Smartphone disruptor Honor redoubles its efforts with new 6X handset
Three-year-old Chinese smartphone challenger Honor today launched the latest uprated version of its populist handset, named the 6X.
Announcing the handset at an exclusive press conference at the start of CES 2017, Honor was keen to stress the high-end specification of the device, citing its “double or nothing” credentials – both a statement about the smartphone’s dual-camera display, the doubling of its processor to an octa-core configuration and the twin SIM slots, as well as a challenge to its competitors.
Presenting to the world’s media at a packed Oceanside ballroom conference centre at the Mandalay Bay hotel, the global product launch saw strong emphasis placed on colour, activity, photography and youthful adventure in the trailer promotional videos. Clearly, as the company itself is only three years old, youth is the prevailing energy for Honor. “For the brave,” is the company’s USP (unique selling product).
Speaking at the event, George Zhao, president of Honor, said the company’s products were, “Born for the young and young at heart”, cannily clarifying that this was “a lifestyle and mindset. Everyone is young because you are young at heart.”
In the three years that the company has been in existence, it has already attracted “100+ million fans and users worldwide”, according to the presentation, accruing a customer recommendation score on par with Apple and besting Chinese rivals Huawei, Samsung, Vivo, Oppo and Xiamoi. For brand satisfaction the company scores even higher (90 per cent) – placing first against all-comers.
“Innovation, quality and service” is the mission statement for Honor, with the company already claiming to be “the leading smartphone e-brand”. Honor is keen to stress that high quality needn’t equal high price.
Cheerfully having a dig at its rivals, Zhao highlighted how Honor had introduced the world’s first octa-core smartphone supporting LTE CAT6; with parallel dual rear camera and smart key fast access to apps, noting that he was happy to see how “iPhone 7 Plus also follow this trend”.
Now, the Honor 6X handset is the latest model hoping to cement Honor’s reputation. The body has a Bezier curve-inspired design, making it easy to hold. As Zhao said: “Very suitable for hand hold, very good hand hold feel.”
The metallic body has been sandblasted for a smooth finish, “like a baby’s skin”, and the 2.5D curved glass is smooth all around. The phone will come in three colours: silver, gray [sic] and gold.
Outlining the tech spec for the handset, Zhao said: “Today, young people want everything. Today, Honor give them double.”
Most obviously, this translates as a dual-lens camera. Zhao noted that although there are many such devices already on the market, “many of them cannot compare with single lens camera. Why? Software and image processing. We improve on algorithm.”
The 6X’s camera has a 12mp+2mp, six-element wide-aperture lens, offering f/0.95-f/16 digital aperture. Users an also adjust the focus point, post capture, to create special effects – such as depth of field – using existing images. Night-time photography is also improved, with 1.25 macro-metres pixel size offering a 25 per cent improvement.
The performance of the handset is driven by the Kirin 655 octa-core chipset, promising a 65 per cent performance increase over previous models. Three or four gigabytes of RAM are included, depending on territory and variant. Memory is 32 or 64Gb, expandable with micro SD Card. The handset also has a dual SIM slot, meaning different SIMs can be installed for different territories – ideal for world travellers.
The 6X handset also promises a smart file system to reduce fragmentation and make the system faster. Through software optimisation the 6X was faster than all competitors in the company’s own lab tests and this should not, in theory, slow down over time.
Honor is also enthusiastic about the 5.5” full-HD display, Zhao describing it as the “perfect balance between hand-hold and screen size”. Video playback enhancements such as auto adjust contrast and brightness ensure the 6X “shows more detail, more clear for video”.
There is also an eye comfort mode, which filters out blue blight, adjusts brightness and adjusts the colour temperature of the display, according to the ambient light around the handset to reduce eye fatigue.
The phone can also act as a Wi-Fi Bridge, a portable WLAN hotspot. A user can share their Wi-Fi with up to four devices and the 6X can act as a Wi-Fi repeater, extending the range of a home router.
Other user-friendly functions include a split-screen function for apps, screen recording and scrolling screen capture.
Battery life is always a contentious issue with smartphones, as Zhao noted, saying: “Today the battery already become a headache. The Honor 6X will not make you disappointed.”
The 6X has a 3340mAh battery and in the wake of Samsung’s embarrassing and devastating battery fire issues, leading to the eventual wholesale scrapping of its flagship Galaxy Note 7 device, Zhao was keen to stress the thorough testing with high benchmarks that the 6X battery had undergone: 240 hours in extreme conditions (temperature 85 degrees; relative humidity 85 per cent).
This was to make sure the battery is safe and secure and will still retain over 80 per cent of its capacity after 500 charging cycles. This equates to approximately 18 months of daily usage. The batteries of other phones, Zhao noted, would be at more like 60 per cent ater 18 months.
The 16nm chipset has powersaving technology, such as a low-voltage LCD backlight, sunlight display, i5 coprocessor, all of which amounts to a stated maximum of 11.5 hours video watching; 70 hours music playback and eight solid hours of high-performance gaming. In these respects, the Honor 6X outperformed the iPhone 6S Plus, albeit it in theory, in Honor’s own laboratory tests and not comparing with Apple’s latest flagship handset, the iPhone 7 Plus.
The Honor 6X will be available as either a 3Gb Ram/32Gb ROM version for €249 or a 4Gb Ram/64Gb ROM version for €299. Shipping will initially start on 4 January 2017 in 13 main territories worldwide (including the UK), with other countries scheduled to follow
E&T will run a full review of the 6X handset in the coming weeks.