Huawei has recently come out with some very impressive phones. They seem to be targeting mainly the mid and entry level markets but have a few high range units in for good measure. The Huawei Y6, launched in July 2015, seems to be taking the attack directly to the entry and almost mid range 5inch display market. Being a Dual Sim device doesn’t hurt either.
Now I know the device is almost a year old, but I’ve recently acquired one and so far have been fairly impressed. So I’ve decided to review it and put it through its paces to see how it stacks up in the current cellular market.
Dimensions: 143.5 /72.1/8.3 (mm)
Display: 5″ @ 720×1280 (294 PPI Pixel Density)
Storage: 8GB internal with expandable MicroSD up to 128GB
OS: Android Lollipop 5.1
Chipset: Qualcomm MSM8909 Snapdragon 210
CPU: Quad-core 1.1 GHz Cortex-A7
GPU: Adreno 304
Camera Back: 8MP
Camera Front: 2MP
Network: GSM / HSPA/ LTE
The Huawei Y6 doesn’t look bad at all. The 5″ display covers nearly 70% of the device front and sports a patterned back and front. The black unit I have looks particularly nice in a standby state with the black display, while off, blending in nicely with the unit itself.
The design factor is a little older, representing the standard type of design from the year 2015, but it looks good even by today’s standards. It has the usuals: a notification LED in the top left, earpiece speaker in the middle and the front facing 2MP camera on the top right. It’s loudspeaker is situated on the bottom edge of the unit along with the charging port and microphone right next to it.
The unit weighs in at roughly 150grams, which is a little heavy, but not too bad. In fact it helps to make the device feel more robust and not have that cheap feel that most entry level devices have going. I didn’t experience any fatigue while holding the unit as the unit sits comfortably in your hand and all areas of the screen are easily reached with one hand thanks to the device being fairly thin, allowing your hand to wrap around the device comfortably.
The Huawei Y6 comes with a 5″ 720×1280 display. It may not be a 1080p device but the images and videos on the Y6 are crisp and clear thanks to a near 300PPI pixel density. Keeping in mind that this is a sub R2000 phone, the display actually looks and feels like a higher spec, higher priced device. For example the much more expensive Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime only has a pixel density of 220dpi and a lower resolution. The Y6 even has the same PPI as the more expensive Huawei P8Lite. So the Y6 definitely has a more mid range class display than it’s classification as an entry level phone.
The only other phone I could find that matched this device almost spec for spec was the Samsung Galaxy J5. However the J5 comes in at almost R1000 more and in some use cases the Y6 even tops the J5 in performance.
The touch aspect of the phone is fairly standard. While using the device nothing felt overly sticky and the transition between screens felt, for the most part, fluid and smooth. My only complaint is that transitioning between higher performance hitting apps took a bit of coaxing to get some response which started to feel a bit laggy.
The device comes with a 8MP back and a 2MP front camera. The image quality is fairly acceptable, especially considering the phone’s price range. Indoor shots are acceptable with decent lighting. With lower light shots the camera does struggle a bit. Outside shots are great and while this phone won’t be used for amazing digital photography, as a standard camera on hand it is more than sufficient. The shutter response is also nice and quick without the usual delay you’d expect from an entry level phone.
The camera comes with a few extra options such as HDR, beautification and a panorama mode which do exactly what they say they do.
Well, except for beautification. I tried to take a selfie with beautification mode and all it did was make me look less pale and smooth out my skin a little. Totally not the beautification I was thinking of.
The front camera quality, as is the norm, is a lot less and is pretty much what you’d expect for a 2MP front facing camera. However for tasks such as video calling on applications such as Skype it is detailed enough and won’t leave you looking like an 8-bit Mario. I guess if you are of the selfie generation this will work well enough even under low light areas indoors.
All in all the cameras on the device are solid for the price range the phone falls in to. You will be sharing images of your food on Instagram and have enough detail in it so people can see your food in all its glory (seriously why do people do this?)
The battery included is a removable 2,200 mAh battery. While not an amazing battery, when coupled with the very power efficient Snapdragon 210 it gives you more than enough battery life. I can see why they opted for the lower spec Snapdragon when I was able to go 2 days on a single charge under normal use with a bit of my Candy Crush addiction coming in to play. Under heavy usage with benchmarks, taking photos, doing all the updates it required and a few calls from 6:00am-midday I managed to bring the phone down to 54% battery life. It still had enough juice left to get me to the end of the day. So don’t let the low battery capacity fool you. You’ll get your full day out of this device, which is what a person wants at the very least.
GUI – where the magic lives
The interface is where this design really shines. It has that home screen all Android users are accustomed to, but the rest was all very new to me. Having grown accustomed to designs such as the Samsung TouchWiz and the more stock Android options on devices such as the Vodafone units it took me a second to realise that there was no App Folder. Instead the EMUI design on the Huawei takes a small page out of Apple’s design choice for a UI. All your apps are accessed by scrolling across your multiple “home” pages. It didn’t take me long to get used to it and stop trying to click on the App Menu, that didn’t exist.
The phone comes with a lot of very nice features to supplement the interesting GUI design. Including a Phone Manager that allows you to optimise your phone and even get rid of all those Cache Files that start taking up space on the internal storage. A plague of Android that usually required downloading a phone manager from the App Store.
My favourite feature by far however is the network data management of the device. Instead of simply having an option to restrict background data (Which is available) you can select which apps are allowed to use WiFi or Mobile Data as you require. So you can turn off data intensive apps for mobile data or turn off apps that you don’t want accessing your WiFi if that’s what you want and it can all be done independently per app in an easy to use interface. It even has a more intuitive view on what app is using data on what kind of network and how much it’s used.
All in all I have had more fun with this GUI than any other flavour of Android and would personally recommend EMUI.
The device performs well on calls. Calls are clear and loud enough that you don’t need to ask people to repeat themselves. Unless they are telemarketers… Kssssshh – Sorry I’m going through a tunnel – KSshhhhhhhhh….
Playing music on the external speaker was also rather good. I could hear the music even while on the highway in peak traffic. My car is fairly happy to whistle at me as the wind comes through my doors so I was pleased I could actually listen to anything on the device while driving. The external speaker isn’t anything near to the level of higher spec phones and lacks some of a the lower range sound capabilities, but this is an entry level unit so it can be forgiven if the sound isn’t exceptionally crisp.
Performance – Does it have the power?
In short yes. For an entry level phone, it blew me away at how good it handled power wise.
Our first tests are for the GPU alone and come from the masters of crippling your Quad SLI 980GTX PC setup – 3D Mark from Futuremark.
The phone scored really well in these tests, even going on to beat the Samsung Galaxy J5, a higher priced phone by almost R1000
As can be seen The Huawei Y6 performs admirably and even surpasses many units that are more expensive than itself and are labled as mid-range phones. The GPU is capable and will perform well if gaming on your device is your thing. Just remember that due to the smaller battery, gaming on your device will be a little more short lived than expected. So don’t do heavy gaming if you don’t have a power outlet or USB on hand to charge up. If, like me however you are more in to the lower impact mobile gaming, such as Candy Crush, you will be just fine.
Next up the often used AnTuTu Benchmark. An all-in-one test for GPU, CPU, Memory and various other aspects of the device.
The device scored 23271 in the benchmark. Now it’s a bit difficult to compare as the in app comparison doesn’t provide a lot of comparison devices and even searching specific devices often turns up blank or only shows the high end devices of each brand. Looking on the site itself the closest units I could find were the Galaxy S4 at 26147 and the Xiaomi2 with a score of 20977.
As a final graphic test I ran the Epic Citadel Demo Benchmark and got mostly 60 FPS on the standard quality with the device dipping to low 20 frames when set on highest quality.
The device is responsive, has a great UI and packs a surprising amount of punch for its price. Having used a Vodafone Smart 4 Power before this device, which falls in the same bracket, I can say I could actually see and feel the difference.
The device is really fantastic for an entry level unit. If you are looking for a capable phone that won’t leave you feeling frustrated with slow menus and apps along with some basic gaming attached then by all means, this is a device I would highly recommend. I may just have found my new favourite brand of phone.