While Huawei's flagship banner was traditionally carried by its Ascend P-series, the P7 didn't ship with a high end SoC that was able to compete with other devices in the same category. With the Honor 6, Huawei takes a departure from its usual lineup and introduces their first big.LITTLE and high-performance SoC, the HiSilicon Kirin 920, which will be a key area of examination.

The Honor 6 sports the same 5" form factor as its cousin the Ascend P7, but with different build materials and design. We take a in-depth look into how this new player competes in terms of performance and power consumption.

Hardware

Huawei Honor 6 Specifications
SoC HiSilicon "Kirin 920" Hi3630
(4x A7 @ 1.3GHz & 4x A15 @ 1.7GHz,
Mali T628MP4 @ 600MHz)
RAM/NAND 3 GB LPDDR3-1600, 16/32GB NAND + microSD
Display 5” 1920x1080 JDI In-cell
Network HiSilicon Balong LTE Cat. 6 300Mbps CA modem
(SoC integrated)
Dimensions 139.6 x 69.7 x 7.5mm, 130 grams
Camera 13MP Sony BSI sensor, F2.0 aperture, ISP 5-piece lens
5MP front camera
Battery

3000 mAh (11.4 Wh) rated
3100 mAh (11.8Wh) typical
3.8V battery chemistry

OS Android 4.4.2 "EmotionUI 2.3"
3.10.33 Linux Kernel
Connectivity 802.11a/b/g/n Wifi + BT 4.0, USB2.0, GPS/GLONASS, 
FM radio
SIM Size MicroSIM
Price $389.90

We start by taking a look at the design which is quite modest. The front face is minimalistic and sports few features that would make it possible to distinguish what phone it is. The lack of Huawei's logo on the front is intriguing as it doesn't appear on the back either. In fact, there is no way to tell that this is a Huawei phone at all as their name is nowhere to be found, with only the "Honor" logo adorning the top-middle on the back of the phone. I see this as a plus, as it contrasts with other phones that have manufacturer logos on both sides of the phone. However, I see how this could lead to confusion amongst average consumers that wouldn't recognize a phone by its design.

The general design reminds me of Sony's original Xperia Z, as both feature glossy back-panels and shiny plastic rims that contrast with the rest of the phone. This also comes with the same disadvantages that we saw on Sony's devices; the back is very fingerprint prone and slippery. The device comes with an oleophobic layer which makes it easy to wipe off the smudges, but once that eventually wears off after several months of use, I'm not keen on having to deal with this problem. It's worth mentioning that the back panel is neither glass nor scratch resistant and is easily damaged. I've already managed to inadvertedly mark this unit with some small scratches in daily use. Because the device's back is perfectly flat and has no protruding parts, I caught the device more than once sliding away from where I put it if it wasn't on a perfectly even or grippy surface. The side bezels also are extremely slippery - during normal use I found this impractical as it reduces the my grip on the device. I don't see why they couldn't have stuck with the matte plastic finish that is found only on the bottom of the device and used that for all sides.

In terms of external features, we have a standard microUSB 2.0 socket at the bottom of the device, power and volume rocker on the right hand edge in a comfortable position, and at the top a 3.5mm headphone jack and IR blaster. We find dual-microphones at the top and bottom. Because the back cover is non-removable (and thus making the battery non-replaceable), the microSIM and microSD card slots are tucked away under a panel on the bottom right side of the phone. I found the panel to be relatively sturdy and snug when closed, so it's not noticeable unless you look for it. The power and volume rocker buttons are clicky and sturdy, no complaints there.

On the back we find the camera lens on the top right of the phone, similar to iPhones and Sony's devices. As mentioned earlier, the piece doesn't protrude and seems to be well-protected from scratches. Next to it is a dual-LED flash setup, however it's just two identical LEDs working in tandem. Nevertheless, I was fairly impressed with the brightness, wide and even spread of light they were able to output. It's definitely the brightest torchlight I've found to discover on a smartphone.

The Honor 6 comes in 4 variations: the TDD-LTE model which has incompatible frequencies to operate in the western markets beyond basic 2G connectivity (H60-L01), and the FDD-LTE model which does feature compatible bands, and also comes with dual-SIM capabilities (H60-L02). The two basic 16GB network versions come in 32GB variants (H60-L11 for TDD, H60-L12 for FDD). The TDD version is aimed at the Chinese market, and will be the version we're reviewing as that is the unit Huawei has sent us. Unfortunately, this means we are unable to properly review the connectivity of the phone.

The launch price resides at $389.90 and undercuts most other flagships, a factor that should be definitely considered when evaluating the device.

Next, let's take a look at what Huawei offers in terms of software.

EmotionUI 2.3 - Core OS Features
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  • Achtung_BG - Friday, September 12, 2014 - link

    Kirin920/925 is very intrasting SoC compared with MediaTek 6595( 4 cortex A17, 4 cortex A17 GPU PowerVR6200) in mid phone class 200-300$ Reply
  • johnny_boy - Friday, September 12, 2014 - link

    As someone who doesn't game, this SoC is pretty interesting. Being interested in mainly web performance, this phone looks fairly attractive for the price. This obsession with phone/tablet GPU performance is a bit puzzling, and there should be options with strong CPU performance and middling GPU performance for those of us who only do casual or once-in-a-blue-moon phone/tablet gaming. What percentage of tablet users are utilizing the full power of their Tegra K1 GPU, or phone users utilizing the full power or their Snapdragon 801 (Adreno 330) GPU? My bet is few. Reply
  • johnny_boy - Friday, September 12, 2014 - link

    Whoops, I forgot there's only one K1 tablet out right now, and it's a gaming one! So probably 100% of K1 users ARE utilizing that fullness of that GPU! Reply
  • hendry07 - Saturday, September 13, 2014 - link

    if im not mistaken, there are 2 K1 Tablets that are out right now. MiPad , and Shield. Reply
  • soccerballtux - Friday, September 12, 2014 - link

    how do you burn through 3100mAh in 1.6483 hours that is beyond me Reply
  • tuxRoller - Friday, September 12, 2014 - link

    By having it use about 6W/hr;) Reply
  • masimilianzo - Friday, September 12, 2014 - link

    Great having reviews for chinese only phones! They are great! Nubias, Meizu, Xiaomi, Huawei. Please keep going reviewing this stuff Reply
  • NeatOman - Saturday, September 13, 2014 - link

    I just want to note something that is not brought up nearly as much or at all, the lighting that affects the screens... over many years I've seen screen look better then other in certain light and in other light other screens come out ahead. Long story short, my Nexus 5 looks much better in the sun then my friends iPhone 5c.. the colors seam to be almost *enhanced* if you will while the iPhone although very clear in the sun still looked washed out. Also if you have polorized glassed on the iPhone screen gets wired (kind cool lol) and the Nexus 5 is perfectly visible both vertically and horizontally (the Nexus 4's screen would go totally black if it was held sideways with polarized glasses on).

    So despite not being as bright outright, it handles sunlight hitting the screen much much better then a iPhone 5//5s/5c, especially with glasses on.
    Reply
  • johnny_boy - Saturday, September 13, 2014 - link

    Nice looking phone. Too bad about the crappy wifi and flash performance, because that should be a dealbreaker for almost anyone. Reply
  • p51d007 - Saturday, September 13, 2014 - link

    I have a Huawei Ascend Mate2, and it has a non removable battery. Considering it is a 4000mAH battery, it doesn't matter. Even with a 6.1" screen, it lasts 2-3 days on average. Some have questioned when they released it with a Snapdragon 400 SOC along with a 720p screen. I even had doubts until I started seeing reviews & actual users that have it. Some also questioned the lack of kit kat, sticking it with JB 4.3, but, I bet the majority of users won't care. It's fast, the screen is crystal clear, unless you are a pixel peeper that holds the device 2 inches from your nose! If more and more "mid spec" devices start showing promise, perhaps the days of over priced super spec devices will start to dissipate. Do you "really" need an 8 core 1080p screen? The apps can't really take advantage of all that speed anyway. Reply

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