Last month, HP announced a pair of Android VoiceTabs, small tablets that can make regular voice calls. Although initially destined for an India-only release, the 6- and 7-inch VoiceTabs have been redesigned in record speed and at MWC 2014 the company has announced they're now coming to Europe and the Middle East this May.

The Slate6 VoiceTab is a smartphone by another name. Its 6-inch display is in line with Nokia's Lumia 1520 and the LG G Flex, both of which describe themselves as smartphones. The general design of the Slate6 is pleasant; it takes cues from devices like the HTC One and BlackBerry Z10, especially with its speaker and mic grilles that line the top and bottom of its display. The rear of the device is relatively unfussy. It comes in a choice of six hues, some subdued, some garishly bright, and all of which feature an enormous HP logo.

A number of areas require improvement

While it's impossible to speak definitively on how well the HP Slate6's unspecified quad-core processor performs — we only spent half an hour with the device on a busy show floor — early indications were good. At present it runs Android 4.2.2, but an HP representative suggested that may change before release, and stressed the devices on show were only an indication of what to expect. As the Slate6 is only being demonstrated in prototype form, it's difficult to judge it too harshly, but there are a number of areas that require improvement. The Slate6 is decidedly low budget; the prototype device we tested flexed and creaked under moderate pressure, and its five-megapixel rear- and two-megapixel front- facing cameras were extremely poor. One thing that stood out was its 6-inch 720p display, which despite its fairly low resolution offered good viewing angles and solid color production.

The Slate6 will be targeted at the low end of the market, with dual-SIM slots, "up to" 32GB of storage, microSD expansion, and a small price tag. It's set to cost €249 (around $340) off-contract when it launches in the UK, France, Germany, Switzerland, and Sweden.

Additional reporting by Vlad Savov