Huawei announced not one, but two phones at its Honor 6 Plus launch event. Apart from the flagship Huawei Honor 6 Plus, we also saw the release of the budget-oriented Huawei Honor 4X. Honor is Huawei’s online only brand and all phones with the Honor name tag will be sold online – a model that is seeing increasing traction in India. Motorola started the trend with the Moto G which was sold exclusively on Flipkart and this was followed by a lot many players with Xiaomi being the most prominent. Recently, Micromax’s online only subsidiary Yu Televentures launched the Yu Yureka, exculsively on Amazon. Looking at the relative success of these companies, it is safe to assume that this model is working wonders for brands as compared to purely offline sales. Let us see how the Honor 4X fares and if it will be a threat to the incumbents.
Build and Design: 7/10
Considering this is a 5.5-inch phone, the immediate competitors include the Yu Yureka and Xiaomi Redmi Note 4G. When compared with the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4G, the Honor 4X comes across as comparitively thinner and lighter phone. The model we got came with a white textured back. The rear cover has the Honor logo etched into it and the cover is easily removable. The plastic used in the construction is not the sturdiest, but not as flimsy as the Lenovo A6000 either.
On opening the cover you get access to the dual SIM card slots along with the microSD card slot. The battery is non removable. On the rear side, you have the camera section along with the LED flash unit beside it, located on the top left hand corner.
On the front-face, you have a display which lacks any Corning protection. The screen is a fingerprint magnet and you will need to constantly clean it. At the top, you have the earpiece speaker along with the proximity sensor and the front-facing camera. At the base there are the home, back and menu buttons which have the triangle, circle and square shapes as seen on Android 5.0 Lollipop handsets.
The phone measures 8.7mm thick and you have the volume rocker and power/standby button on the right hand side whereas the left hand edge is clean. Coming to the top, you have a 3.5mm audio jack and at the base you have a microUSB charging port and a speaker section beside it. Overall build quality is quite good.
Huawei has decided to target the budget segment with the Honor 4X. It sports a Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 SoC which houses a 1.2GHz quad-core Cortex A53 processor which is paired with Adreno 306 GPU and 2GB of RAM. The phone has 8GB of internal storage of which only 4.05GB is free for users. You can add on a microSD card of up to 32GB storage capacity.
It sports a 5.5-inch HD display which gives a pixel density of 267ppi. On the OS front, we get an Android 4.4.4 KitKat along with the Emotion UI 3.0 interface. The rear 13MP camera is complemented by a 2MP front-facing camera. The Honor 4X is powered by a non-removable 3,000 mAh battery.
Huawei Honor 4X comes with the Emotion UI 3.0 on top of the Android 4.4.4 KitKat OS. As we have seen with a lot of Chinese phone makers in the past – Xiaomi, Oppo and Gionee, the Emotion UI 3.0 also doesn’t have an app drawer. You have the apps arranged in a 4×5 grid. The default theme has icons with rounded edges, but of course you can change this theme if you so wish. Among the proprietary apps we have Themes and Phone Manager which has menus such as phone accelerator, harassment filter, power saving, traffic manager, notification manager, app lock and so on. The Tool folder has a lot of utility apps such as Mirror, Magnifier, Torch, Notepad, Recorder, FM radio, Backup and so on. With the Themes app, just like with the Cyanogen OS on the OnePlus One, you can customise the fonts, wallpaper, lock transition screen, home wallpaper from multiple themes and make your own custom theme.
The lock screen has a slider at the base which when pulled up gives you quick access to weather, voice recorder, calculator, torch and camera apps. Taking a screenshot, shows you a preview of the image and gives you options to edit or share the screenshot on the spot.
Just like Xiaomi MIUI, the notification drawer reveals two sections – Notifications and Shortcuts. As the name implies, the Shortcuts gives you access to quick menus such as bluetooth, brightness adjustment, auto-rotate, settings and so on, which can be rearranged according to your preference. The notification tab shows you the notifications in an interesting timeline sort of a user interface. Settings menu is straight-forward and there are motion gesture as well.
Long pressing on the square shaped menu button, brings up the recent apps which can be swiped off to shut the app or pulled down upon and released to lock them. To clear all the apps you just swipe from the base to the top.
The phone performance is at par with most of the sub Rs 10,000 phones that we have seen off late. The call quality is good with the earpiece speakers loud enough to let you hear the voice of the callers even in traffic situations. The user interface is quite smooth despite the Emotion UI 3.0 skin. I did not notice any slowdown of the phone while swiping through the home screen or switching between apps. The only noticeable niggle was that the triangular soft button fails to register a tap and you have to tap on it twice or thrice for an action to be taken.
When it came to benchmark tests, the scores of the Huawei Honox 4X were at par with Lenovo A6000 and the Redmi 2 as both of them also sport the same processor and RAM combination.
Video quality was decent and the speakers were loud enough to watch movies or videos without earphones. Despite the speaker being on one side, the phone is loud enough. There wasn’t any distortion of volume at maximum levels either. While playing games such as Asphalt 8, one can notice a lot of jaggies and there is a definite stuttering.
Huawei Honor 4X comes with a 5.5-inch 1280 x 720 pixel display. The display comes without any protective covering and the scratch guard that comes on the phone is a fingerprint and smudge magnet. The display does have a very slight warm tinge to it. Overall the display is sharp, although sunlight legibility is not the best on Auto-brightness mode. Movie viewing was a good experience, but the reflective display is annoying in dark scenes. There wasn’t a noticeable backlight bleeding.
Huawei Honor 4X has a 13MP rear camera and a 2MP front camera. This is the highest resolution camera in this budget, I have seen so far. The camera has a minimal interface and looks quite similar to the one seen with the Xiaomi Mi 4 as well as the iPhone 6/6 Plus. The animations when you hit on the settings menu is quite similar to the one seen on the MIUI 6.0 on the Xiaomi Mi 4. It has feature such as Panorama, HDR, audio note, Best photo, all focus and watermark. The All Focus feature lets you set the focus after the fact, a feature that is increasingly being seen in a lot of phone cameras. The Watermark feature requires a working internet connection and basically adds in the days temperature in a bottom corner. Theres an ultra-snapshot mode which basically lets you take a quick photograph by double clicking on the volume up button even if the phone is off. It can shoot full HD videos.
Image quality is mediocre, once again proving the fact that a higher megapixel count does not a great camera make. Daylight images lacked sharpness and on pixel peeping showed a lot of dithering. Photographs clicked indoors were noisy and there is a prominent barrel distortion around the edges. Also the HDR mode does not really help balance out the shadows and highlights. Quite an ordinary camera.
Battery life: 8/10
The phone comes with a 3,000mAh battery. This is a battery capacity we have generally seen on phones sporting at least a full HD display. In terms of real life usage, it does not disappoint. With the PC Mark for Android battery life test, we got 10 hours 19 mins battery life, which is quite impressive. This means that the phone can easily last you a full day to a day and half of regular use cases. It also comes with an Ultra power saving mode which can be activated directed from the shortcuts menu.
Verdict and Price in India
Huawei Honor 4X is the latest entrant in the budget 4G phablet segment. Now while the phone is a decent performer, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4G and Yu Yureka at Rs 9,999 and Rs 8,999 respectively, offer a better value for money than the Honor 4X’s Rs 10,499 asking price. The Honor 4X has a mildly underperforming system on chip for its price, which may not be liked by all. While in the regular use case there aren’t any major issues with the phone, its gaming performance and camera image quality leave a lot to be desired. With the Redmi Note 4G and Yu Yureka being better in both departments, it is hard to recommend the Honor 4X. The only silver lining on the Honor 4X is its battery life and probably the only edge it has over its competition.