[Update 1: the price of the Huawei Ascend P6 has been spotted to have dropped to as low as P15k in some malls.]
[Update 2: the Huawei Ascend P7 launches on July 1, 2014.]
Kids and pets are the hardest to shoot: they’re always moving. The P6’s dedicated shutter key to the rescue. Single press to take one shot, long press to take burst shots. No more fumbling with menus. No more missed action shots. A parent and pet owner’s phone.
When you rest the P6 on a table, you’ll notice a symmetry between its angular physique and the round-edged square icons of the calm-looking Emotion UI. No one will mistake this for any other Android. Instead of looking bare, it comes of as Zen serene. Grip the P6 and it’s a solid thin slab of hardness: drop it and it will survive, stow it in your bag and it will not be crushed. That’s the impression your hand gets. Good luck finding these features, and attention to detail, in any local or rebranded under-15k Android out there.
Oh, and you get to win in “quick draw” sessions (with parents and fellow pet owners) when whipping out your phone and showing off photos (the 2GB of RAM assures speed). The Ascend P6, in your hand, is like a narrow and thin remote control even though its display is actually, diagonally, 4.7 inches (unlike other phablets). Pull it out of your pocket or bag, unlock, launch images, tell your story. Meanwhile, the other party is still unlocking her phone and navigating to her gallery while she sees, all the while and clearly, your crisp pictures (and even from the sides, because of the P6’s great viewing angles).
But I think a if not the selling point of the Huawei Ascend P6 is that pair of cameras, which, in tandem with the quick launching and loading time (again, 2GB of RAM) and one hand phone profile (slips into and out of your pocket swiftly) results in quick (if needed) and crisp shots. The P6 is probably one of the first intentionally selfie phones and, at the time of this writing, the holder of another title: the slimmest, at 6.18mm.
- Selfie Shot 01
Selfie expert Deni Villanueva takes the Huawei Ascend P6 front camera for a spin.
- Selfie Shot 02
Irene Enriquez of GirlyGeek.ph fame. Selfie shot using the Ascend P6. I asked her to do a self portrait inside a moving van (no, she was not kidnapped; we were on our way to a media event) with pale afternoon light blinking in from both the van’s side windows. She also did the same pose using the Nokia Lumia 925, but though the 925′s shot showed just as good color reproduction and detail, Irene chose the Huawei Ascend P6′s over the other. Because you tend to go with pics wherein you look good. The P6, believe me, makes you look good.
- Selfie Shot 03
That’s me. Selfie via the Huawei Ascend P6. Usually I look like a takas-preso-na-nanunungkit-ng-sampay-sa-looban, but here. Whoa! Respect.
- 4 Themes Available
Let’s go over the Greats and Gripes, and some features, before we tell you to Go Get It (or not).
- Huawei Ascend P6 Spec Sheet
- Solid, sturdy build. No flexing or bending.
- Snappy and responsive. Apps launch quickly.
- Emotion UI is calming and distinctive. The color schemes and themes are consistently relaxing and subdued.
- Bright, clear, crisp display with great viewing angles.
- Surprisingly loud and clear sound, not bass-deep but enough to watch YouTube clips with, or play music while you shower.
- Just wide enough for one hand use. A welcome thing, what with a flood of 5-inch-plus Androids because manufacturers assume everyone is comfy with that.
- Dedicated shutter keys for single and burst shots. When you’re trying to catch a baby’s smile or the happy hop of a pet dog, you’ll appreciate this.
- Graphically powerful enough to run a game like Riptide GP.
- Extra row above keyboard allows allows fast switching between Qwerty and Phone keypad. Because sometimes you need the one hand familiarity of Phone pad. (See above)
- The 10 level beauty shot feature is amazing. Somehow, the app chooses parts of your face it can tweak without being too obviously Photoshopped. I don’t know how this happens.
- The 4cm macro (super close up) shot works.
- Free protective rubber case, which doesn’t impede handling or shutter key use.
- Power settings is great for conserving battery life, and also for obsessing about how much power is left.
- White color (the review unit was white) blends extremely well with white tops and dresses, white purses, white earrings. It’s as though the phone was part of your deliberate fashion selection.
- And lastly, the volume rocker (both up and down buttons) double as camera shutter keys. Long press for instant burst shot – no more digging through menus for that. 20 shots in one burst.
Huawei Ascend P6 wearing free protective case, which doesn’t impede usability in the slightest. And yes, the P6 comes with its own set of filters.
Out of the box shot. They say you’re Pinoy when you adore the mere possibility of free stuff, and then celebrate its arrival. The first thing I said after opening the box was, “Uy libreng case!”
The phablet behind the Huawei Ascend P6 is the LG Optimus G Pro, which is longer and wider.
Low to medium light shot. The HTC One SV (review forthcoming) and the Fujifilm Finepix X10, my go-to camera.
Extreme viewing angle!
Red Hogar, Creative Director at ABS-CBN, takes another selfie before a Korean lunch.
Thinness comparison with the LG Optimus G Pro. Thanks to Red Suner for providing the review unit in this shot.
Fast switching between keyboards is possible through the top row.
App make over. Huawei is not just designing its own custom and signature UI overlay over Android, but personalizing commonly used apps. The Timer app above is just beautiful.
Macro shot: shark’s fin at Waying, Binondo, Manila.
Free translucent gel case doesn’t impede usage of side buttons.
The battery of the Huawei Ascend P6 last around7 hours on Wi-Fi. But you can stretch that with the power management settings.
Sound profiles accessible as dials.
Not bad for watching videos.
It’s really the small touches that allure me to the Ascend P6, like this color temperature adjustment app.
Huawei, though their Emotion UI, has a certain approach to icon design. Notice how the soft edges of the squarish icons mimic the same soft edges of the physical unit?
You can easily lose that SIM/MicroSD Card tray ejector.
Sample shot. Partially lit subjects with some back lighting, but dark areas still show some detail – you can still read “New York Cheesecake”. I felt morally required to digitally witness these donuts. Just because.
Cloudy outdoor shot. I’m always after some hint of oversaturation and I’m not getting any with the Huawei Ascend P6.
SIM and microSD card trays and ejector.
Something only a pack rat geek like me might enjoy. Very concise instructions accompanied by relevant visuals, and only one “point” per page, at that. A technical writer’s dream product insert!
- Passable outdoor visibility, but better than that of the LG Optimus G. Do find a shade before texting back.
- Angular sides may not be to everyone’s liking. The sharp angles tend to dig into the V of my thumb and index finger. I’m used to the round edges and curved back, such as those found on the HTC Buttefly.
- Fans of stock or close to stock Android may not feel comfy with the heavily skinned overlay, which is Emotion UI. But you can always download a launcher and icon pack to cover it up.
- The metallic thumbtack that is the SIM card tray ejector, found on the P6’s bottom left side, can easily be dislodged and be lost. (Below)
- Non-removable battery. Average battery life of 7-8 hours. We’re all always greedy with battery life, even though battery banks are available left and right.
- Steep intro price (P18k), for a mid-ranger with neither NFC or LTE. You might not even notice NFC is missing, since it’s not widely used. If you really miss LTE speeds and want that on the Ascend P6, you can’t. Unless you get a separate pocket LTE device. Or if you already have an LTE ready phone, you can use that as your pocket LTE device and the P6 as your main. For this review, I used the HTC One SV (review forthcoming) as LTE device.
Go For It?
In the course of this review, I learned to appreciate the Huawei Ascend P6’s glass and metal hardness: it will not flex or bend or crack – my hand feels assured of that. (If you’re a klutz like me, you’ll love that.) Other phone makers mimic Samsung’s rectangular but with curved-edges looks and plastic through and through profile and slap on a 5” screen. Not Huawei.
Good secure grip, comfy one hand use, solid build, incredibly responsive, crisp screen with acceptable outdoor visibility, great cameras, good enough for games (though the screen size might limit your fun).
Apart from the lack of LTE, average but tenable battery life (7-8 hours), the SIM card tray ejector you’ll most likely lose, and angular profile (the sides still tend to dig into the V of my thumb and index finger, but the comes-with rubber case solves that), the Huawei Ascend P6 is a solid offer.
For the most part, 3G speeds are enough for social media usage, and you can always get a separate LTE package if you’re torrenting on your phone. As for the intro price of P18k, there’s the Globe plan for you to consider. But if you’re loaded, it’s P18k.
We’ve reached a point when sub-5 inch dual cores can compete with multi-core and 5-inch-plus Android flagships. This is the differentiating avenue that Huawei has taken: user comfort taking into consideration heavy usage scenarios, in this case selfies and snappy UI and quick app loading and switching. It is also the path that Motorola, through the mid-range Moto X, took. But there is always a price for design choices.
An earlier version of this post appeared on Technoodling.net.