I’m sure Honor doesn’t like to be pigeonholed as a “budget” smartphone brand but the fact remains that it’s good at making them, and its latest – the Honor 6X – might just be its best smartphone so far.
Its design is hardly revolutionary, but for the most part it’s pretty nice. There’s a decently sized Full HD 5.5in LCD screen squeezed into an all-metal body with 32GB of on-board storage and 3GB of RAM, with a choice of three distinct colours: silver, grey and gold are on the cards and, refreshingly, no needlessly flamboyant names in sight.
Its rear is curved, which doesn’t play well with your flat desk, but sits nicely in your hand and while the screen isn’t curved like the Samsung’s S7 Edge it does slightly taper at the edges, which is nice. This isn’t going to blow anyone’s minds but it’s far from vomit-inducing either.
As for connectivity, the phone has a dual SIM slot, handy for the tech journo who travels abroad and wants to use a local SIM. There’s no USB Type-C connector for fast charging, though, with the Honor 6X instead relying on that old-school method of micro-USB charging. A fingerprint reader is nicely nestled at the back below its twin-lens camera (more on which later). This is easy to grab and is easily the fastest I’ve ever used to unlock a smartphone.
Honor 6X review: Display
The Honor 6X’s screen itself isn’t AMOLED, but instead a good-quality LCD unit. It measures pretty well, too, with a contrast ratio of 1,694:1 helping it produce wonderfully impactful images. And with a peak brightness of 502cd/m2 you’ll only likely have problems reading it in the very brightest of conditions.
Its colour reproduction isn’t quite so good, unfortunately. The screen covers only 89% of the sRGB colour gamut, which is far from brilliant. However, thanks to Honor’s new “eye comfort mode” which filters out blue light in the evenings, and automatically adjusts brightness and colour temperature according to ambient light, it is easy on your eyes.
Honor 6X review: Camera
The dual-camera is good and the Honor 6X is the only phone I’ve seen in this price bracket to include twin cameras, in this case a 12-megapixel unit and a 2-megapixel secondary sensor, allowing it to take “wide-aperture” shots similar to the iPhone 7 Plus’ Bokeh mode, blurring everything beyond the point of focus.
The effect isn’t quite on par with Apple’s plus-sized handset (which at nearly triple the price is as you’d expect), but it’s still good enough to give your shots a handy facelift.
There’s also the usual suite of shooting modes, with the rear camera producing some decent shots, packed with detail. In our test shot below, it captures the brickwork on those neighbouring buildings particularly well.
Indoors, image quality isn’t quite so good. Photographs look a touch grainy, and lack in vibrancy (take a look at those dull-looking pens), but for the most part the Honor 6X produces balanced, well-judged exposures in low light, and has a single LED flash to help cut through the darkness when conditions get really tricky.
Critically, the Honor 6X’s snapper beats the similarly priced Huawei P9 Lite by a country mile in our outdoor camera tests. The green roof of the pub in the test shot below are well-defined with plenty of detail, and reflections in the puddles on the roof are picked up nicely. The HDR mode didn’t seem to bring much to the table, although I doubt the gloomy overcast day did anything to help.
However, if you do feel the need to tweak your images, you do get both Pro still and video modes for fine-grained control over every aspect of your images, allowing you to tinker with ISO and exposure values to your heart’s content.
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