Huawei has announced the Ascend P6, which it claims to be the world's thinnest smartphone, at a media event in London.

Huawei Ascend P6

Powered by a 1.5GHz, quad-core processor, the Ascend P6 has a sleek aluminium body and is set to take the Chinese manufacturer away from its budget roots and into the high-end market fiercely contested over by Apple, Samsung and HTC.

By playing two lengthy videos interviewing Huawei's design team, cut together with shots of the company's manufacturing process and input from focus groups, the announcement felt more like something from Apple than a company more familiar with cheaper phones and telecom infrastructure.

Measuring 6.18mm thick, the P is 1.6mm thinner than the already skinny iPhone 5 and feels like a close relative to the equally stylish HTC One; the P6 weighs in at 120g, 8g heavier than the iPhone, but the screen is 0.7in larger. The emphasis from Huawei here is on style and fashion, but the company said it will continue to sell the older P2 as a device aimed at less fashion conscious consumers.

The display measures 4.7 inches and has a resolution of 1280x720; during our brief hands-on time we were impressed by the colours it produced and the viewing angles, but we will share more once we've spent some real time with the phone. Above the screen is what Huawei boasts to be an "industry leading" 5-megapixel camera, a far higher resolution than any front facing camera seen before.

Huawei Ascend P6

It is joined by an 8-megapixel camera on the back of the device which supports 1080p HD video recording. The Ascend P6 runs Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean with the company's own Emotion UI applied over the top.

More than a basic skin to put the company's own mark on Android, Emotion UI comes with 100 different themes for P6 owners to choose from, making the phone as unique as they want it to be,

Although the camera application is very similar to those seen by most other Android phones, the P6's has an intelligent 'auto scene' feature which adjusts the settings to perform best whether outdoors, at night, or photographing fast-moving objects. Huawei compared photos taken with the P6, iPhone 5 and Galaxy S4, and to our eyes the Huawei came out on top.

There's even a 'Beauty mode' which can be used to improve the subject's face after their photo has been taken. Yu suggested the feature could take years off of anyone you photograph, but we all know this, combined with the phone's 5-megapixel front camera, will be used extensively for Snapchat 'selfies'.

Huawei CEO Richard Yu said: "Building on the success of our Ascend P series of fashion smartphones, the Huawei Ascend P6 provides unsurpassed technology and a design that is simply stunning."

Huawei Ascend P6

Inside, the phone has 2GB of RAM but just 8GB of flash storage, forcing owners to use the microSD card slot, which can accommodate cards up to 32GB. Both the SD card and SIM card trays are opened with a pin, as seen on the iPhone and others, but uniquely for the Ascend P6 Huawei has integrated the tray removal tool, which slides out of the lower left corner of the phone.

The Ascend P6 will be available in black, white and pink with matching cases and will launch in China later this month before arriving in 19 countries including the UK by the end of July. A US launch date is not yet known, but Huawei said the phone would be available in over 100 countries by the end of this year.

Huawei has priced the Ascend P6 at €449 (£385), significantly less than its £500+ rivals from Apple, Samsung and HTC, but the less familiar brand name and lack of internal storage might still put consumers off.

Although networks are yet to announce contract prices, Huawei CEO Richard Yu suggested that the phone would appear on tariffs as low as £21-£26 per month, although he didn't reveal what the upfront cost would be for these deals.

Yu also said the Ascend P6 will not include 4G at launch, but a 4G version would be made available later in the year.