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Reviewed: Honor 6

Michael Moore joined TechWeek Europe in January 2014 as a trainee before graduating to Reporter later that year. He covers a wide range of topics, including but not limited to mobile devices, wearable tech, the Internet of Things, and financial technology.

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The “world’s fastest smartphone” proves to be a surprisingly durable everyday device, despite some handling trouble

It’s fair to say that the Android smartphone market has become extremely crowded of late, as Apple-wary consumers flock to the more open and usable platform. But with so many devices out on the market, do we really need a whole new brand offering a high-powered smartphone?

Huawei certainly thinks so, and in an effort to improve its reputation in Western markets following a series of controversies, it launched the Honor 6, the first release from its new consumer brand, last month. But how does it stack up to the wealth of other devices on the market?

Honor 6First Impressions

It’s a hard task trying to stand out from the crowded Android smartphone market, and it has to be said that the Honor 6 doesn’t exactly make the best first impression. The device looks fairly similar to many leading handsets already out at the moment, with its 5.5in build putting it on a similar plane to the likes of LG’s G3 and Sony’s Xperia Z4.

Upon booting up, the 1080 x 1920 pixel FullHD display is bright and colourful, and all the usual Android features are present and correct. But where the Honor 6 initially really stands out is in its weight – at just 130g and measuring 7.5mm across, it is a lightweight device, but still feels sturdy enough to live up to the usual daily bumps and scrapes.

The Specs

Huawei says that the Honor family will offer high end specifications at cheaper prices than its competitors, and this does seem to be the case with the 6. The device is powered by a heavily customised octa-core Kirin 920 chipset made up of a Quad-core 1.7 GHz Cortex-A15 & quad-core 1.3 GHz Cortex-A7, backed up by 3GB of RAM and either 16 or 32 GB of internal memory, which can be boosted up to 64GB via a microSD port.

But it’s the internet connectivity which Huawei hopes will be the Honor 6’s USP. The Kirin chipset is able to support LTE Cat6 protocols, which are twice as fast as current 4G networks, meaning it should be able to achieve download speeds of up to 300Mbps – provided there is an operator capable of delivering such speeds.

Add this to the promise of an extensive battery life thanks to a 3100mAh battery combined with Huawei’s SmartPower2.0 technology, which it says will last for more than two days of regular usage and over a day’s heavy usage, and you do really have a decent package for the price.

Honor smartphone use huaweiThe Experience

With all that power inside, it’s no surprise that the Honor 6 is able to handle most of the tasks handed to it. Navigating between apps is fast, with the device showing little signs of slowdown even with a raft of different services running.  The Honor 6 runs Huawei’s custom Emotion UI, which packs in all the usual features, but seems to be hankering for an approach more like Apple’s iOS than actual Android, with users encouraged to use folders to group apps together.

Emotion includes Huawei’s own in house apps for functions such as Mail and Calendar, which link in nicely with the customised backgrounds and themes packaged with the phone, but downloading third party apps seem to make this jar a little. The phone had apparent difficulty in working even with Google’s Calendar app, which is slightly unnerving, and several other apps failed to start or crashed upon use. Further online research showed that this was not an uncommon problem, and hopefully one Huawei fixes soon.

However, the LTE Cat 6 networks aren’t currently available in the UK, meaning we weren’t able to try this function out, although internet access was slick whenever a reliable connection is available (which in the heart of London and the Somerset countryside isn’t always the case).

Camera-wise, the Honor 6 also struggles a bit compared to its predecessors. Despite some undoubtedly clever detection software which means that the device is able to capture an image in just 0.6 seconds, the 13MP camera is a bit behind some of the other options on the market today.

Honor 6The Verdict

It’s clear that Huawei has tried to do something different with the Honor 6, but I’m having a hard time figuring out what it actually is.

The device is a well-constructed and easy to use smartphone which is available at a fraction of the cost of many leading devices, and features impressive specifications for this price. But in the UK at least, the Honor 6 is missing its one central USP – LTE Cat 6 connectivity, which is not something we’re likely to see here soon, which is a shame.

This isn’t to say I’m not a fan – it’s undeniably a well-built handset that runs smoothly (despite some software issues) and has everything you’d want in a mid to high-end smartphone. But is it better than the offerings from Samsung, Sony and LG? Probably not, but it’s an encouraging start, and I’m intrigued to see where the brand goes next.

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Honor 6

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Honor 6
Honor 6