Honor 6X Review: For All Ye Who Seek Bokeh on a Budget
Earlier this year, Huawei, Honor’s parent brand won rave reviews for the dual cameras on the back of Huawei P9, with Leica technology. It was not the first one to come up with the concept of dual cameras (Honor itself had dual cameras in the 6 Plus earlier) but the P9 was definitely the first one to gain a lot of attention. So much so that after its launch, dual cameras almost became a trend, albeit a niche one – the idea of having dual cameras was largely associated with high-end smartphones. But that seems to be changing. Coolpad recently launched the dual camera-laden Cool 1 and now Honor has come to the party with the Honor 6X. Yes, it has a dual camera on the back, which is its USP and its price tag of Rs 12,999 (for the base model) seems compelling. But does it make it worthy of an investment? Read on to find out…
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Different But Not Distinct Design
“A little bit of this and a little bit of that”, must have been a part of the conversation on the table where the 6X was being conceptualized. Although Honor 6X is not actually like every other smartphone falling in the budget or mid-range segment but we think it is not too far off from the set template, too. The smartphone from the front looks like any other smartphone in the market. It comes with a full HD 5.5-inch screen with screen resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. The front comes with three on-screen buttons and the chin of the smartphone sports just the logo of the company.
We actually do not like the concept of on-screen navigation buttons because we think it totally defeats the purpose of having a chin on a smartphone, and hey, it eats up screen space! Perhaps the chin could have been smaller if there were going to be no buttons on it anyway. Coming back to the front which is majorly dominated by the screen, the smartphone carries the proximity sensor, the earpiece and the front camera from left to right. There is also a teeny-weeny light emitting sensor on the left which is for notification purposes. The display of the smartphone is bright and can be comfortably used on a bright sunny day.
We received the gold variant of the smartphone which came with a white front and a gold back but unlike most smartphones where the back and the front blend into one another relatively seamlessly, we think in the case of the Honor 6X we felt like the back and the front are two completely different parts which have been slapped together but having said that, the Honor 6X is not a bad looking device at all.
The back of the smartphone is nice and golden – not glittery gold, but a very subtle gold. The 6X boasts an all-metal unibody design which looks better than smartphones with plastic backs but the design will not turn heads or create curiosity. The back curves around the edges which make the 6X very comfortable to hold even for those who have small hands.The smartphone measures 50.90 x 72.60 x 8.20 mm and weighs 162 grams.
There are two antenna bands on the back, one on top while the other one is on the lower part but unlike many smartphones that come with shimmery antenna bands, Honor has kept it low key and chosen to go with just lines. Between the two not-so-glamorous antenna bands resides the USP of the smartphone which is the dual camera set-up. The pair of cameras is placed vertically one below the other and is jutting out. The flash is placed on the right side to the cameras. Just below them, in the same vertical line, the company has placed a circular fingerprint scanner. The FPS works fast enough and registering one’s fingerprint is a cake walk. It can also be used for clicking pictures, pulling the notification bar down amongst many other functions. The company has again placed the logo of the brand on the back just above the antenna band on the lower part for some reason – clearly, the branding on the front was not enough.
The sides follow the typical design pattern where the volume button is placed on the right side along with the power button and the left side holds the hybrid SIM card tray. The top of the smartphone holds the 3.5 mm audio jack and the mic, and the smartphone comes with two speaker grilles on the base along with a micro USB port which is placed between the two grilles. The company has not used the new Type-C connector, which some might see as a drawback, considering the number of brands opting for it even at this price point.
Good Multitasking but Heavy Duty Games, Kindly Keep Distance
The Honor 6X runs on the company’s in-house 2.1 GHz Kirin 655 octa-core chipset with Mali-T830MP2 GPU. The smartphone comes in two variants; the first one comes with 3 GB RAM and 32 GB internal storage whereas the second one comes with 4 GB RAM and 64 GB storage – we received the latter.
The smartphone handled multitasking easily. We constantly switched from social media apps to text messaging apps, to video streaming apps and the Honor 6X passed the test with flying colors. The device also handles casual gaming well and works just fine when it comes to games like Candy Crush, Colour Switch and Temple Run. But when it comes to heavy duty games, the lagging begins. In Games like Asphalt Extreme, NFS No Limits, we witness stutters and lags and had to wait for a fair bit of time before we could actually even make another move. Yes, we had witnessed some stutters in the Nubia N1 (which falls in the same price range), the 6X definitely made the Nubia N1 looks better. The Honor 6X got an Antutu score of 36266 which is almost 10,000 less than what Nubia N1 had and falls short of the scores of budget devices like Redmi 3S Prime and Lenovo K6 Power as well.
Third Party Apps? Not A Problem With This One
The smartphone runs on Android Marshmallow 6.0 topped with Huawei’s in-house EMUI 4.1 software. We found the interface to be smooth and clutter free. The 6X comes with many pre-installed apps but because only the essential apps (like contacts, gallery, themes, settings) appear in the main, and the third party apps are kept in folders like Tools and Top Apps, the experience is confusion free.
It does not come with as many UI bells and whistles as the Nubia N1 did (but then not too many phones do) but has some nice UI touches like flip to mute, one-hand UI, but no, there’s nothing like the Secure Zone on the K6 Note. It is a clean uncluttered interface but some might find it a bit too simple when compared to some of its competitors.
Cameras: Not-So-Consistent Bokeh Beast
The camera(s) is the USP of the honor 6X. The smartphone comes with a pair of cameras on the back and one front camera for selfies. The dual camera on the back of the Honor 6X is a combination of two sensors; one is a 12-megapixel shooter while the other is 2-megapixel. As per the company, the former one is responsible for image detailing and colors while the latter is mainly there to analyze the depth of field in the images. The camera offers you variable aperture from f/0.95 to f/16 which essentially increases or decreases the amount of bokeh in the picture. It also offers you 16 modes including Pro Photo, Beauty, HDR, Light Painting and Time Lapse amongst others, which one can use to improve or alter the pictures taken. The camera UI provides the users with various options to play around, but those who like the simple point and shoot method can stick to the same without getting into all the technicalities.
The camera can take some really good shots in well-lit conditions. It produced surprisingly detailed pictures and the color reproduction is very close to reality. But if the camera story till now seems like a perfect fairy tale, there is a Medusa-like character in it too, a sort of anti-hero like element. The camera on the Honor 6X takes great pictures but the smartphone takes a fair bit of time to process these pictures. We also experienced a certain lag in the gallery app of the Honor 6X which was a little annoying. Bokeh, which is the highlight when it comes to the camera turned out to be a little inconsistent as well. The handset can offer you with some stellar pictures when it comes to objects with defined background and foreground or when there are not too many subjects in the foreground but it can look highly artificial when the background and foreground are a little similar or if there are too many objects in the foreground. One can also change the bokeh-ed part in a picture once the picture is taken through the gallery app, which at times ironically seems to defeat the purpose of having a second sensor for depth of field.
The handset comes with an 8.0-megapixel front shooter which is rather nice. The UI offers a small window screen when on timer mode where you are supposed to look while taking selfies for the camera to get your expressions perfectly. The feature works but can be baffling on some levels. The colors produced by the secondary camera can be a tad over saturated but just like its sibling on the back, this one also is one of the best in this price segment.
Must Read: Detailed Camera Review of Honor 6X
Battery: The Kirin Magic Works Again…
Although the USP of the Honor 6X is the dual camera stacked on its back, the 3,340 mAh battery is also one of the highlights of the product. We have seen the Kirin processor handle battery pretty well in the case of Honor 5C which had a relatively small battery in terms of numbers (at least in these 4000 mAh battery days) and we saw a very similar result in the case of 6X as well. The smartphone can easily last a day to a day and a half when used heavily and can even last for two days when used with a little care.
The 6X does not support quick charging but because it actually is not a humongous battery it does not take ages for the battery to get charged. It definitely picks up points in this department. Call quality was decent and the sound while not in the league of the Dolby Atmos-laden K6 Power and K6 Note, was decent without being outstanding.
Verdict: Dual cameras just got affordable
We think the Honor 6X is one of the best camera phones available in this segment, and at Rs 12,999 for the base 3 GB/ 32 GB model, offers a fair deal of camera muscle. The 4 GB/ 64 GB edition at Rs 15,999 might strike some as a trifle on the expensive side when you consider the Coolpad Cool 1 offers dual cameras at a lower price and of course there is now the looming shadow of the Lenovo Z2 Plus, whose Snapdragon 820 goodness comes in a 3 GB/ 32 GB edition comes for Rs 14,999 now. There’s also the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 for those who prefer great battery life with decent performance.
Still, those looking for a smartphone with an edge in terms of the camera can definitely opt for the Honor 6X. The device is not actually a powerful beast and might not bust benchmarks or handle heavy duty gaming like some of its rivals (the Nubia N1, the K6 Note) can, but the device overall provides the users with a good experience, thanks to its UI, good battery life and of course, those twin cameras.
Seek ye the joys of bokeh without busting your bank? Get the base variant of Honor 6X.