Honor 4X: Camera
So far the Honor 4X has proved a solid performer. However, that turns around a bit with the camera. The hardware it uses sounds perfectly fine. It has a a 13-megapixel Sony sensor main camera with an f/2.0 lens. Just a year or so ago this sort out spec would have been reserved for top-end phones.
Before you get too excited, though plenty of lower-end phones seem to be using this sensor including the similar Microsoft Lumia 640 XL. Still: solid numbers.
Actual performance isn’t quite so good, though. At times the Honor 4X can seem to take an age to take a photo, leaving you in a good few seconds of suspense waiting for the ‘click’ sound after pressing the shutter button. It’s very inconsistent, too. At times speeds are passable (never good), but on other occasions, the AF will seem to take an age to kick in and lock on and another good while for the capture to actually happen.
It’s annoyingly slow, sucking a lot of the fun out of phone photography. The camera app could be more intuitive, too. For shooting in pure auto, it’s fine, but it has a unintuitive way of showing which mode you’re used. The Honor 4X camera needs work.
With a bit of patience, you can get good results out of the thing, though.
The 13-megapixel Sony sensor is capable of capturing the sort of detail that was just unheard-of in £150 phones until very recently. Having an f2.0 lens also enables some shallow depth of field effects, letting you capture some pretty striking close-up shots.
There are some signs that this is a budget setup beyond the kinda rubbish shooting speed, though. Dynamic range is not too hot, meaning photos won’t look as striking or alive as they would from a more capable camera. And the HDR mode (designed to increase dynamic range) is nowhere near as strong as the best you’ll get from Samsung. It’s not always that effective, and when it is can make photos look oversharpened.
What about low-light skills? There’s a flash on the back and while non-flash photos tend to look a little soft, you can get reasonably low-noise results with still-enough hands. Unlike top-end Honor phones, though, there’s no ‘super night’ mode, just standard Auto.
If it wasn’t for the AF and general speed, though, we’d be more than happy. The Honor 4X’s camera is well ahead of what most 2014-release budget phones offer. Here are some samples we took using the phone:
The selfie camera is what’s fast becoming the default among phones able to scrape themselves off the bottom of the barrel. It uses a 5-megapixel sensor with a fixed focus, meaning you can’t take real close-up shots.
Strong light seems to confuse the white balance quite a bit, but otherwise you can crank some decent selfies out of the thing.
Honor 4X: Battery Life
As well as offering more megapixels than most, the Honor 4X also has an unusually large battery. It’s a 3000mAh unit, bigger than what you get in the Galaxy S6, LG G4 or HTC One M9.
Sure enough, battery stamina is fairly impressive. Unless you hammer it the Honor 4X will last longer than one day.
During the process of this review we managed to drain it down by using it outdoors an awful lot, forcing the brightness up to maximum. But with moderate use, you should get roughly 1.8 days off a charge. Yes, that may seem like a decimal we’ve pulled out of a hat, but tells you to expect more than the average phone. You should be able to get away with charging it every other day unless you stream video or play games.
As an obvious ‘entertainment’ phone, though, we like to think of it as one you can really lean on without its battery draining down to virtually nothing by 5pm.
Playing a looped MP4 720p video, it clearly lasts a lot longer than something like the 5-inch Motorola Moto G too. It works its way through 11 hours 5 minutes of playback before running out of juice, where the Motorola didn’t even manage nine hours.
Honor 4X: Sound Quality
It has the stamina and the screen for the fun stuff we do with our phones, but does the Honor 4X have the sound to match? Not quite. The phone has a single speaker on the bottom edge of the phone.
While the volume it pumps out is respectable, it doesn’t have the richness and spoonful of lower-end power we’re starting to hear more often in phones. Still, at this level it’s perfectly fine. No budget phones offer outright good speakers just yet. Even the 5-inch Moto G, which has front-loaded speakers, doesn’t sound all that great.
Similarly, call quality is fine but pretty normal, pretty unremarkable. There is a secondary microphone on the top edge to offer noise cancellation, though.
Should I buy the Honor 4X?
The Honor 4X is a phone that trades away impressive build in order to save money. It’s a sensible idea: plenty of people want a big-screen Android phone but don’t have £400 to spend.
There are problems: the camera is horribly slow at times, a few obvious bugs pop up and Emotion UI is not going to sit too well with everyone. However, after using the phone as our main device, looking at that £144.99 price and back at the experience we’ve had with it, we can only conclude it’s a bit of a bargain.
It doesn’t hide its so-so pixel density like the original Moto G, but with 4G and a processor more than capable of making games fun on that larger, more involving screen, it makes sense. A lot of sense. If you can afford to spend a bit more, an extra £50 to be exact, the Huawei Ascend G7 is extremely similar but gets you a much nicer-feeling aluminium body and more storage.
Honor has come up with another smartphone bargain for people who want a large screen and can deal with the odd software quirk.
Score in detail
Battery Life 9
Calls & Sound 6
Screen Quality 8