For several weeks now, Huawei has been preparing for a spectacular premiere: the unveiling of the Ascend P6, also known under the codename “Edge.” At only 6.5 millimeters thick, it’s slated to be the slimmest top-class smartphone in the world, running Android OS 4.2 and Huawei Emotion UI 1.6. Following its success with its flagships in Asian markets, Huawei hopes now to do the same across the US and Europe.
The device won’t be officially announced until tomorrow at an event in London, but Brighthand has exclusively obtained an Ascend P6 ahead of its unveiling through an anonymous source, and we’re bringing you our first impressions of the device.
We have never had the opportunity of witnessing such quality specifications on such a slim and light body (the device weighs just 120 grams). The Ascend P6 comes with a 4.7-inch in-cell LCD display and HD resolution (720 x 1280 pixels) and has a pixel density of 312 ppi. Hardware-wise, it’s powered by a quad-core Huawei K3V2 chipset, running a 1.5 GHz clock and apart from the accelerometer, gyroscope, the proximity sensor and a compass, it also has a temperature sensor, interestingly enough. The unibody build houses a 2000mAh battery and the device has an 8-megapixel back-facing camera as well as a 5-megapixel front-facing camera. With 2 GB of RAM, it also comes with 8 GB of internal storage and a microSD card slot, which can expand the capacity for additional 32 GB.
These features measure up to those of last year’s flagship models, but when Ascend P6 is held in hand, the premium feeling is almost instantly noticeable. This is also aided by the fact that, apart from exceptional sharpness and screen brightness, its unibody has an above average quality of artisanship. It is crafted out of a combination of glass and plastic in the front, as well as metal and plastic on the back and on the sides. For the first time, we have a Huawei smartphone that looks special, modern, and convincing enough to be compared to much better-known rival models.
The front side of the Ascend P6 is dominated by the display with a speaker under it, along with the aforementioned sensor set, as well as the front-facing camera. There are no control keys — the Back, Home and Task keys appear on the bottom of the screen once the phone is turned on. The upper edge of the device includes a tiny secondary microphone and a microUSB slot, while the lower, rounded side includes just the primary microphone. The left side only has a 3.5 mm audio jack, while the right includes microSIM and microSD slots, as well as the volume control and the Power key at thumb’s reach. A camera with an LED flash is situated on the back up in the corner (just like on iPhone), as well as the Huawei logo in the middle of the metal surface. The speaker perforations are on the bottom.
Ascend P6 is so light that it is almost weightless when held in hand. It is visibly much thinner than an iPhone 5 and really does provide a feeling which cannot be experienced with any other smartphone — a combination of elegance and power that surpasses all previously seen smartphones. Despite small dimensions and mass, its 4.7-inch display really has a chance to shine. The pixel density which surpasses 300 ppi guarantees imaging sharpness, roughly akin to that of the Galaxy S III or the HTC One S.
The contrast, which is on a high level, is also praiseworthy, with blacks providing above-average darkness, while the less impressive performance comes from somewhat darker white tones. This is why contrast stability is lost to a certain extent with wider viewing angles, but only when the screen is showing images with bright dominating tones. The colors are precisely saturated, with a slight prevalence of warmer shades, which users who prefer the device’s multimedia features will love. When exposed to direct sunlight, the Ascend P6 manages to maintain above average visibility, which is also aided by the Emotion UI. Emphasis is placed on elements with vivacious colors since imaging with such colors is one of the selling points this screen has to offer.
Ascend P6’s features are as expected for a quad-core chipset device — all tasks run fluidly and without lagging, regardless of whether users are scrolling or zooming in and out of heavy web sites, forwarding videos, or running demanding games. Of course, some of the advanced software options that are offered by other flagships like the Galaxy S IV or the LG Optimus G Pro are not present. However, this particular combination of user interface, screen, and chipset is apparently exceptionally economic, considering that the device can be used for two whole days without needing to be recharged.
The camera provides photographs of above average quality in both natural and artificial lighting, but our one manjor issue here is with the resolution. 8 megapixels is too low for a flagship model in 2013 and even better results can be realized with phones that have a 13-megapixel resolution when their images are resized to the same 8 megapixel resolution. Still, video recording quality needs to be praised, as it provides sharp recordings with vivacious colors and stable shots.
As far as the software goes, Huawei Ascend P6 comes with Emotion UI 1.6, which is a skin for Android OS 4.2, as we have previously seen on this manufacturer’s models. This is a slight Android modification that boils down to setting up widgets on the home screen and accessing the applications drawer by moving the home screen to the side. Similarly, the notifications bar comes with a few more toggles than usual — about a dozen — and it is possible to add more manually. The home screen also has four fixed icons at the bottom that can be manually selected among all installed applications.
With several attempts from Huawei to infiltrate the smartphone big league, this seems to be the most serious one. The Ascend P6 offers exceptional elegance with above average imaging quality and above average features. Though there is still room for improvement, the Ascend P6 is a good indicator that Huawei might finally succeed in its intentions to repeat its achievements in the Chinese market in the markets of USA and Europe.