Honor 6X Review: High performance at a low price

Huawei’s Honor 5X from last year helped to set a new standard on how we look at budget smartphones in terms of build quality. Since then, we’ve seen dozens of solid, affordable Android smartphones. Back at CES 2017, Honor launched its new Honor 6X.

Since then, it’s received quite a bit of attention thanks to upgraded specs, a new dual-camera system, and another fantastic build. All of that combined with an attractive $250 price tag looks good on paper, but is it worth buying? Let’s take a look…

Specs

  • 5.5-inch 1920×1080 display
  • Android 6.0 Marshmallow/EMUI 4.0
  • Huawei Kirin 655 Octa-Core processor
  • 3GB RAM
  • 32GB storage (w/ microSD slot)
  • 12MP/2MP dual rear camera
  • 8MP front camera
  • 3,340 mAh battery

Hardware

From the outside, the Honor 6X resembles a flagship phone. It features a matte aluminum finish on the back, with curved sides. The front is a nice glass with a welcome change from last year — no black bar right around the display. The back has a fingerprint scanner in the usual place for Huawei, with a dual camera right above it. It certainly bears more resemblance to the Mate 9 than it does to the Honor 5X, which is great. On the bottom you’ll find a speaker, microphone, and sadly, a micro USB port. It’s unclear as to why Huawei chose this instead of USB-C, perhaps because of costs, but it’s still disappointing.



Camera

Phone cameras are getting better and better each year. But even though Huawei touts a better camera with the dual cameras, it falls short in many ways. The biggest annoyance is that it’s plain slow to take a photo. It appears to have a pretty slow shutter speed in the auto setting, which results in blurry photos if the phone moved at all while you were taking the photo. There’s also a noticeable delay between the time you press the shutter button to when it actually takes the photo. The colors in the photos are pretty decent, but settings with varying degrees of light will suffer. The brighter areas will be a little overexposed, and some of the darker areas may be a little too dark. I’ve also found that both the front and back cameras don’t deal with skin tones nicely. It makes the skin much whiter when compared to an iPhone, and draws out too much color, resulting in beyond real colors. But for a $250 phone, it’s pretty decent.

Software

The Honor 6X is running Android Marshmallow, released in 2015. Yes, that’s right — 2015 software on a 2017 phone. On top of that is Huawei’s EMUI 4.1 skin. Now, I’m not a fan of EMUI. It breaks plenty of Google-implemented features, and replaces them with less superior ones. It’s not the prettiest thing around, but after a bit you can get used to it. I’ve been using the Honor 6X for several weeks now, and haven’t had that hard of a time not using my Pixel. Granted, I did have to install Nova launcher in order to actually enjoy using it. The biggest annoyance is EMUI’s protected apps and battery optimization features. They both wind up killing off apps in the background, preventing notifications from coming through. Once you turn them off, though, it’s fine. There’s still other annoyances about EMUI, like it not using the right notification icons and funkiness with lockscreen notifications and music controls.. So while EMUI is annoying, it will definitely get better with the Nougat and EMUI 5 update that is coming out in the next couple of months for the Honor 6X. If you want to see more on that software, take a look at our Mate 9 review.

The biggest annoyance is EMUI’s protected apps and battery optimization features. They both wind up killing off apps in the background, preventing notifications from coming through. Once you turn them off, though, it’s fine. There’s still other annoyances about EMUI, like it not using the right notification icons and funkiness with lockscreen notifications and music controls. So while EMUI is annoying, it will definitely get better with the Nougat and EMUI 5 update that is coming out in the next couple of months for the Honor 6X. If you want to see more on that software, take a look at our Mate 9 review.

Performance

As I mentioned, I’ve been using the Honor 6X as my primary phone for several weeks — before this I was switching between the Pixel and iPhone 6S. So to go from a flagship phone, to a budget phone, is quite a jump. But still, I haven’t experienced much in the way of lag or slow downs. Sure, it’s not completely fluid in transitions, but I haven’t noticed much lagginess, either. Launching apps is pretty fast, and even the multitasking screen launches quickly and without delay — unlike other EMUI-powered phones. So if you were concerned about this phone being slow, don’t be. The Kirin processor is a huge upgrade from last year’s Snapdragon 616.

 

Display

The 5.5” display on the Honor 6X is a nice size. After using the Google Pixel for quite a while, I have become accustomed to the smaller 5” size, but I can adapt to the larger size after some time. The display itself is an 1080p, IPS display which isn’t anything fancy. As with IPS displays, the whites are a little cold, and the colors aren’t super vibrant, but it’s more than suitable for the job.

Fingerprint Scanner, Speakers, and Battery

With fingerprint scanners appearing on almost every phone, I am glad Huawei made sure to include it. The scanner on the Honor 6X is top notch, and the speed is on par with my Pixel. Plus, it had gestures and actions, like pulling down the notification area, taking a photo, answering a call, and shutting off alarms.
As for the speaker on the Honor 6X, it is actually pretty good. Raising the volume all the way up makes it sound bad, but at lower volumes it’s more than decent. In some ways, it even sounds better than the Pixel.
The battery life on this phone is fantastic. I’m not the heaviest phone user, but I’m always ending days with at least 70%. For heavier users, I would expect a solid day with 40% left. It’s one of the best batteries I have seen and I even have the screen brightness constantly set pretty high.

Final thoughts

After using this phone for some time, I have to say, I’m blown away by what $250 can get you. The Honor 6X still has plenty of flaws, the biggest being EMUI and the camera, but even at that low price those annoyances can be overlooked. The premium build found on this phone is excellent, and certainly makes it one of the best looking phones for $250. If you’re in the market for a low price phone that will serve you well, then you might want to check out the Honor 6X. It comes in gray, gold, and silver colors — Amazon purchase link is below. Also be sure to watch our video below to get an even closer look at the Honor 6X!

Get the Honor 6X