Swag (noun): A very confident attitude or manner, a fashionable and confident appearance or way of behaving.
If there’s even a remote chance the word “swag” wasn't part of your vocabulary, Huawei-sub-brand Honor’s high visibility blitzkrieg in the past couple of weeks would have taken care of that, and finally, the #SwagPhoneHonor6X is here.
Hashtags and buzzwords aside, how does the dual-camera-toting Honor 6X fare in an insanely crowded and competitive budget segment where it goes up against the likes of the Redmi Note 4, Coolpad Cool1 and the Moto G4 Plus?
- Good build quality
- Good camera performance with a dual-camera setup that works
- Decent, if not stellar, battery life
- No fast charging
- No Nougat
- Middling performance
- Somewhat dim display
Curved metal back, curved glass front. Sure, it’s sounding almost formulaic for this price segment, but the Honor 6X manages to pull off an aesthetically pleasing mix of plastic and metal, which coupled with the dual camera setup would have you believe this is a far pricier phone than it is.
The curved edges and smooth satiny rear lets the 6X sit well in the hand, although it gets way too slippery for comfort. Slim bezels allow for one-handed use in a pinch.
Of course, it’s the dual cameras that got my attention, more so since Huawei/Honor have gotten quite good with the setup with the P9 and Honor 8. The approach is similar to the iPhone 7 Plus, and here you have a 12MP Sony IMX386 sensor primary shooter with a 2MP depth and contrast sensor.
With the default camera app, you can go bokeh-crazy during or after the shot by playing around with the wide f/0.95 to f/16 aperture range, and the blurred background effects work pretty well and is pretty convincing, as long as you frame the subject well.
So long as you don't expect that this aperture change will allow more light into the camera, which is what a true aperture change would effect, you’re set.
In good light, the 6X has a capable camera, quick to focus and capture with results that are pleasant to view and share… as long as you’re ready to forgive the processing time between shot to shot.
Details are sharp, and colour reproduction is mostly accurate, with the occasional warmer tones. Macros are good as well. It rises well to the challenge of low-light and exposes the highlights and shadows properly, giving you usable levels of detail with minimal noise.
It’s only in the poorest of light that the camera starts dropping focus and falls apart, but that’s asking too much of mobile cameras in general, more so at this price point. Video recording is capped at 1080p, likely due to the hardware on tap.
Which leads us to the Kirin 655, Huawei’s in-house mid-range chip. It doesn't match the performance levels of the current sub-15,000-darling Snapdragon 625, but manages to hold its own for most games and apps.
I did notice a couple of lags and when I put it through its paces playing graphics heavy games, but these were infrequent and usually when there was a lot going on onscreen. Honor is launching two variants – a Rs. 12,999 variant with 3GB RAM and 32GB storage and the other Rs 15,999 variant with 4GB RAM and 64GB storage.
Battery life is acceptable, and the Kirin 655 sips the battery for most tasks, giving you a day-long battery life on the 3340mAh battery. No fast charging though.
The Honor 6X runs Honor’s custom EMUI v4.1 atop a dated Android 6.0 Marshmallow, and is among the heavier skins out there in terms of customisation. Not for fans of vanilla Android experience.
And the bloatware? My word, there are just far too many pre-loaded apps, both from Honor and third-party developers.
The display, a 5.5-inch full HD IPS LCD type, is sharp and is tweaked to be slightly warm, but my issue is that the display is a tad dim when compared to phones we’ve played with recently in the same price segment. Then there’s the Hybrid dual-SIM slot, and the on-screen navigation buttons
Why Buy It?
Much like the 5X from last year, the 6X offers a competent, if not spectacular, experience, and the one we’d recommend – the 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage variant – will set you back by Rs. 15,999.
We’ve been spoiled silly to expect a lot at this price point, and the recent price drops on the Lenovo Z2 Plus and the super aggressive Redmi Note 4 pricing makes this feel less and less of a bargain. That said, the camera gives the 6X a leg up, and may swing a few snap-happy folks away from the competition.
(Tushar Kanwar is a technology columnist and commentator and has been contributing for the past 15 years to India’s leading newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at @2shar)