There are certain brands that have a certain stigma attached to them, sometimes good and other times not so good. Huawei were one of those brands who, in the past, had a reputation for building good quality but rather dull products! Not anymore though and they are now regarded as a company to follow, and one we should expect great things from.
Even with that in mind, actually getting our hands on the Huawei Honor 6 to review has been an eye-opening experience! The handset is a game changer, and in our opinion one of the best top-tier, mid-range smartphones on the market today!
Huawei Honor 6 Review: Focused onto the phone
Over the years, we have come to see some little signs in the packaging to mean great things. For example, it isn’t always a representation of value for money when you open a package and find a ton of accessories in side, but rather the phone maker’s attempt to distract you from something. On the other hand, if you open up a box to find the phone and little else, chances are the manufacturer are selling a device close to cost (real value for money). Don’t believe us? Take a look at the lack of accessories with the OPO, Xiaomi Mi4, Nubia Z7 etc.
The Huawei Honor 6 joins this category well with only the phone, USB wire, charger and two screen protectors in the box (for the front and rear of the glass phone). The lack of number, and earphones isn’t Huawei being cheap, its simply that they cannot offer them at such a competitive price with this level of hardware.
Huawei Honor 6 Review: Look and feel
Huawei decided to go for a plastic body for the Honor 6, which is available in colors white and black – the latter being the one we have for review. The black front of our phone houses a few sensors, a status LED, a receiver speaker and a front camera as well as the 5-inch screen. Touch navigation buttons are not present, instead Huawei have gone for onscreen controls, this helps Huawei keep the length of the phone down and means that they can be seen at night. On screen controls are not to everyone’s taste, but I guess this is something we will have to get use to as most manufactures are offering this on their high-end devices.
That ‘metal’ frame around the phone is only their for looks and is actually plastic. It flows around the outside of the Huawei Honor 6 passing a Micro USB with OTG, dual SIM slots (protected from dust and debris with a cover), micro SD slot, and 3.5mm headphone jack.
To find dual SIM and a micro SD on a phone of this level is still quite rare, but slowly becoming more common. The dual SIM set up on the Huawei Honor 6 allows you to use dual 4G LTE SIMs if you wish, quite an impressive feature. Also impressive is the inclusion of an IR blaster for controlling your TV, AC etc at home.
There are conflicting reports about the material on the rear of the Huawei Honor 6. To us it looks like glass, and in fact many stores are advertising that the rear panel is glass. However, there are reports that it is in fact plastic. It feels and looks like glass to us, so we are either looking at a glass rear, or a very highly quality plastic. Either option is fine in our book.
Nestled in the glossy rear we can find dual LEDs for the main camera flash, the rear camera itself and an external speaker sitting just out of the way not to be covered while holding the phone in landscape mode.
Build quality is very good. As the phone is a unibody construction the whole thing is tight, and creak free even when pressure is applied. If we were to pick out an issue, it would be the rear camera placement. As it is so close to the sides it can be easy to get your finger in the shot, but keep reminding yourself this and you will soon remember.
Huawei Honor 6 Review: A good screen for a good phone
Nowadays, building good screens into phones has become a standard. Even the cheaper handsets provide good performance so we expected good things from the Huawei Honor 6 panel and were not let down. The Huawei Honor 6 boasts a 5-inch 1080p screen, featuring IPS and OGS technology, allowing for a thinner, lighter panel and improved viewing angles. Even a glove mode is present for easy use during cold days. There isn’t much left to say except the screen provides outstanding colors, brightness and contrast.
Huawei Honor 6 Review: Let’s pop the Antutu balloon
The Huawei Honor 6 features the fantastic HiSilicon Kirin 920 SoC. This chipset features 8 CPU cores based on the ARM Cortex A7 architecture, four of them being clocked at 1.3GHz and another four at 1.7GHz. Within the handset this chipset is paired with a whopping 3GB of RAM and a Mali T624 GPU.
Now when it comes to Antutu, the SoC appears to be a real killer, reaching over 40k points. But please, don’t make the mistake of believing this chipset would be anything better than a Snapdragon 801 or even 800, because in fact it’s not. A quick test in other benchmarks soon reveals that all although Antutu scores are way up there, actual gaming and processing performance of the 920 isn’t on par with a Snapdragon 801/800.
Let us just explain you why. While a Snapdragon 800 or 801 both reach very similar scores as the HiSilicon Kirin 920 chipset in Antutu, the story is quite different with 3DMark for example. Here the Snapdragon 800 and 801 move around 18k to 21k points in the Ice Storm Unlimited benchmark, yet the Kirin 920 is staying on 14k points. This is quite a significant difference and does not even max out on the 1080p benchmark. So although a powerful SoC, it isn’t going to provide the same sort of graphical grunt as the high-end Qualcomm chip. With that said though, the self developed SoC is still an incredible piece of kit, much better an octcore MT6592 and we would hardly describe it as slow.
While the chipset can absolutely keep up with high-end chipsets like the Snapdragon 801 when it comes to the operating system UI, running apps and surfing the web, the whole thing looks different when playing games. Pop a demanding game on like Asphalt 8 or Real Racing 3 and we see notable frame rate differences. The games are still more than playable, but there is a difference here. The moral of the story being that Antutu really mean nothing these days.
Huawei Honor 6 Review: The ROM is a mix and match of the best of the rest
There are so many different Android ROMs available out there, and pretty much all try to be unique to a certain degree. Now Huawei have developed their own ROM as well, which is known as Emotion UI – or short: EMUI. This ROM comes pre-installed on the Huawei Honor 6 and is based on Android 4.4.2 KitKat and takes inspiration from some of the more popular ROMs out there.
It’s a nicely developed ROM with a touch of MIUI here, FunTouch there and even a dripping of Cyanogen for added flavour too. So we have an extremely feature rich ROM here, possibley among the most feature rich we have tested, the problem however is the design and bloat.
EMUI might seem a bit complicated and ugly to some. Huawei did a great job bringing together all these useful features, but they did a bad one while designing the UI. It somehow doesn’t look quite sleek and sometimes even a bit old-fashioned. A different theme or launcher can easily fix this but what it can’t fix is the pre-installed Chinese bloatware. Some of the features might be useful to some of us, but the option to remove the junk easily would have been nice.
Huawei Honor 6 Review: Connection just the way we like it!
Finally a phone, which does everything the right way when it comes to reception quality. For 2G / 3G / 4G everything appears to be working just like it should. The positive results continued with testing Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, both reached the best results possible. There is some Wi-Fi bug limiting the bandwidth to 7Mbit/s from time to time, but we didn’t really notice that until someone told us. In the end this little bug won’t be anything significant as long as you do not need to max out your Wi-Fi bandwidth, and even them just toggling the WIFI on and off fixed it.
Now the remaining part to talk about is GPS, and exactly this is reason for some folks to worry. GPS is a worry when it comes to Chinese phones, but the worry need not be applied with the Huawei Honor 6. 20 satellites in view, support for GLONASS and fix times of only 3 seconds. The Huawei Honor 6 performs amazing, easily on par with a Qualcomm chip.
Huawei Honor 6 Review: Amazing Camera!
A 13 mega-pixel main camera and dual LED flash are becoming standard fare with high end Chinese phones, but the hardare Huawei is offering on the Honor 6 and the performance is amazing. Huawei could have easily marketed the Huawei Honor 6 as a camera centric device! It is that good!
Sharp images with vivid colors, amazingly fast shutter times and one of the most easy to use focuses for macro shots we’ve ever seen is exactly what this handset has to offer! Night and low-light performance quite remarkable as well. Acceptable noise levels and almost perfect close-ups at night using the LED flash will make this smart phone a delight for every mobile photography enthusiast. Recording videos unfortunately is only possible with 1080p at max. The quality of the is fine but never mind-blowing. The front cam features 5 mega pixels, enough for quick selfies and video chats, but nothing for serious portraits.
Huawei Honor 6 Review: Battery porn!
The Huawei Honor 6 is advertised to come with a 3,100mAh non-replaceable battery. This is quite a lot considering the fact this 5-incher is only 8mm thin at 135g of weight.
During our test the Huawei Honor 6 lasted two days of heavy usage and reached up to 6-hours screen-on time. This is quite remarkable performance and means that the average phone user could possibly reach 3 days of battery life. If you take care about your energy consumption you could even go longer! Just to give you an idea of the energy consumption: Playing Real Racing 3 for two hours results in 40% battery consumption. Now try this with your Mediatek phone!
As you might guess, charging the cell takes a little longer. 3 hours on average. And please don’t use your phone during charging, this will significantly increase the time needed for charging.
Huawei Honor 6 Review: Conclusion
The Huawei Honor 6 really managed to surprise us as an overall package. While the performance isn’t quite at high-end level as a Qualcomm phone, it still manages every extremely well. This Huawei Honor 6 really does everything right: It gives you a perfect ratio of processing power and battery life, an amazing camera, as good as a compact camera, perfect reception quality on all networks all built in to an simple attractive body!
Considering all this and the fact that the price is still at an acceptable level at $389, the Huawei Honor 6 is an amazing deal! A great overall package and a phone that should be on your next smartphone shopping list. If we have to compare it, then I would say it is a stong rival to the OnePlus One, but with the added benefits of dual SIM, dual LTE standby, SD card and a faster camera!
What did you think of this review? Let us know in the comments section below!
Thanks to Coolicool for providing us with this amazing handset.