Honor is still attempting to make strides in the U.S., but is the 6X compelling enough?

You really have to hand it to Honor. Huawei's millennial-focused offshoot is still spitting out smartphones despite the relatively tepid reception of its previous two devices in the U.S. Remember, Honor has no carrier backing stateside, which puts it at a disadvantage compared to the rest of the brood. It's unlikely that the launch of the Honor 6X, the smartphone announced at this year's CES, will do much to move the needle either.

Regardless, that's not a reason to write it off. The Honor 6X is a compelling device, even though it's not as sparkly and showy as its flagship sibling, the Honor 8. Pricing has yet to be finalized, but what we've previewed of the Honor 6X is a fair reminder of what Huawei's capable of when it throws a device into the ring — and that's offering major bang for your buck. This midrange device may run on middle-of-the-road hardware, but it really does offer more than the average smartphone in its price point (sub-$250). Now, if it only the company had the marketing to get that point across.

Honor 6X Specs

Category Spec
Operating System Android 6.0 Marshmallow
EMUI 4.1
Display 5.5-inch 1920x1080 (403 ppi)
Processor Huawei Kirin 655 Octa-Core
4x 2.1 GHz + 4x 1.7 GHz
Storage 32GB (U.S.)
32/64GB (global)
Expandable microSD card
RAM 3GB (U.S.)
3/4GB (global)
Rear Camera 12MP (main) + 2MP (secondary)
Wide aperture range f/0.95-f/16
1080p video
Front Camera 8MP
Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n, 2.4 GHz, Bluetooth 4.1, GPS
Network (U.S.) FDD-LTE Band 2/4/5/12/20, TD-LTE Band 38
HSPA Band 1/2/8
GSM 850/900/1800/1900 MHz
Network (Global) FDD-LTE Band 1/3/7/8, TD-LTE Band 38
HSPA Band 1/2/8
GSM 850/900/1800/1900 MHz
Charging Micro-USB
Battery 3340 mAh
Water resistance No
Security One-touch fingerprint sensor
Dimensions 150.9 x 76.2 x 8.2 mm
Weight 162 g
Colors Grey, gold, silver

Honor 6X Fundamentals

The Honor 6X's fingerprint sensor doesn't offer push-button action like the Honor 8.

Like last year's Honor 5X, which also debuted on the CES show floor, the Honor 6X already exists overseas. Americans will see the same-looking hardware; the main differences are in network bands and storage space. (If you're curious, we've got the a comparison between the Honor 6X, Honor 8, and Honor 5X.)

Design wise, the Honor 6X isn't a far departure from its predecessor. It sports the same hard aluminum lines, slight curvature on the edges, dual stacked rear-facing camera lenses, and a rear-facing fingerprint scanner that, again, proves the backside is the most practical place for it. The fingerprint scanner offers a few tricks, too: you can program gestures to do things like snap a photo, answer a call, or bring down the notification panel, though the 6X doesn't offer push-button action like the Honor 8.

This isn't the kind of hardware that will move mountains.

The Honor 6X is still living in the past, as far as ports go. It still has a 3.5mm headphone jack, but you might groan when you see its Micro-USB port. On the plus side, you'll easily be able to buy a replacement cord from even the shadiest of bodegas around the block, but you won't reap the benefits that come with a USB-C connection, and that includes rapid charging of its massive 3340 mAh battery pack.

Inside, the Honor 6X is paired with a decidedly midrange processor, the octa-core HiSilicon Kirin 655. It's a moderate piece of kit, considering the cost of the phone — it retails about $150 in China, with pricing yet to-be-determined for the U.S. — but this isn't the kind of hardware that will move mountains. At the very least, the Honor 6X is paired with 3GB of RAM, so that'll help keep it chugging along as apps become even more demanding over time, but you're definitely not jumping into virtual reality with this thing.

It's worth noting that my Honor 6X preview unit is not running finalized software. The actual device will ship with EMUI 4.1 on top of Android 6.1, with the update to EMUI 5.0 on top of Nougat hitting in February. However, whatever is running on the Honor 6X at the time of writing is infuriating to use.

There are constant touchscreen display issues, and I have grown increasingly impatient each time I have to type something because of the frequent lag. I asked my colleague, Justus Perry, if he saw an increase in performance on the 6X after a software update was pushed to his preview unit, but his device was still having trouble registering his touches after the fact.

Honor 6X Camera

I can't offer a definitive preview of the interface that comes with the Honor 6X because of the "beta state" of the software, but at least I can gush a bit about its dual rear-facing 12-megapixel and 2-megapixel camera combination. I'm continually impressed by Honor's camera hardware, particularly in its cheap devices. This isn't the kind of camera performance you would expect from a smartphone of this caliber, but look at how neat this wide aperture effect is.

The wide aperture mode is neat.

You can even edit the focus of the photo and its color schematic long after you've snapped the photo from right within the gallery. Photos snapped with the Honor 6X may not be as vibrantly hued compared to a flagship device, or even the Honor 8, but they're entirely passable if this is the only device you can afford to take with you overseas, for instance.

This feature is not ok.

The Honor 6X's 8-megapixel front-facing camera is certainly fit for selfies, too. You have access to a beauty mode, which blurs out your face and reminds you that society is incredibly unkind to aging individuals, as well as a makeup mode, which is not as convincing as I'd hoped it would be.

I appreciate the breadth of camera options offered with the Honor 6X. Even if you don't particularly care for a Pro mode or a neat light painting effect, those features are all built into the native camera app. The interface is exceptionally intuitive, too, which is saying something considering the current state of EMUI. One swipe left takes you to the various camera modes, while a swipe right takes you to the video mode. You can record up to 1080p full HD video.

Honor 6X Final thoughts

I was quite enchanted by the Honor 8, particularly because of its striking blue chassis, but also because of the incredible value offered at its price point. But that device is considered a flagship, while the Honor 6X is a measly midrange offering for cash-strapped millennials — and it acts like it, too!

I'm looking forward to using the Honor 6X with its finalized Nougat software to experience what's next on the horizon from this massive Chinese manufacturer. However, nothing I say will convince America to buy these phones, especially considering the competition. Honor needs carrier marketing behind it if it plans to ever make strides stateside. Hopefully, it'll make a point to hone in on the fact that this is a pretty decent package for a mere $249, which is what the company plans to offer it for when it's on sale later this month.