Huawei’s focus has been making affordable smartphones with top-notch features for the past few years now, and a lot is the same with the Honor 6x, their latest smartphone that’s targeted at users who don’t want to spend a lot of money for premium features.
The company sent us a unit to check out, so let’s dive right in.
An Android device at its core, the Honor 6x runs on Android’s 6.0.1 Marshmallow, with a very heavy UI skin of its own called EMUI 4.1. While I wish that the Honor 6x came with Nougat, Huawei says that it will be available in the near future. One of the biggest selling points for the Honor 6x is the fact that they say you can get through a solid two days on a single charge (with moderate use), which we tested and will discuss a bit later.
Still a GSM phone at its core, the Honor 6x can run on AT&T and T-Mobile, and as a Verizon user, I actually had to go and buy a T-Mobile sim card in order to use the device because I liked it so much.
Unboxing the Honor 6x was pretty straightforward. The box was bright blue like the 5X model, with the box highlighting the name of the smartphone in Silver, which is simple and straight to the point. If you choose any of the three colors: grey, gold or silver, you can’t really lose, as the phone is large and looks pretty impressive.
You end up getting the Honor 6x smartphone, the instructional manuals, SIM card door pin, power brick, and power cable.
The Honor 6x surprised me immediately when I realized, the power cable is not USB type-C. With the way the market is shifting, everything is going the ways of USB-C, so the Honor 6x having so many features that put it on par with higher end smartphones, it seemed a bit odd that they opted to go micro-USB for this device. If you still have a box full of micro-USB cords, though, you’ll be happy that you will always have a cable for charging, but if you’re looking for USB type-C you might be a bit disappointed with this.
Despite that, the Honor 6x is somewhat similar to the Honor 5x model in terms of overall design. To the naked eye, it actually resembles the previous 5x model, at least from the front. On the back, though, the fingerprint sensor is circular and no longer square which is both good and bad. Personally, I wish Huawei would’ve made a wider fingerprint sensor, especially for those with fatter fingers
The brushed metal finish that I enjoyed on the Honor 5x is gone, replaced with a smooth metal finish like you’ll see on many Android phones these days with hints of plastic on the top and bottom. It’s certainly not a knock on it, but I could’ve done without the plastic elements.
There are dual cameras above the fingerprint sensor that sit on top of each other versus side by side like my iPhone 7 Plus which is a welcome change. There’s also an LED flash to the right side of the dual camera that’s pretty powerful as well.
Unlike the iPhone 7 Plus, all of the physical buttons such as the power and volume rocker are both on the right-hand side of the device, which I thought was very smart. The ability to have everything sit on one end for me is key, especially since I tend to grab my phone out of my pocket at an angle where I might press one button accidentally, whereas with the Honor 6x, muscle memory has taught me the layout and I don’t press the power on button nearly as much as I do with my iPhone.
On the opposite side, you get the removable SIM tray that allows not just dual SIM cards, but you can also have just one SIM card and a microSD card.
The bottom of the Honor 6x houses the dual speakers and the micro-USB port. The speakers, however, are phenomenal. When answering calls on speakerphone, not only can I hear calls crystal clear, but if I’m listening to music at my desk through the Honor 6x, it’s not overbearing to the point the phone starts to shake because the speaker grills are too close to the desk causing it to shimmy.
If you’re not into listening to audio through your speakers, Huawei added a 3.5mm headphone jack, which is actually a really good thing. It’s at the top of the device, though, which is a bit odd coming from an iPhone user, but it’s practical in the sense of pocketing.
At the heart of the device is the 5.5-inch, 1920 x 1080 pixel IPS LCD screen, which is similar to the Honor 8. It’s a rather large phone, but it’s still great to hold in the hand despite its size. In terms of display, it’s about what you’d expect at this price point. Darker colors lack real depth, and bright colors tend to look a bit faded in the sun, but nothing huge worth complaining about.
In terms of the software, EMUI is either something you’re going to hate or love. I say this because if you’ve played around with Android 6.0, you’re kind of conditioned to how Marshmallow works. Don’t get me wrong, EMUI isn’t the worst software I’ve seen for Android, but it’s just a tad bit slow. When using the phone, it felt like the time it would take few seconds to do everything from boot up to simply switching applications. Not to mention there’s quite a lot of fluff or “bloatware” that comes installed straight out of the box, but what’s nice is there is the opportunity to delete it.
Outside of aesthetics, one major component to a great smartphone is call quality and signal performance. With the Honor 6x being an unlocked phone, results could vary depending on signal, but I found that the Honor 6x held up impressively with T-Mobile’s network. While underground on the metro, I found myself with enough network strength to get a few text messages out that I could not get through on my iPhone on Verizon which was amazing. Also with T-Mobiles network, I was able to actually go and download apps from the Honor 6x at speeds fast enough to notice a difference.
A major highlight of the Honor 6x is hands down the 3040mAh battery. Earlier we stated that Huawei claims that the Honor 6x can get a solid two days on a single charge. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that’s an overstatement, but it’s certainly something that needs fact checking, as it can vary vastly depending on use.
I used my typical daily apps (both games and social media) while testing over an eight-hour period to see exactly what would happen with the Honor 6x just running with the following apps running in the background: I started my usage around 9 am, sending out a couple tweets here and there, emails and editing documents. At 6 pm, I was down to 55% battery life with heavy usage. Now, this is clearly enough to get me home, and probably through the night, but you’ll probably have to charge your phone if you planned on using it again for day two. So if you’re looking for a phone to get you from home to work and back home, yes, the Honor 6x is awesome. But two days on a single charge could be hit or miss depending on your usage. Huawei does include a battery manager that allows you to reduce battery consumption by controlling what apps run in the background, which can be a HUGE help if used appropriately.
The Honor 6x has 3GB of included RAM. While this will easily get you through a movie at your desk or casual web browsing, heavy gaming is where you will actually see any slowness. Especially if you are multitasking between texting, gaming, social media, and the like, you’ll start to see the phone stutter a bit. Apps won’t crash nearly as often as you’d think (if at all) thanks to the Kirin 655 octa-core chipset, and if you’re just a typical smartphone user, you won’t notice it too much.
Finally, there’s the Honor 6x’s cameras, a beacon of light. For a $250 smartphone camera, I’ve got to admit, taking photos with the Honor 6x was phenomenal. The Honor 6x boasts a camera on the front and back, with the front having an 8-megapixel, 1080p camera, with the rear dual cameras being 12-megapixels with 1080p as well. The rear camera features auto-focus face detection three-second shutter. This all sounds cool and well, but the question remains, is that good enough for the average consumer? The answer is yes.
Taking a photo with the camera is eerily similar to what you’d expect from other smart devices from Huawei (price aside). The camera app is pretty straight forward giving you all of your menu options at the top from camera switchers, turning on/off flash, filters and still toggles.
On the bottom, you get the actual shutter with the photo album of previous photos to the left of that. If you swipe left on the actual settings of the camera that’s where you can change audio controls, touch to capture, and more in-depth photography options on the fly. If you swipe right you’ll be greeted with all of the various modes from photo, video, HDR, and even a “good food” option for those of you who can’t help to show off your meals. Yes, there’s something for everyone here with the Honor 6x. All of these features are something it would take the iPhone 3-4 apps to get done, and I’m actually pretty amazed at how Huawei managed to pack all of this into a device that’s south of $300. But the key question here is how great are the photos when they actually come out?
I’ve noticed that when I take photos up close, I get even greater detail than I would with phones in the same price, very similar to my iPhone 7 Plus’s camera. Photos tend to show depth and sharpness as you can see in the photo above. The greens contrast with the browns, and the flowers simply make the photo pop. There are no signs pixelation, thus giving one awesome photo.
Taking action shots such as my dog Sparky playing in the apartment is where things get tricky because I found myself playing around with the settings a bit too much to get photos to act accordingly. This is more than evident at night since the phone itself doesn’t feature image stabilization, photos come out a bit darker in low light, more specifically moving objects/persons. So concert go-ers should be mindful of this.
If you are a Snapchat fanatic, one thing you’ll know is that although the app can prettify you with its filters, if your front facing camera isn’t the greatest, you won’t get the greatest shot, no matter how great your filter may be. There’s a “selfie mode” that allows you to change the way your photos look which while pretty interesting to use, but this is understandably a novelty feature that some may use once or twice and forget about.
In terms of video, it’s similar to the rear camera’s mode, being that low light may be a deal breaker for some. Since the speaker grills are at the bottom, obviously if you’re recording video you have to be mindful not to cover the speaker grills or else your audio will be utter trash.
The camera is pretty good, but the features within the camera will help tweak a photo so much that no matter who you are, there’s a setting so you can always get that perfect image. However, if you’re on the go and quickly want to get a decent image, lighting will be a consideration.
Overall, the Honor 6x is a decent phone, and it is a successful upgrade over the Honor 5x. The EMUI software included can take a bit getting used to, and I would’ve enjoyed having USB Type-C for charging. Despite that, Huawei is attempting to make great affordable phones with premiere features, and for $250, you’d be hard-pressed to find a device more feature-rich that the Honor 6x.
Source: Manufacturer supplied review unit
What I Like: Awesome build quality, Fingerprint sensor is spot on; Price
What Needs Improvement: Needs USB-C in order to really compete, Camera in low lighting isn’t the greatest
Giveaway: We have one gray Honor 6x to give away — look for a separate post with details later today.