When Mercedes-Benz introduced the W116 back in 1978, it became the first production car on the planet to use the modern version of ABS (anti-lock braking system). Over the years, ABS went through several iterations, and is now a basic safety requirement on modern cars. Initially only available to the wealthy and the privileged, ABS has now trickled down to less glamorous vehicles. Even in India, you will be able to find ABS on relatively inexpensive cars (although we are yet to see ALL cars come with ABS).
The Mercedes-Benz W116 was the first modern production car to come equipped with the modern version of ABS [Wikmedia Commons | CC By SA 2.5]
Now, before you think you landed on the wrong review, here’s the premise of my argument. It doesn’t take much time for today’s “advanced technology” to become the necessity of tomorrow. Over the years, the pace of this transformation has only accelerated. While it took the better part of four decades for ABS to become fairly commonplace, technology transformation is growing at a greater pace when it comes to consumer electronics — especially the smartphone industry. Take the case of Huawei for example, which announced the dual-camera toting Huawei P9 back in 2016.
The Huawei P9
With dedicated sensors for color and monochrome imaging, the P9 earned laurels for its stunning imaging capabilities. Huawei followed it up with the launch of the Honor 8 a few months later – again with a much-lauded dual-lens setup. Both these handsets — the Honor 8 and the Huawei P9 — were clearly not intended to be mass-market, high volume devices — just like the Mercedes-Benz W116. You don’t get an expensive, dual lens setup for cheap, do you?
Turns out you can. Barely months after Huawei unveiled the Honor 8, the company announced another dual-camera toting smartphone – and this time, they were not gunning for folks with (relatively) deeper pockets. Say hello to the recently launched Honor 6X – the newest example of how fast new technology finds its way into the realms of affordability. What the automotive industry took four decades to achieve, Huawei did in the matter of a few months. And yes, I know that right there wasn’t an apples to apples comparison – but you got the point, right?
Now that we are done with that essay of an introduction let’s talk business. Is the Honor 6X worth your time and money? Let’s find out.
Right off the bat, let’s talk specs.
- Processor: HiSilicon Kirin 655 octa-core.
- Display: 5.5-inch 1920 x 1080 pixels resolution IPS LCD, 403 ppi.
- Operating system: Emotion UI 4.1, Android 6.0 Marshmallow.
- RAM: 3GB/4GB.
- Storage: 32GB/64GB with microSD card slot.
- Cameras: Dual camera setup at the back. 12 megapixel and 2-megapixel dual cameras, 8-megapixel front facing camera.
- Connectivity: 802.11 b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1, NFC.
- Battery: 3,340 mAh battery with Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 technology.
Honor 6X: Design
The Honor 6X looks similar to the Honor 5X from this angle – except for the new Honor logo at the bottom
The Honor 6X is a near-replica of its older sibling, the Honor 5X (at least from the front), save for the “Honor” logo at the bottom. Upon closer inspection, though, you will notice that the Honor 6X is a curvier than the 5X. The front is dominated by the large 5.5-inch, full HD display. Above the display is the 8-megapixel front shooter, flanked by the proximity sensor and the earpiece.
The Honor 6X also gets a completely redesigned back panel with the raised dual camera setup taking the prime position at the top. The dual lens is flanked by an LED flash towards the right. Slightly below the camera lens is the fingerprint scanner. The metallic finish of the back panel makes the handset feel sturdier than the older Honor 5X – although the plasticky front panel takes all that feeling away. The Honor 6X, thanks to its curved side panel, is a lot easier to grip compared to the older model – although it still requires to be handled with care.
The dual camera at the rear is easily noticeable
The Honor 6X gets a micro-USB port at the bottom for charging and data transfer purposes, with the loudspeaker located on the right. At the top, there is a secondary microphone along with the 3.5mm audio jack. The volume rocker and the power button are on the right side while there is a single tray on the left that can take in either two nano SIM cards or one nano SIM and a microSD card for memory expansion.
Overall, except for the dual camera setup at the rear, you may pass off the Honor 6X for just another, average-looking Android phone. Also note that for this review, I was handed over a Chinese spec, 4GB RAM/64GB memory capacity variant.
Honor 6X: Display
The Honor 6X sports a 5.5-inch full HD LCD display which did its job pretty well. The colors are pretty accurate, and the legibility in sunlight is good. I found the overall brightness to be adequate, but the panel loses out to the likes of the Redmi Note 4.
The Honor 6X display is quite legible even during the daytime
In typical Huawei fashion, the Honor 6X offers a lot of display customization options for the user. This could range from things like changing the font size and font style, to switching on the blue light filter mode, or setting a color temperature of your choice. For the price that the handset retails at, I really could not find a lot going against the display. Huawei has done a great job with the display on this handset.
Honor 6X: Hardware and Performance
The Honor 6X finds itself powered by Huawei’s in-house Kirin 655 octa-core chip. This is a mid-range processor that offers similar performance to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 625. The handset comes in two variants – a 32GB version with 3GB of RAM and the top-of-the-line 64GB version with 4GB of RAM. For graphics, the Honor 6X uses a Mali T830 MP2 GPU. While not an avid gamer, I found that the Honor 6X manages to handle most of the popular titles out there with aplomb. Games that are visually intensive can also be played – albeit in lower quality settings. The handset doesn’t heat up much even after an intensive session of gaming, which is definitely a plus considering it has a metallic back panel.
We ran the usual set of benchmarking tests on the Honor 6X and this is what the handset delivered.
Moving on to calls, I found the the earpiece to be quite loud. However, at times, you might face difficulty in finding the earpiece and placing it correctly to your ears. Voice quality on 4G VoLTE networks was much better compared to normal GSM calls. One feature that our review unit missed out on was the support for 5Ghz Wi-Fi networks.
With a 3,340 mAh battery inside, the Honor 6X promised decent battery life and as it turned out, it performed better than expectations in this department. With the display brightness set to medium, and with normal usage that involved a few calls, an hour of browsing and 20 minutes of gaming, the phone lasted me an entire day and gave me a screen on time of more than four hours.
The Honor 6X will easily last you a day with normal usage
With more battery optimizations, the phone can go on for a lot longer. In fact, there are several battery modes and options that will help you eke out as much battery life as possible. I easily foresee the phone delivering over 5 hours of screen on time. I was not provided the standard charger with this unit , and as such was unable to check how much time it takes for the phone to charge from 0 to 100 percent. That said, the phone supports quick charging.
Honor 6X: Camera
The camera is without a doubt the most interesting aspect of the Honor 6X. Now, while I did talk about the fact that the 6X gets a dual camera setup, the configuration is quite different from what we saw on the more expensive Huawei phones.
Unlike a dedicated colour and monochrome sensor used on the P9 and the Honor 8, the Honor 6X uses an interesting twin camera setup with different resolutions (a 12MP camera main camera and a secondary 2MP depth sensor). The primary function of the secondary camera is to endow the phone with excellent bokeh (background blur) capabilities to images. The Honor 6X also supports phase detection autofocus. However, the lower price bracket means that the handset skips on dual tone LED flash or laser aided autofocus – but we are not complaining at all.
The camera UI is self-explanatory and easy to use. It was also very zippy and there was no lag in between the time you hit the capture button and the actual image is captured. Within the camera menu, you can swipe left or right to access the modes and settings menu. Swiping up takes you to the Gallery – and not the last captured image. I wish there was an option to change that.
The depth-sensing camera is used in one specific mode and does not “stay on” all the time – which effectively means that only one sensor is used in the other modes. This is different from the implementation on more expensive handsets – which use both the sensors at the same time. Nevertheless, the Honor 6X is capable of some great looking shots in this wide aperture mode.
An example of the background blur achievable on the Hinor 6X thanks to the dual lens set up.
In standard mode, the handset behaves like any other lower-mid range smartphone and come with the usual set of flaws – including not so great low-light images. That said, in well-lit conditions, the 6X managed to deliver great images. The dedicated manual mode also lets you tweak camera settings according to your needs. Apart from the Pro mode, there are a lot of other modes that can be easily invoked with a swipe. These include “good food,” time-lapse, watermark, and audio note modes.
The front camera takes decent 8-megapixel shots and gets a lot of options of its own as well.
Video recording from the main camera at the rear can be done at 1080p (30 fps), 720p and VGA. Slow motion videos are also supported – albeit in VGA resolution. The front camera takes videos at 720p.
Honor 6X: Software
The Honor 6X runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow underneath the company’s custom EMUI interface. Like I had mentioned in my first impressions article, EMUI does not get an app drawer. Instead, apps are neatly stacked across multiple screens on EMUI. While this may pose a problem if you have a lot of apps installed, a single swipe down from any part of the display opens a search box that lets you quickly search your apps. This is one feature that I have so gotten used to, I miss it when I move on to other Android phones.
I was quite happy with the overall snappiness of the UI on the Honor 6X. The handset was quite adept at memory management with me rarely having to resort to killing apps. The 6X refuses to slow down even with multiple apps running in the background – which is definitely a plus for a device in its price range.
EMUI on the Honor 6X supports theming and there are several downloadable themes that you can use to customise the look of the phone. While Huawei has not promised us a timeline, Huawei did tell us that the phone will be updated to Android 7.0 Nougat in the near future. The update is slated to arrive in the month of April in India.
Should You Buy The Honor 6X?
The Honor 6X is an awesome phone. But, the competition is stiff. Seen alongside the Asus Zenfone 3s Max which is also similary priced
Having used the Honor 6X for over a month as my primary device, I can confidently say that this is a great handset. In fact, I have already recommended the phone to several folks I know – including the security guard at our office who was visibly thrilled at the prospect of owning a handset with a dual camera setup. While it is still not the only affordable dual camera-toting phone out there (thanks to the Coolpad Cool 1 Dual), I still think the 6X is the sensible choice among the two considering Huawei’s experience with dual-lens setups and Coolpad’s dubious record with issuing software updates.
However, before I recommend the phone, we also need to talk about another handset that was launched around the same time as the Honor 6X. Yup, we are talking about the Redmi Note 4. From what I know so far, the Redmi Note 4 offers better battery life (thanks to a bigger battery), and sports a lower price tag compared to the Honor – both key elements before most Indians decide to spend money on a new phone. However, having read Asif’s Redmi Note 4 review, I still find myself leaning towards the Honor 6X mainly because of the overall camera quality.
The Honor 6X also makes a compelling case for itself thanks to the fact that it will turn out to be a more “exclusive” device compared to the more popular Redmi Note 4. As for pricing, the base version of the Honor 6X with 3GB RAM and 32GB of internal memory is priced at ₹12,999 while the 4GB RAM, 64GB version will set you back ₹15,999. Whether the ₹3,000 premium it commands over the Redmi Note 4 for the dual camera setup is something you need to figure out. In case you have decided to get the phone, we recommend buying the 64GB variant.