A scramble is underway on a global scale.
A scramble to be the number 3 smartphone manufacturer in the world. Why is everyone fighting for the bronze medal though? Good question. That would be because the first two - Apple and Samsung - are way, WAY ahead of the game. Chinese telecom giant Huawei is heavily invested in this race for the third position, probably more so than the others because it tasted victory once in 2014.
Let's stroll down memory lane. The year 2013 and most of 2014 were good times for Huawei. The world’s largest manufacturer of telecom equipment was doing pretty well in the smartphone arena as well. The Honor 6 had been released and geeks everywhere, including yours truly, were fawning over that powerful device boasting of an insane battery life. Huawei seemed unstoppable. No one else was growing at such a tremendous rate on a global scale and we would like to believe even Samsung got a little worried, like Xerxes while facing Leonidas and the brave 300. And just like the brave 300, the biggest threat for Huawei came from its fellow countrymen - the likes of Xiaomi, Lenovo and ZTE.
The good news, though, is that Huawei has no plans to give in without a fight. The legendary Honor has a new iteration - the Honor 6 Plus. And boy, it does not disappoint.
Metal Gear Solid
The Honor 6 Plus lies face up in its cardboard box cradle when you first lay your eyes on it. And that view does not incite any excitement; it’s a slab of black mirror, like any phone out there.
However, remove it from the box, hold it in your hands and you start appreciating the device. The Honor 6 Plus is one of those devices that looks okay but feels great.
Brushed aluminium runs along the sides of the phone and the cold metal feels impressively premium. The back of the phone is made of beautifully patterned glass fiber and is touted to be stronger than military helmets. We didn’t subject it to bullets, but it seems to survive day to day drops like a pro. The back, admittedly, is a bit of a fingerprint magnet, but we loved Honor’s naked body too much to snap an ugly cover on it.
The left side of the phone is a smooth, unbroken strip of aluminium, while the right side has metallic volume buttons, a lock button and 2 pop-out slots. There is good news and bad news for these slots. Good news - they can be used either for 2 SIM cards or 1 SIM and 1 microSD card. That’s right, according to your preference, you can use the second slot to turn your phone into a Dual-SIM or expand its memory by a whopping 128GB. Awesome, right? Well, yes. But here’s the bad news - while the microSD option works, the Dual-SIM one doesn’t. Not in India, anyway.
The 5.5in Full HD screen of the Honor 6 Plus is glorious. We don’t want to start anything, but with a resolution of 1920x1080 at 403ppi, technically, the Honor 6 Plus has a better display than the iPhone 6 Plus and OnePlus One. By 2 pixels. In the real world, you can’t tell the difference, but the point is that it is pretty good. Viewing angles are so good that you can look at it with your nose touching the charging port (Yes, we did it) and the screen still looks great. You’ll spend a lot of time playing HD videos and graphic intensive games on this, like we did. Turn off the auto brightness, let this one shine.
Apple flavored Kitkat
The Honor 6 Plus runs its custom EMUI 3.0 skin on Android 4.4. We aren’t big fans of skins around here. They often mean bloated software and remind us of old Samsung phones. The EMUI, thankfully, has none of that. The home screen has no app tray and instead lets you see all your apps in a single flowing panel. Sounds familiar? Yes. The EMUI cleverly integrates the iOS look with Android functionality. Inspirations from iOS8 and Lollipop are also seen in the soft fonts and the flat design.
Apart from the usual Android tweaks, there are a bunch of flashy features under settings like facial recognition unlock and gesture controls - draw a letter on the phone’s screen and the corresponding app will open. We disabled facial recognition immediately after testing it because 1. It's a bit of a hit or miss and 2. You see your unprepared face staring at you everytime you unlock your device. Not a pretty sight.
What we're saying is that Honor’s fresh interface with detailed chronological notifications, a unique call screen, useful lock screen controls and a host of other small tweaks managed to question our inherent hatred for custom skins.
The Honor 6 Plus has an Octa-Core Kirin 925 processor along with 3GB of RAM. On paper, there is a lot of power under the hood. In the real world too, the Honor 6 Plus handles most things you throw at it without breaking a sweat. Multitasking is a joy for the most part - YouTube crashed a couple of times when there were a lot of apps running in the background and one game (Daddy Long Legs. What? We don’t have to explain our game preferences to anybody) refused to even start. But then again, we watched an HD Simon Pegg frolicking about in Kill Me Three Times with games like Asphalt 8 and Driver Speedboat Paradise running in the background, and the phone did not stutter once.
Signal reception was top notch, especially in areas where other phones falter and fail. Call quality was stellar, to say the least, one of the best we have encountered in a long time.
Click click bang bang
Come forth and pay your respects.
The Honor 6 Plus features a holy trinity of 8MP snappers - one at the front and two at the back. The dual lens is used to add depth while using the wide-aperture mode and to collect more light in the night mode. What does all that mean? That means this baby takes some stunning pictures, even at night. If you are looking for a phone with a great camera that does not break the bank, get this without a second thought. You might want to invest in a tripod though - with a camera this good, it would be a shame to ruin pictures just because of your shaky, sweaty hands.
the dts effect
There is a thin speaker grill at the back that gives a decent sound output. It could have been a little louder, but it’s not a deal breaker. The good stuff starts rolling once you plug in headphones. The Honor 6 Plus features DTS sound and there is a clear increment in richness and bass once it's enabled. We listened to a lot of music on this and ended up resenting our iPod a little.
The elephant in the room. Does it live up to the Honor’s legacy? Is the battery still insanely good? Short answer? Yes and yes.
The 3600mAh battery lasts longer and drains slower, not only because of its capacity, but also because of its high density. With heavy usage involving GPS, calls, games, WhatsApp, emails, Facebook, music and streaming podcasts, the Honor 6 Plus lasts over a day. With regular usage, it can easily clock 2 days. The charger makes it go from nil to full in around 2 hours and after that, it’s up to you how much juice you can squeeze out of this. The OS works closely with the hardware to keep the phone going. There are regular system consumption reminders that pop up if an app is consuming battery in the background and there is an Ultra Battery mode that switches off all functions except calls and texts.
Honor 6 Plus Verdict
Available exclusively through Flipkart at ₹26,499, The Honor 6 Plus is a superbly built device that holds its own against pricier rivals like the Moto X.
At ₹21,999 the OnePlus One is a formidable, cheaper contender, but if camera and battery are on top of your smartphone wishlist, you’ll be hard pressed to do better than the Honor 6 Plus.