Solid build quality
Fast fingerprint reader
Good price to performance ratio
EMUI feels unpolished
No USB Type-C
Washed out display
Huawei is on a roll with their mid-range sub-brand Honor, which includes a slew of high-quality yet affordable smartphones that only get better with every iteration. The latest addition to the series, the Honor 6X, may share some similarities with its predecessor, but a more refined design and quite a few hardware improvements are available this time around.
Is that enough to make the latest Honor smartphone a worthy contender in the ever-competitive mid-range segment? We find out, in this in-depth Honor 6X review!
The Honor 6X retains the composite metal design of its predecessor, which means that while the design does feature metal elements, it doesn’t come with a full metal unibody construction. The metal back plate is surrounded by plastic windows at the top and bottom to help with network reception, and with the metal now wrapping around to the front, you will find a plastic frame that goes around the outer edges of the glass instead.
It may not feel as “premium” as its full metal unibody counterparts, but the build quality is excellent nonetheless. There’s very little to complain about on the design front, especially when you consider this phone’s low price point.
The 6X may not feel as 'premium' as some of its competition, but the build quality is excellent nonetheless
The 6X also sports a slightly more curvy design when compared to its predecessors. The back plate tapers along the edges and corners, resulting in a far more comfortable in-hand feel.
Overall, the buttons on the 6X don’t feel very tactile and don’t offer the satisfying click that many users look for, which is unfortunate. On the left side of the device, you’ll find the power button and volume rocker, while the headphone jack is placed at the top. On the bottom of the device you’ll find the microUSB port, flanked by two grills – one that houses the speaker unit, and one that hides the microphone.
Finally, the right side of the device houses the dual-SIM card slot/microSD card tray. There’s also a fingerprint sensor on the back, which sits below the dual-camera sensor.
Up front is a 5.5-inch LCD display with a 1080p resolution, and it is a fine display overall. Sharpness isn’t an issue and it gets bright enough to allow for comfortable outdoor visibility. However, my main gripe with this screen is that the colors appear to be pretty washed out. That said, it does get the job done, and the large display provides a good experience when browsing the web, playing games and watching videos. Considering the affordable price of this device, any flaws with the display are easily forgiven.
Under the hood, the Honor 6X comes with Huawei’s own mid-range processor, the Kirin 655, backed by 3GB of RAM. There’s also a global version of the device available with 4GB of RAM. This is a significant upgrade in processing power and RAM when compared to its predecessor, and it shows in the performance, which is impressive for a mid-range smartphone.
Everything is as fluid and responsive as expected in everyday use, and the device also handles graphically-intensive gaming with little issue. Performance is easily one of the highlights of the Honor 6X, especially when you consider the price to performance ratio.
As mentioned, the Honor 6X comes with a hybrid dual-SIM card slot, which means that users will have to make the choice between dual-SIM capabilities or expandable storage.
The bottom-firing speaker is very easy to muffle when using the phone in landscape
The single bottom-mounted speaker unit seems to be a lot quieter than most other smartphones I’ve used that feature single speakers. As is the case with any bottom-firing speaker, it is easy to muffle with your hand when using the phone in the landscape orientation. Apart from the weak speaker, another hardware miss is the lack of NFC, which means that if you are someone who is used to features like tap to transfer or various mobile payment systems, you are unfortunately out of luck with the Honor 6X.
Of course, there are some positives on the hardware side as well, starting with the fingerprint scanner. Placed right below the camera unit on the back, the fingerprint sensor is very fast and accurate, and I rarely had any issues with it misreading my fingerprint. In fact, it would even be safe to say that the quality of the fingerprint scanner is at par with what is found with most high-end flagship smartphones out there.
Apart from unlocking the device, the fingerprint scanner can also be used to capture photos and videos, answer phone calls, stop alarms, bring down the notification shade by swiping down, and browse through photos in the gallery by swiping left or right, which are all useful features to have. These are the kind of small touches that make the phone much easier to use with one hand.
Another plus for the Honor 6X is battery life, with the device coming with a large 3,340mAh unit. Huawei claims that the Honor 6X can last for as long as two days with moderate usage and for 1.5 days with heavy usage, which is certainly a very lofty claim. I did get around 1.5 days of battery life quite consistently though, with usage that involved a lot of gaming and a fair amount of watching videos on Youtube.
Not many smartphones live up to the battery life claims of their manufacturers, and the fact that the Honor 6X manages it is certainly noteworthy. It uses very little power when in standby mode, which can be attributed to the efficiency of the Kirin 655 processor, but even with constant use, the device can last a long time. Most of my days ended with the phone still having at least 50% of battery left. It’s quite a nice feeling to have to charge your smartphone every other day, and not have to frantically look for charger at inopportune moments.
We’ve seen a lot of smartphones release this year featuring dual-camera setups – many from Huawei itself – but what Huawei claims is impressive about the Honor 6X is the fact that it is the first smartphone in its price range to come with this feature. Every dual-camera setup utilizes the secondary camera differently, and the Honor 6X comes with a 12MP primary shooter and 2MP secondary unit, with the latter being used purely to capture depth information that can be taken advantage of when using the camera’s wide aperture mode.
The Honor 6X is the first phone in this price range to come with a dual-camera setup
The wide aperture mode lets you dial in the aperture from f/16 down to as wide as f/0.95, which allows for a very large bokeh effect. While changing the aperture does give you more or less depth of field, it doesn’t allow more light into the camera, so it’s not a true aperture change in the purest sense. However, the bokeh effect does work quite well and looks very convincing.
For the best results when utilizing the bokeh effect, it is recommended to keep the focus point on subjects in the foreground, as switching the focus point to subjects in the background can make the bokeh effect look artificial.
The rest of the camera app is easy to navigate. Swiping to the left takes you to the general camera settings, and a swipe to the right will give you access to a good selection of shooting modes, including a beauty mode, night shot, manual mode, and a mode for scanning documents.
The overall camera experience has been quite impressive. It is fast to focus and capture photos, and the photos are surprisingly very pleasant, especially for a mid-range smartphone. The photos come with excellent color reproduction, are well detailed, and the camera does a great job with balancing highlights and shadows, which certainly wasn’t expected from a device in this price range.
It also performs fairly well in low-light situations. Highlights are mostly kept in check, with only a few rare occasions where they would appear overexposed. It is only in the poorest of lighting conditions where the camera falls apart completely, but most low-light shots are perfectly usable, with pictures coming with a fair amount of detail and minimal noise.
On the software side of things, you get the Emotion UI skin on top of Android 6.0 Marshmallow, but an official update to Android 7.0 Nougat is expected to arrive shortly. The user interface is very bright, colorful, and somewhat cartoonish, and you get everything that we’ve seen from the EMUI in the past, like the transparency effects and the lack of an app drawer.
EMUI 4.1 is bright, colorful, but slightly polarizing if you're not used to it
The notification panel is still split into two tabs: one tab for notifications, and another for Quick Settings, which is a layout that doesn’t feel as easy to use as what we have with stock Android. Especially if you have a long list of notifications, it becomes nearly impossible to swipe over to the Quick Settings page without accidentally clearing out all the notifications. For an unlocked smartphone, the Honor 6X also comes with quite a few bloatware applications, including Booking.com, CNN, TripAdvisor, News Republic and Lyft.
If you are used to the Emotion UI already, then the software experience will be entirely familiar, but it may not be your cup of tea if you are someone who prefers something that is closer to stock Android.
|Display||5.5-inch IPS LCD display
1920 x 1080 resolution
|Processor||Octa-core HiSilicon Kirin 655|
|MicroSD||Yes, up to 256GB|
|Cameras||Rear: Dual 12 and 2MP with phase detection autofocus, LED flash, 1.25µm pixel size, wide aperture range from f/0.95 - f/16
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n, 2.4GHz
GPS/AGPS/Glonass/BeiDou Navigation Satellite System
|Sensors||Hall effect sensor
Ambient light sensor
Phone status indicator
|Software||Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow
Emotion UI 4.1
|Dimensions and weight||150.9 x 76.2 x 8.2mm, 162g|
|Colors||Gray, Gold, Silver|
Pricing and final thoughts
In the US, pre-orders for the device start January 4, while sales will kick off on January 10. The device will officially go on sale through HiHonor, Amazon, Best Buy and Newegg for just $249.99, while customers will also be able to take advantage of a number of flash sales to save some money. To get more details on the special pricing and promotion updates, sign up at store.hihonor.com/us.
In Europe, the device will go on sale tomorrow, January 4, in quite a few countries including the UK, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, and the Netherlands. The device can be purchased from Vmall.eu and Amazon for just €249.
So there you have it for our full Honor 6X review! If you are considering picking up this phone, the great news is that it will put only a very small dent in your wallet. With its price point of just $249.99, the Honor 6X is priced low enough to not step on any toes of the budget-friendly flagships like the OnePlus 3T, the Axon 7, and even the Honor 8, which is great, because that isn’t the segment the Honor 6X can compete in. However, with dual cameras, a long lasting battery, an excellent fingerprint sensor, and an asking price of only $250 makes the Honor 6X is going to be one of the most competitive phones that you’ll be find in its price range.