The Honor 6 is Huawei's newest aircraft, but undercover. Because it must look like Honor is a new, special brand.
Huawei wants to take the Honor 6 high-end devices such as the Samsung Galaxy S5, Nokia Lumia 930 and Sony Xperia Z3 to the throne by making its specifications available at a significantly cheaper price. More or less comparable in terms of specifications and now also in terms of price is the already one year old LG G2. And also the difference with the Huawei Ascend P7 is at first sight minimal.
To not be inferior to the big boys, the Honor 6 has a 5 inch screen with Full HD resolution, 1.3 GHz octacore processor, 13 megapixel camera and a hefty battery. To enhance the accompanying underdog image, the device is only available online without a subscription.
What's with the device?
Even though Huawei tries to make us believe that Honor is an independent brand, they can't keep up appearances. On the box there is already the logo and the brand name of the Chinese manufacturer. The same goes for the included accessories. These are a headset and a microUSB cable with a fairly large socket adapter. All in white.
In a cardboard envelope we also find a quick start guide and two transparent covers for the front and back. When we found this out, it already appeared that this is not a superfluous luxury, especially for the back of the aircraft, more about that later on. Finally, Huawei supplies a card ejection tool with the Honor 6. This is a plastic sheet with which the SIM card and microSD card can be printed out of the device.
In terms of appearance, the Honor 6 is very similar to the Ascend G6 and P7 of Huawei. A bit the looks of the P7 combined with the plastic of the G6. With the exception of a thin glass grid in front of the earpiece, the glass plate on the front of the unit is continuous. Next to the ear loudspeaker is a camera on the right and a notification light on the left, invisible to the naked eye.
There is a silver border on three sides around the device. This is made of plastic and has a high gloss finish. On the right side are the volume and power buttons. Behind a cover there are two slots for the SIM card and microSD card. On top of the device is the headset jack and the left side is bare. The bottom side is matt black and houses the microUSB connector and microphone.
The back is decorated with a silver Honor logo and a silver ring around the camera. Next to the camera is a double LED flash and at the bottom in the corner the loudspeaker. Although at first it may seem as if the back is also covered with glass, it is really made of plastic and very sensitive to scratches and butts. After a week there were already some traces of use on it.
The appearance of the Honor 6 is dead simple and quite unimaginative. This is not necessarily bad but the eye wants something too. With its dimensions, the Honor 6 is still very handy and pocket friendly. Because of the smooth plastic it offers little grip and there is a considerable danger that it slips out of your hand.
Despite its thin size, the Honor 6 has a fairly large battery of 3,100 mAh and that creates expectations. The Honor 6 was able to meet those expectations quite well. The moment it had to be put back on the charger came after 1 to 1.5 days. This was without using drastic energy saving options.
Like the Huawei appliances, the Honor 6 has a very extensive energy saving section in the settings menu. This includes, for example, three settings for the power plan. The smart mode adjusts the CPU and network usage so that the battery lasts a little longer. Although the difference compared to the performance mode is limited. In Ultra mode the battery life is significantly longer but only a few basic call and message functions are available. In addition, there is battery monitoring to detect problems that need to be optimized. This is a useful feature, although the term 'problems' is a bit heavy, as some functions are simply part of the normal operation of the phone.
The device has the uncomfortable habit of asking over and over whether 'energy-intensive' apps can be active in the background. Next, when you look at the energy savings, you'll see how much more battery life it gives when these apps are turned off, it only takes a few minutes. A confusing and largely unnecessary function. Fortunately, it can be turned off in the energy saving settings.
Huawei machines repeatedly scored badly on this part, so we were a bit afraid of the Honor's performance. Luckily it was not that bad this time. The Honor doesn't stand out in a positive sense but also not in a negative sense. It is true that the conversation volume fluctuated sometimes, but this falls well within the normal limits.
The telephone application is the same as with Huawei and forms one whole with the phonebook. There are three tabs at the top and one of them is for the communicator. With the help of smartdial you can quickly find the desired contact here. Furthermore, the application is clear and functional. The Honor also has an intimidation filter at its disposal. With this filter spam messages and unwanted calls can be blocked automatically. In order for this to work, you will probably have to add a number to the blacklist first.
As said, the Honor 6 has a 5-inch screen diameter. It has a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels, which results in a pixel density of 445 pixels per inch. This is the same screen as the Huawei Ascend P7 and again we are happy with it. It's a nice format to work with and the image looks good.
In the settings, in addition to the screen brightness, the colour temperature can also be adjusted. This is not really necessary because the colour balance is well taken care of. The automatic mode for the screen brightness also works properly.
By now it will come as no surprise that the interface of the Honor is, apart from a few details, exactly the same as what we already know from Huawei sets. It's Android with Huawei's EmotionUI or EMUI shell over it. This is version 2.3 of this shell. The most striking aspect of this is that there is no separate app menu. Instead, all apps are on the home screens.
The default theme has changed, but all icons are still the same size. To maintain this uniformity, the icons of downloaded apps are resized or placed on a shield. Huawei has been using this technique for some time, but in some cases the result is still downright ugly. Huawei would have done better to omit this on the Honor. Nice thing is that the icons for calendar and weather have a kind of live display where they respectively show the weekday with date and weather with temperature. There are two other themes available by default. The different parts of the themes are also interchangeable.
Behind the status bar is a screen with two tabs. The left one is for all notifications and the right one gives access to a collection of shortcut keys for settings and connections. A new feature is that this tab appears when you drag the status bar right from the middle down. So now you need to pay attention to how to drag the status bar down when you want to view a notification.
For each application, notifications in the notification screen are asked whether they may be displayed. Fortunately, you only have to approve this once per app, but again it is a strange and confusing question.
The settings menu has two tabs. One for all options and the other for general. This title does not really make sense and neither does its function. They are largely the same settings that we also have available via the shortcuts behind the status bar. We did find 'performance mode' here. Nowhere is it explained what this is and we couldn't find it anywhere else in the settings but we turned it on anyway. By the way, the device works nice and fast and doesn't seem to have a problem with heavier tasks.
On the lock screen, a number of shortcuts can be conjured up by swiping upwards from below the screen. These shortcuts are for the calendar, calculator, flashlight and mirror. It is also possible to control the slide show of images on the lock screen. If you turn this slide show off, the weather forecast will be visible at that spot.
In the phone application, in addition to the dialer tab, there are two more for all your contacts and your favorites. In addition to SIM card or phone memory data, Gmail contacts are also shown in the contacts list by default. Provided, of course, that you are actively using this account and have saved contacts in it.
In addition, the contact list can also be synchronized with Facebook or another email account. In order to keep an overview, it is possible to change which account's contacts should be displayed. And you can check that only contacts with a phone number are shown. When scrolling through the list, the initial letter of a new group of contacts will light up each time.
The email application largely corresponds to the standard version of Android. That's nice because that means that the functionality and user-friendliness are well taken care of. Exchange accounts, Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo or others can be added. Other than that, it means that you have to enter all data manually. Mails that have been read and/or deleted on the device are neatly synchronized with the inbox of your webmail. Messages in self-created online folders are also retrieved on the device. With the latest update of Gmail, this app can now also handle road accounts from Outlook and Yahoo.
For text input, the Honor uses the Swype keyboard as standard, just like ordinary Huawei devices. As far as we are concerned, this is one of the finest alternative keyboards. In addition to normal typing, it can also be used to enter text by swiping across the screen. As an extra option, the standard Android keyboard, which is also equipped with drag and drop input, is also available.
For mobile internet the Honor 6 can be used by road with 4G+. In combination with a subscription from a provider that also supports this, you thus theoretically have access to speeds of 300 Mbps. In addition, the device can connect via WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0 and NFC. There is also an infrared transmitter on top of the device but no application is included.
Besides Google's Chrome, the Honor 6 also has another internet browser as standard. In terms of functionality and interface they do not differ much. Zooming is a bit faster with Huawei's browser and the text reflow works a bit better. On the other hand, it is possible to fully synchronize Chrome with the browser on your computer and it works better with Google Now.
Also the camera is the same as in the Ascend P7. One without optical image stabilization. This time paired with a double instead of single LED flash. You can take a picture very quickly by pressing the volume down button twice quickly.
In the camera's search screen, you can switch between photo and video, front or rear camera, flash modes and photo modes. The available photo modes are normal, smart, beautiful, HDR, panorama, filters, audio annotation, audio control, best photo and watermark.
The standard mode is 'smart' and to be able to shoot pictures in 16:9 ratio the maximum resolution is standard 10 megapixels. If you want to use the full 13 megapixels you have to change the ratio to 4:3. Pictures taken in daylight have a clear and detailed image with good color reproduction. Indoors, however, photos tend to get a little too dark quickly. At the short distance, the flash is then too bright for improvement.
The front camera is not an 8.0 megapixel like the P7 but a solid 5.0 megapixel with wide-angle lens. The interface and photo modes are designed to take selfies as good as possible. Video can be made with Full HD 1080p resolution.
The applications still covered by us on the Honor 6 are phone management, music, clock, calendar, weather, file management, HiCare, voice search, Google search, mirror, magnifying glass, flashlight, calculator, notes, FM radio, sound recorder, system update, downloads, app installer, voice dialer, Twitter, Kingsoft Office, highlights, backup, Bitcasa, themes, Google+, Play Music/Movies/Books/Kiosk/Games, Drive, YouTube, photos and Hangouts.
A neat collection with a few flaws. Highlights is a kind of alternative but peculiar App Store and HiCare is a cumbersome customer service. When starting up Kingsoft Office, you will be notified that this version of the app is no longer supported and you will be asked to install the newly designed WPS Office. Then you have two office applications on your device.
Because the apps are on the home screen, they cannot be automatically sorted by alphabet. However, some of the applications are already grouped in folders. For example under the heading 'Tools' or 'Google'. There are also five games of Gameloft on the device in the folder 'Games'. On closer inspection, however, it appears that three of these are demo versions. Dragon Mania and Asphalt 8 are the full versions.
The Honor 6 is the best Huawei we have ever owned. And that without being a real Huawei. The Honor 6 builds on the strengths of the Huawei Ascend P7. There are few aspects that distinguish the Honor from a Huawei device and there are even more similarities that make it unmistakably a Huawei. The Honor 6 resembles in many ways the Ascend P7 of Huawei but we like it a lot better. That is despite its boring looks, at times irritating interface and vulnerable plastic back. Because for his price tag he delivers a lot of value for money with a nice size, good screen and strong stamina.
That said, it is not yet clear whether Honor (Huawei) will succeed in gaining a foothold in the Dutch smartphone market. What Huawei expects to achieve by marketing Honor as an independent brand is not entirely clear to us, because with the Honor 6 they are not fooling us in any case. Although the name is a bit easier to pronounce.