Smartphones still have a long way to go before they can match up to current DSLR/mirrorless cameras. But it’s hard to ignore the fact that the camera in your phone has drastically improved, and the introduction of a dual camera setup will further enhance the mobile photography experience. 2017 has just begun and Huawei’s brand Honor is one of the few companies to add a dual-camera lens module on a budget phone: The Honor 6X.
In a sea of mid-end smartphones, where most the most manufacturers are either focussed on big batteries or specifications, Honor is trying to sell the dual rear cameras as the USP of Honor 6X. So is the Honor 6X the smartphone to beat? Let’s find out in our review.
Specifications: 5.5-inch Full HD display | octa-core Kirin 655 processor | 3GB RAM+ 32GB| microSD card support| 12MP main camera + 2MP depth sensing camera | 8MP front camera| 3,340mAh battery| EMUI 4.1 with Android 6.0 Marshmallow
Price: Rs 12,999
Last year’s Honor 5X was sober, attractive and came with an eye catching brushed, all-metal chassis. The Honor 6X is an altogether different looking phone. It bears a striking resemblance to the Mate 9 (yet to be launched in India) from the back side, but that’s only because both smartphones are coming from the same design ethos.
Honor 6X is built from the aluminium-alloy with clean curves. It’s thin, and features a smooth back that rests firmly in your palm. There is a volume rocker above the power button, and a MicroSD and SIM card slot on the other side of the phone. A micro-USB port alongside the two speaker grills is on the bottom, and the standard 3.5mm headphone jack rests on top.
Flip over the phone and you’ll notice the dual camera is stacked vertically in a single protruding design. There’s also the circular fingerprint sensor on the rear which can be programmed to perform additional functions like taking selfies, answering calls and swiping up and down for notifications. It’s fast, accurate and works great. Like the Redmi Note 3, there are plastic caps on the top and bottom of the phone for antenna signals, but they have been aesthetically blended with the metal body.
Honor (or its parent firm Huawei) is no stranger to the dual rear-camera smartphones. Admittedly, its previous efforts, Huawei P9 and Honor 8, were all made available at a higher price. The rear camera setup on the Honor 6X includes a 12-megapixel primary camera and a secondary, 2-megapixel sensor that’s mainly meant to do post photographic effects.
In our outdoor shots, images were crisp and colours were bright and vibrant, but the level of detail did drop in the evening shots. Auto-focus is fast, and pictures are clear in well-lit settings. The only caveat that goes against the Honor 6X is its inconsistent performance in low-light, which I think is a common problem across mid-end smartphones. Some shots were actually came dull, with fair amount of noise.
Where the Honor 6X triumphs, though, is its ability to take bokeh shots. This isn’t like the Honor 8 or Mate 9, where the second camera is a monochrome sensor. In case of Honor 6X, the dual camera setup is similar to the iPhone 7 Plus. The basic purpose of the secondary camera is to focus on the objects in the foreground and burr out the area behind it. You can check out the images below.
I was able to focus on the object, and the results seem accurate On the front, there’s a respectable 8-megapixel front-facing camera. The Honor 6X produced some of the most detailed and natural-looking selfies.
Battery life on the Honor 6X is as good as any other smartphone in the similar price range. The phone has a 3,340mAh battery pack. I used the Honor 6X as my primary device (my other phone is the iPhone 5c which is limited for calling) to listen to music, watching videos on the go, three hours spent browsing, spending an hour on gaming and taking photographs throughout the day. I comfortably managed a full day of usage (from 8am to 11pm) with some charge still left.
Honor 6X is powered by a mid-end Kirin 655 processor, and you can buy the device in two variants: 3GB/32GB or 4GB/64GB. My review unit seemed snappy and fast, as it came with 3GB RAM. I didn’t face shuttering or sluggishness in my daily usage. Multi-tasking is smooth , and I was able to run games such as Real Racing 3 and Asphalt 8 without any issue. What I really like about the Honor 6X is that it never heats up, even after a long session of gaming
What’s not good?
With the rear camera, in some situations I got blurred out shots. Also I feel the dual-rear cameras results are not at par with the Honor 8.
Honor 6X ships running Google’s Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow with Huawei’s custom EMUI 4.1 layer on top. While the Honor 8 will be updated to the improved EMUI 5 and Android Nougat, the Honor 6X has been launched with much boring EMUI 4.1. I was hoping to see the latest Android version running the Honor 6X, but there’s no confirmation on when Huawei plans to rollout the update.
On thing I noticed on the 6X is the number of preloaded apps from both Honor and third-party developers. You will find a fair amount of bloatware including HiGame, Mopria Print Service, TripAdvisor, Booking.com, TrueCaller, HoToday, UCBrowser and Social Channels. If you’re a fan of the standard Android experience, you will not appreciate EMUI 4.1.
In the 6X, Honor opted for a 5.5-inch Full HD display (1920×1080). Colours are accurate for the most part; and viewing angles and the visuals are crammed with detail. But the thing that annoyed me most about the 5.5-inch display was that it’s not sharp at all. It even looks a little bit dim in comparison when placed next to a Lenovo-made phone with FHD screen. The 5.5-inch display on the Honor 6X may be just fine for web browsing, but don’t expect anything great when it comes to photo viewing and watching films.
With the 6X, Honor has once again proved that it has the ability to make superior camera phones. I have no doubts about Honor’s claims. But the company cannot sell a phone just on the basis of the camera alone. A display is equally important, so is the software.
That’s not to say that the Honor 6X is a flawed phone. It does a lot of things well. The processor is fast and zippy; the phone hardly heats up (surprisingly). And let’s not forget the battery life that can last a day or maybe more.
But in my opinion you are willing to spend Rs 14,999 for an attractive phone, consider the Lenovo Zuk Z2 Plus. It may not have a dual-camera setup, but for the mainstream consumer, it’s the better choice.