Huawei Honor 6 review

£250
Price when reviewed

If you think of budget phones as cheap and plasticky, you’ll often be right – but that doesn’t mean they have to look unattractive. This is one of the areas where Huawei’s latest low-cost handset – the Honor 6 – comes into its own. See also: what’s the best smartphone of 2014?

Huawei Honor 6 review - from the front

Huawei Honor 6 review: design and build

The Honor 6 looks like a hybrid of an iPhone 4 and a high-end Samsung – not bad for a phone costing well under £300. Yes, once you pick it up, you can tell the sides are matte-silver plastic, and the back is also bog-standard clear plastic, but you wouldn’t know that at first glance.

It’s a handsome device, and in size terms it sits somewhere between its two main competitors, the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact and the Motorola Moto G 2. It’s a little taller than the former, and a little slimmer than the latter, at 70 x 7.5 x 140mm (WDH). Despite its 5in screen, it’s reasonably light as well, at 130g.

Huawei Honor 6 review - front top

Interestingly, unlike the flagship Ascend P7, there’s no Huawei branding to be seen – indeed, the only indication of what kind of phone it is at all is a small “honor” in silver on the rear. Speaking of the rear, this is where you can find the mono speaker in the bottom-left corner, and the 13-megapixel primary camera with a dual-LED flash, another unusual feature in a phone of this price. The camera can also capture 1080p video at 30fps.

On the front, aside from the screen, is the call speaker, a 5-megapixel secondary “selfie” camera, and a tiny green notification LED, which pulses on and off if you have a message, updated app or something else that may need your attention. On the right-hand edge are the power and volume buttons, as well as the SIM and microSD slots.

Huawei Honor 6 review: display

The Honor 6 has a 5in screen, which seems to be becoming the standard size for all smartphones these days. However, unlike some competitors, the Honor 6’s display is Full HD 1,080 x 1,920 resolution, as opposed to 720 x 1,280 pixels, delivering a pixel density of 441ppi (meaning pixels become effectively invisible at around 8in from the eye).

At 438cd/m2, the Honor 6 screen is bright, too – not quite as searing as the Xperia Z3 Compact, but still bright enough to be usable in all but the brightest sunlight.

Huawei Honor 6 review - side

It also offers a respectable level of colour accuracy and contrast ratio. With the ability to display 95.5% of the sRGB gamut, the Honor 6 performs as well as the Xperia Z3 Compact and much better than the Moto G 2, although the balance of colour is a little on the cool side. With a contrast ratio of 967:1, it outperforms its premium sibling, the Ascend P7 (745:1) and, largely speaking, images look bold and solid onscreen.

Huawei Honor 6 review: core hardware and performance

Just like the P7, the Honor 6 eschews popular chip manufacturers such as Qualcomm and Intel, instead using its own processor. In this case, it’s the HiSilicon Kirin 920, accompanied by 3GB of RAM and an ARM Mali-T624 GPU.

Ostensibly, the Kirin 920 is an eight-core chip, but it’s actually made up of two quad-core CPUs – one running at 1.7GHz and the other at 1.3GHz. Which core is in use at any given time depends on what you’re asking the phone to do: more demanding tasks are shifted onto the 1.7GHz chip, and less demanding tasks use the 1.3GHz one.

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In the benchmarks, this line-up produced a mixed bag of results. In the pure CPU tests it performed well, scoring a respectable 864 and 3,095 in the single- and multi-core elements of Geekbench 3, considerably faster than both the Moto G 2 and Sony Xperia Z3 Compact.

But the ARM Mali-T624 GPU isn’t quite as strong as the CPU, as results in the GFXBench T-Rex HD tests suggest. It finished with an average frame rate of 17fps in the onscreen test, still ahead of the Moto G 2’s score of 11fps, but a long way behind the Z3 Compact’s 41fps.

Huawei Honor 6 review: battery life

Where performance is strong, however, battery life is anything but. Despite a large 3,100mAh power pack, the Honor 6’s stamina is below par. Even under light use, with a bit of browsing, email and social network synchronisation going on, you can see the battery level dropping away at a quite disconcerting rate.

Huawei Honor 6 review - top edge

Our benchmarks backed up this real-world experience. In the video-playback test, where we set the screen to a brightness level of 120cd/m2 and put the phone into flight mode, the battery depleted at a rate of 9.9% per hour, while in the audio-streaming test with the screen off, capacity fell at 6.6% per hour; both are below-average results. The GFXBench battery test, meanwhile, returned a projected runtime of just 2hrs 7mins – the worst time we’ve seen for quite a while.

By comparison, the Moto G 2’s results in these tests were 10.5% and 3.5% in the video- and audio-streaming battery-depletion tests, while the Xperia Z3 Compact’s results were 7.3% and 3.3%.

Huawei Honor 6 review: cameras and connectivity

Both the front (5-megapixel) and rear (13-megapixel) cameras take good, clear pictures. They can handle low and marginal light conditions, controlling grain and noise reasonably well – and in good light, photographs are generally well-exposed, even in tricky conditions.

We were particularly impressed with video quality in demanding conditions. Unlike many other budget handsets, the Huawei Honor 6 adapted to shifting lighting smoothly without stepping the exposure distractingly, and generally made the right decisions over shutter speeds, avoiding the horrible smearing that some handsets produce in low light.

Finally, when it comes to connectivity, the Honor 6 can hold its head up. There’s no 802.11ac or NFC, but you do get dual-band 802.11n and, importantly, 4G support.

Huawei Honor 6 review: verdict

The Huawei Honor 6 doesn’t do an awful lot wrong. It may not be as cheap as the Motorola Moto G 2, or as fast and all-round competent as the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact, but its sleek design, decent cameras, high-quality display and acceptable all-round performance count in its favour.

If you want an attractive, slim 5in smartphone and don’t want to pay the earth, it’s well worth a look – but do bear in mind that battery life isn’t the best.

Huawei Honor 6 specifications

ProcessorOcta-core (2 x quad-core), 1.7Hz and 1.3GHz, HiSilicon KIRIN 920
RAM3GB
Screen size5in
Screen resolution1080 x 1920
Screen typeIPS
Front camera5 megapixels
Rear camera13 megapixels
FlashDual LED
GPSYes
CompassYes
Storage16/32GB
Memory card slot (supplied)Yes
Wi-FiDual-band 802.11a/b/g/n
BluetoothBluetooth 4 LE
NFCYes
Wireless dataYes
Size70 x 7.5 x 140mm (WDH)
Weight130g
Operating systemAndroid 4.4.2 (KitKat)
Battery size3,100 mAh
Buying information
Warranty1yr RTB
Price£250
Supplierwww.amazon.co.uk

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