Huawei Ascend P6 handson

Well, we can't say that we didn't know it was coming, despite only getting officially announced this afternoon in London. Either way, Huawei's Ascend P6 is here, and we got some hands-on time with it. As one leak suggested, the P6 comes with a 4.7-inch LCD display (1,280 x 720), a quad-core K3V2 processor, 2GB of RAM and just 8GB internal storage (there is thankfully a microSD card slot). Camera-wise, reports of a 5-megapixel shooter on the front were on the money, while the rear camera is a shade above that at eight megapixels. The front-facing cam isn't the only talking point, either. At just 6.18mm thick, the Ascend P6 is potentially the slimmest phone out there (for now), but is a trim waist and the promise of improved selfies enough? We spent some hands-on time with it to find out.

Huawei Ascend P6 hands-on

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Thanks to that series of leaks, there's not really all that much about this phone that we didn't kinda know already. As a recap, though, it's running on Jelly Bean (specifically 4.2.2), tucked in under Huawei's own Emotion UI (aka skin). It's a 3G-only device (which might mean we won't see it land in the US), but it does offer HSPA+ category 14 -- good for up to 21 Mbps download speeds.

Specifications aside, the first thing that grabs you once you have this phone in your mitts is that it's not only light (about 4 oz.), but also extraordinarily slim. Seriously. No one would ever call the HTC One plump, but next to this thing, it's going to feel like a bit of a porker. Whether you think thin equals beautiful is, of course, a whole other thing. Fortunately, even if the Ascend P6 had required a few more belt notches, it wouldn't matter all that much, as it's a great-looking phone.

Yes, there is a strong whiff of the iPhone, but the build quality is solid enough to pull it off. A few gentle design tweaks such as a rounded, plastic base and a brushed-metal backplate stop it from looking like a complete rip-off tribute. This homage actually spills over somewhat into that user interface, too. Some of the pre-installed themes eschew Android's option for transparency in icons, replacing any clear space with a rounded square a la iOS. There's even on OS X-style dock effect at the bottom.

You could also argue that the Ascend P6 is something of an aesthetic evolution from the Ascend Mate, which at least shows there is a consistent design language; one that we'd love to see Huawei develop further, as they've clearly got the right idea with the P6. Similarities with the Mate don't stop there, either, with many of the core specifications being the same (processor, RAM, ROM, main camera and screen resolution to name a few). Of course, in a smaller device, that 720p display is bound to look sharper, but you're only getting a 2,000mAh battery as a trade-off.

Performance-wise, again, it's the same SoC as the aforementioned Mate, which, while boasting 1.5GHz and a quad-core design, is starting to feel a little mid-range compared to the silicon running some of the current competitors. That said, regular usage presented us no problems at all, so we'll just have to wait for the full review until we see how performance truly measures up. In short though, the Ascend P6 is one sharp-looking device that demonstrates that Huawei can do design. It just needs to prove that it's got the performance to back it up, something we will learn soon enough, once it lands in the review lab.

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