Huawei has just announced its newest flagship Android smartphone - the Ascend P6. Replacing the year-old P6, the new phone is claimed to be the world’s thinnest 4G handset, while managing to pack in a quad-core processor, 5-inch Full-HD screen, and an industry-leading 8-megapixel front-facing camera for capturing the perfect selfie.
The question is, should Ascend P6 owners be looking to upgrade to the new model?
At first glance, the new P7 looks almost identical to last year’s P6, but the phone has grown ever-so-slightly in every direction, as well as adding a little extra weight, too.
The Ascend P6 measured 6.2mm thick, while the new model is slightly larger at 6.5mm, but this still makes it the thinnest 4G phone on the market. The new model tips the scales at 124g, a mere 4g more than the P6. Finally, the new phone has a footprint of 139.8 x 68.8mm, compared to the P6, which is 132.7 x 65.5mm.
Both phones have aluminium chassis which remind us immediately of the iPhone 4, only slimmer. The squared edges sit comfortably on your hand, but only because of how slim each phone is - although a similar design, the Sony Xperia Z2 is simply too large to be as easy to hold.
Where the P6 had a brushed metal back, Huawei has given the P7 a Gorilla Glass 3 finish to match the front.
That extra size is due to the P7’s screen, which at five inches, is slightly larger than the 4.7-inch P6. Resolution has also been given a bump up from 720 x 1280 to 1080 x 1920, meaning it’s now Full HD. Pixel density has increased from 312 per inch to a massive 445, making the P7’s display one of the sharpest around and easily a match for the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S5 and HTC One (M8).
A quad-core processor is still used to power the phone, but clock speed has been increased from 1.5GHz to 1.8Ghz, which should make using the P7 a faster and smoother experience. Both phones have 2GB of RAM and both have 16GB of storage as standard, which can be increased via a microSD card slot. The P7 can accept cards of up to 64GB, while the P6 could only manage 32GB’s worth of extra storage.
The Ascend P7 is a dual-SIM phone and, unusually, will be sold as such in all markets, including the UK and Europe where phones able to hold two SIM cards are rare. Interestingly, that second SIM card slot doubles as the phone’s microSD card slot. While this is a very smart engineering solution and a cost-saving method as only one version of the handset needs to be made worldwide - it is not possible to hold two SIM cards and a microSD card at the same time.
Huawei has increased the battery capacity of its flagship phone, up from 2,000mAh in the P6 to 2,500mAH in the P7. The new phone is said to run cooler, solving a problem whereby the P6 would run hot and drain its battery far too quickly. Huawei has also added a battery saving mode to its Emotion user interface.
Speaking of which, Emotion UI has been upgraded from version 1.6 last year to 2.3 now, and offers more than 100 different themes for the user to choose from to make their phone as unique as they want it to be. Underneath Emotion UI is Android 4.4.2 KitKat, an upgrade from 4.2.2 Jelly Bean on the older model.
Photography - and selfies in particular - is where Huawei hopes to steal one over the competition. The P7 has a 13-megapixel camera with a Sony sensor on the back, and an industry-leading 8-megapixel snapper on the front. These are both significant upgrades from the 8-megapixel and 5-megapixel cameras on the P6. A couple of neat software tricks include the ability to take the perfect group selfie (something Huawei is calling a ‘groufie’) and what it calls panoramic selfies, where you tilt the phone from left to right to capture a landscape-orientated selfie.
That front camera can also now shoot video in 1080p Full HD, where the last model could only manage 720p.
Another new feature of the Ascend P7 is its ability to open the camera app and take a photo in just 1.2 seconds. A double press of the volume down button when the phone is asleep will snap a picture quicker than you can say ‘Huawei’ - no other phone we’ve used can beat it for speed.
The Ascend P7 may not look much different to its predecessor, but inside Huawei has made a lot of useful changes - add 4G connectivity into the mix, and we suggest any fan of the P6 should take a serious look at the P7 when it goes on sale on 7 June. Priced at around £450, Huawei’s latest flagship is shaping up to be something of a giant-killer.