Huawei Honor 6 – Software, Apps and Themes
The Huawei Honor 6 runs Android 4.4.2 with the new version of the custom EmotionUI that we saw in the Huawei Ascend Mate 7. We’ve had huge issues with Huawei’s custom interface in the past, and while the quirkiness is still there, the latest version is a lot better than the versions of old.
First, we’ll deal with why the EmotionUI is so unusual.
It tries to infuse a bit of iOS into Android by getting rid of the apps menu. Everything on your Honor 6 has to have a place on your homescreens, so if you like to keep your phone relatively organised you’ll have to find a place for every app and game you install.
Upon installation, they’ll just find a spot wherever they can, so you’ll need to take care to ensure it doesn’t become a mess. However it does at least support folders, giving you the tools you need to keep your phone in shape.
EmotionUI is also one of the last remaining interfaces to really embrace themes, which were much more popular in the days before Android.
In previous Huawei phones, themes were pretty poor. Most pre-installed ones were duds and you couldn’t easily download additional ones. The Huawei Honor 6 fixes both of these points.
Here’s one of the standard themes – not too bad, right?
You get three pretty attractive, simple themes pre-installed, and you can download dozens more directly from the phone. Some are a bit ridiculous – there’s even a US pop-art themed one – but we’re pretty confident most tastes will be catered for. Additional themes are free to download, too.
The Honor 6 is pretty quirk-overloaded, though. The odd layout and obsession with themes are one thing, but there are also things to fix in areas such as the ringtones and the use of images in the lock screen.
As standard, our Honor 6 played a 30-second-long piece of classical music whenever we got a WhatsApp message and displayed random images on the ‘magazine’ lock screen, including one particularly odd pic of a baby’s feet. There’s some de-weird-ification to do that we simply had to put down to differences between the Western and Chinese markets – the Honor brand has traditionally been trotted out over there.
Baby feet? Er…
Either that or someone high up at Huawei has strange tastes. All of these elements can be fixed, of course, but to start with the Honor 6 may feel a little alien.
There are a few things to change or get used to, but in other respects EmotionUI is a pretty feature-complete, inoffensive interface. It doesn’t bombard you with features, and offers favourites such as brightness and feature toggles in the drop-down notifications menu.
Huawei Honor 6 – Apps
Aside from offering the Themes app and a few basic utilities like a file manager, a Huawei customer service app, FM radio and a torch, there aren’t all that many Huawei apps added to the phone as standard. That’s a very good thing given the way the Honor 6 arranges its apps.
However, there’s another dated element to the apps roster — the phone includes a bunch of preinstalled Gameloft games. We imagine this deal was put in place when Huawei was showing off its Kirin 920 processor for the first time, but this sort of move feels a little dated and unnecessary in 2014. Still, you can delete them so no major harm is done.
Huawei Honor 6 – Games and Performance
Previously we’ve complained about performance in Huawei phones, but the Honor 6 has no real issues. There’s barely any lag and we didn’t experience a single crash during our fairly extended test period.
Our guess is that Huawei took on board complaints about the performance of some of its old phones, because it’s packed a whopping 3GB of RAM into the Honor 6. That’s unheard of in a £250 phone and probably has a lot to do with the handset’s great performance.
The CPU is also unusual: the HiSilicon Kirin 920 CPU. This is a Huawei-made chipset, in case you’re wondering why it doesn’t use a more common processor from the Qualcomm Snapdragon range or MediaTek.
In previous high-end Huawei phones we’ve found that the Kirin chips don’t quite match up to the Qualcomm alternatives, but at £250 the Honor 6 even goes head to head with some Snapdragon 400 devices. And let’s be clear: the Kirin 920 decimates the Snapdragon 400.
The processor uses four 1.7GHz Cortex-A15 cores and four 1.3GHz Cortex-A7 cores. Even its ‘rubbish’ cores are theoretically faster than the Snapdragon 400’s ones.
This architecture uses the lesser cores for low-intensity tasks, with the others kicking in when needed.
In the Geekbench 3 benchmarking tool, the Honor 6 scores 3080 points. That is frankly an amazing score for a phone that’s so cheap, and more than double the result of the LG G3 S, which sells at a similar price. It even outclasses Snapdragon 801 devices such as the Galaxy S5.
This kind of performance makes the Honor 6 among the best affordable gaming phones in the world. A 1080p screen with enough juice to avoid scrimping on textures and lighting effects for half the price of the competition? It’s an incredibly attractive combo.
The GPU used by the phone is the Mali-T628 MP4, whose performance is just a little less than the Adreno 330 seen in the most popular top-end phones of the moment.
How we test phones
We test every mobile phone we review thoroughly. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly and we use the phone as our main device over the review period. We’ll always tell you what we find and we never, ever, accept money to review a product.