Huawei, the Chinese manufacturer, has decided to unleash a new brand under the name Honor. The plan is to cut out shops and sell online only so as to save money, which it can spend on delivering a better handset. The result is the Honor 6, a 300Mbps Cat 6 LTE 4G smartphone that can offer a two day battery life.
Without fully established Cat 6 4G in the UK this is more of a future proofing phone. But does it have all the specs to last? Or is this an early adopter handset that might slip through the net?
The latest 4G LTE is referred to as Cat 6, this is the fastest available at 300Mbps, double the current Cat 4 150Mbps 4G found in the UK. While EE is the only network to have publically tested Cat 6 more than once, it’s still not largely available. So this is very much a future proofing purchase.
The key to these superfast connection speeds is the chip. Currently most phones CPUs won’t support the superfast Cat 6 LTE. The Honor 6 packs a system on a chip that is not only able to work at these speeds but should also do so without chomping through battery life, claims Honor. Although in our limited time with the handset we couldn’t put this to the test.
The 5-inch screen is a crisp and clear unit with a 1920 x 1080 resolution which equates to 445ppi. This means that text is well defined and images with depth look impressively detailed. The screen is bright and vivid with colours that stand-out.
The screen is coated in a layer which is supposed to stop fingermarks. While it did seem to stay fairly clear and smooth to the touch while we were using it we’d be amazed if this remained the case throughout real world daily use.
Power and processing
Powering the Honor 6 is an octa-core Kirin920 CPU. Thanks to the combination of a big.LITTLE setup comprising 4 A15 server-grade processors and 4 A7 power saving processors it’s supposed to be powerful yet efficient. There is also a co-processor, dubbed i3, which allows for sensor management at low power while in standby mode.
In our experience the chip was faultless with no lag or struggling that we could discern. While working at Cat 6 300Mbps speeds that’s really impressive, like being on the Wi-Fi at home and everything working instantly. We couldn’t move our fingers fast enough to make it struggle.
The efficiency of the CPU combined with a 3,100mAh battery and Honor’s SmartPower 2.0 tech is supposed to deliver two days of battery use. We couldn’t test this with our time using the handset but would be dubious about it being that impressive in a real situation with the brightness turned up and people leaving apps open all day running in the background.
The Honor 6 also features a similar ultra power saving mode to Samsung handsets. When this black and white mode with limited app access is turned on 10 per cent battery should last a full 24 hours, says Honor.
The Honor 6 comes packing a 13-megapixel camera on the rear using Sony’s fourth gen sensor and an f/2.0 aperture for HDR and dual-LED support. For the price this is pretty standard and is plenty for most users. The extra appeal of this camera is its snapshot function which is able to take a photo in 0.6 seconds. We found it really quick to autofocus and shoot allowing you to tap multiple times and it would take photos almost as fast – a bit like a burst mode you can control.
The best thing about this snapshot mode is its ability to take photos without you needing to unlock the screen. So if you’ve seen something you want to quickly snap just point and double click the volume button to take the photo. Our aim doing this was pretty accurate after years of using camera phones so our only gripe with this is that it’ll likely take photos in your pocket by mistake – that said you can just delete them if that were to happen so it’s no big deal and certainly worth it for this revolutionary smartphone camera development.
An all focus mode is also useful as it allows you to take a photo and adjust the focus after it’s been taken by tapping where on the photo you want focus.
The front features a 5-megapixel camera with 88-degree wide viewing angle and 1.4um pixel size that, in the lighting we were using offered a decent photo. It’s certainly an improvement on many flagship smartphones that come with a meagre 2-megapixel snapper. The selfie camera is also able to shoot panoramics which can be helpful for capturing a group selfie shot.
The first thing that stood out about the Honor 6 was the rounded edging which looks reminiscent of the iPhone 6. Of course there are other rounded edge phones but this is pretty coincidental timing. That said it’s a great feel sat in the hand with the rounded edges offering a soft yet grip-friendly quality.
The Honor 6, for the price, does feel rather premium thanks to that edge, slim bezel and flawless drop-off between screen and case.
The rear is what’s described as a “3D diamond-style texture” which translates to a nice grip in the hand with a textured look that feels more premium than plain plastic. It should also be tough since it’s made from a six layer structure of composite materials.
Honor claims the build means call quality that’s twice as good as a comparable smartphone. This is thanks to smart antenna tech, a loop antenna and USB port reuse. We weren’t able to test this in our time with the phone but imagine it’s essential to ensure a good enough connection for Cat 4 LTE.
The Honor 6 features Emotion 2.3 skin over Android 4.4.2 KitKat which has, according to Honor, had 650 improvements over the last version.
The company has promised improvements as they arrive so expect to get an update to Android 5.0 Lollipop as soon as it's ready. Since Huawei is working across phones it's likely the Honor handset will receive the update as soon as the like of the Huawei Ascend P6 does.
For a future-proofed smartphone, connectivity-wise at least, this really does offer a lot for the price (which is £250, by the way). Although for some the 1080p screen may not be future-proofed enough now that 2K is on the scene.
The build quality, camera, claimed battery performance and connectivity make this an impressive handset for the price. Presuming the software is updated as Honor has claimed it should be then this could be worth the investment.
While this is technically a new brand in Honor it’s built by Huawei which already has plenty of experience in the smartphone market so you can expect a similarly professional service.