CES 2017: Hands-on with the dual camera $250 Honor 6X

Huawei starts off the new year with the 5X successor, the Honor 6X, that brings a dual camera experience with a long battery life and sleek all-aluminum form factor to the US market.

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Last year ZDNet's Jason Perlow was impressed with the $199 Honor 5X and now we see Huawei bringing the Honor 6X to the US with some important upgrades while keeping the price low at just $249.99.

TechRepublic: Honor launches 6X budget phone with a dual-lens rear camera

Huawei announced the Honor 6X in China on 18 October 2016 and today made the US release announcement at CES in Las Vegas. The Honor 6X packs in a lot of smartphone at an affordable price and I've spent the last 10 days testing one out.

Hardware

In 2016, my favorite smartphone hardware maker was Huawei. There's something about 2.5D glass, beveled metal edges, an extremely fast rear fingerprint scanner, and solid performing camera. The Honor 8 is an incredible device that can be found for just around $300 with near-flagship specifications. The Honor 6X is a bigger phone and competes in the large display market with specs that are near flagship level.

Rather than having a rear beveled edge on the back of the Honor 6X, we see that Huawei took the sides and curved it into the back panel so the phone fits well in your hand. The dual cameras are positioned on top of each other, like the Mate 9, and also have a bump that sticks out the back. The fingerprint sensor is centered below the cameras.

The SIM/microSD card slot tray is on the left with the volume and power buttons on the right. The mono speaker and microUSB port are found on the bottom. An IR port and the 3.5mm headset jack are on top.

Specifications of the Honor 6X include:

  • Processor: HiSilicon Kirin 655 octa-core
  • Display: 5.5 inch 1920 x 1080 pixels resolution IPS LCD, 403 ppi
  • Operating system: Emotion UI 4.1 built on Android 6.0 Marshmallow
  • RAM: 3 GB
  • Storage: 32 GB internal storage with microSD storage card
  • Cameras: 12 megapixel and 2 megapixel dual rear cameras. 8 megapixel front facing camera
  • Wireless technology: FM radio, NFC, 802.11 b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1
  • Battery: 3,340 mAh battery with fast charging technology
  • Dimensions: 150.9 x 76.2 x 8.2 mm and 162 grams

The Honor 8 has an USB Type-C port, but the Honor 6X still has a microUSB port on the bottom for charging up the device. You will still find a 3.5mm headset jack, as well as a FM radio.

The camera performs well and may be one of the best I've ever used at this price point. I included inside, exterior, outside sunset, and wide aperture photos from the Huawei Mate 9 and Honor 6X in my image gallery below. The Honor 6X will likely satisfy most folks, especially if photos are just shared on social networks.

Software

The Honor 6X runs Emotion UI 4.1 and Honor stated it will be upgraded to version 5.0 in the future. While some people have issues with EMUI, I find it to be a functional UI that adds to Android without being overly complicated or obtrusive.

There is no app drawer in EMUI 4.1, but you can always install something like the Google Now Launcher and be satisfied with the home screen experience. The software performs the same as the Honor 8 so check out that review if you are interested in EMUI 4.1.

One aspect of the dual camera Huawei devices like the P9, Mate 9, and Honor 8 is the advanced camera software. While the iPhone and Google Pixel devices have a very basic camera user interface, Honor brings an advanced experience similar to what we see on Samsung and LG phones. You will find wide aperture mode, professional mode, food mode, perfect selfie, beauty mode, makeup mode for the front camera, panorama, HDR, watermark, audio note, ultra snapshot, best photo, smile snapshot, audio control, timer function, touch to capture, and time-lapse mode.

Honor is a brand that targets millennials and believes that providing slick camera functions is better than a simple automatic interface. I personally enjoy using some of these modes and get more comments from people when I take unique shots using these modes.

Initial experiences

I've had the Honor 6X in hand for about 10 days and if I wasn't such a flagship-loving smartphone user I could easily get by with a device like the Honor 6X. People who are looking for great value and solid specifications may want to consider the 6X. It's nice to have a smartphone that lasts a couple of days and helps you be creative with photography.

In November I wrote about the different ways manufacturers are using dual rear cameras and in this case the Honor 6X has dual cameras for faster focus and wide aperture tricks. The main rear camera is a 12 megapixel shooter, but the second one is only 2 megapixels. It is not a monochrome lens like the Huawei P9 and Mate 9, but is a color one that is used to improve focus times and provide wide aperture effects.

Huawei has some fantastic hardware design language and the Honor 6X continues that trend. It definitely does not feel like a low price Android smartphone and thankfully it also performs better than you would expect for a mid-level device.

People looking for a big screen phone at a very affordable price will appreciate the Honor 6X. It will be available on Amazon, Newegg, ebay, and other online retailers with in-store available in Best Buy, Costco, and others. You will be able to purchase the Honor 6X for $249.99 in gray, gold, and silver.

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