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  • Blog, Gadgets - Written by on Wednesday, June 19, 2013 13:40 - 12 Comments

    Huawei’s new P6 superphone lands in July


    blog We’ve been gradually getting more impressed with the Android efforts which Chinese electronics giant Huawei has been coming up with over the past several years. From near-obscurity in the Australian market, the company has gradually gotten to the point where its smartphones are in consideration amongst our circle of geek friends and colleagues, although of course they’re still playing second or third fiddle to more dominant brands such as Apple, Samsung and HTC. If we may so, the company’s latest effort announced overnight, the Ascend P6, is likely to continue to push the company forward. And, as Ausdroid reported, based on Huawei’s launch of the P6 in London overnight, the handset should be coming to Australia “by July”.

    The P6’s biggest claim to fame is Huawei’s statement that it’s the thinnest smartphone in the world, with a thickness of just 6.18mm (for reference, both the iPhone 5 and Galaxy S4 are a little thicker at 7.6 and 7.9mm respectively). It also weighs very little — 120g, just a little heavier than the iPhone 5 at 112, and significantly lighter than almost any other ‘superphone’ on the market.

    However, it also manages to pack a lot into that light, slim form factor. You get a 1.5GHz quad-core CPU, a 4.7″ at 1280×720, the latest version 4.2.2 of Android (although it’s not ‘stock Android’, unfortunately — you get Huawei’s light Emotion UI on top), 2GB of RAM, 8GB of on-board storage and support for microSD cards up to 32GB, an 8 megapixel back camera and five megapixel front camera and more. The battery is a 2000mAh model. It doesn’t appear as though there’s 4G support for the P6, which is a major downer for the phone.

    Two things strike me about the Ascend P6. Firstly, Huawei is clearly getting better and better at Android smartphones. The company’s early models were rudimentary, its later models were good but not great, and now the company is really trying to push into the upper echelon of Android manufacturers with its design choices, build quality and software integration. I don’t know whether Huawei will eventually get where it wants to go — after all, major rivals such as Sony, LG, Motorola and even HTC are struggling to make their Android business commercial, in the face of the dominance of Apple and Samsung. But Huawei has deep pockets and patience.

    Secondly, what also strikes me about the P6 is how its design feels more subtly Asian than the design of some of its competitors. You might expect that companies such as Sony, LG and Samsung would create smartphones which felt Asian in their design — after all, these are companies headquartered in companies such as Japan and Korea. However, when reviewing these models, I haven’t tended to see a lot of difference between models produced by these companies and smartphones originating from US giants such as Motorola.

    But you do get this feel a little from the pink and white P6 models — which I can easily see being pulled out of handbags in Singapore, Hong Kong or even in Chinatown in the Sydney CBD. And I think the same will be true of the black P6 in Asian business circles. In these geographies, you don’t always see a lot of iPhones or other ‘Westernised’ models being used. But you do often see alternatives from companies like Huawei, with similar specs and design but with a slight Asian twist, being used. It’ll be interesting to see if Huawei, with models like the P6, can further convince Western audiences that it’s a contender, extended beyond its cultural base. And as always, I’d still like to see a stock ‘Nexus’ Android experience here — I believe this would make the P6 a lot more attractive than it is, even amongst those consumers who have no idea where Huawei comes from.

    Image credit: Huawei

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    1. djos
      Posted 19/06/2013 at 3:12 pm | Permalink | Reply

      That’s a surprisingly nice looking phone, good effort Huawei especially to put all that into such a thin phone while avoiding stupid looking camera bumps (I’m looking at you HTC!!!)!

      • Posted 19/06/2013 at 3:35 pm | Permalink | Reply

        I agree, it looks class. Judging on past experience, it won’t have quite the build quality of an Apple, Samsung or HTC, but every new Huawei model I test has been better than the last, so who knows. This could be the breakthrough model. Without 4G, I doubt it, but it’s possible.

        • djos
          Posted 19/06/2013 at 3:36 pm | Permalink | Reply

          agreed, if it had 4G it’d sell like hot cakes here!

          • midspace
            Posted 19/06/2013 at 4:07 pm | Permalink | Reply

            on the 1800 MHz band.

            Been a few too recently that failed to even give that with 4G.

    2. TrevorX
      Posted 19/06/2013 at 5:44 pm | Permalink | Reply

      8gb internal is a bit low for this class. But their improvements this generation lead me to surmise that their next iteration may just hit the mark – a 1080p screen, 16 and 32gb models on LTE+ is definitely within reach for their next device. Even if they don’t want to release a stock Android option, sending some units to the Cyanogen team like Samsung has done would pay dividends and get people excited, not just about the phone, but about Huawei generally.

      • Djos
        Posted 19/06/2013 at 6:02 pm | Permalink | Reply

        It has a micro-sd slot

        • Posted 19/06/2013 at 6:44 pm | Permalink | Reply

          And it’s on the side (I think, as it usually is on Huawei gear), not underneath the back cover near the battery, meaning you can keep a few microUSB disks on hand and swap them in and out on demand. You could easily have 100GB of storage on-hand. For your phone.

        • TrevorX
          Posted 19/06/2013 at 7:49 pm | Permalink | Reply

          Everything has a micro-SD slot (well, except the iPhone, but jokers who choose to buy apple get what they deserve there) – that’s not the point. The flash memory isn’t expensive or bulky, 8gb is simply inadequate when playing at this level.

          • waterytowers
            Posted 20/06/2013 at 10:23 am | Permalink | Reply

            Depends on the purpose of the phone. I have an LG 8GB Nexus (no micro-sd slot) and it have a number of games and other apps installed, don’t play games on it much though. I still have plenty of space left. I mainly use a tablet for games, browsing and watching video, so I personally don’t need the micro-sd slot. However, I can certainly see why you might want a micro-sd slot. For me a micro-sd slot is more important on a tablet since I use it to watch videos and I don’t want to download it every time I want to watch it. Phones are too small to watch video, even the 5 inch versions.

            To me a phone is used for making and receiving calls and messaging, and as an internet dongle for my tablet.

            • TrevorX
              Posted 20/06/2013 at 11:08 am | Permalink | Reply

              I have 16gb internal and a 32gb sd card and I’m constantly having to delete stuff, and I have zero movies and only 1gb of music. Super phones aren’t just phones, they are extremely flexible devices capable of a great many functions, many of which the manufacturer may never have considered. Manufacturers who have stopped thinking of smart/super phones as phones and instead try to design the best, most capable and flexible platform are the ones gobbling up market share. Huawei seem to be recognising this shift and are adjusting appropriately which is encouraging, but they’re not there yet as evidenced by what their competitors are already doing.

              Look, this will undoubtedly be a fantastic device for the price – Huawei know how to be competitive. But right now they’re followers, not innovators. But next cycle? They may well have a compelling offering that can stand toe to toe with the big guys. Who knows, within two or three cycles they may even be leading the pack… Just not yet.

    3. Russell Stuart
      Posted 20/06/2013 at 9:57 am | Permalink | Reply

      Agggghhh! What is it with this fixation on thinness?

      If they made it 10mm they could double the battery life. A phone with decent battery life surely is far more practical than one designed around making a fashion statement.

      • TrevorX
        Posted 20/06/2013 at 11:15 am | Permalink | Reply

        Thinness = unobtrusive, something crucial in a device you have sitting in your pocket all day long. Personally I want a phone that is thin but half the width, and folds out to full width when required. But this won’t be possible until the advent of zero bezel screens.

        Besides, most models have high capacity aftermarket batteries available that trade off size for increased battery life, so the same model effectively ends up proving the functionality of both options.

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