honor 6x, huawei, 6x review

Honor 6x review

Introduction

Honor’s tagline for the 5X, last year, was “no nonsense.” By contrast, the Honor 6X’s tagline is “double or nothing” which is a direct reference to the smartphone’s dual cameras, something entirely unheard of for midrange devices, especially in the sub-$300 market segment.

Keep in mind, that the 6X will keep most of the same compromises that the 5X made to keep the cost down. The display is still of the 5.5-inch, 1080p , there’s still a microUSB port and no Quick Charge capability. We’re glad to see the display panel received an update; its colors and viewing angles are improved over the Honor 5X. Likewise, the body’s lines and seams are ‘curvier’ than its predecessor, making for a nicer experience in-hand.


See Also

Huawei Honor 6X Stock Firmware/ROM Android 7 Nougat (BLN-L22)

Huawei Honor 6X Stock Firmware/ROM Android 7 Nougat (BLN-L21)


Unboxing

Under the box’s lid is the phone itself, which comes in either Silver, Gray, or Gold.

Design and Hardware

The bottom bezel is still quite large, which is one of the reasons we like the Gray model over the silver one.

The phone itself feels quite dense when you first pick it up. Honor didn’t skimp on the materials or battery size when building the 6X. In fact, the Honor 6X weighs in at 162g, just a little more than the 5X’s 158g. Likewise, the dimensions are pretty much spot-on with the 5X at 150.9 x 76.2 x 8.2mm.

Display

This display is 5.5 inches in diagonal at 1080p resolution, which calculates to 403 ppi. The Honor 6X’s display is definitely superior to that of the 5X. The updated panel brings better color accuracy, as well as improved brightness, better viewing angles, darker blacks, and Honor says this panel is about 10% more efficient than those found on previous-generation Honor products.

This display is of an LTPS nature which typically runs cooler than its LCD counterparts. The display’s colors look great, though, lines are crisp, and text is sharp. When using ‘Auto’ brightness adjustment, the screen won’t get any brighter in direct sunlight, but the screen’s driver will adjust contrasts and temperatures so that the screen contents are better visible in sunlight.

The panel on the Honor 6X also goes quite bright for its category, reaching a maximum brightness of 579nits. Otherwise, screen brightness is quite good on this new generation of LTPS panels, easily reaching past 550nits. A screen that reaches a brightness of 500 nits is plenty bright for viewing in direct sunlight.

Battery life

Honor managed to get a higher capacity 3,340mAh battery in the 6X while keeping the overall size and dimensions of the phone very similar to the 5X’s. The company promises up to 2.2 days of endurance with normal usage and up to 1.5 days of battery power for heavy users.

The Honor 6X scored 23:06h in the call test, 13:41h in web browsing, and 13:18h of videos. That, combined with the standby score, yielded an overall score of 84h. This score means that if you used the phone for exactly one hour of calls, browsing, and video viewing each day, the phone would last about three and a half days. It’s inevitable that your personal usage will be different but we’ve established this one just so the battery life results we come up with are comparable.

You can definitely squeeze even more battery life with the standard power saving mode that the Honor 6X offers in its UI. We accidentally left this feature switched on for the phone’s browser test (the screen brightness was still 200nits for the tests in both cases), and the browser result gave us an unusually high score. The first-tier battery save mode should really truly extend your battery endurance as it lowers the screen brightness a bit, switches the CPU to a more efficient mode, and reduces visual transitions and sync frequency.

EMUI gives a lot of control over which apps are allowed to run in the background, so make sure you stay on top of those unnecessary battery drainers. You can find these in Settings > Advanced > Battery Management.

Dual camera for a midranger

The Honor 6X is among the first mid-range devices with a dual camera sensor setup for main photos. The company has used two cameras with drastically different resolutions: a 12MP camera + a 2MP depth sensor – most likely to keep costs down. Whereas the Honor 8 used a 12MP RGB sensor with a second 12MP black & white sensor, the Honor 6X uses a slightly inferior system. Here, the second sensor is used only for gathering depth information about the scene so that it allows applying high-quality faux bokeh effects (adding a blurry background behind your subjects).

There is no laser-assisted AF like there is on the Honor 8, nor a dual-tone LED flash. Those things don’t necessarily matter for most conditions, such as outside in bright sunlight. The Honor 6X uses phase-detection autofocus, and the company claims the 6X’s camera can focus in 0.3 seconds.

Otherwise, the overall camera experience is quick and painless. Photos are taken quickly. We give Honor kudos for a well-made camera interface with quick focusing and fast-responding tasks like launching the gallery or editing a photo.

Camera UI

You get a pretty good viewfinder, and if you’ve ever used a Huawei phone in the past year or so, you’ll pretty much know where everything is. Swipe to the right for all the modes swipe to the left for settings, and a swipe up will take you to the gallery.The secondary sensor is only active when a feature that requires it is selected. If a standard shot is taken and the 2MP sensor is covered with a finger, the camera would shoot just fine. In fact, you’ll be notified to “avoid covering the lenses before you start shooting” only when in wide aperture mode. This is perhaps the only mode that will use the second sensor.

The notification doesn’t show in any other mode – not even ‘night shot’ mode where it might have been useful. This essentially means the dual-camera is only good for wide-aperture mode, and nothing else.

This also means that taking a standard photo relies on the light from a single sensor rather than both sensors like on the Honor 8. Even so, choosing a dual-sensor setup over a single one is worth even for the wide-aperture mode alone as it works remarkably well.

Second sensor aside, the Honor 6X still offers a vast variety of shooting modes to bring out the creative shooter in you. While there is no proper monochrome mode, you can use the included filter in the built-in editor to make B&W photos. In fact, there are quite a few monochrome filters to choose from.

We feel like Pro mode should work in unison with wide aperture mode to give you an experience closer to a DSLR. But the (often) wonky bokeh effect might be reason enough to keep them separate. Maybe this is something that could be implemented in a future update, but for now, you can’t set manual exposure in a wide-aperture photo. Perhaps you can use the focal point to expose your photo, and then apply the bokeh as usual.

There’s a beauty mode which throws a skin softening filter over people, HDR mode, Night shot, Panorama, “Good food,” Light painting, Time-lapse, Slo-mo, Watermark, Audio note, and Document scan. Since Slo-mo records 640×480 video at 60fps, videos play at only half-speed. But hey, at least it’s there.

Most of those are pretty self-explanatory, others – not so much. Night shot mode uses longer exposure times to shoot in lower ambient lights, so it works best with a tripod. The ‘Good food” mode makes photos look slightly warmer and more saturated to make food look its best.

Light painting uses long exposure times with software tricks to make long trails out of car lights.

Watermark mode somewhat mimics Snapchat overlay filters, and Audio Note takes a 10-second clip of audio after shooting a photo.

Still photos

The Honor 6X took pretty decent photos in ideal lighting conditions, but it was hard to get the camera to expose correctly under a moderate overcast.

The situation indoors doesn’t get that much better. Textures look fuzzy, solid colors often come out noisy and much like outdoors, the camera’s white balance is inconsistent and colors are noticeably ‘off.’

The limited dynamic range mean highlights tend to clip easily. Therefore, the resulting photos are underexposed to save the highlights. HDR doesn’t really seem to do much of anything in most conditions. Though, where HDR did make a more noticeable change was in reducing most of the noise in scenes with low-light. Otherwise, in daytime photos, HDR only opens up the shadows a bit without affecting the highlights.

Let’s move on to the camera’s HDR mode.

The shot of the bridge with HDR mode opened up the shadows a bit around the base of the leave-less trees, but the highlights are mostly unaffected.Shadows are brought up a notch, but the building in the distance is more blown out with HDR mode than in a regular shot.

HDR photos in sunlight did a better job out of rescuing the clipped highlights. In the park scene, you can see that this camera is prone to a red lens flare when the light source is really strong.

Wide aperture mode is much like the iPhone 7 Plus’s portrait mode, which uses the second camera to gather depth information about the scene in front of it. The Honor 6X’s wide aperture mode makes use of the 2MP depth sensor.

Here’s something worth noting: images taken in wide aperture mode tend to be slightly cooler than their counterparts shot in auto mode. We’re not sure why this is.

This mode works best when the subject is within 2 meters away from the camera and the bigger the distance to the background, the better. Ideal places would be a somewhat open area like a large room or a place with open areas like a park or lake.

Final verdict

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.

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