World’s thinnest phone: Huawei’s Ascend P6 reviewed

When you pick up the Ascend P6, it’s hard not to notice that slim design.

Even though there are obviously sides to this phone, the thickness – or lack thereof – is insanely noticeable. Even the imprint this slim handset has on your pants pocket will be seen, as it just sort of blends in, without protruding so far that it makes you look like you’re carrying a brick in your pocket.

Despite the lovely thin design, Huawei has made some interesting choices here, such as the soft curved bottom, which feels like it should be at the top, and the hard edged top with its microUSB port, which feels like it should be at the bottom.

The screen is nice to look at, and even though it’s not the high-end Full HD displays flagship models are boasting this year, it’s still a great screen.

More surprising than anything is the 3.5mm headset jack, which actually sits on the side, and makes it a touch cumbersome to hold and use the handset while headphones are plugged in.

That said, we’ll get stuck into the interface and usability of the phone, because that’s what matters.

With no soft buttons, Huawei is keeping Android the way Google intended its control to be, and that’s by making the screen always display the back, home, and app switching buttons for you.

Using the phone is fairly easy, and if you’re new to Android or are coming from iOS, the switch is pretty easy, with a layout and look similar to what appears on Apple’s iPhone.

Your homescreens are your menus, and apps sit on these pages similar to the multiple screens on iOS, only with the added usefulness of widgets too.

Huawei has tried to make a homescreen widget be the main place for you to check the time, weather, and feature a couple of main contacts, which is a nice feature, though one you can send to the trash if you don’t need it.

Ultimately, there isn’t a lot of customisation you can do here, but if you like having a homescreen be the one main place to check your information, it can be handy.

The settings menu has also been played with, separating it into two areas: general and all. Other menus and features have been added, including a permissions controller which helps you work out which apps should be sending you notifications, screen temperature, gloves mode for using the handset with gloves, and the ability to customize the shortcuts in Android’s dropdown notification bar.

There are also some themes for you to play with, which let you quickly change the look of the interface, the icons, and even the lock screen.

Also added is support for Dolby audio, which adds equalizer presets to your listening experience when headphones are used. With this engaged, music playback from the Huawei Ascend P6 is good… really good, actually.

We’re reminded of the Beats by Dre technology HTC uses in its smartphones, because the sound is very good, and even goes beyond HTC’s usage by letting you change the settings depending on what sort of music you’re listening. Rock, jazz, pop, urban, electronic, classical, it’s all there.

We tried a few of them and mostly found the default setting worked best, but if you find you don’t like any of them, you can always turn it off.

Huawei has also spent some time making the camera in this smartphone useful as well.

The eight megapixel shooter on the back is capable of some decent images, but the five megapixel module on the front is the real star, making it the most capable self-portrait smartphone camera available today.

On the left, beauty mode is on level 0, so you can see skin. On the right, beauty mode is jacked up to level 10, blurring any skin detail. It doesn't help shave this reviewer, however.

A beauty mode is included as one of the features which softens detail based on a sliding scale you control, effectively “erasing” the lines that come with age.

A few extra modes are included, such as HDR, panorama, and some nifty camera effects.