Huawei released its flagship in the Honor category in July 2016, the Honor 8. The Chinese manufacturer is coming to CES 2017 with its mid-range Honor smartphone, the 5.5-inch Honor 6X.
Featuring a less powerful processor than its high-end sibling, the Kirin 655 octa-core chipset, the Honor 6X gets a sweeter price, EUR 249 for the 3GB RAM variant, EUR 299 in Europe and USD 299.99 for the 4GB RAM variant. The device will be available in select markets in Q1 of 2017.
The main difference compared to the other honor phones is the dual-lens 12-megapixel rear camera that enables bokeh effect, which means that you get a nice blurry background when you shoot subjects in the foreground.
Product design (Excellent for the price)
For a mid-range smartphone, the Huawei Honor 6X delivers a great build quality in an elegant 8.2 mm thin and light (162g) full metal body. On the back side, the device gets the signature fingerprint reader, which is now round, a notable difference from the square shape reader of the previous 5X model.
Just above the fingerprint reader, the two lenses barely stick out and are enclosed in an elegantly egg-shaped module that features a nice metallic pattern.
Since Huawei kept the micro-USB connector at the bottom, you get the 3.5 mm audio jack at the top.
2.5D Curved Glass
Similarly, to its predecessor, the front is glossy white and the back has a bright silver finish. New to this version, the highly praised (by Huawei) 2.5D curved glass design for the front side, which visually connects well with the curvy backside, a form factor that fits comfortably in the palm.
Huawei signature feature is the fingerprint reader in the back, which switches on the smartphone almost instantly once you have stored at least one fingerprint. You can also browse your photo gallery by swiping your finger sideways from there.
Display (very good for the price)
At that mid-level pricing, we cannot expect anything significantly amazing on the 5.5-inch display side, so Huawei offers a regular full HD resolution for this $250 / $300 handset. The image quality is really good and bright (450nit), knowing that the display is one of the most expensive components in a phone.
Additionally, since the manufacturer selected a mid-range processor as well, the 1080p (1920×1080) resolution does not require so much computing power, this is the way to preserve the performance.
To be honest, although we love the gorgeous 2K (quadHD) displays out there, on a smartphone, most users are happy enough with full HD, as long as the image quality is excellent (color, contrast).
Huawei added a neat feature to prevent eye fatigue that filters out the blue light; you can activate it in the Settings.
Camera (average for speed / good image quality / good for the price)
The camera is one of the most important features for users in today’s smartphones, so manufacturers put a lot of efforts in reinventing it as much as they can. Dual-lens is trendy, in fact, LG started the trend. The 12 MP + 2 MP dual lens rear shooter offers a wide aperture range (f/0.95 -F/16) that delivers “professional-grade bokeh effect”, according to Huawei.
We tried it against the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, the most advanced camera phone out there, and against the older Samsung Galaxy Note 5 (September 2015 version), because we should not compare a mid-range smartphone to the top Android mobile machine on the market.
The Honor 6X delivers a better image quality than the Note 5. However the auto focus and shutter response time are both a little slow in comparison. In low light condition shot in a flying plane (motion), the device had a hard time delivering a sharp image, while I had no trouble doing it the first time with my “old” Note 5.
Compared to the Galaxy S7, the image quality is not totally on par, but the results are overall very good.
The 8Mp front camera gets a wide 77 degrees angle, probably to enable group selfies and multiple people video conferencing. According to the manufacturer, the SONY IMX386 sensor provides fast Phase Detection Autofocus at a minimum of 0.3 seconds.
The 1.25um pixel size alongside Prim ISP and DTI pixel isolation technology help to deliver great performance in sharpness, color quality and noise reduction at that price range, according to Huawei. Indeed, when I compare side by side my shots from the Note 5 and the Honor 6X in low light, the photos coming from the 16-months old Samsung device are more grainy.
Huawei promotes its new Honor X-series model by stating that it delivers “twice the performance of previous generations for $249.99”. The Huawei Kirin 655 Octa Core (4×2.1 GHz+4×1.7 GHz) is the Huawei mid-range SoC for smartphones, the flagship being the Kirin 955 Octa Core that you can find in the latest Huawei Honor V8 (in one version or the Huawei P9 see all three devices specs comparison here.
Huawei offers two version of the new Honor 6X, the 3GB RAM model at $249.99 will be less powerful for multitasking, so for the creative minds out there who love to have zillions of apps open simultaneously, we recommend the $299.99 4GB RAM.
We were not able to run the benchmarks on our unit, so we could not measure the performance accurately. The perceived performance, evaluated by using the device briefly is very decent.
Battery (Very Good)
With the 6X’s 3340mAH battery, Huawei claims 2-day battery life and up to 11.5 hours of video streaming, which we cannot really measure accurately because it highly depends on too many moving factors (connectivity, GPS use, display use, gaming or not gaming, heavy usage of multiple location based apps…).
The Honor 6X battery capacity is way over the 3000 mAh mark, which is above the average capacity for smartphones. Additionally, since the smartphone is equipped with a mid-range processor and a 1080p display, it requires less computing power and the whole system delivers a better power management than high -end phones with the top of the line processors and 2K screens.
Conclusion (Excellent for the Price)
The Huawei Honor 6X is a very good smartphone for the price, with an impressive product design in the mid-range category. The camera could a little better on the shutter response time, although we understand that good performance in low light photography using an affordable image sensor (our guess) is made at the expense of camera responsiveness.