Review by Cherz Hidalgo
The HONOR X6a is one of HONOR’s latest entry-level smartphone offerings. Launched alongside the HONOR X5 Plus, the X6a boasts a different design, one new colorway, one additional rear camera, double the storage capacity, faster charging standard, and a higher price tag. With everything else virtually the same across the board, how does the HONOR X6a fare? We spent around two weeks with the phone to find out.
Our review unit of the HONOR X6a came in a pretty Sky Silver making it a definitely eye-catching affair. It shines in a shimmering rainbow hue when hit by light, so if you are not into such a bold colorway, the more minimalist Midnight Black option may be more your style.
The HONOR X6a comes in a 163.32 x 75.07 x 8.35mm form factor weighing in at 188g. While this is par for the course for phones of this size, the plasticky build is a reminder that this is indeed a budget phone. Luckily, the back comes in a glittery, frosted, matte finish which keeps the phone free from oil stains, smudges, and fingerprints. If you don’t like using your devices bare, there’s a free transparent jelly case case in the box which protects the phone while keeping its aesthetics available for you to see.
Speaking of the back, the upper-left hand corner houses the cameras arranged in a 2×2 fashion. The upperleft module is the main shooter; the depth camera is on the lower left; the macro camera is on the lower right; and the flash module is on the upper right. There’s also a subtle HONOR branding mark on the back’s lower left side.
Let’s take a tour around the edges. The top edge has a microphone pinhole and the combination SIM tray which can house either two nano-SIM cards or a nano-SIM card with a microSD card.
On the bottom edge are the 3.5mm headphone jack, another microphone pinhole, the USB-C port, and speaker grille.
The left edge is bare, while the right has the volume rockers and the power button which also functions as a side-mounted fingerprint reader.
The phone’s face has the 6.56-inch display with rounded corners and a water drop notch for the selfie shooter.
As stated, the HONOR X6a sports a sizeable 6.56-inch LFT LCD display with a screen-to-body ratio of around 84% and an HD+ resolution of 720 x 1612 pixels for a pixel density of 269ppi which is quite average for this segment. What makes it stand out from most of its peers is the 90Hz refresh rate for a smooth scrolling experience across most day-to-day tasks such as scrolling, internet browsing, and social media use.
While the display is perfectly acceptable for indoor use, its maximum brightness does not go quite high enough for comfortable outdoor viewing.
Various eye-friendly features are present such as Dynamic Dimming which helps prevent eye fatigue by matching the phone’s brightness to its surroundings; Eye Comfort which tunes the display to a more warmer hue to lessen headache- and insomnia-inducing blue light especially at night; and eBook mode which makes the screen greyscale if you are going to be reading for hours on end.
The HONOR X6a sports the entry-level MediaTek Helio G36 octa-core processor clocked at a maximum of 2.2GHz and with a PowerVR GE8320 running graphics. The chipset is paired with 4GB of RAM and 128GB of expandable internal storage (that is, if you only plan on using one nano-SIM).
As far as benchmark goes, here’s how the HONOR X6a fared:
- GeekBench 6 CPU: 173 Single-core Score / 810 Multi-core Score
- PCMark: 5151 Work 3.0 Performance Score
- 3DMark Sling Shot Extreme: 442
- CPDT: 116.97 MB/s Sequential Write (4MB) / 192.20 MB/s Sequential Read (4MB)
In the real world, these numbers equate to an experience that is truly for the patient. While the screen is rated for up to 90Hz, the underpowered processor struggles to reach this mark even when just scrolling through the UI. There’s noticeable delay when opening new apps and switching between currently open ones. The meager 4GB RAM also means that the phone can’t keep apps open in the background, leading to frequent app reloads.
Despite this though, the phone is able to show some gaming chops. Games like Asphalt 9 and Pokemon Unite are more than playable even at the highest graphics settings. Mobile Legends: Bang Bang at high frame rate and graphics setting is playable, but definitely smoother at medium and low graphics settings. Diablo Immortal experiences tons of graphical glitches at the highest graphics quality setting, but dropping everything down to low makes the game more serviceable. However, don’t expect it to run intensely-demanding games such as Genshin Impact. In my experience, it took forever to load and even at the lowest graphics settings, frame rates were very choppy and made for an unplayable game.
Moving on to other forms of entertainment, the phone’s large screen made watching multimedia quite enjoyable. Sound quality coming from its single, bottom-firing speaker is also decent though feels a bit muffled.
The HONOR X6a sports a triple rear camera setup with a 50MP f/1.8 main shooter flanked by 2MP f/2.4 depth and 2MP f/2.4 macro cameras. These are supplemented by a flash module for dimly-lit conditions. Up front is a 5MP f/2.2 selfie shooter.
Upon testing, the cameras are decent enough when there is optimal lighting. Images are perfectly okay for social media use, with acceptable detail and color reproduction and not too much artificial processing. However, less than ideal light and things take a downhill turn. Noise ramps up exponentially and details get more muddy the darker it is. There is no dedicated Night Mode, but a Pro Mode exists for when you want to ensure the shutter speed is as slow as possible for the brightest possible shot.
For scenarios with tricky lighting, HDR mode helps with ensuring a more balanced dynamic range between the shadows, mids, and highlights. Additionally, an AI Photo assistant helps with optimizing post-processing depending on the subject that the phone is detecting, whether that be food, animals, landscapes, or people, among others.
The secondary cameras are responsible for Macro and Portrait modes. While these work well enough, the background separation seems a bit too obvious and unnatural at times.
Selfies are likewise good enough for casual social media posting.
In terms of videos, both shooter sides max out at 1080p at 30fps with the same general quality as the still images. Do take note that no elecronic image stabilization option is present, so anything less than the steadiest of hands and smoothest of walks will lead to shaky videos.
The HONOR X6a runs on MagicOS 7.1 based on Android 13. Out of the box, the phone comes pre-installed with various apps, some of which are bloat while some you’ll likely use on a daily basis, like Facebook, Netflix, and TikTok. Various Google apps are also pre-installed for convenience.
Here’s where the HONOR X6a truly shines. The combination of the conservative MediaTek Helio G36 processor and the sizeable 5200mAh battery pack leads to almost two-day battery life with average use. Even with regular social media scrolling, watching YouTube videos now and then, short bouts of gaming here and there, and forgetting to charge the phone overnight, I wasn’t in any rush to reach for the charger.
In fact, in PCMark’s Work 3.0 Battery Life Test which loops the phone through various tasks, the HONOR X6a was able to last from 100% to 20% in a whopping 20 hours with Airplane Mode on, brightness at half setting, and volume at maximum level.
During the times when I did need to plug into the wall, the HONOR X6a’s bundled 22.5W SuperCharge power brick and cable enables it to go from completely dead to 15% in 15 minutes, and all the way up to 100% in an average of 1.5 hours. It’s not blazing fast, but that’s still a pretty decent charging speed.
What We Like
- The Sky Silver colorway is really pretty
- Large display for multimedia consumption
- 90Hz display refresh rate
- 5200mAh battery and conservative processor leads to very long battery life
- microSD expandable storage
- Headphone jack
- 5W HONOR SuperCharge for relatively fast charging
What We Want
- More powerful processor
- More RAM
HONOR X6a – Full Specifications
- Price: PHP 6,990
- Dimensions: 163.32 x 75.07 x 8.35mm
- Weight: 188g (including the battery)
- Colors: Midnight Black, Sky Silver
- Display: 6.56-inches LFT LCD 720 x 1612 pixels with 90Hz Refresh Rate and Dynamic Dimming
- Processor: MediaTek Helio G36 (12nm) octa-core processor, 2.2GHz Cortex-A53, with PowerVR GE8320 GPU
- RAM: 4GB
- Storage: 128GB, microSD expandable
- Cameras: 50MP f/1.8 (main rear); 2MP f/2.4 (depth rear); 2MP f/2.4 (macro rear); 5MP f/2.2 (front)
- Battery: 5200mAh with 22.5W HONOR SuperCharge
- Other features: Side-mounted Fingerprint; Facial Recognition
- OS: MagicOS 7.1 (Android 13)
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac 2.4G/5G; Dual nano-SIM; LTE TDD/LTE FDD