Comparing a $250 handset to a $350-400 one might seem just a little unfair. After all, the more money you pay, the more phone you usually get. So instead, we're going to try and quantify whether the Honor 6X or Honor 8 delivers the better bang for your buck across four key categories.
Does paying an extra hundred bucks or so really give you a noticeably superior Android experience? Let's jump in!
Hardware + Build quality
Gone are the days when picking up an "affordable" phone meant compromising on its look and feel. Both the Honor 6X and Honor 8 punch above their weight in terms of build quality and materials. The 6X is a metallic beast, with lustrous chamfers and a sturdy in-hand feel. By contrast, the smaller Honor 8 combines two sheets of "2.5D" multi-layered glass to eye-catching effect. In the middle of that reflective sandwich sits an anodized aluminum trim.
The choice between these two on build quality largely comes down to you preference between glass and metal. However, with fewer noticeable plastic joins between the display and body — and a unique shimmering effect behind the glass — the Honor 8 pulls ahead. By comparison, the Honor 6X's anodized metal rear is a bit more run-of-the-mill — there's no shortage of phones with almost identical looking back panels.
Do you prefer hairline scratches or a smudgy, fingerprinty display?
An all-glass design comes with a few compromises of its own, however. The Honor 8 has become notorious for a few unfortunate side effects of its slick glass rear. Firstly, it's prone to (ever so slowly) sliding across flat surfaces when placed down, a phenomenon we've seen before in other flush, glass phones. And because lint and grit can easily become stuck to it, it's also pretty bad at picking up hairline scratches.
The Honor 6X commits a one big sins of its own, however, failing to include any kind of oleophobic coating on the screen, which means it gets gunked up with finger grease incredibly easily. It's an unfortunate money-saving decision which completely undermines the phone's primary input and output device, that 5.5-inch screen.
And for that reason, we have to swing our decision in the direction of the Honor 8. Saving a few bucks just isn't worth it.
Best value: Honor 8
|Category||Honor 8||Honor 6X|
|Operating System||Android 6.0.1, EMUI 4.1||Android 6.0.1, EMUI 4.1|
|Processor||Kirin 950||Kirin 655|
|Display||5.2-inch 1080p LCD||5.5-inch 1080p LCD|
|USB||Fast Charging, USB-C||microUSB, 5V/2A|
Software + Performance
Both devices are in a tricky spot right now in terms of software, with neither having yet received an update to Android 7.0 Nougat. (The Honor 8 is due shortly, and the 6X should follow sometime in early April.) So for the moment, it's a bit of a deadlock, with both phones ticking along on Huawei's EMUI 4.1 software, based on Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow.
The Nougat upgrade is a bigger deal for Huawei and Honor phones than other Android handsets, because it brings with it EMUI 5, a significant, meaningful improvement over the older version 4.1. Whereas EMUI 4.1 is aggressively customized, to the point of breaking parts of some apps — case in point: navigation notifications in Google Maps — EMUI 5 toes Google's software line a little more. In short, it feels more like an Android phone, and less like a mashup of iPhone visuals and features that weren't really tested in Western markets.
Both Honor phones are in a holding pattern until EMUI 5 drops.
As it stands, the software setup is almost identical on both, and that extends to many of the camera features, which rely on information from the second sensor. What's more, performance isn't noticeably slower on the 6X unless you've got both handsets sitting side-by-side.
So the decision on software has to come down to the timing of updates. The Honor 8 should be getting Nougat and EMUI 5 in a matter of weeks (or even days in some regions.) The Honor 6X, sitting a notch below the flagship tier, has a little longer to wait.
We'll have to revisit both phones once they get this all-important update, but for the time being, an imminent Android 7.0 update tips things in favor of the Honor 8.
Best value: Honor 8
Battery + Charging
A bigger screen necessitates a more capacious battery, and as such the Honor 6X boasts an 11 percent larger cell than its higher-end sibling. But things aren't quite as even as you might think when it comes to day-to-day longevity.
To start with, both phones perform admirably in this area, with long battery life able to see you to the end of an average day with ease, and an arsenal of battery-saving options if you're running low on juice. However the Honor 6X also has the power-sipping Kirin 655 processor working in its favor. Sure, it's not as speedy as the Kirin 950, but it also doesn't seem to consume anywhere near as much power in day-to-day tasks like social apps, web browsing and camera use.
Meanwhile the Honor 8 wins points for shipping with a reversible USB-C connector and offering 9V fast charging through through the bundled plug. It's a step ahead of the 6X technologically. So it's not really possible to call an overall winner here. Ultimately, it just depends on which you value more.
Best value: Tie
The Honor 6X and Honor 8 feature dual-camera setups around the back. In the case of the Honor 8, they're twin 12-megapixel sensors — one full color, the other monochrome. For the 6X, you're stepping down to 2 megapixels for the black-and-white sensor. But surprisingly, the difference in image quality outside of a few rare cases in low light really isn't that noticeable.
Or to put it another way, the cases where the Honor 8 produces a noticeably better shot than the Honor 6X are so few and far between that in my view, you might as well just go with the 6X.
I've talked up the Honor 6X camera previously, calling it the best imaging setup in a budget phone, and I stand by that. Much of the 6X's camera prowess comes from the software it shares with other Honor phones, allowing it to conjure up artistic depth effects based on data from the second sensor, and sharpen up shots in conditions where you'd expect things to become grainy.
The Honor 8 does pull ahead in a few fringe cases, for example supporting 4K video recording, and offering sharper definition in photos using Honor's fake depth-of-field effect. But ultimately, it's so close that this category has to go to the cheaper 6X by default.
Best value: Honor 6X
The bottom line
Overall, being a six-month-old "affordable flagship" phone, the Honor 8 represents better value for money than the more budget-oriented 6X. Part of that is due to successive price cuts, pushing the Honor 8 further towards 6X territory on some retailers.
But it's also important to consider the Honor 8's impending upgrade to EMUI 5, something which gives owners of the phone a far superior software experience. Meanwhile, the Honor 8 manages respectable battery life of over a single day. Its cameras, although not notably superior to the Honor 6X in all but the darkest conditions, match the mid-level competition. And although I'm no fan of the Honor 8's hovercraft-like tendency to slide off desks tables and even the occasional couch arm, I'm more turned off by the 6X's greasy, fingerprint-prone display.
Best value overall: Honor 8
Do you own an Honor 8 or Honor 6X? Share your thoughts down in the comments!
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