Honor 6X Review

Introduction


Smartphones may exist in a spectrum that runs from the most basic are-you-sure-this-didn't-launch-in-2012 model to the latest super-thin, no-bezel, costs-more-than-a-new-laptop flagship, but really successful handsets aren't those content to just land anywhere on that playing field. Instead, they set out to fill particular niches, targeting very specific sets of features, design elements, and pricing configurations.

Honor 6X Review
With its Honor brand, Huawei already decided to go after shoppers looking for a particularly good value from their phones, but even within the Honor lineup we see plenty of variance. The flagship Honor 8, for instance, manages to deliver ample amounts of eye-catching specs while still keeping its price down to just around $400 – still an affordable phone, but one that tries not to make too many compromises. Other Honor phones take that “affordable” tag even more seriously, serving as the budget phones amongst budget phones.

We're looking at just such a model today, the new Honor 6X. But while its $250 price tag (to say nothing of $200 flash sales) makes it a lot more wallet-friendly than the Honor 8, even it doesn't cut every corner to be found, and with features like dual main cameras and promises of battery life stretching past two days, Honor's really aiming to make a point about how very, very far your smartphone-buying dollar can go.

Is this really the little budget-phone that could, or yet another mid-ranger that fails to distinguish itself from the crowd?

In the box:

  • Honor 6X
  • 5V 2A Charger
  • Micro USB cable
  • SIM tool
  • User guide

Design

No-nonsense serious looks for a casual phone

Honor 6X Review

Sometimes the easiest way to tell you're looking at a low-priced smartphone is to just – well – look at it. Big bezels, poorly complementing materials, plastic, plastic, and more plastic: there's no shortage of warning signs that you're dealing with a budget _phone_ that's not trying too hard to blend in with the big boys.

But the Honor 6X doesn't immediately leave you with such a negative impression. The handset's profile is clean and sophisticated, and a smoothly curving metal back helps the handset fit in with models costing hundreds of dollars more. Sure, there are still signs that this isn't the cream of the smartphone crop, like plastic panels at the top and bottom of the phone's back, but they don't tend to really define your impression of this device. Instead, it's the dual cameras you notice, and the great in-hand feel you remember. It may be a cheap phone, but Honor very much succeeds at not reminding you of that fact.

Honor 6X Review
Honor 6X Review
Layout-wise, we've got your standard power button and volume rocker on the right edge, headphone jack up top, hybrid dual-SIM/microSD tray on the left, and our speaker grille and USB port down below – and while we're generally feeling pretty good about the effort the 6X is making to look and feel a little higher-tier than it is, the use of micro USB instead of USB Type-C is admittedly a bit of an oversight (this is 2017, already – come on).

Dead-center on the back we've got the phone's dual rear cameras, only ever-so-slightly sticking out from the rest of the panel, and right below those a smartly positioned fingerprint scanner. That scanner worked fantastically well during our usage, recognizing authenticated fingers in the blink of an eye and not bothering us with lots of false negatives.

Around front we find the expected earpiece, front-facer, and assorted sensors, but it's all nothing out of the ordinary. It's a pretty nondescript design, but that's to the 6X's credit – this doesn't scream “cheap phone.”

 

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Front view | Side view
honor 6x
honor 6x
5.94 x 3 x 0.32 inches
150.9 x 76.2 x 8.2 mm
5.71 oz (162 g)

honor 6x

honor 8
honor 8
5.73 x 2.8 x 0.29 inches
145.5 x 71 x 7.45 mm
5.40 oz (153 g)

honor 8

honor 5X
honor 5X
5.96 x 3 x 0.32 inches
151.3 x 76.3 x 8.15 mm
5.57 oz (158 g)

honor 5X

honor 7
honor 7
5.64 x 2.83 x 0.33 inches
143.2 x 71.9 x 8.5mm
5.54 oz (157 g)

honor 7




Display

Honor comes through with a pleasantly bright display

Honor 6X Review

Honor gives the 6X a 5.5-inch screen, a nice size for a budget model. It's a full-HD 1080 x 1920 display, which is right what we'd expect from a handset like this – 720p, and we'd be taking a much more critical position. To succeed with a screen like this, the 6X doesn't have to do that much; really it just has to avoid making any big mistakes.

And the good news for Honor is that it doesn't. Screen brightness is quite good, hitting around 500 nits in our testing. For the sake of comparison, that's not quite as bright as something like an iPhone 7, but actually a little big brighter than flagships like the Galaxy S7. And for a _phone_ at this price point, it's more than we could ask for.

Colors look pretty nice, and while our testing did suggest a little loss of fidelity with very saturated images, it's far, far from the worst we've seen in recent memory. Software options like color temperature adjustment, and a contrast-enhancing mode for use in bright sunlight help make that already-good display hardware even better.

The handset comes with a screen protector installed, but you're free to remove it if that's not your jam.

Display measurements and quality

Maximum brightness (nits)Higher is better Minimum brightness (nits)Lower is better Contrast Higher is better Color temperature (Kelvins) Gamma Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
honor 6x 506
(Excellent)
8
(Good)
1:1173
(Good)
7035
(Good)
2.11
5.26
(Average)
2.79
(Good)
honor 8 528
(Excellent)
5
(Excellent)
1:1508
(Excellent)
8502
(Poor)
2.23
5.26
(Average)
9.2
(Poor)
honor 5X 585
(Excellent)
7
(Good)
1:1251
(Excellent)
8021
(Poor)
2.19
2.9
(Good)
6.77
(Average)
honor 7 436
(Good)
9
(Average)
1:1611
(Excellent)
7682
(Average)
2.14
5.1
(Average)
5.61
(Average)
View all

The CIE 1931 xy color gamut chart represents the set (area) of colors that a display can reproduce, with the sRGB colorspace (the highlighted triangle) serving as reference. The chart also provides a visual representation of a display's color accuracy. The small squares across the boundaries of the triangle are the reference points for the various colors, while the small dots are the actual measurements. Ideally, each dot should be positioned on top of its respective square. The 'x: CIE31' and 'y: CIE31' values in the table below the chart indicate the position of each measurement on the chart. 'Y' shows the luminance (in nits) of each measured color, while 'Target Y' is the desired luminance level for that color. Finally, 'ΔE 2000' is the Delta E value of the measured color. Delta E values of below 2 are ideal.

These measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Color accuracy chart gives an idea of how close a display's measured colors are to their referential values. The first line holds the measured (actual) colors, while the second line holds the reference (target) colors. The closer the actual colors are to the target ones, the better.

These measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Grayscale accuracy chart shows whether a display has a correct white balance (balance between red, green and blue) across different levels of grey (from dark to bright). The closer the Actual colors are to the Target ones, the better.

These measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

View all


Honor 6X Review

Introduction


Smartphones may exist in a spectrum that runs from the most basic are-you-sure-this-didn't-launch-in-2012 model to the latest super-thin, no-bezel, costs-more-than-a-new-laptop flagship, but really successful handsets aren't those content to just land anywhere on that playing field. Instead, they set out to fill particular niches, targeting very specific sets of features, design elements, and pricing configurations.

Honor 6X Review
With its Honor brand, Huawei already decided to go after shoppers looking for a particularly good value from their phones, but even within the Honor lineup we see plenty of variance. The flagship Honor 8, for instance, manages to deliver ample amounts of eye-catching specs while still keeping its price down to just around $400 – still an affordable phone, but one that tries not to make too many compromises. Other Honor phones take that “affordable” tag even more seriously, serving as the budget phones amongst budget phones.

We're looking at just such a model today, the new Honor 6X. But while its $250 price tag (to say nothing of $200 flash sales) makes it a lot more wallet-friendly than the Honor 8, even it doesn't cut every corner to be found, and with features like dual main cameras and promises of battery life stretching past two days, Honor's really aiming to make a point about how very, very far your smartphone-buying dollar can go.

Is this really the little budget-phone that could, or yet another mid-ranger that fails to distinguish itself from the crowd?

In the box:

  • Honor 6X
  • 5V 2A Charger
  • Micro USB cable
  • SIM tool
  • User guide

Design

No-nonsense serious looks for a casual phone

Honor 6X Review

Sometimes the easiest way to tell you're looking at a low-priced smartphone is to just – well – look at it. Big bezels, poorly complementing materials, plastic, plastic, and more plastic: there's no shortage of warning signs that you're dealing with a budget phone that's not trying too hard to blend in with the big boys.

But the Honor 6X doesn't immediately leave you with such a negative impression. The handset's profile is clean and sophisticated, and a smoothly curving metal back helps the handset fit in with models costing hundreds of dollars more. Sure, there are still signs that this isn't the cream of the smartphone crop, like plastic panels at the top and bottom of the phone's back, but they don't tend to really define your impression of this device. Instead, it's the dual cameras you notice, and the great in-hand feel you remember. It may be a cheap phone, but Honor very much succeeds at not reminding you of that fact.

Honor 6X Review
Honor 6X Review
Layout-wise, we've got your standard power button and volume rocker on the right edge, headphone jack up top, hybrid dual-SIM/microSD tray on the left, and our speaker grille and USB port down below – and while we're generally feeling pretty good about the effort the 6X is making to look and feel a little higher-tier than it is, the use of micro USB instead of USB Type-C is admittedly a bit of an oversight (this is 2017, already – come on).

Dead-center on the back we've got the phone's dual rear cameras, only ever-so-slightly sticking out from the rest of the panel, and right below those a smartly positioned fingerprint scanner. That scanner worked fantastically well during our usage, recognizing authenticated fingers in the blink of an eye and not bothering us with lots of false negatives.

Around front we find the expected earpiece, front-facer, and assorted sensors, but it's all nothing out of the ordinary. It's a pretty nondescript design, but that's to the 6X's credit – this doesn't scream “cheap phone.”


Front view | Side view
honor 6x
honor 6x
5.94 x 3 x 0.32 inches
150.9 x 76.2 x 8.2 mm
5.71 oz (162 g)

honor 6x

honor 8
honor 8
5.73 x 2.8 x 0.29 inches
145.5 x 71 x 7.45 mm
5.40 oz (153 g)

honor 8

honor 5X
honor 5X
5.96 x 3 x 0.32 inches
151.3 x 76.3 x 8.15 mm
5.57 oz (158 g)

honor 5X

honor 7
honor 7
5.64 x 2.83 x 0.33 inches
143.2 x 71.9 x 8.5mm
5.54 oz (157 g)

honor 7




Display

Honor comes through with a pleasantly bright display

Honor 6X Review

Honor gives the 6X a 5.5-inch screen, a nice size for a budget model. It's a full-HD 1080 x 1920 display, which is right what we'd expect from a handset like this – 720p, and we'd be taking a much more critical position. To succeed with a screen like this, the 6X doesn't have to do that much; really it just has to avoid making any big mistakes.

And the good news for Honor is that it doesn't. Screen brightness is quite good, hitting around 500 nits in our testing. For the sake of comparison, that's not quite as bright as something like an iPhone 7, but actually a little big brighter than flagships like the Galaxy S7. And for a phone at this price point, it's more than we could ask for.

Colors look pretty nice, and while our testing did suggest a little loss of fidelity with very saturated images, it's far, far from the worst we've seen in recent memory. Software options like color temperature adjustment, and a contrast-enhancing mode for use in bright sunlight help make that already-good display hardware even better.

The handset comes with a screen protector installed, but you're free to remove it if that's not your jam.

Display measurements and quality

Maximum brightness (nits)Higher is better Minimum brightness (nits)Lower is better Contrast Higher is better Color temperature (Kelvins) Gamma Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
honor 6x 506
(Excellent)
8
(Good)
1:1173
(Good)
7035
(Good)
2.11
5.26
(Average)
2.79
(Good)
honor 8 528
(Excellent)
5
(Excellent)
1:1508
(Excellent)
8502
(Poor)
2.23
5.26
(Average)
9.2
(Poor)
honor 5X 585
(Excellent)
7
(Good)
1:1251
(Excellent)
8021
(Poor)
2.19
2.9
(Good)
6.77
(Average)
honor 7 436
(Good)
9
(Average)
1:1611
(Excellent)
7682
(Average)
2.14
5.1
(Average)
5.61
(Average)
View all

The CIE 1931 xy color gamut chart represents the set (area) of colors that a display can reproduce, with the sRGB colorspace (the highlighted triangle) serving as reference. The chart also provides a visual representation of a display's color accuracy. The small squares across the boundaries of the triangle are the reference points for the various colors, while the small dots are the actual measurements. Ideally, each dot should be positioned on top of its respective square. The 'x: CIE31' and 'y: CIE31' values in the table below the chart indicate the position of each measurement on the chart. 'Y' shows the luminance (in nits) of each measured color, while 'Target Y' is the desired luminance level for that color. Finally, 'ΔE 2000' is the Delta E value of the measured color. Delta E values of below 2 are ideal.

These measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Color accuracy chart gives an idea of how close a display's measured colors are to their referential values. The first line holds the measured (actual) colors, while the second line holds the reference (target) colors. The closer the actual colors are to the target ones, the better.

These measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Grayscale accuracy chart shows whether a display has a correct white balance (balance between red, green and blue) across different levels of grey (from dark to bright). The closer the Actual colors are to the Target ones, the better.

These measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

View all


Interface and Functionality

EMUI is back for better or worse, but you'll have to wait for 5.0


The EMUI interface the Honor 6X runs is one of the better-done manufacturer skins you'll find. It adds tons of options for users who like to fiddle with their phone's appearance and functionality, changing screen layout density, modifying the data displayed in the status bar, setting notification options, and plenty more. Maybe the biggest adjustment is splitting the notification shade's notifications and settings shortcuts into two distinct pages, but even that only adds a single extra swipe to regular usage.

But while this is an interface we know and like, it's also one that's starting to show its age just a little bit, and the Honor 6X arrives running the Marshmallow-based EMUI 4.1, rather than EMUI 5.0 with its Nougat core. The good news there is EMUI 5.0 is coming (currently on track for release before the second half of the year), but that still means a few months of being behind the times.

Processor and Memory

Huawei's Kirin chips continue to show they can compete favorably with the big boys

Honor 6X Review

The Honor 6X runs one of Huawei's own Kirin chipsets, the octa-core Kirin 655. While core-count is far from a reliable indicator of handset performance, the 655 really does feel like a capable processor, and tasks like web browsing were extremely satisfying – not just in terms of smooth scrolling, but also exceptionally speedy load times.

Synthetic benchmarks reveal the 6X's limitations, though, but even that said, the phone still manages to outperform other super-affordable models like the Moto G4 family – though Huawei's own budget-priced Nova phones do eke by the 6X in terms of raw performance.

Instead of giving shoppers a lot of different configuration options, Honor keeps things simple for the 6X: everybody gets 3GB of RAM and 32GB storage. Those both may seem meager by flagship standards, but aren't bad at all for a phone in this price range – and the option to pop in a microSD card for extra storage space is a welcome addition.

Performance benchmarks

AnTuTu
Higher is better
honor 6x 56493
honor 8 89824
honor 5X 35183
honor 7 42696
Vellamo Metal
Higher is better
honor 6x 1498
honor 8 2922
honor 5X 1108
honor 7 998
Vellamo Browser
Higher is better
honor 6x 2775
honor 8 4758
honor 5X 2327
honor 7 1892
JetStream
Higher is better
honor 6x 26.814
honor 8 45.665
GFXBench T-Rex HD on-screen
Higher is better
honor 6x 19
honor 8 40
honor 5X 15
honor 7 9
GFXBench Manhattan on-screen
Higher is better
honor 6x 4.8
honor 8 18
honor 5X 6
honor 7 2.7
Basemark OS II
Higher is better
honor 6x 1299
honor 8 1957
honor 7 1080
View all

Connectivity

Honor makes good on its focus on US sales with decent band support

With this big a focus on US sales, it should come as no surprise that the Honor 6X is well equipped to take advantage of American cell bands, and its LTE support will treat you just fine whether you're hoping to pop in an AT&T or a T-Mobile SIM – though it's worth noting that the handset lacks support for AT&T's band 17 (but the rest are very much there).

Dual-SIM support also gives you the flexibility to play around a little with how you get your mobile connectivity, but everything else here is pretty standard: Bluetooth 4.1, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi – you shouldn't go wanting for anything.

Camera

Dual cameras come off as a little gimmicky, but at least it's a fun gimmick

Honor 6X Review
Honor 6X Review
Honor 6X Review

With so many smartphones on the market, manufacturers are more and more desperate to make their own models stand out, and one of the more popular recent trends has been doubling-up on camera hardware. The iPhone 7 Plus does it. The Honor 8 does it. And while the Honor 6X pulls the very same trick, its effort is of particular note if only due to this feature being so rare on really low-priced hardware.

There's more than one way to do dual cameras: you can mix and match lenses for zoom effects, or combine full-color and B&W sensors for a best-of-both-worlds situation where you get great color reproduction and exceptional low-light performance. The Honor 6X, though, takes a page more from the dual-camera layout you might know from old HTC phones, with one primary camera (here a 12MP component), and a secondary, lower-res (2MP) camera that's mainly taken advantage of for special photographic effects. Let's take a look at how well that arrangement works

Image quality


This kind of camera setup means that you shouldn't expect quite the same kind of performance as you'll find on the Honor 8 with its own dual cameras – and in our briefing with the company, Honor explained that the 6X's dual cameras are meant more for users looking to have fun with the flexible hardware, rather than necessarily shooting a museum-quality shot each time.

And while the second sensor does allow for a kind-of-neat extended aperture shooting mode (think: like Portrait mode on the iPhone 7 Plus), it also suffers from the very same drawbacks: since that sort of out-of-focus bokeh effect is produced with the help of software algorithms, it's not uncommon for the software to trip up when dealing with complicated scene arrangements or unclear borders. The result there is that you'll get areas blurred-out that should be sharp, and sharp bits that should have faded into the background. While that makes it a bit inconsistent, there's still the potential to get some nice results out of it – it just may take a few times to nail the look you're going for.

Since the 6X saves all its data from both cameras, you can even re-adjust the aperture (and consequently, the bokeh effect), after your image is already taken.

In general, images shot with the Honor 6X's camera look pretty decent, with no major focus problems, true-to-life-looking saturation, and relatively speedy operation. Some pics risked coming out a bit dark (or looking like they were contrast-enhanced), but that's nothing that playing with exposure levels can't fix.

A solid assortment of special shooting modes are available, from standards like HDR and a manual “pro” mode, to beautifying effects, extended-exposure light painting mode, and even one just for taking shots of food. Post-capture editing modes are pretty nice, too, like a “splash” effect that turns your pics black-and-white, then lets you selectively restore color.

Camera speed

Taking a pic (sec)Lower is better Taking an HDR pic (sec)Lower is better CamSpeed score Higher is better CamSpeed score with flash Higher is better
honor 6x 1.8
2
666
No data
honor 8 2.1
2.2
No data
No data
honor 5X 3
3.5
556
506
honor 7 3.7
4.3
416
314
View all

Video recording


Honor doesn't really push the 6X too hard in terms of video performance – no 4K support to be found – but what it does accomplish it does so well. Both 1080p and 720p filming modes look good (with 1080p coming across understandably sharper), recorded audio sounds really nice, and video refocus times are quick and speedy.


Multimedia

Decent speakers and a present headphone jack don't disappoint

As we already noted, the display on the Honor 6X is a good one, with a bright picture and reasonably nice colors. That's just part of the multimedia experience, though, so how's the sound?

In short: all kinds of fine. That is, it's not particularly great, but we don't have any huge complaints, either. It can get pretty loud when cranked up, and while we'd love some front-facing speaker action, the bottom-edge placement here is sufficient. The weakest point may be a sound profile that makes mid-tones and treble stand out at the expense of the bass range, but that's hardly uncommon in phones. If you need a little more “oomph,” just slap on a pair of your favorite headphones; at least there's still a 3.5mm jack present.

Audio output

Headphones output power (Volts)
Higher is better
honor 6x 0.152
honor 8 0.42
honor 5X 0.52
Loudspeaker loudness (dB)
Higher is better
honor 6x 72.2
honor 8 73.3
honor 5X 73.7
honor 7 77
View all


Call Quality


Honor 6X Review
There's nothing much to point out about the Honor 6X's voice-call prowess: suffice it to say, voice calls work. We found call quality to be not at all disappointing, with good fidelity on both our end and our caller's. The phone's body is also decently comfortable to hold during extended calls – a little on the larger side, granted, but you should get by without any excessive juggling.

Battery Life

Go easy on the 6X, and you could easily be looking at two-day-plus battery life

Honor 6X Review

With a mid-range phone, you have to be careful not to over-promise. That said, Honor couldn't help itself but to start talking about beyond-two-day battery life when promoting the 6X. While that's pretty bold, it's also not completely out of the realm of consideration.

Honor gives the 6X a really good-sized 3,340 mAh battery; that's not too much smaller than the battery on a larger phablet like the Note 7. And combined with this handset's power-sipping hardware, that allows for some pretty impressive extended-usage sessions.

In our custom battery tests, we clocked a hair over 10 hours of screen-on time. Now, you're probably not going to push your own phone nearly so hard, and with regular usage you're almost sure to stretch things into a second day without recharging – and if you take things real conservatively, pushing past into day number three could be very plausible.

Sadly, recharge times aren't nearly as impressive, and our handset took over three hours to get its battery back up to capacity after being fully discharged.

Battery Benchmarks

Battery life (hours)
Higher is better
honor 6x 10h 1 min (Excellent)
honor 8 9h 7 min (Excellent)
honor 5X 6h 54 min (Average)
honor 7 8h 2 min (Excellent)
Charging time (minutes)
Lower is better
honor 6x 191
honor 8 98
honor 5X 170
honor 7 114
View all

Conclusion


Honor 6X Review

Honor does a lot right with the 6X. The phone's attractive, while not being particularly flashy, offers some solid hardware for casual usage without getting weighed down by too many extraneous bells and whistles, and runs software that, while it's getting a little old, is all kinds of functional and customizable.

Our biggest complaints are mainly in areas where Honor aimed a little too high, like the dual camera: it's a decent shooter, and its wide-aperture mode can produce some neat effects, but it ultimately feels a little gimmicky – and certainly more so than the dual cameras on the Honor 8. But it's also far from a disaster, and if you keep its limitations in mind, you'll still get plenty of usage out of it.

The most important thing about this phone, though, is how it's being sold. Part of that equation is the pricing, and at $250 the Honor 6X comes across as a more affordable option than competition like the ZTE Axon 7 Mini. And if you're able to score the phone through one of Honor's flash sales for an extra $50 off, that value becomes significantly better.

The other half of that formula is Honor's convenient online ordering system: just fire up its website, choose the 6X in your choice of silver, gray, or gold, and you're a few clicks away from having a new phone on the way to your door. How much of your shopping is done online now, and why should phone-buying be any different?

All this adds up to making the Honor 6X a strong contender for one of the better mid-range handsets you can buy right now. MWC may muddy the waters a bit in a few weeks with all sorts of new smartphones, but in early 2017, it's easy to recommend the 6X to someone looking to get a great deal on some pretty capable smartphone hardware.