Huawei Ascend G6 review

The budget smartphone that punches well above its weight

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Huawei Ascend G6
  • Huawei Ascend G6
  • Huawei Ascend G6
  • Huawei Ascend G6

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Great software
  • inexpensive

Cons

  • No app drawer

Bottom Line

The Ascend G6 will be the smartphone of choice for people interested in a good looking smartphone equipped with a strong front camera. Few products balance software, style and value-for-money so effortlessly, and Huawei has managed to pull off this trick for $329.

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World number 3 smartphone brand Huawei is looking to command the budget smartphone market with the Ascend G6, a quad-core flagship slayer that has a low $329 price.

Good-looking featherweight

Huawei has given the Ascend G6 broad appeal by keeping its styling simple. Flat surfaces are covered uniformly in black, with only a glazed silver border breaking the monotony. Imbuing the G6 with individual character is a base that curves from the front to the back.

The weight puts the Ascend G6 on par with Apple’s famed iPhone 5S

A little attention to detail has gone a long way with the Ascend G6. Volume rockers and the power buttons are dressed in a fine texture. Then there’s the placement of the 3.5mm auxiliary port. It rests alongside the curving base; plug headphones in and they look like an extension of the phone. Some will find the placement convenient, as we did; others, not so much.

What’s really impressive is the way Huawei has been minimalistic about the size. The smartphone is a whisker thinner than 8mm, and it weighs an astonishingly light 114 grams. Rarely do we make comparisons between budget smartphones and a smartphone as seasoned as the iPhone, but the weight puts the Ascend G6 on par with Apple’s famed iPhone 5S. Compare it to a Samsung, HTC or Sony flagship and the Huawei looks like a featherweight.

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4.5in screen, Ripe hardware

“Less is more” is the sense gained from a fortnight of use with the Huawei Ascend G6. The Android smartphone has 4.5in, 960x540 resolution screen. The culminating 245 pixel-per-inch density is enough to make watching videos a joy, while the use of an IPS panel gives the G6 a wide 178 degree range from which content is legible.

The Ascend G6’s display is second in its category only to the Motorola Moto G. Make no mistake: it is a compelling proposition.

Using this smartphone reminds you how fun the basics can be when done right

Beneath the screen is a 1.2GHz quadcore CPU from Qualcomm, 1GB of RAM and a 4G LTE modem. Internal storage is a limp 4GB, but it can be expanded by up to 32GB via a microSD memory card.

This cocktail of hardware works surprisingly well. The Ascend G6 stays true to its moniker by sifting through commands quickly. There are no signs of lag and, although on paper the hardware isn’t cutting edge, you’re never left wanting. Using this smartphone reminds you how fun the basics can be when they’re done right.

The Ascend G6 has Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi b/g/n, NFC and GPS.
The Ascend G6 has Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi b/g/n, NFC and GPS.

The slim smartphone has a 2000 milliamp-hour battery. During our testing, where we had screen brightness set to max, played music over bluetooth and streamed music wirelessly to a speaker, surfed the web, used social networking apps heavily, took photos, played games and replied to emails, texted and made phone calls, the Ascend G6 lasted 19 hours. Huawei has fitted the Ascend G6 with settings that optimise the battery, which we recommend you put to good use.

Tasty Jelly Bean Android

Bare-boned software is behind the speed of the Ascend G6. The smartphone runs Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, but Huawei has not bogged it down with superfluous bloatware.

Left: The homescreen doubles as a disorganised app draw.
Left: The homescreen doubles as a disorganised app draw.

Middle: it’s easy to coordinate which apps download data over Wi-Fi or over your mobile network.
Middle: it’s easy to coordinate which apps download data over Wi-Fi or over your mobile network.

The software puts ease-of-use first. There’s a simplistic settings menu and a secondary home screen known as Simple UI. Changes to the stock Android operating system are more subtle tweaks than redesigns.

The overlay competitively rivals what’s on offer from Sony, HTC and Samsung

Where possible, the Chinese manufacturer has improved basic Android functions. Take the task manager for instance: not only does it include a ‘close all’ button, but the top of the screen showcases how much RAM is currently being used, and subsequently how much RAM you have freed once closing an application.

The Android overlay, painfully called ‘Emotion UI’, is one of the best in the industry. However, we do have a bone to pick.

Huawei has opted to ditch the application draw in favour of scattering apps on the homescreen. This would be fine if there was an easy way to organise, group or alphabetise them, but unfortunately they spill across panes in disarray. We recommend installing a third-party launcher to overcome the shortfall.

Otherwise, the Ascend G6’s overlay competitively rivals what’s on offer from Sony, HTC and Samsung; a real credit considering the smartphone radically undercuts these heavyweights on price.

Sony 8MP cam, plenty of shooting modes

Huawei, like Apple, has turned to Sony for the rear camera of the Ascend G6. The camera captures photos at 8MP, has an f/2.0 aperture and can record videos at Full HD.

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The placement of the camera requires a conscious effort to keep fingers out of it’s view. Photo performance is generally strong — especially when you keep the Huawei’s price in mind — but we did encounter signs of flaring and feathering during testing. Image noise is present, but its at a low level, while the on-board HDR mode does a decent job at capturing detail that is otherwise lost.

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Overall the G6’s rear camera outperforms the ZTE V969 and is on par with the Motorola Moto G. Where the Ascend G6 comes into its own is with its 5MP front camera, which is equipped with an 88 degree wide angle lens and a suite of enhancing software modes.

Final thought

Previously there was only one budget smartphone we would’ve considered, Motorola's Moto G, but now the Ascend G6 will be the smartphone of choice for people interested in a good looking smartphone equipped with a strong front camera. Few products balance software, style and value-for-money as effortlessly, and Huawei has managed to pull off this trick for $329.

Rivalling smartphone makers should take note: Huawei has arrived.

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Read more on these topics: Huawei, 4.3, Motorola, G6, Ascend, Android, Moto, g, sony, jelly bean

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