Huawei Honor 6 Plus review: A great, affordable phone, muddied by outdated software

Honor 6 Plus camera test (click image to see full size) Andrew Hoyle/CNET

This St Paul's Cathedral scene is much the same -- good exposure, but lack of clarity when zoomed in.

Honor 6 Plus camera test (click image to see full size) Andrew Hoyle/CNET

This shot of the city of London has a rather overexposed sky and too-dark buildings.

Honor 6 Plus camera test (click image to see full size) Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Turning on the HDR mode has helped balance the bright and dark areas, making for a more attractive shot overall.

There's a panorama mode too, which I found works well.

The three shots below show the focus effects you can achieve with the extra camera lens. Although the three images are all taken from the same single picture, I've been able to change the focus to feature either Lego Milhouse in the background, the robot at the front, or keep all parts of the scene in focus. It's only a digital effect, but it's done well and will help lend some creative background blur for closeup shots of flowers or food.

Honor 6 Plus camera test (click image to see full size) Andrew Hoyle/CNET
Honor 6 Plus camera test (click image to see full size) Andrew Hoyle/CNET
Honor 6 Plus camera test (click image to see full size) Andrew Hoyle/CNET

The extra lens also apparently helps in low-light situations, by taking multiple photos, comparing the image noise in each, and therefore being able to cancel it out.

Honor 6 Plus camera test, low-light Auto mode (click image to see full size) Andrew Hoyle/CNET

In auto mode, I was quite impressed with my first low-light shot. The items are bright and colours are good, although there's again a large lack of clarity at full screen.

Honor 6 Plus camera test, low-light Super Night mode (click image to see full size) Andrew Hoyle/CNET

There's also a mode called "Super night," which takes multiple photos over a period of multiple seconds -- 18 seconds in my test. Although the shot looks quite bright, it's susceptible to even the slightest bit of hand shake, which made this shot look blurry, even though I stabilised my hands on a solid object. To get the best from this mode, you'll need to use a tripod and ensure that no vibrations or wind disturb the phone as it takes the shot.

The camera is generally quite good, so long as you only want it for social-media snaps. Its control of exposure and colour makes it good for Facebook and Instagram, and the focus effect can help you get a bit creative. The lack of detail in the pictures however mean there's little room to crop in or display in a larger format.

Battery

The 6 Plus houses a 3,600mAh battery, which is a generous size. After 2 hours of video streaming, it had dropped from a full charge to 74 percent remaining, which is fairly average. Where it shines is holding its charge in standby: it drops a tiny amount when the screen isn't in use, meaning you can squeeze days of standby time from it.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

That might not seem all that helpful, given the phone isn't being used, but if you're heading to a festival, or other remote location with no way of charging for a weekend, you can make sure you only use the phone for the essentials, leaving it in standby when possible to make the battery life last for your whole trip.

Conclusion

The Honor 6 Plus has a lot to offer for its reasonable price. It's slim, its big screen is well-suited for Netflix on the move, its processor is perfectly capable of handling most things you'd want to throw at it and its camera takes decent Facebook shots.

It is let down by its software however, which apart from being unacceptably outdated, makes too many changes to the Android experience, resulting in a clunky interface that's sometimes sluggish to navigate. If you're after a good all-round phone and don't want to spend extravagantly, it's definitely worth considering, but you should also consider the Motorola Moto X, which you can pick up for similar money and which uses Vanilla Android Lollipop for a considerably more enjoyable experience.