When it comes to the mid-range smartphones, one always wonders which features they would have to comprise in order to buy an affordable mid-range handset with all round good features. Since companies are on a tight budget to manufacture handsets when it comes to affordability; you rarely see a handset with an almost perfect specification sheet. Which is why when you come across a handset claiming to offer that perfect blend of specifications at an affordable price tag is something you get intrigued about. So, it was natural that we would get interested to get our hands-on with that device.
The times have gone when budget phones used to be bland, plastic build and limited with specs such a crappy cameras. Well, not anymore. These days you can get a beautiful, all-metal body phone with a reasonably powerful processor and solid camera for Rs 12,999. The phone we are talking about is the Honor 6X, a 5.5-inch budget handset made by Huawei’s online exclusive brand. We have been using the Honor 6X for a couple of weeks, and the only thing that’s cheap about this phone is its price tag. Let’s talk about the handset in detail. Below you’ll find out information based on usage about this device in different sections such as Design, Display, Hardware, Camera and more.
Honor has been know to introduce pretty great mid-range and has always set the standards quite high for others to follow up. We had noticed that when the company released Honor 5X last year, which was an attractive budget handset from a company with brushed, all-metal body. The new iteration refines the design with the new silky smooth metal body. Note that there are subtle plastic inserts seen on top and bottom of the phone for antenna signals. Although, they blend in with phone’s metal body.
Talking about the edges, they are gently curved to perfectly rest in your palm; they aren’t sharp. The buttons placement is usual, as on the right side you get volume rocker buttons above the power button. They are quite solid and easily clickable. There is a microUSB port on the bottom and a microSD and SIM card slot on the other side of the phone. The only stand-out design feature is the dual camera centered on the rear side of the phone. The company offers a few color options including silver, gold, and gray.
The new all-metal body midrange from the company is bigger than it’s predecessor. Even though the screen is phablet sized, the handset is quite compact and feels comfortable in hand. You won’t feel that you have to wildly reach to the other end when using it one-handed. It is quite slim as well at 8.2mm and comparatively light weight at 162 gram. Overall, we believe that the design of this handset is quite simple and elegant. It looks and feels nearly high-end as any other flagship Android smartphone out there today in the market. In contrast with its competitor like Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 and Coolpad Cool 1, it looks quite stunning, and that’s why it is being touted a step best-looking budget phone in a long time.
There is a 5.5-inch display at play here with a resolution of 1080p and it is a fine display overall. The company is touting its sunlight legibility as it has brightness levels up to 450 nits. Moreover, sharpness isn’t an issue on this display. It gets bright enough to allow for comfortable outdoor visibility. Since, it is a mid-ranger, we recommend you shouldn’t expect much out of it. For the price it comes, the colors are that little bit less poppy as well as the contrast is just a little less strong. However, do note that for the cash you purchase, it’s a great display. It’s good for games, casual YouTube and Netflix viewing.
As soon as you turn on the screen and go to home screen, it is noticeable that colors look a little bit off. So, we fiddled with settings using a rainbow temperature slider. It’s a mystery why anyone would want a purple tinge to their phone. Though, don’t worry there are standard warm and cool presets that easily tweak the display without making it flat-out bad odd among the peers. One thing that is certainly unlikeable about the display is that it’s not fingerprint friendly. As smudges are easily visible within just couple minutes of usage. Overall, we felt the display on the Honor 6X is pretty cool and is exactly what it should be for the price it comes. Not less or more.
The software side of the things you get the Emotion UI skin on top of the Android Marshmallow 6.0. Users won’t get Nougat out-of-the-box, but the company is eventually slated to roll out the major update this spring. The user interface of the handset is pretty familiar if you have earlier used a Honor or Huawei handset. It’s very frightful, colorful, and can be easily called somewhat cartoonish. Of course, there is no app drawer, and it still has transparency effects.
The major noticeable thing is that notification panel is still split into two tabs, where one is for notifications and another for quick settings. It isn’t an easy to use the layout as it might appear. Especially, when you have a long list of notifications, it becomes nearly impossible to swipe over to the Quick Settings, as you the most time you might end up clearing out all the notifications. Talking about the bloatware, well, it indeed comes with several apps pre-installed on the device. You might prefer this UI if you’re already familiar with it. Otherwise, it may not be your cup of tea at all. But all new things takes the time to adapt, if you’re new to this UI, give it a time, and you might end up loving it.
Hardware & Performance
The Honor 6X runs on the Huawei’s Kirin 655 chipset, which is an Octa-core processor and is being touted as the perfect blend of power and efficiency. Do make a note that Core-count isn’t a reliable indicator of handset performance, but the 655 does really feel like a capable processor. We enjoyed browsing on the device as it was extremely satisfying, not just in terms of scrolling, but it had exceptionally speedy load times. In terms of the storage and RAM it packs in 32GB onboard storage and 3GB of RAM. Note that internal storage can be expanded up to 128GB via microSD card slot.
The other positives on the hardware include a fingerprint sensor, which is placed right below the camera unit on the back. It is quite fast and accurate; we didn’t have any issue misreading our fingerprint. In fact, it can be stated that fingerprint sensor on this handset is on par with high-end smartphones out there in the market. Another interesting part of the handset is that it doesn’t heat much during heavy usage. We played 30 minutes of gaming on this handset continuously, and it didn’t heat much, which was surprising as most of the mid-ranger’s aren’t capable of this stuff. Overall, we felt that device offers impressive performance that one would like to see on their next mid-range handset.
Even in such times, consumers are misguided by many brands that a large megapixel count means that the camera output would be amazing with clear details. To be completely honest, that is not the case in truth. It’s not exactly entirely dependent on the camera’s resolution to determine whether the outputs would be of highest quality or not. Sometimes even the cameras with largest of the megapixel count fail to amaze users with its outputs.
Since we have got your attention to the megapixel count, the new Honor 6X comes with a 12-megapixel resolution on the primary sensor, while the secondary sensor has a 2-megapixel resolution. The brand hasn’t confirmed this but we feel it’s the same Sony IMX368 sensor is used that was equipped on the Honor 8 launched last year in India. But on company’s official global website, the camera sensor mention has model number IMX368. It also comes with dual-camera setup, but there you get dual 12MP module. So, you could see the difference in specifications. Honor 6X is a low-end variant offering from a company with a setup present on their flagship handset. Companies usually tend to offer such handsets, to give their lower-end consumers the feel of premium. Although, what they won’t get is superior quality, well, it’s up for debate some other time.
Talking about the camera technologies at play on the rear module. Starting with wide aperture range, the camera allows you to change aperture for objects up to 2 meters. The range varies from f/0.95 to f/16, change according to the bokeh effect quantity you want in the capture. This setup easily mimics the DSLR bokeh effects and changing the aperture range, but isn’t a true aperture change in the purest form as you can do on a DSLR. There is also a PDAF (Phase Detection Autofocus) technology that touts ultra-fast focusing of 0.3 seconds. We can’t time that but can surely say that it indeed offers fast focusing of the object as the camera doesn’t let you hanging to focus even when the picture is moving too quickly.
As far as the specification of the front-facing module concerns, the selfie camera on the Honor 6X is of 8-megapixel resolution. Looking at the current Selfie scenario in the country, it is an ideal selfie camera offering a range of features such as Beautification, 77degree wide-angle lens, and a Prim ISP. We used the selfie camera and found that it adapts the skin-color to make the portrait look interesting as it gives auto-touch ups using software algorithms. There is a feature in the editing app called Splash; it allows you to hide colors and highlight only one color in the picture, giving a picture a cool look.
Moving on to the camera modes, the Honor 6X offers an impressive set of modes. Before talking about those modes, let’s briefly take a look around the app. Every other week, a new device comes to my desk, but Honor handsets have always impressed me in terms of the intuitiveness. The Honor 6X’s camera app isn’t much different, which is a good thing as it offers a clean look and easy to reach buttons. Accessing modes is quite easy just swipe left, and you get a list of modes such as Pro, Beauty, HDR, Night Shot, Panorama, Good Food, Light Painting, watermark, audio note and Document scan. While if you swipe, you get all the camera settings ranging from resolution change, GPS tag, camera grid, shutter sound mute, audio control, timer, touch to capture feature, capture smiles, object tracking and much more. On the camera app home screen, you see a shutter button, gallery access, video mode, camera switch button, filters, flashlight and the shallow depth of field button to change the wide aperture of the capture.
Let’s talk briefly about the significant modes. Starting with HDR, we have noticed that rarely any handset offer to turn ON flashlight during HDR captures, but the camera app on the Honor handset offers this feature, which comes in handy in dark light macro shots. The Pro mode is available for a photo as well as video modes, where you can control the exposure, white balance, ISO, focus and other camera factors that result in a change of output. We recommend using this mode only if you’re familiar with these terminologies, otherwise going with Auto mode is the best decision you’ll ever make. Interestingly, beauty mode is available in photo and video, both the modes. We don’t recommend using Night Shot mode if you don’t have steady hands or tripod with you because the night shot demands 15 seconds of still photography. As the software merges the video to showcase the details even in the dark light. For low light captures, just use HDR or even normal mode is fine when you have got some light shedding on the object. There is a specific food mode for all your food pictures you plan to put on Instagram and Facebook. In the video part, sadly there is no 4K video recording support, but you can record time-lapse and slow-motion videos if that’s your thing to do.
This is an another plus for Honor 6X. The battery capacity is at 3340 mAh, which isn’t much large when compared with today’s phablet standard of 4000 mAh. Despite that Honor claims to offer battery life of as long as two days. Well, we have been using the device and confirm that it isn’t two day’s long, but it has lasted for us at 1.5 days quite consistently. Our usage involves mobile data, gaming, Binge watch several TV shows such as Humorously Yours and Baked at ones.
Not many smartphones live up to battery claims of their manufacturers, interestingly, Honor 6X manages to live up to the claim and it’s noteworthy. All thanks to the Kirin 655, due to which it uses less power in standby mode. Though, do make a note that even with constant use the device can easily last long time.
It is no surprise that Honor 6X comes equipped with LTE bands support in the country. Thus, taking full advantage of the Indian cell bands. We have been using a 4G SIM card with VoKTE network on this handset and felt that mobile data and voice calls were pretty great in terms of downloads and clear call quality. The device comes with dual SIM support; you can wisely use this feature to make the most of it. Everything else is pretty standard such as Bluetooth 4.1, Wi-Fi, GPS and microUSB port connectivity.
Honor 6X introduces what has been missing on all these times in the mid-range – A quality smartphone camera. Its dual-lens setup is one of a kind available in the mid-range. Other interesting and useful aspects of the device include a fast fingerprint sensor, great performance, and long battery life. That’s what makes it a perfect mid-ranger. There is a heated competition going on in the market right now as Xiaomi recently released their upgraded Redmi Note 4 and Coolpad has Cool 1 in partnership with LeEco. This two are quite a good competitors when it comes to price tag. But we felt that overall quality offered on Honor 6X is much more important than any specifications those two handsets might sport better than Honor 6X.