Honor 6X

Android Advisor - - Contents -

In 2016 Huawei took big, con­fi­dent strides into the Western mar­ket. It’s con­tin­u­ing to do so right at the start of 2017 at CES, an­nounc­ing the US avail­abil­ity of its flag­ship Mate 9 and this, the Honor 6X. Honor is Huawei’s not-so-se­cret sub-brand, its phones largely sim­i­lar to its par­ent brand with lower spec­i­fi­ca­tions. That’s not to say Honor smart­phones are in­fe­rior. You may be con­sid­er­ing the 6X if you are on a bud­get and aren’t con­cerned with the high­est specs pos­si­ble. Here we see how it com­pares to other sim­i­larly-priced An­droid phones.

Price

Af­ter it was an­nounced at CES in Jan­uary 2017, the Honor 6X was made avail­able im­me­di­ately in the UK. You can pick one up for just £224 from vMall UK. That’s out­stand­ing value for the amount of smartphone you’re get­ting. It’s also good to see it so eas­ily avail­able in the UK, un­like some Huawei phones. Just be aware that, as we will ex­plain fur­ther, the specs dif­fer for each re­gion. In the UK, the Honor 6X is avail­able with 3GB RAM and 32GB in­ter­nal stor­age.

De­sign

The Honor 6X looks bet­ter than its price tag sug­gests. It’s avail­able in gold

with a white front, sil­ver with white, and grey with black as modern smartphone trends dic­tates. It has a gen­er­ous 5.5in screen with thin bezels on the sides mean­ing the de­vice isn’t overly huge in small hands. The over­all di­men­sions are 150.9x76.2x8.2mm and the weight of 162g is about right for a phone of this size; it’s cer­tainly not too heavy.

The rear cas­ing has a pleas­ant curve to it so that the phone is com­fort­able to hold in one or both hands, and the tex­ture of the rear is akin to an iPhone’s metal­lic sheen – again, great to see at this price. Also packed into the phone are dual rear-fac­ing cam­eras (more on those in a bit) that sit above a fin­ger­print sen­sor, a front cam­era, power/lock but­ton, vol­ume keys, head­phone jack, SIM/mi­croSD slot, Mi­cro-USB port and speak­ers on the bot­tom edge.

Out the box, the 6X also comes with a handy pre-ap­plied screen pro­tec­tor that you can of course dis­card if you want.

With­out bang­ing on about the price, this is a good-look­ing phone with higher-end ma­te­ri­als to back it up. It doesn’t com­pro­mise on the look, and for that it is com­mend­able.

Per­for­mance

So it’s an at­trac­tive An­droid hand­set at a good price. Where does it cut cor­ners we hear you ask? Well, it does, but not to the ex­tent you might ex­pect. The 6X still has enough tricks – tricks, not gim­micks – up its sleeve to war­rant praise. The 5.5in screen is a full HD dis­play with a res­o­lu­tion of 1920x1080 and a pixel den­sity of 403ppi.

The 6X is pow­ered by a Huawei Kirin 655 octa-core pro­ces­sor that is firmly in mid range ter­ri­tory, but it had no real trou­ble brows­ing the web, shoot­ing off texts from var­i­ous apps, play­ing games or videos or any­thing else we threw at it.

The phone is heav­ily mar­keted on its ap­peal to mil­len­ni­als, hence the dual rear cam­eras and photo-edit­ing soft­ware that may ap­peal In­sta­gram and Snapchat ad­dicts. One cam­era is 12Mp and the other 2Mp with a wide aper­ture range from f/0.95 – f/16, and they’re able to pro­duce sur­pris­ingly de­cent ef­fects. More on that in the soft­ware sec­tion fur­ther into this re­view. It is also ca­pa­ble of full HD record­ing, plus there’s a de­cent 8Mp front-fac­ing cam­era.

Honor is re­leas­ing this phone to sev­eral mar­kets with dif­fer­ent spec­i­fi­ca­tions de­pend­ing where you are. In the UK, the 6X is avail­able with 3GB RAM and 32GB stor­age, but our re­view model is the 4GB RAM and 64GB stor­age ver­sion. This will mean that ours is ca­pa­ble of ever so slightly more mul­ti­task­ing, but 3GB is still ex­cel­lent for a smartphone (and, again, a steal at the ask­ing price). So don’t worry. You can ex­pand the in­ter­nal mem­ory up to 128GB with a mi­croSD card.

You even get NFC at this price, and full com­pat­i­bil­ity with An­droid Pay, which is im­pres­sive. It’s also great to see a huge 3340mAh

bat­tery on­board. Honor claims this will last two days on mod­er­ate use and 1.5 days on heavy use. We found this to be pretty much bang on – the 6X didn’t let us down for nigh on two days us­ing it for all our smartphone needs. Very im­pres­sive.

In our bench­mark test, the 6X per­formed as ex­pected, with a de­cent score for its on­board specs. It even com­pared sur­pris­ingly well against its par­ent com­pany’s Huawei Nova that re­tails for over £100 more. It also came out very sim­i­lar to our usual bud­get phone of choice, the Moto G4 (over £50 less at £159).

Soft­ware

Soft­ware is un­for­tu­nately where this phone is let down slightly, but bear with us on this. The Honor 6X ships with An­droid Marsh­mal­low 6.0 with Honor’s (read Huawei’s) skin Emo­tion UI 4.1. Con­sid­er­ing An­droid is now into 7 and above and the Huawei Mate 9 comes with EMUI 5, it’s quite be­hind. How­ever, at CES the com­pany stated in a pre­sen­ta­tion that the 6X will re­ceive an up­date to An­droid Nougat and EMUI 5 at some point in Q2. So, fin­gers crossed, if you buy the Honor 6X, it’ll have the lat­est soft­ware up­dates by July 2017. This is not some­thing to get overly up­set about con­sid­er­ing it’s a tad over £200. Many An­droid phones don’t get such up­grades for months. What’s more an­noy­ing is the soft­ware it­self, which is one of the most mod­i­fied ver­sions of An­droid on the mar­ket.

Lit­tle things such as not be­ing able to pull down the no­ti­fi­ca­tion panel on the lock screen or there be­ing no app tray (so that apps dis­play as an iOS

style grid) may well be mi­nor things, but ones we missed when us­ing the de­vice. The joys of An­droid are hidden in its quirks and cus­tomi­sa­tions, but EMUI de­cides to give a lit­tle fewer to you than other man­u­fac­tur­ers.

One cool thing you can do is use the rear fin­ger­print sen­sor to pull down and re­tract the no­ti­fi­ca­tion panel or scroll left to right through pic­tures in the Gallery, while you can turn on a func­tion so when you unin­stall apps you can phys­i­cally shake your phone to re­align them. Other lit­tle things you might only ex­pect in higher end phone are here too, like the abil­ity to view the home­screen in an at­trac­tive land­scape an­gle. Hav­ing said all this, the EMUI 5 up­date will bring an app tray op­tion, so all is not lost. Plus, we are nit­pick­ing. The no­ti­fi­ca­tion pull-down panel on the Honor 6X with EMUI 4.1

Cam­eras

The cam­era soft­ware leads the mar­ket­ing for the 6X front and cen­tre. The bot­tom line is while it is ca­pa­ble of cool shoot­ing ef­fects, the re­sults will never be as good as other dual cam­era phones with bet­ter parts such as the iPhone 7 Plus or Huawei’s own P9.

The rear cam­eras def­i­nitely per­form best on near shot sub­jects and macro style pho­tos. There’s a cool wide aper­ture mode that al­lows you to back­ground blur im­ages on a slid­ing scale be­fore cap­ture, a ‘splash’ mode to iso­late one par­tic­u­lar colour of an im­age with the rest in mono­chrome, or a long ex­po­sure mode to cap­ture streams of car lights at night, for ex­am­ple. There’s also the usual

Honor ad­di­tion of beauty mode for self­ies, which re­mains plain weird.

All the usual apps we use, from Face­book and In­sta­gram to Skype, Na­tional Rail and Words with Friends opened pleas­ingly quickly, with mul­ti­task­ing speeds more than ac­cept­able. As with all An­droid phones you can ex­pect a de­cline in speed over time, but as tested, the Honor 6X ac­tu­ally made us feel more pos­i­tive about the whole ex­pe­ri­ence of us­ing it daily be­cause it’s just so cheap but its hard­ware and soft­ware just don’t feel it.

How­ever we can say with con­fi­dence that the Honor 6X will please what is clearly its tar­get mar­ket – teenagers and young adults on a bud­get who want to take de­cent pic­tures all day with­out the bat­tery dy­ing. In this re­spect, the phone suc­ceeds ad­mirably.

Verdict

The Honor 6X man­ages to be a bud­get phone but not re­motely feel like one. This is high praise, and while it could never hold a can­dle to the per­for­mance of phones three times the price, that’s not the point – the An­droid ex­pe­ri­ence you get is still nigh-on top drawer. As long as you can get on with Huawei’s still-not-there EMUI skin, the Honor 6X is one of the best, most af­ford­able mid-range An­droid hand­sets go­ing – and it’s easy to pick one up in the UK. Henry Bur­rell

Spec­i­fi­ca­tions

5.5in (1920x1080, 403ppi) full HD dis­play An­droid Marsh­mal­low 6.0 Huawei Kirin 655 octa-core pro­ces­sor (4x 2.1GHz and 4x 1.7GHz) Mali-T830MP2 GPU 3GB or 4GB RAM 32GB or 64GB stor­age with mi­croSD up to 128GB 12Mp/2Mp rear-fac­ing dual cam­eras with LED flash, sup­port for 1080p video at 30fps 8Mp front-fac­ing cam­era 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi; Blue­tooth 4.1 Nano-SIM GPS NFC 3340mAh non-re­mov­able bat­tery 150.9x76.2x8 .2mm 162g

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