Huawei should be reasonably proud to put its name to this affordable Android powerhouse, even if it doesn't look like much.
Decent full HD display
Reasonable price tag
Surprisingly fast performance
CAT 6 LTE not yet available
Looks cheap and derivative
Emotion UI needs an overhaul
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With Google seemingly turning its back on the whole affordable flagship phone concept with the Nexus 6, it appears you have to look to China for your Android bargains these days. Following the template set by the OnePlus One, the Honor 6 (from Huawei) provides high-end specs for just £249.99.
That's actually a little more expensive than the OnePlus One, but at least you don't have to jump through hoops to buy one - the Honor 6 can be purchased through good old Amazon right now.
Huawei is calling the Honor 6 'the world's fastest smartphone', thanks to a combination of a custom octa-core CPU and next generation LTE connectivity, which is quite a claim to make in such an affordable phone.
Of course, it's not enough to simply pack your Android smartphone with box-ticking components any longer. People demand a dash of style and personality from their handsets, even if they are only paying half the asking price of the aforementioned Nexus 6.
That's perhaps why Huawei seems keen to get a little distance from its slightly uncool brand name here in the West. Just like Oppo with its OnePlus One, Huawei has all but erased its name from the UK Honor 6 packaging.
It's there on the phone, but you have to squint at the official labelling on the rear of the handset.
It may have a cool new name, but the Honor 6 follows in the footsteps of some solidly built and highly capable Huawei handsets, such as the Huawei Ascend P7. Like that phone, the Honor 6 also comes packing Huawei's distinctive Emotion UI, which won't be to everyone's taste.
So, has Huawei - sorry, Honor - come up with a contender for the affordable Android flagship phone? Let's find out.
Huawei might be looking to create a cool new smartphone brand name, but it seems curiously content to fall back on the same old design beats with the Honor 6.
Apple's hugely influential smartphone appears to have been the inspiration, anyway. In reality, the Honor 6 sports a slightly bulging plastic rim that stretches the limits of the term "metal effect." It's silver plastic, pure and simple, and it looks a little tacky.
Perhaps in a bid to dodge those iPhone accusations, Huawei has stopped short of stretching the rim right around the perimeter of the Honor 6. It stops short just before the bottom edge, leaving it unadorned in plain white plastic.
The rear of the device is coated in a kind of shiny plastic, with a subtle grid pattern underneath that Huawei is calling a 3D diamond effect. It's not nearly as remarkable as it sounds.
Rather, the Honor 6 has that slightly awkward, greasy feel in the hand that doesn't make you want to simply hold and, yes, fondle it like a nicely rounded Moto X 2014 or an all-metal HTC One M8. Even the all-plastic OnePlus One does a better job at making an all-plastic phone feel pleasant to hold.
Still, the Honor 6 is undeniably solid in the hand, with no flexing or creaking. Despite this, it's a fairly slim 7.5mm (about the same as the iPhone 5S) and it weighs just 130 grams (the same as the Nexus 5).
Thanks to those metrics, as well as slim side bezels, wielding the Honor 6 in one hand is just about achievable for those with larger-than-average hands. That's despite the fact that it ships with a fairly large (despite shifting perceptions) 5-inch display.
The display itself is a good quality IPS LCD with a 1920 x 1080 Full HD resolution. It offers a crisp picture, with a decent 441ppi, decent viewing angles, and accurate colours, all of which is aided by in-cell technology that dispels with the separation between glass and display. It's the first and most obvious sign that the Honor 6 is punching well above its weight on the spec front.
Button placement is pretty standard for a modern 5-inch smartphone, which means that the volume and power buttons are well positioned on the top right-hand edge of the device. They're easy to reach with a thumb or finger, depending on which hand you're using, and each has a welcome ridged texture to them and yields a tightly sprung click when pressed.
I would have perhaps liked a little more differentiation between the two in order to make them easier to locate quickly by feel, but they work just fine.
Huawei has opted to omit any physical or capacitive control buttons from the front of the Honor 6, which we've come to expect from the manufacturer's phones by now. This leaves the front of the phone unadorned. It's a real blank slate of a phone from this front angle, lacking any sort of Honor branding. That's reserved for the back of the device.
Aside from that glossy plastic material, there are a couple of design features I wasn't too keen on when it comes to the Honor 6's rear. One is the positioning of the camera, right on the top left corner of the phone as you look at it.
Combined with the Honor 6's dimensions it made taking pictures with the phone a little awkward without trailing your spare fingers into view.
The other design feature I didn't like was the single rear-mounted speaker. With the aforementioned lack of capacitive keys, the potential was there to front-mount the speaker for clearer sound. This would also have provided a sense of symmetry with the similarly (though not identically) styled earpiece.
All in all, the Honor 6 may be one of the most depressingly dull-looking smartphones I've used in 2014, but its fine display hints at some of the charms to be found elsewhere.