Review by Sunetra Chakravati,6/1/2015 10:05:26 AM
Look and feel
Ease of use
Massive battery | Dual-SIM | full HD screen | Amazing value
Still running Android 4.4.2 | Camera not great | performance can get laggy
By Sunetra Chakravarti
There is a glut at the top- of devices, features and services these expensive handsets offer. Similarly, there are quite a few at the lower-end of the market. A few handsets stand out at both ends but the mid-range market has been mostly ignored. Tha's is exactly why the Honor 6 Plus is very exciting to us, an hitherto unheard of brand outside of tech review circles, a look at the spec sheet and pricing of the phone will show you why we are this excited...
Huawei have had the Honor range for some time now, they have been sold online until now and the range is familiar to me for its array of phones with solid specs available for not too much. This is the first time that Honor phones will be sold at a bricks and mortar setup in the UK owing to its partnership with Three.
The Honor 6 Plus looks like a cross between the Sony Xperia Z3 and an Apple iPhone 4. The size and design aesthetics of the Z3 with the colour and look of the iPhone 4. The handset is surprisingly light at 165 gms despite its 5.5" display and non-sneezable proportions.
Flat with a glass fibre back with the resilience of a bullet proof vest, well, almost. The display is behind a Gorilla Glass 4 sheath in a plastic body with brushed metal side panels.
The power button is on the right-hand side below the volume rocker and the Honor 6 Plus comes with two trays capable of taking a microSIM, nanoSIM as well as a microSD card.
The left side of the phone has been left devoid of buttons with just the in-built antenna cutting across the chrome metal sides. Charging is via a microUSB charging point which sits on the bottom plastic panel.
The 6 Plus has the same user interface as all other Huawei branded phones including the recently launched P8. Emotion EMUI 3.0 is overlaid onto Android and during our use, we found it had minimal bloatware of a lot of other flagships.
Apart from the usual Google Drive, Flipboard and a smattering of pre-loaded themes, the cupboards are bare. Also absent is the app drawer so once you transfer all your apps over to the phone, it can get a little messy and cluttered.
Unique to Huawei's UI is the themes app, last when I reviewed a Honor phone, it was still predominantly Chinese themed and had a few themes on there featuring girls who I couldnt tell if they were on the legal side of 18.
However, all of that has been brushed aside and some pretty quirky, animated and interesting themes make an appearance. I particularly liked the 70s style animated one.
Performance wise, the phone did get a little laggy when I switched between Hootsuite, Facebook Pages Manager and streaming media, however during times of steady use of one app, it did just fine.
Game play on the preloaded Asphalt 8, Bubble Bash Mania & Spider-Man: Ultimate Power were smooth and I guess that is down to the 3 GB RAM and the octa-core processor doing their magic.
Honor 6 Plus is an octa-core phone and it has two sets of quad core processors. So, while browsing the web, making phonecalls or watching Netflix on loop, the 1.3GHz is your constant companion while the 1.8GHz ones kick in when you indulge in gameplay and multi-tasking.
Although lower spec-ed than those found on flagships, as I have said before, it did well on singular actions but switching between apps very quickly was a struggle for it.
The phone comes with a 2-day battery aka, one that packs 3600mAH power. To put it into context, Samsung's Galaxy S6 has a 2550mAH one whereas LG's G4 is on 3000 mAH and it is only Sony's famed Xperia Z3 which comes close at 3100mAH.
I stream music off YouTube for 8 hours each day and watch downloaded documentaries during my 3 hour commute and the phone lasts for 2 days very easily. To call its battery a work horse would be an understatement. It is absolutely brilliant.
Instead of having one high-res camera as its primary snapper, the Honor 6 Plus has two 8-MP ones with an aperture of just .95 which means that it should produce some incredibly clear and DSLR type shots.
The camera does take some great shots and you are able to adjust the depth of field after having taken the pictures but it more than struggles if light conditions are anything less than amazing. So, in the middle of a heatwave, during your beach holiday and down at the beer garden of your local on a sunny Sunday afternoon, you will be in the running for best photographer award but not for pictures taken when out clubbing, on a candle-lit dinner out or at a party- the camera struggles in low light conditions. The absence of Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) doesnt help its cause either and low light and night-time shots will come out shaky, blurry and devoid of detail.
The camera app is also quite sluggish, doesn't have any quick access shortcuts and struggles on anything that isnt the most basic shot.
However, the front-facing camera is an 8-MP one and does very well in capturing excellent images. It also has a range of filters available as well as a beautify tool that can zap away all zits with the slide of a finger.
I expected more from the camera but sadly was left very disappointed. As you can probably tell from some of the images I clicked on the phone over the weekend, it does leave a lot to be desired.
Colours are rich but the image is sadly thin on detail...
Zoomed in, difficult to make out what's on screen and even though the colours are still great, the focus hasnt quite worked the way it should.
Same image captured with different depths of fields.
Huawei have brought a disruptor phone at an excellent price point to the high street, but the phone does come with a couple of issues.
Firstly, it doesnt pack the latest version of Android. To put it bluntly, I would never buy last season's clothes. If I am shelling out money, then I want something that's current. Also, I understand that this is a mid-range handset and the themes are too cute and quirky to resist but they also make the handset laggy.
Of the 32GB capacity on the phone, 10GB was used up by the OS and Huawei's bespoke user interface, that you will also find on their latest flagship. Thankfully the phone takes a microSD!
However, the large full HD display, dual-SIM capability and the mega sized battery combinationn for under-£300 is unbeatable.
I have been watching The Game on BBC iPlayer on loop and the audio plus screen quality together with the octa-core processor makes it a super smooth experience.
The camera has enough quirky features to keep my borderline obsession with taking pictures of my 4-year-old under control and on a sunny day, you will definitely get lots of likes and <3 for your uploads on the likes of Facebook and Instagram. Under not-so-sunny conditions, the camera will falter, there will over-exposure and there will be lots of fuzziness under low light conditions.
However, the pros do outweigh the cons and if you are on the lookout for a 4G handset under £300, this may just be the one for you.
And given that it is a Three exclusive, you get to air the dual-SIM capabilities that the phone rocks on your summer holiday away. Sort of a no-brainer, really!