the Ascend P6 launch event, the rear camera still managed to produce detailed, colourful images, but we'll test this further in our full review.
There's a 5MP camera on the front of the phone, the highest specification front-facing camera to date. We have yet to test this camera, but we expect it will make for crisp video calls.
The Huawei Ascend P6 runs Google's Android 4.2.2 mobile operating system, but this is barely recognisable due to Huawei's custom Emotion user interface. If you prefer stock Android, you're not going to be a fan of Huawei's user interface, and we found it fairly obtrusive during our time with the phone, despite the firm's claims that it makes operating Android "easier".
We got our hands on the pink model that comes with a matching pink theme, which means that the handset comes plastered with pink wallpaper and pink app icons. This can be changed, with Huawei boasting that there are 10,000 themes available online.
However, we can't help but think that we'd rather the firm had configured the phone with a stock Android experience. Huawei's preloaded apps, such as "Me" which places pictures and your favourite contacts straight on the homescreen, add little to the overall Android experience. These add-ons and widgets make the device more complicated to use and cheapen the overall look and feel of the otherwise good looking device.
The Huawei Ascend P6 is a decent smartphone. It's got a great design, a nice screen, a nippy processor and a duo of impressive cameras.
However, we're still not convinced, in part thanks to Huawei's over the top user interface, that Huawei is going to be able to convince punters to buy an Ascend P6 smartphone over an Apple iPhone or a Samsung Galaxy S4. It's thinner and lighter than the competition, but Huawei remains a little known name and we're not sure that it's done enough yet to change that. µ