A Week With: The Huawei Ascend P6 and Y300 smartphones

A new name it's worth learning to pronounce

Huawei Ascend P6

Price: £369.99 or around £21 per month with a contract.
Size: 6.18mm thickness, 132.6 x 65.5mm (119.3mm screen)
Processor: 1.5GHz quad-core
Screen: 1280x720 touchscreen, 720p HD
Camera:
8MP main, 5MP front
Memory: 2 GB RAM, 8GB ROM

Huawei Ascend Y300

Price: £60 or around £7 per month with a contract
Size: 11.2mm thickness, 124.5mm x 63.8mm (101.6mm screen)
Processor: 1GHz dual-core
Screen: 800x480px touchscreen, 233 ppi
Camera: 5MP main, 5MP front
Memory: 512MB RAM, 4GB ROM

What are they?

Chinese behemoth Huawei is already the world's largest telecom-equipment maker and aims to become one of the top three mobile phone suppliers by 2015, even though it started making phones under its own brand only two years ago. Thanks to heavy R&D investment, it's well on track for achieving that goal.

These two handsets are cheap, easy to use and excellent value. It seems the only barrier to Huawei being able to corner the phone market over here is that Westerners don't know how to pronounce its name ("hwah-way").

Not to be defeated by mere intonation, however, Huawei has produced a rather impressive video teaching us how to say it. The video sort of sums up why I think we should take notice of Huawei. It's listening (alleged corporate espionage accusations aside) to what customers want and what they have trouble with, and then giving them a solution.

Do they work?

The P6 was only unveiled in the UK last week but it's already causing a stir. It's super-light and is the slimmest smartphone on the market. It's also got an appealingly slick glass and metal case. It does everything you'd expect from a high-end smartphone, and compares well with phones near the top end of the market, but at a fraction of the cost.

The P6 model has nicely organised, slidey screens (courtesy of a special user interface that runs with Android 4.2 Jelly Bean) and a range of "themes" which offer a choice of different colours, patterns and layouts, so it really gives you a sense of truly personalising the device. It also has quick-to-apply profile settings, such as "meeting" or "outdoor", and you can add your own presets, too. At 8MP, the main camera is awesome and the video quality's not too shabby either. My only minor grumble was the teeny weeny pinhole micro SD and micro SIM slots – too fiddly for even my dainty little fingers to cope with.

Are they good value?

The cut-price Y300 isn't as glam as the P6. It's heavier, it's made of plastic, and the screen feels small and overcrowded. But it's as cheap as chips, it plays music, has Wi-Fi, GPS and a respectable 5MP camera. It's also got a 1GHz dual core processor, which is a rare find on a budget phone. It's definitely not going to win any design awards, and it can get a bit freaked out if you open too many apps at once, but it's perfectly adequate for light internet use and it's one of the cheapest smartphones on the market.

If the telecoms giant continues on this track, we'll soon all be saying hello Huawei (with impeccable accents). We should welcome this spunky innovator with open arms.

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