Review: Huawei Ascend G6

It probably helps that the battery is built into phone, but also assisting is some built-in software that highlights which apps are using a lot of power, telling you how much they’re using in milliamps (mAh), which gives you a firm idea of what apps you should be cutting off when you need to.

That’s one of the surprising features of the Ascend G6, which is also joined by an even easier interface than the Emotion UI Huawei normally floats.

That’s right, a second interface is also present called “Simple” which is, as the name suggests, simple and very easy to use.

Given how Android likes to show off multiple home screens, Huawei’s Simple interface is one of the best ways to get used to Android, since it lets you see and add shortcuts to phone functionality across its multiple homescreens.

You can’t change somethings, and the order of some icons might bug you, but as far as an easy way to get your head around Android goes, Huawei’s Simple interface has it nailed, and not on the one screen like other versions work.

We’re also delighted to see Huawei has stuck with Google’s keyboard, which is so much better than the on-screen keyboard the company used in other handsets from before 2013.

Sometimes it’s better to keep things stock, and with the Google keyboard supporting gesture typing in this version of Android, it’s so much easier to use than some of the Huawei keyboards we’ve tried in the past.

The camera is also a decent effort, though not the best out there.

The rear camera’s 8 megapixel rear sensor manages decent images provided you don’t get too close, which is when you’ll notice softened details, even if it can get pretty close.

Daylight seems to be this camera’s best friend, because while it works in night, there’s very little detail to the blacks, or anything else. Sharpness isn’t something catered for here, so while the camera is fine, you’re not paying for a great camera, but rather a usable one.

It’s the same story with the 5 megapixel front-facing camera, which is decent, and will be suitable for Instagram and Facebook, but not much more.

The best part of the front-facing camera appears to be the software changes Huawei has made, which when you press the shutter button tells you the right place to look by throwing a preview of your selfie in the top left corner to get you looking at the right spot (the front-facing camera lens).

System performance, though, is a little under what you might expect.

It’s a mid-range handset, after all, and worth keeping that fact in mind, but it’s not the best performer out there. We found some lag between opening up multiple apps, and slowdowns were definitely present when we tried to refresh social networking applications.

It’s probably not the chip, mind you, but rather the limited supply of memory, with only 1GB under that special sweet spot that 2GB seems to nail.

The G6’s performance isn’t horrible, mind you, but it could easily be better.

Huawei’s screen could also be better, because while the In-Plane Switching has decent viewing angles, the screen’s resolution is low enough that viewing websites allows you to see some of the pixels in text and images.

Once again, you have to cater for the budget, but 960×540 isn’t a resolution that we’re huge fans of, especially as 720p’s 1280×720 is now the mid-range point for resolutions.

There are also some niggles about the software that need to be acknowledges, such as the colour of the skin — it’s not white, but it’s not far off — and how notifications in the drop down menu can be hard to read depending on what they are.

Pandora, for example shows up in white on this near white backdrop, making the words of what band and song you’re listening to next to impossible to read.

Other notifications — most of them, actually — have black text and are therefore quite easy to see, but not every notification system is compatible with Huawei’s skin.

The Emotion UI can also get a little frustrating to work with, resulting in an emotion you might not normally want to connect with the usability of your phone. It’s not that it’s hard — it’s not, and Huawei’s interface is basically the closest an Android owner can get to how Apple’s iOS works without installing one of the skins that practically copies what Apple does.

Rather, it’s not easy to reallocate shortcuts, as the interface — which blends the simple iPhone menu concept with Android’s widgetised homescreens — spreads out your icons across the seven screens you have access to. Some of these are already in folders, and thus if you want to move them, you’re not just making a copy like you would on a regular Android phone, but are moving the one and only shortcut to a new location.

Basically, it’s easy enough to work out, but it can get a touch irritating if you’ve installed a lot of apps.

Oh, and the camera can’t be silenced, making a loud click every time you fire a shot. We suspect it’s Huawei playing safe, and some of the tips in our Android camera replacement guides could help out here, but it’s something to be aware of before plonking down the cash.

Conclusion

Every year, there’s a phone that takes out the best value for middle ground, and this year, it appears Huawei is grabbing that crown for the Ascend G6, at least for the moment, with a slightly-above-budget handset that nets impressive 4G download speeds with great battery life.

Interestingly, much of what makes up the Ascend G6 was actually found in the P6, with a similar design, and almost identical (we think they may even be identical) cameras. But Huawei has managed to improve things a bit, with a faster chip and better mobile speeds, both of which help the G6.

Is it the phone for you? Well, that depends on what your hands think when they hold it, but if you’re low on cash but want a good bang for your buck, that can totally be found in the Ascend G6.

 

Overall
Features
Value for money
Performance
Ease of Use
Design
Reader Rating0 Votes
Very fast 4G access; Lightweight phone; Decent battery life lasting up to two days; Includes a screen protector in the box;
Very plasticky; Can exhibit noticeable slowdowns; Some software niggles; Screen isn't particularly impressive at qHD (960x540);
3.9