Honor 6X in-depth review - Return of the X

So, Honor have a new phone, the 6X and it is even better looking than its previous iteration. The 6X combines the latest buzzword in Huawei/Honor's arsenal- 'Dual camera' with the pocket-friendliness of the Honor range, to bring yet another great deal for its customers... But at £239, the Honor 6X drives straight into a flurry of competition in the market. But does it emerge victorious? Read on to find out more...

 Honor 6X Review - Return of the X
4

Review by Sunetra Chakravati,1/24/2017 4:18:23 PM

8

out of 10

Performance

7

out of 5

Look and feel

6

out of 5

Ease of use

8

out of 5

Features

9

out of 5

Battery life

Pros:

Solid design | good specs

Cons:

EMUI Android overlay | camera | older version of Android

-By Sunetra Chakravarti

 With the 6X, Honor are competing against its own stable-mate- the Huawei P8 Lite 2017.

The 16GB (3GB RAM) version of the P8 Lite is available now with a RRP of £209. And with the Honor 6X priced at £239 (Update: The price of the handset has now been dropped to 224.99), while sporting a decidedly very middle-of-the-path specs, things are even more difficult for the handset than what's on the surface.

Honor 6X in-depth review: Look and feel

The Honor 6X reminds us more of the Huawei Mate 9 than its own branded predecessor- the Honor 5X. This has everything to do with the slightly curved back of the Honor 6X with the two primary camera lenses at the back, sited within an elongated metal and glass raised lozenge-shaped holder. This design quirk makes it a dead-ringer for the pricier and more spec-intensive Mate 9. 

Physically, the Honor 6X is a very handsome handset, albeit a bit boring. There is no separate panel on the sides of the phone to hold the glass display and the metal backplate together. Unlike Huawei's cheaper phones like the P8 Lite 2016, the gold metal on the back of the Honor 6X curves up to hug the front glass panel. The curved back, like that of the HTC 10 makes it easier to hold and use one-handed. 

The fingerprint sensor is located below the dual-lens camera and is absolutely lightening fast. In fact, Samsung can learn a trick or two from them because of the frequency at which the sensor on the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge misfires when we use it.

The SIM slot also takes a microSD card so you are able to further expand the onboard 32GB memory by a further 128GB. Speaker grills flank the microUSB charging point, we would have liked USB Type-C fast charging here but use the wire and plug out of the box and you get a quick charge off them. There are also several power saving modes built into the 6X that help you optimise battery spend.

The only buff note, physically, on the Honor 6X is how wide the handset is, and the weight of it. With a 76.2mm width and the 162g weight, you will definitely not be forgetting it in your pocket.

Huawei have a number of wider-than-average smartphones with the Mate series and we have now seen this translated to the Honor range of devices too. The Mate 8 as well as Mate 9 were much wider than usual which made them perfect for streaming media but not quite so great with writing emails on the go. 

 Honor 6X in-depth review: Display, screen and audio

With the Honor 6X, you are guaranteed a very good media viewing experience, given the 401 pixel per inch density on the 5.2-inch Full HD IPS glass display.

Viewing angles are very good and colour temperatures not over-saturated. However, we would hasten to add that this is not an AMOLED display, the one that beats all others flat out. Usually found on Samsung's flagship phones, one of the only budget option to sport an AMOLED screen is the Lenovo P2 (under-£200). 

We do love that the wallpaper on the 6X changes everytime you whip it out to use and how they are carefully collated to focus on the clarity of the screen.

 Audio belted out is very good too and with none of the tinny quality you would expect from a non-flagship device.

Honor 6X in-depth review: Processor, battery and OS

Huawei and Honor branded smartphones don't usually use Qualcomm's Snapdragon chips but their home-grown Kirin. And true to form, a Kirin 655 chipset powers the Honor 6X backed up by 3GB of RAM. During benchmarking tests, the 6X scored 40,553, significantly less than the Lenovo P2 with 63,862, Vodafone Smart Platinum 7 (£295) with 75,327 and the Apple iPhone 5S' 63,559 but edging out ZTE's Blade V7 (£129) on 37,342.

In real life, benchmarking scores aren't that crucial unless you are a very heavy user and intend on playing graphic intensive apps, for long periods of time. The octa-core processor should work well in practice if you are a light to medium user. The 3GB RAM is standard for most mid-range devices and should last for, atleast a couple of years without getting alarmingly slow. 

We were, however, a little taken aback about the Honor 6X not running the latest version of Android (version 7, Nougat), and the continued presence of the over-complicated Emotion user interface. In fact rumours that Android 7 was coming to the Honor 8 and the 6X in March 2017 were recently dispelled as well.

The best under £350 phones available right now

It could perhaps all boil down to the fact that Huawei and Honor use the same test facilities and Huawei-branded products get higher billing than the Honor ones so they get pushed back? 

Battery-wise, there is a 3340mAH number here and it does very well to optimise itself during our week of moderate to heavy usage. 

Despite the 5.5-inch Full HD screen, the battery percentage dropped by just 11 percent over 30 minutes of 4G streaming with 100 percent brightness. 

We found the phone was fully capable of taking us through a day's worth of heavy data usage (who makes calls anymore) and taking photos.  

Honor 6X in-depth review: Camera

The primary camera on the Honor 6X is actually a sandwich of two different lenses. There is a 12-MP regular sensor and a 2-MP wide aperture one. Together, they let the user fade out the background after they have taken the picture. It might not sound like much because this is an effect easily achieved via photo apps, but to have that control while taking pictures is quite interesting.

The 8-MP front camera has a 77-degree wide angle lens and a Prim ISP.

There are all the modes on here that you would expect on an Honor handset and that includes an airbrushing tool beyond par called the beauty mode on the selfie camera.

We will definitely be reaching for it on days we aren't looking our best. 

 Honor 6X in-depth review: Verdict

The 6X is a good phone but not a great one. The problem it faces is that there is a glut of excellent choices for the consumer in the market, some cheaper than it. The 6X doesn't really have a USP that sets it apart and that ultimately is its undoing. The dual lens camera on a budget phone is all very well but if you are ultimately taking pictures for social media then the ability to do this is a tap away on Instagram. Metal-encased phones with 3,000-mAH+ battery are all very well but that line has already been played. 

If being brave (Honor's tagline is 'For the brave') means shelling out £224.99 for a handset that with a gimmicky camera, on an almost boring phone with a fiddly OS and old version of Android then the definition of 'brave' has certainly changed when we weren't looking.

Go buy the excellent Lenovo P2 instead. 

Honor 6X specifications

 Killer feature: Identical camera to the Google Pixel at a fraction of the cost.

Similar to: Google Pixel

Also Consider: Google Pixel, Lenovo Moto G4 Plus, OnePlus 3T

Debenhams

Price: £224.99

Operating System: Android 6.0.1/Huawei EMUI 4.1

Dimensions: 150.9 x76.2 x 8.2 mm 

Weight: 162g

Resolution: 1920p x 1080p full HD display with 16 M colors, 403 PPI

Display: 5.2-inch FHD IPS Glass

Processor: Huawei Kirin 655, Octa-Core (4x2.1 GHz+4x1.7 GHz) + 3GB RAM

Camera: 12-MP + 2-MP dual rear-facing camera & 8-MP selfie camera; 720P/1080P full HD video recording and video playback

Memory: 32GB; expandable via microSD

Battery: 3340 mAh

Fingerprint scanner: Yes, ultrasonic, in home button.

Misc: Available in Gray Gold Silver; Bluetooth 4.1