Huawei Ascend P6 Review

August 16, 2013
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The Huawei Ascend P6 was inspired by beauty according to the Chinese company, and is currently holding the crown for the "world's thinnest smartphone" on the market coming in at just 6.18mm thin. Announced back in July we've had a few weeks to enjoy this sleek and unique device, test out the camera, and enjoy having a phone thinner than a pencil in our pocket. So read on for our full thoughts, impressions, and loads of pictures.

Before we get started on the newly announced Huawei Ascend P6 you'll want to check out our unboxing and hands-on coverage, then we'll get into the specifics below. With a mash-up of nearly top tier specs in a sleek package lets take a look at the P6.

Hardware

The Huawei Ascend P6 is a beautiful phone, and now we know why they called it the beauty event, not to mention it has some "beautiful" camera features as well. The hardware has a striking resemblance to the iPhone 5 sadly, we'll just say that now, but it's still its own device. One that we've enjoyed using too.

Screen Shot 2013-08-16 at 12.57.36 PM

With the P6 you'll be working with a 4.7-inch 1280 x 720p display. They opted for a smaller display and no 1080 resolution to keep things thin, and to preserve battery considering they only had so much room in that 6.18mm chassis to work with. Under the hood is Huawei's own 1.5 GHz quad-core processor and 2GB of RAM, which performs decent, but it certainly isn't a Snapdragon. More on that below.

The video above will give you another idea of what to expect with the hardware, as will the gallery of photos below. To round it out we have a an 8 megapixel rear camera, 5MP up front, and a nice speaker grill that gets quite loud on the back bottom left corner. The brushed aluminum edges and etched back is a nice touch, and gives this phone a seriously premium feel. It's the best Huawei to date, and build quality is close to that of the HTC One.

We have an oddly placed off-center micro-USB on the top for charging, the volume up/down and power button on the right edge, followed by the micro-SD to expand on the 8GB of storage and the SIM slot all in one row. The rounded bottom is free of ports, and makes it extremely comfortable in the hand, as I usually rest my pinky finger on bottom for support. I wish more phones were rounded on the bottom after using the P6. The left edge has a lone 3.5mm headphone jack, which out of the box doubles as the holder for the SIM removal tool. Neat right.

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The only downside to the hardware would be the 2,000 mAh battery, and the fact that this device is soo extremely thin that it gets really hot. With average tasks such as taking pictures or even browsing the web the aluminum rear gets warmer than most phones I've used. That aside this sleek and lightweight (120g) smartphones is well built, well designed, comfortable to hold, and overall a joy to use. I want one with Verizon 4G LTE. Can we make that happen US government?

Software

Working with Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean we have plenty of options to go along with a super smooth and fast user experience. It's covered in Huawei's Emotion UI 1.6, which is decent, but they took an iPhone approach and all the app icons are on the homescreen(s) and not in a drawer. To prevent 4 pages worth, everything is in folders out of the box.

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However, the software is highly customizable from the notification pulldown bar, to the icons, and even full theme support. There's 5 themes out of the box, and plenty more available to download from 3rd parties. This phone can look very different day to day, so that's a plus. The themes don't work everywhere, and the pulldown bar is always white and blue, so the overall interface can feel scattered and it takes away from that cohesive experience we love in Jelly Bean.

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The stock weather apps reminds us of what you get from Samsung as of late, and the stock Android on-screen buttons is a nice touch. Overall everything we love about Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean is here such as Google Now, homescreen shortcuts, and even the stock keyboard if you'd like. Since this is the international version there's no carrier apps or bloatware, so it's pretty generic.

Overall the phone runs smooth and stable, Android's project butter is melting and flowing as smooth as ever, and Huawei's changes don't appear to get in the way too much. We've heard a Google Play edition is a possibility, but that's doubtful given the issues with Huawei and the US government, to say the least.

Performance

As mentioned above the phone runs and performs as expected, even though that quad-core isn't quite up to par with most of the competition. Since benchmarks are only a small part of the story, we just ran a few for good measure and for the enthusiasts to compare.

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In the end the Huawei Ascend P6 runs great, and performs rather well. The results are lower than we'd like, and doesn't show much promise for that quad-core either. Qualcomm's dual-core from early last year outperforms it. High end games might suffer, but our casual play of Riptide GP2 and Asphalt 7 didn't give us any issues. Take it as you will, these are only numbers.

Camera

Huawei has done a few rather odd things here with the camera. For one the front is a 5 megapixel shooter and is great for self portraits, video chatting with Hangouts, and can have more people in the frame than before. The rear is only 8 megapixels to keep the size down to meet that world's thinnest mark, but it does ok too. 1080p video was average at best, and it is the "beauty shot feature" we wanted to talk about.

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As you can see in the image below our own Chris Davies face almost has a CGI fake look to it. This is Beauty Shot. In the same manor that Instagram adds a filter to your photos, the Ascend P6 will add a filter and smooth your face out for photos. Making everyone instantly beautiful.

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It's odd to say the least, and makes you look almost like a cartoon or wearing as much make-up as people on Fox News, but we like the idea. At least they're trying to be different. It can also be tuned so it isn't so aggressive, and not as noticeable. So you can cheat and be prettier without getting caught. That aside, here's some average photos just in case you're curious about the camera.

Battery Life

Testing the battery was a bit of a challenge given it's an international device, and doesn't support 4G LTE. However, with a small 2,000 mAh battery we barely managed 8 hours on a full charge, and that wasn't with very much usage. You'll need a charger often. Even with WiFi only and no cell signal sucking it down standby (no use) was only 4 days, so certainly below almost all of the competition as of late.

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Personally I'd rather have a few more mm of thickness to my device in favor of a bigger battery, and I have a feeling I'm not alone with that thought. Chinese manufacturers like ZTE, Huawei, and Oppo keep trying this "world's thinnest" stuff only to make the battery suffer. It's an approach that's neat there, but won't work if they ever want to be popular in the US. Oh, and the battery meter changes colors in the notification bar with percentage and all, that was cool.

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Wrap-Up

The Huawei Ascend P6 is a beautiful machine that shows how far the company has come when it comes to design and build quality. The software is solid and stable, although we'd prefer stock Android as usual, and this certainly can compete against Samsung, LG, and the likes. However, we'll still be waiting before something like this ever makes it outside of Chinese and European markets.

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Compared to something like the Galaxy S4 above, which has a bigger HD display, almost double the battery life and performance that is in another league, Huawei needs to focus on more things that just being pretty and thin. Don't get me wrong, I loved everything about this phone aside from it getting hot doing nearly any and all tasks, I just wish Huawei focused as much attention everywhere as they do the sleek design and beautiful curves.

Most models have dual-SIM features for those who need it, and if the Ascend P6 is offered in your region it certainly is worth taking a look at. You'll be enjoying a top quality phone that looks and feels great, just make sure you have a charger nearby and don't accidentally sit on it. Something that thin might be fragile, even if it's wrapped in aluminum. Enjoy a few more photos and comparisons with the GS4 below.


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  • Sherry

    Had mine for a month now after a few charges its stopped getting hot and the battery life is now very good by the end of the day it’s still got 60% it’s so easy to get on with and for the money 10out of10 it’s just a beautiful phone and it knows it such a good buy

  • gerrie

    this huawei is so powerful i love it so much, and i am gonna have it soon.

    • disqus_MRmjIKs0v3

      yes it is.

  • Rita

    Hello, I recently bought a uawei Ascend p6 but I see in my telemvel issues when we try not to have the cursor where it says online. How can I get more themes and get solution on the cursor that says online?

  • laura

    Can i possibly remove the battery percentage on the top of the screen?

    • zhangQi

      No you can not,I always try it but doesn`t work.I`m from china thank you for chose chinese mobilephone

  • disqus_MRmjIKs0v3

    it is amazing !made in china.

  • Jon Plunt

    Hello everybody!
    First of all, sorry for my english :)

    Okey, several days ago I’ve got a Huawei P6 and the reason was a simple – my previous phone broke again and was unfixable (Nokia N8, one month till warranty end) and distributor offered me to replace with equivalent phone. On that list with replacing phones he gave me, was a several samsung, nokia, blackberry phones, but the old ones, and just two smartphones with good spec. Nokia Lumia 820 and Huawei P6.

    Considering my bad previously experience with Nokia (and I don’t like Windows), I choose a Huawei P6.

    So now I have my first Android phone :) that’s I don’t have to say something about software etc. There is a big app market but I use several of these, like a Skype, gopro app, sygic and dropbox, and this is enough for me :) but of course, big choice of apps is good thing.

    So, first impression – well designed, quality is good. And size is big :)) unusual for me, not handy, but that I think feel everyone who start using a big screen phones :) Like that aluminium (or something) body.

    After I’ve check on ebay accessories range, specially cases. Sadly, but I didn’t found any hard cases, something like a Ballistic or Otterbox cases. I hope the situation will change.

    Next one, the battery life. I’m not a big internet browsing fan on phones and not a social network addicted :) but of course, time by time I use gps or wi-fi to check emails or to use go pro camera app. Also I’m not a gamer and movie watcher, and seldom listening a music on phone. The primary I use phones for calls and text, GPS navigation and email checking. And sometime sI use phone like a external storage :)

    Ok. While I’am writing this, battery finally is empty. And this is a third day’s early morning after first charging. not bad, but would be better.

    But anyway, on these two full days I use it like a usually use my phones, and on nights always I switched it on sleep mode.

    charging time – aprox. 2 hours 15 minutes (with phone ON mode).

    Camera – I always have consider, if you want a shoot something on good quality, do it on dslr or camcorder. That’s the video quality of phone camera not important for me. The other thing is photo, cause sometimes it is necessary and the quality would be better for 8mp camera.

    The front camera is 5mp and that’s enough for Skype :) but I supose the picture quality for some 2mp or 3mp phone cameras is better than this one.

    Screen – quality is great. I’m not use, for example, Galaxy S4 or similar, but I like that screen quality. Everything is sharp and detailed.

    performance – the same, I think it’s great. Everything works fine and fast.

    several things I don’t like in this phone:

    8GB internal storage is too small, cause, free space for files is less than 5GB. Of course, there is a micro SD card slot, but just for 32 Gb card. For some reasons I need more :)

    Not a big choice of accessories, specially shock, dust and water resistant cases.

    No 4G network – that’s strange.

    finally:

    I think this is a one of the best price/performance offer. The body I like much better than other phones (except iPhone) But, if I were to be purchased it, I’m not sure to do that :) cause, probably small accessories range, internal storage and probably I’m afraid to scratch and broke a screen or something, or use it in wet time :)))

  • JACH

    Huawei Ascend P6 HAVE DUAL SIM VERSION.?, IF HAVE WHAT IS THE MODEL NO…?

  • AATH

    How many hours do i need to charge and must i charge starting from 0 percent ?

  • Sam Hosack

    Where can you purchase a Huawei Ascend P6 dual sim?

    • nlnlkn

      In China.

      • heyzee

        Can it work in nigeria if I buy from china?

  • heyzee

    Can it work in Nigeria if I buy from china?