Huawei seems to want to prevail in the Android market by launching a renewed line of devices. As time goes by, there are several launches made by Huawei but there was a gap in the a Premium device line.
In June of 2013 Huawei sought to suppress that gap by making the Ascend P6 available to their customers. We now had the opportunity to meet that device in person and answer a very important question for those who seek a new gadget: is the Ascend P6 a worthy buy? Read on to find out.
Design and Ergonomics
The box that contains the Huawei Ascend P6 is very pretty and matches perfectly the premium appearance that Huawei seeks to achieve. Unlike other smartphone cases where there’s barely enough room to fit your finger the box of the P6 is spacious enough so you can easily grab what you want from the inside. The box is organized in modules, manuals on one side, earphones on another and the charging adapter on the last one. The three modules are covered with a lid that accommodates the device.
On the P6’s marketing campaigns Huawei classified it as a beautiful device and when it comes to design you can’t deny it. The device we had in for testing was the black version, but bear in mind that there’s also a white version. On the black version, the back of the device as a brushed steel appearance, while on the white device the back is flat. Meanwhile, the feature that stands out more on the P6’s design are its rounded corners on the bottom of the device. Bear in mind that this is merely a design detail, it has no practical use, whatsoever.
On the sides it has a silver rim that seeks to give a further premium look to the device. This details reminds us seriously of an equipment that has nothing to do with the Android world, the iPhone 5. The similarities don’t end when it comes to the silver rim, you can also find similarities when it comes to the positioning of the rear camera of the P6.
On the right side you have loads of details. On this side you have the power button, the volume rocker, the microSD card slot and the micro-SIM card slot. In order to access the card slots you have to open them with the opener that is attached to the 3.5mm phone jack. This wasn’t a functional choice by Huawei, given that every time you want to use the earphones you have to remove the slot opener, which in turn will make you lose it, as it has happened in our test device since the slot opener was nowhere to be found.
Now taking into account how the device handles, we reached the conclusion that it handles very well. The device is very light and thin (120g and 62mm thick), facts that granted it the title of thinnest smartphone on the market, for a little while at least. At the same time these measurements help towards a premium look and the comfort when handling it, they also give a slight feel of frailty which in turn makes you handle it more carefully. In order to help users worry less about the frailty of the device Huawei included a protective cover in the box. It was the first time we saw a brand worry about this, which is weird since every single one of them should worry about this.
The P6 is equipped with a 4.7-inch IPS+ LCD screen with a resolution of 720x1280p. The image quality is very good, given that you don’t notice any grain in the image made by pixels. The images with the brightness at a maximum present themselves in a very realistic way, and you probably will notice some saturation but not overwhelming, like you would on AMOLED screens. The colors are bright and strong an even though it is not a FullHD screen the quality doesn’t leave anything to chance.
When it comes to brightness, it is adjustable, but the levels you can choose aren’t very adjustable. The best you can do here is to leave it in Auto mode, given that the manual adjustment levels the middle seems too dark and the maximum isn’t always the right choice. The automatic brightness works fairly well given that the brightness reaction to the change in environment is pretty quick.
Performance and Software
Launched in June 2013, the Ascend P6 has 4.2.2 Android which allows you to take the most out of the latest Google software. You aren’t in the presence of the latest 4.4 KitKat version, for sure, and until now, no news about a possible update have shown up, but given the stock version and taking into account the launch date of the device, you can’t say it is on a really bad position.
When it comes to the user interface, Huawei keeps betting on the Emotion UI. This user interface is so custom that if it wasn’t for the Home, Back and Open Applications buttons Huawei could perfectly sell it as being a Huawei device with a brand made operating system, other than Android. You can choose between predefined themes, this will also change the icons and the wallpaper.
On the Emotion UI you don’t have a menu with all the applications. The application icons spread out through the several homescreens, much like in the iOS from Apple, you can however group them into folders. In a stock device you have widgets on the first homescreen, the second homescreen is filled with factory installed applications, and on the third homescreen will be the user installed applications.
Regarding the device’s keyboard it is very likely that you will go straight to the device settings and go back to the Android stock keyboard. The original keyboard will leave anyone frustrated beyond belief due to several facts: low precision, letter repetition, the auto-correct feature doesn’t correct anything and so forth.
Not everything is bad in the P6. Besides the great design we spoke of in the beginning of the review, the music player is very interesting. This is probably one of the best Players that we have tested so far. The interface is very pleasant, divided into several squares, like a panel, and has many features that we rarely see on devices from other brands. Two of the features that are very useful are the following:
- DurationFilter – allows the user to set a minimum length for the music files and thus the player will automatically exclude the audio files with a length less than the one specified
- Hibernation Mode – allows the play to hibernate after a certain time since it started playing.
The video player does nothing out of the ordinary, it plays the video you select and that’s about it. It fulfils its job when it comes to playing video files with the following extensions: MKV, AVI and MP4, without offering anything innovative or new.
Both the video and audio players have the Dolby Digital help for a better sound quality (it is optional and can be disabled in the player’s options). You can’t customize the equalizer, you can only choose from the pre-defined options.
The Ascend P6 also has a radio application, a feature that has been known for disappearing from the latest devices. There is nothing new to talk about in this application as well, you have the same 4 slots to save your favorite stations, you can use the speaker, but will have to keep your earphones connected, you also have two buttons, one to scroll through channels and the other to turn it off or on. It is also possible or change to another viewing mode that shows you all the radio stations and makes it easier to change between them.
Since we are on a media roll, we feel we need to mention an accessory that comes with the P6, the earphones. We feel that Huawei failed completely: they are uncomfortable and the sound quality is awful, making them clearly dispensable. In case you already have some old earphones lying around, use them.
When it comes to Hardware the P6’s processor is made by the own brand, the 1.5 GHz SoC K3V2 QuadCore. The device comes with 2Gb of RAM and 8GB of storage, but only 4.7GB are available for the user. You can check out the device’s specifications here if you want.
On paper, the specs seem good, but that’s about it. When we started using the Huawei Ascend P6 in order to make use of its hardware, we were disappointed. Lagging and blocking while playing Dead Trigger, for example, is not a good sign for a device that has such good references on paper.
The major flaw with this Huawei is the temperature it reaches after only a few minutes of gaming, and it will bother you to the point where you will have to put the device down until it cools. The overheating occurs not only on the back of the device but on the screen as well, and that is never a good sign. And if you are thinking that this happens only when your playing, don’t fool yourself, just a few minutes around the Facebook application will do the same.
In the benchmark tests ran, the scores achieved by the P6 are surprisingly low, for the presented specifications. (Click on the images to enlarge them)
Connectivity and Battery Life
This is where the Huawei premium device tried to shine, but nearly fell in comparison to other devices on the market. Connectivity wise the Ascend P6 doesn’t have 4G, nor NFC nor bluetooth 4.0. So, all in all it looks like we are before an outdated device.
Now comes the turn of the P6’s battery to impress us, but it doesn’t. All the users and informed of the technology world, know that the greatest issue of smartphones nowadays is the short battery life, and there are just a few devices that can handle more than a day and a half without dying after a full charge. For those of us who are used to these devices the daily routine is always the same, wake up unplug the charger and plug it back in before going to bed at night.
But even though this happens with a lot of devices, with the P6 there were several days where it didn’t even last half a day. Just unplugging the device while eating breakfast just to see the days’ news it will eat up to 15% of charge. It was a challenge to test this device because using it during the day meant that when we got home, there was no juice left to make any benchmark tests or play a few games.
In more intensive tasks, like playing something for about 15 minutes is the equivalent of draining 20% of the battery. For those who may think we had a faulty device, we talked to other P6 users to seek answers and they all faced the same issue.
To surprise everyone the P6 is equipped with a 5MP frontal camera, something we don’t see very often in devices nowadays. The truth is we never handled a frontal camera with that many pixels. It has some quality but the photos are too dark when you look at them in the computer. It is curious that Huawei made it so important to focus on the frontal camera and ended up leaving other things to chance. Nonetheless you will have great quality available for your selfies and video calls.
The frontal camera and rear camera have the same effects, making your selfies much more customizable. Effects like B&W, Old, Cold, Hot, Sepia and Gray Scale are all available to improve your photos.
The rear camera has 8MP and allows you to take pretty good pictures. The colors are still a little dark but they have good definition, even though they seem a little grainy when you look at them in their actual size.
The P6 can only take pictures at 4cm away, less than that and you will not be able to focus the object you want.
- Gorgeous design and great handling
- Good screen
- microSD card Slot
- Overheating with moderate use
- Very low battery life
- Custom user interface that reminds of the iOS
- No 4G
The Ascend P6 is announced as a premium device, but it is very hard to take that announcement seriously. Comparing it with other devices available on the market that are also labeled as premium, like the Xperia Z1 or the LG G2 the P6 has very low performance.
The design premium and the specification list hide it, but in real life, there are many flaws that leave Huawei far behind other premium devices on the market. The highlights of the P6 are easily due to the design, the build quality and the great screen, but those aren’t enough to make up for the negatives, like the overheating and the low battery life.