The Honor 6X is proof that an affordable device doesn't have to be a disappointing buy.
The bottom line
Cheap is cheap, but it doesn't have to be a waste of money. The Honor 6X may be cheap and at times cheap out, but it's definitely worth its $250 price point. In fact, if all you're looking for is the most basic smartphone in a societally acceptable package, the Honor 6X is it.
That an affordable device doesn't have to be disappointing is what Huawei hopes to rely on to sell its new Honor 6X in the United States. Unfortunately, it's going to have a heck of a time getting the word out without a comprehensive marketing strategy, and without the crutch of a carrier partnership there is no entity on the ground actively evangelizing for the brand. It's really too bad, because the Honor 6X is so much better than what the carriers typically offer in the affordable tier.
The Honor 6X is a really decent package. It features a good mid-range processor, a big battery, 1080p display, and a camera that takes photos worth sharing. Granted, it isn't particularly distinguishable when you compare it to the other dispensable devices saturating the market, but the Honor 6X does set an example for how budget smartphones should be sold to money-conscious customers.
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- The camera actually works in a variety of lighting conditions
- The battery will get you through the day
- You really can't tell how cheap it is
- Micro-USB in 2017???
- It ships with Android 6.0 and EMUI 4.1 👎
- Over time, it probably will feel like a cheap phone
- 1080x1920 resolution (403 ppi)
- 12MP + 2MB
- ƒ/2.2, 1080p
- 8MP front camera
- Huawei Kirin 655
- Octa-core 4x 2.1 GHz + 4x 1.7 GHz
- 3GB RAM
- 32GB internal storage
- microSD slot
About this review
I, Florence Ion, began testing the Honor 6X for this review on January 11, 2016. The phone was running Android 6.0 Marshmallow underneath the veil of EMUI 4.1.
Honor 6X Hardware
I like the look of and feel of this thing. Whereas most smartphones under $300 feel like bottom-of-the-barrel clearance bin finds, the Honor 6X's solid construction tricks you into thinking you actually paid more for it. Of course, once you start using it, you'll realize that you didn't.
Most smartphones under $300 feel like bottom-of-the-barrel clearance bin finds but the Honor 6X's solid construction tricks you into thinking you actually paid more for it.
The Honor 6X comes in three colors: gray, gold, and silver. The black and aluminum model featured here is a bit bland compared to its siblings, though the other two variants are worth hunting down if you're considering purchasing one. Be forewarned, however, that the Honor 6X still employs Micro-USB. That might be favorable for those of you who've yet to upgrade to the new standard, but why would you choose not to? Especially when the Axon 7 Mini costs about the same and is equipped with USB Type-C! Join the club, Honor!
Let's talk about that processor for a second. The Huawei-made Kirin 655 octa-core processor is capable enough to run Snapchat, Instagram, and a heavy load of mobile Chrome tabs just fine. Games like Solitairica and Reigns ran fine, too, though there was occasional stuttering in between scenes. Loading times were also longer than usual, and occasionally there were touchscreen delays, but the jury's still out on whether it's a software or hardware issue.
The battery life on the Honor 6X is extremely impressive. It's a giant battery pack coupled with a lower resolution high definition display, so you'll get the energy savings though you won't have the most stellar 5.2-inch display on the block. That's okay! The battery life is worth it. The Honor 6X managed about eight and a half hours in a PCMark battery rundown test with the screen set just above 200 nits. As long as you don't use the Honor 6X at the highest screen brightness — you won't, because it becomes almost too bright — you'll likely experience similar results.
Honor 6X Cameras
The cameras are the best part of the Honor 6X.
The cameras are the best part of the Honor 6X — and I didn't think I'd be saying that about a budget device. The Honor 6X is equipped with dual rear-facing 12-megapixel and 2-megapixel cameras, both of which offer a wide aperture range (actual aperture is f/2.2) and can shoot 1080p video.
While you're not getting flagship quality photography here, the Honor 6X does perform well in low light situations and comes equipped with a manual shooting mode that lets you hold the shutter open for up to eight seconds. That's more than you'll get with other phones at this price.
Of course, budget phones come with their compromises. The camera will produce blown-out, overexposed outdoor scenes and blurry indoor candids from time to time, so when you get frustrated with that part of using a $250 smartphone, you can employ any of the Honor 6X's 16 different camera modes to cheer you up.
It's nice to see that Honor is honoring its users on a budget by not forcing them to compromise.
Take a chance at light painting (samples of which you can peep in the gallery above), set up a time-lapse, or get up close with the wide aperture mode, which allows you to shoot photos with a shallow depth of field (you can also sample that in the gallery above). There aren't many smartphones at this tier that offer such a range of camera modes, so it's nice to see that Honor is honoring its users on a budget by not forcing them to compromise.
Honor also takes great pride in its abilities to market to the youth of the world, which is why it didn't skimp on the front-facing camera. The Honor 6X boasts an 8-megapixel front-facing camera, which looks good! I'm still not a fan of the beauty mode, though, because I feel like it's too intense at times. But I finally figured out how to use that makeup mode and it can be convincing if you stick to the natural looks. The augmented reality couldn't keep up with my facial expressions, though:
Overall, I'm pleased with the Honor 6X's camera performance, and while it's more consistent at pointing-and-shooting than the Axon 7 Mini, it doesn't offer as much dynamic range.
Honor 6X Software
The Honor 6X comes with Android 6.0 Marshmallow buried underneath Huawei's rickety EMUI 4.1.
There's not much to say about an Android smartphone that ships with 2015's operating system in 2017. The Honor 6X comes with Android 6.0 Marshmallow buried underneath Huawei's rickety EMUI 4.1. I don't like an interface without an app drawer and my heart palpitates at the mere thought of having to unlock the 6X and witness its cramped home screen.
Thankfully, EMUI 5.0 is en route to deliver the Nougat update, as well as the ability to hide those oft-used apps in a drawer of their own. For now, you can rest easy knowing that the Honor 6X has some of the same features your Pixel and Galaxy S7-wielding brethren, like a night mode that yellows out the screen so that it's not migraine-inducing, and fingerprint gestures that are a cinch to set up.
Honor 6X The Bottom Line
A budget smartphone doesn't have to be a compromise. Rather than bundle in extraneous features, Honor paid attention to how the general populace uses their mobile devices and built around that, so that even if you're dropping a mere $250, you're still using something that can keep the pace with everyone else.
The execution of the Honor 6X is certainly promising, but I'm still doubtful about whether it will have any major traction with its sale numbers. Until Huawei gets a carrier in the bag, it's left floundering for buyers on Amazon, and that's really too bad. I would love to see more U.S. carriers push the purchase of a device like the Honor 6X over the LG K3, for example. People who are "on a budget" deserve smartphones that work well.
The Honor 6X isn't the perfect implementation, but it is paving the path.
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