Huawei Ascend G6 hands-on: it has a premium look, but a cheap feel
The Huawei Ascend G6 is an affordable budget offering that's about to go on sale for $343 (250 EUR). It is obviously inspired by Huawei's last year flagship phone, the Ascend P6. It can be described as a reinvention of the P6 for a cheaper market segment. With some reasonable compromises in construction and hardware power, the price tag is brought down, but so is the overall experience - especially if you are picky.
The Huawei Ascend G6 is pretty interesting. It looks like it's built from premium metal materials, but in fact, it's plastic. The body might be embellished with an elegant metallic rose bezel around it, but it feels cheap, and so does the overall build quality. The phone is super light-weight, but a little bit hollow.
Beneath the display, you have the three Android capacitive buttons. On the top, you have your earpiece and a front camera. The left and bottom sides are clear, and on the right side, you have a power button and volume controls. The buttons are slightly raised, but they have a good feedback to them. On the top side, you have a micro-USB port for charging. On the rear, there's a plastic finish and a beefy camera module. More on that later.
We must point out that the design language is nice. The Ascend P6 is a sharp-looking phone, of which the Ascend G6 does a flattering imitation. It uses the same curvature - a little boxy at first glance, but its edges are rounded and tolerate your palm. The phone is comfortable to hold due to its light weight, but the plastic case doesn't make it feel as great as it would have been if it was made from something truly solid.
Right off the bat, you have a 4.5-inch qHD IPS display with a resolution of 540x960 pixels. It's a pleasant looking display, although a far cry from a 1080p panel. It's also fuzzier than the Ascend P6's 720p screen, but it's reasonably sharp and you can still make out fine detail. It has an IPS matrix, so viewing angles are okay, and distortion is minimal.
We don't know how the Ascend G6 is going to fare outdoors under direct sunlight, but its display does a nice job indoors.
Interface and functionality
Huawei's customized version of Android looks very airy, rectangular and flat. It has a friendly, harmless feel to it, though not overly "jolly" like with most Asian phones. There is no app drawer in Huawei's UI, which looks a little bit strange at first, because everything is laid out on the homescreen. Everything else is the same old Android experience, for the most part.
Interestingly, Huawei's simple UI can be made even simpler by activating the Simple Home layout. You can reach it by holding the menu button while you are on the home-screen. You tap on Simple Home, and you get something reminiscent of Windows Phone - a simple, tiled layout with shortcuts to specific applications directly from the homescreen.
It's a little bit of a process returning to the normal experience, however. You have a good few seconds of tapping to do, going back to the Settings menu, choosing Home screen style selection, and hitting Standard. Hopefully Huawei will streamline this functionality.
Processor and Memory
The Huawei Ascend G6 runs on a Qualcomm MSM 8926 1.2GHz CPU, or in other words, a quad-core Snapdragon 400 chipset. It's coupled with 1GB RAM. The phone features a 2000mAh battery that you can use to charge other devices via the USB cable. The package is rounded out by Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, 3G data, GPS, and the usual set of sensors.
The Ascend G6 will arrive in a 4G LTE version at a later date, probably sporting Huawei's latest HiSillicon 32-bit chipset. The performance in our hands-on with the G6 seemed okay, but this is a pre-production model and we cannot really jump to conclusions.
The Huawei Ascend G6 has an 8-megapixel f/2.0 aperture rear-facing camera with a Sony IMX134 sensor and an LED flash unit, while a 5-megapixel snapper takes care of the front. A large, wide angle front camera is not something you usually see in mid-range phones. The same goes for the G6's 8MP auto-focus camera. Sony's IMX 134 sensor features an ‘RGBW coding’ algorithm which can capture clear images even in low light conditions. It also offers HDR photos and videos (although this runs only at a lower resolution of 720p with 30 fps rate). Overall, we expect the photos and videos taken with the G6's rear camera to be very adequate, and the 5MP front shooter to deliver awesome video-chats and selfies.
The Huawei Ascend G6 has a premium look and performance seems decent, but it feels cheap in reality. And that might very well be because the G6 is, in fact, cheap! The phone will cost 250 EUR ($340), which is an acceptable price for what it offers - good camera capabilities, attractive looks, and decent performance. We assume the Ascend P6 will be left as a high mid-range offering, while the G6 fills a more budget niche.