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Huawei Ascend P6 review

Huawei takes on the Android big guns with its strongest smartphone yet

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Maps

Mercifully, Huawei hasn't tried to offer an alternative mapping solution to the imperious Google Maps. When even Apple with its resources struggles to top it, you do well to call it quits - especially when Google Maps is an Android OS staple anyway.

Maps

It's perhaps telling that the Google Maps app is the only pure Google app to be given its own homescreen allotment outside of the Huawei Ascend P6's default Google apps folder.

It runs predictably well on Huawei's latest smartphone. You have impressively accurate worldwide maps at your disposal, with many of the major cities featuring integrated public transport information and thousands of featured points of interest (restaurants, shops, attractions etc) listed and rated.

Then there's the famed StreetView, which provides interactive photos of virtually every major road and side street in the civilised world. Or at least it feels that way.

You can save limited portions of the map to the Ascend P6's storage, though this still feels like a bit of a half-measure next to something like Nokia's HERE Maps on Windows Phone, which allows for the pre-installation of full countries.

As it is, you'll still realistically need a 3G connection to get the full Google Maps experience while visiting, for example, a foreign city.

Apps

Huawei Ascend P6 review

We've made mention of the fact that the Huawei Ascend P6 comes with a full host of Google apps pre-installed. Besides Google Maps, Gmail and Google Music you get such heavy hitters as Google+, YouTube, and the new Hangouts IM and video calling app (via an update), among others.

These Google maps alone can power you through most of your mobile usage, and that's not even including the likes of Google Drive and Google Keep, which can be downloaded from the Google Play Store for free (granting you free cloud storage and cloud note-taking respectively).

Ah yes, Google Play Store. We continue to be amazed at the strides this has taken in recent years; from shoddy, sparsely populated joke to vibrant App Store beater.

In terms of speed, features and design it's far nicer to use than Apple's trend-setting equivalent. The range of apps and games isn't quite there yet, but it's not far off. Almost all of the major apps are present and accounted for on Google Play, including the likes of Dropbox, Instagram, Vine, and Netflix.

Huawei Ascend P6 review

Despite a generally slick experience, there are app-related issues specific to the Huawei Ascend P6. For example, when we updated the Google+ app to the latest version, it didn't work, forcing us to roll back to the default option.

Another clash came when downloading Google's own Calendar app to sit alongside the stock example (also called Calendar), which appeared to confuse the phone. It attributed the same icon as the stock example to it, which was a little weird.

There are also issues with gaming apps. For one thing, complex 3D titles such as Real Racing 3, Reckless Racing 2 and Rise of Blobs seem to struggle for performance on the Huawei Ascend P6.

Whether this is a compatibility issue that will be corrected with a simple driver update or individual developer tweaks, or a more serious case of Huawei's GPU solution not being up to the task, we don't know.

We'll have to wait and see on this front, but hardcore mobile gamers might want to hold off until matters become clearer.

Huawei Ascend P6 review

Sticking with games, many don't seem to take into account those virtual controls. When playing HD video they'll dip into the background, but that's not always the case with games, shortening the game field a little and generally getting in the way.

Huawei Ascend P6 review

The other minor irritation with the Huawei Ascend P6's app offering has already been touched upon in the Interface section - Huawei's rudimentary stock apps.

One more irritant we should highlight here is the Permission Manager that acts like an over-eager shopping centre security guard, constantly checking every time a new app tries to do what it was designed for.

We're all for mobile security, but Huawei's solution seems slightly too over-zealous in its policing. Perhaps it's just the way Huawei presents these checks, but it could do with toning them down a little.

You also get access to Bitcasa, which offers 20GB of free cloud storage for your files. It's no Dropbox, but it's a welcome addition nonetheless.