Honor 6 Plus review
A superb bargain phablet from the biggest company you've never heard of
Huawei is one of the biggest manufacturers of smartphones and networking equipment in the world, but few people have heard of it. If you have, then chances are you don't know how to pronounce Huawei' and have the (unfair) impression that their phones are poor quality. Huawei is attempting to solve both problems by launching new phones under the new Honor brand.
Honor 6 Plus: casing
The 6 Plus is a phablet with a 5.5in 1080p screen and is currently available exclusively on Three. It looks like a giant iPhone 4s at first glance, but it's made out of dark blue plastic rather than glass and metal. Look closely and the seemingly plain plastic casing actually has a subtle and classy cross-hatch pattern that shimmers in the light attractively. It feels tough and well-made too.
Honor 6 Plus: performance and screen
Despite its low price (for a phablet), the 6 Plus has an eight core processor - the 1.8GHz HiSilicon Kirin 925 (HiSilicon is a subsidiary of Huawei). Although not quite as fast as rival Samsung or Qualcomm eight core processors, especially when running apps with detailed 3D graphics, it's still very quick and more than fast enough to run demanding apps.
The touchscreen wasn't perfectly responsive, occasionally struggling to keep up with our swipes and prods (especially on complex webpages), but it was otherwise very smooth for the most part. Colours can look a little washed out unless brightness is turned up to maximum, but text, videos and photos still look great thanks to the screen's sharpness, good contrast and wide viewing angles.
Honor 6 Plus: slots and battery life
The 6 Plus has two SIM card slots which is an unusual feature. If you're travelling to a country not covered by Three's generous Feel at Home programme for using your data allowance abroad at no extra cost, then you can slide a micro SIM into the provided tray and slide that into second SIM card slot. Cleverly, this second slot also doubles as a micro SD slot. You fit the storage card on the flip side of the micro SIM tray which is a little fiddly to do unless you have a very steady hand.
The huge battery lasted an impressive 44 hours when connected to Three's 4G network in London's West End and used for calls, photography, web browsing and GPS. The downside is that the huge battery takes twice as long to charge as many other phone batteries. The GPS and compass were sometimes slightly off, but this only happened occasionally. Disappointingly, callers often sounded so muffled and distant that we had trouble understanding them. At least the noise cancellation feature effectively blocked out the ruckus of a nearby building site.
Honor 6 Plus: camera and operating system
Honor claims the pair of eight megapixel cameras on the back produce better quality HDR photos, but these shots, and photo quality in general, were far behind those of admittedly more expensive phones. Shots taken in dim lighting were too dark and full of noise to be usable. Even moderately dim conditions were enough to ruin fine textures and skin tones.
Android 4.4 KitKat is pre-installed, rather than the latest 5.0 Lollipop, with no word on when an upgrade might arrive. More irritating is Honor's interface on top of Android which insists on removing the app drawer, so all your apps end up on your homescreen, and which has its own ugly icon style. There are some useful features though, such as the option to turn off notifications for an app straight from the notifications drawer the first time it appears there.
Honor 6 Plus: conclusions
The Honor 6 Plus isn't perfect, but you'll struggle to find a phablet at this price with such good build quality, battery life, screen and performance. Plus its second SIM slot is an unexpected bonus. It's very good value.
Not perfect, but lengthy battery life and other neat features make this a great value phablet
Processor: 1.8GHz HiSilicon Kirin 925
Memory: 3GB RAM
Storage: 32GB on-board, micro SD slot
Connectivity: 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, 4G
Ports: MicroUSB 2.0, headphone jack, 2x micro SIM
Dimensions: 150x76x8mm (HxWxD)
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