- 5.5-inch HD display
- Android 4.4 KitKat
- 2GB of RAM
- 3,000 mAh battery
- Good all-round performance
- Great battery life
- Both slots are 4G capable
- No Gorilla Glass protection
- Fingerprints prone display
- Loaded with Android 4.4 Kitkat
Huawei launched its latest smartphone, the Honor 4X, in India on March 24, with sales commencing online from April 15. With the launch of the Honor series, Huawei plans to establish its new lineup of smartphones as an independent brand in India, selling devices exclusively on Flipkart. For this reason, Huawei has jumped onto the online-only bandwagon as other smartphone companies in adopting the strategy of flash sales.
The launch of the Honor 4X comes at a time when the market for smartphones is already inundated with phones competing very closely within the same price bracket, such as the Redmi Note 4G, Microsoft Lumia 640, Asus ZenFone 5 and Alcatel OneTouch Flash. With such stiff competition so close on its heels, we take a closer look at the Honor 4X to find out what really sets it apart.
When it comes to the design, the Honor 4X looks just like any other large screen smartphone, featuring a large display at the front and a white back panel. In fact, from a distance, one could easily mistake this phone for the Redmi Note. What distinguishes the 4X from the Redmi Note is the unique, textured back panel and the flat sides and chamfered edges. Its textured back panel offers a much better grip in hand as compared to the glossy and slippery back panel of the Redmi Note. The power button and the volume rocker keys are on the right side whereas the loudspeaker, a micro-USB port and the primary microphone and placed below it.
In terms of weight, the Honor 4X at 165 grams is comparatively lighter than the Redmi Note 4G, which weighs 185 grams. Despite its bulky look, the Honor 4X manages to be lighter largely due to the plastic body. That doesn’t take away from the overall feel of the device, as it is comfortable to hold one-handed. The Honor 4X also has a removable back panel, which is unlike that of most of its competitors. However, a drawback with this smartphone is that its battery is not user-replaceable.
The Honor 4X features a 5.5-inch 720p (1280 x 720) IPS LCD display which is quite responsive to touch. It is one of the early handsets to bring the HD resolution displays to the budget segment. The screen offers good viewing angles, text looks crisp, and the good colours. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have Corning Gorilla Glass technology protection. Nonetheless, we did not face any issues while using the display under the sunlight with brightness set to the highest.
Following up on the phablet-craze of last year, the Honor 4X shows a lot of promise. One noticeable omission is the Gorilla Glass 3 technology, which makes the device highly susceptible to scratches and fingerprints. The camera, earpiece speaker, a couple of sensors and the LED notification light are placed above the screen.
A secondary microphone and a 3.5mm audio port rest on the top of the device. SIM card slots and the microSD card slot are located inside the removable back panel. The Indian edition of the Honor 4X is powered by the quad-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 chipset coupled with Adreno 306 GPU for graphics and 2GB of RAM. Out of the 8GB of internal storage, only 4GB is available to the user and if required, one can utilize the memory card slot at the back to add upto 32GB using a microSD card.
Connectivity-wise, the Honor 4X offers a wide variety of options, including dual-SIM slots that support 4G LTE networks. While both SIM cards can connect to 4G networks, only one can be used at a time with LTE, with the other defaulting to 3G/2G networks. The phone also supports Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS and GLONASS. Another important feature of the Honor 4X is that it supports the USB mass storage mode, making it easier to copy data to and from the device. One omission in an otherwise feature-rich device is the lack of NFC.
In the 4X, Huawei has included its own Emotion UI 3.0 on top of Android 4.4 Kitkat. The EMUI offers rounded icons, themes and other tweaks in select native apps. Similar to other custom UIs originating from China, the 4X doesn't have an app drawer/launcher, but regardless of that, one can always install the Google Now Launcher or any other custom launcher from the Play Store. The UI is zippy, the phone rarely lags - unless some really battery-intensive tasks are thrown at it.
The Honor 4X phone boasts a 13 megapixel main camera and a 5 megapixel front camera. For a smartphone in its price range, photos taken in bright conditions proved to be excellent, with low-light quality also matching that of smartphones that cost a lot more.
The camera app offers several modes for imaging such as Panorama, HDR, Audio Mode, Best Photo and All Focus. The Honor 4X also comes with a comprehensive "beauty mode" in which the phone automatically enhances one's complexion and facial features. There are independent settings for ISO, white balance, exposure and saturation, which is useful if you’re one to tweak the settings of the sensor to eke out the best images.
There is also a snapshot feature that lets you launch the camera quickly by double-clicking the volume down button. The feature works even when the screen is locked, so if you need to quickly shoot a few images, just press the volume button twice to get started.
Moving on to video recording, the main camera can record videos in full HD resolution. Lower resolutions including 720p, VGA and ultra low resolutions are also available. Video recording performance in low-light was poor - but this was something to be expected. The front camera can also record videos of 720p resolution.
The large HD display comprising of the IPS panel offers great viewing angles to enjoy multimedia or check the number-name on the incoming call, for an instance. The native video player is capable of playing a wide variety of file formats. Music playback is on par with the price of the 4X and the high volume output to earphones is sure to appeal to many.
To new users though, the interface of the music player might be a bit confusing at first. It took us a while to locate the equalizer settings which are powered by Qualcomm Audio+. The phone has several preset sound modes and you can also customize one to suit your listening pleasure. The phone has a built-in FM radio receiver but it doesn't offer any option to record broadcasts.
The phone has been found to perform quite well when put to test with synthetic benchmarks. This itself is an impressive feat, considering the fact that the Snapdragon 410 chip is known to focus on battery life, eschewing performance in the process. However, if the benchmark scores are to be compared with the Redmi Note 4G and Asus ZenFone 5, then these latter phones easily score higher. But, in terms of real world performance, one doesn't notice a significant difference.
All in all, the UI design and performance in the 4X is much better than in phones being offered by Indian manufacturers at the same prices. Gaming on the 4X is smooth, for it manages to run the latest games without any hiccups or crashes. Several smartphones heat up at the rear of the phone after gaming on them for a long time. But the 4X has no such issues and does not heat up like other devices, even after running visually-intensive games on it.
Packing a 3,000mAh battery, the Honor 4X delivers satisfactory battery life. Battery life is entirely subjective based on the way you use your device, but we were able to get over a day and a half under normal usage that included a few hours’ worth of voice calls, constant usage of WhatsApp, social media apps, music playback and gaming for less than an hour.
With the Snapdragon 410 chip, which greatly improves power management, the smartphone hugely benefits. Even if you do use the power extensively, the battery can last you an entire day. We found that the supplied charger takes more than 3 hours to charge this high capacity battery from 0 to 100%. But with a good quality high speed charger with 2Amp output, the Honor 4X charges from 0 to 100% capacity in about 2 hours and 20 minutes.
In this segment, the Honor 4X faces off against Xiaomi’s Redmi Note 4G, with the device’s major drawback being single-SIM connectivity. Another close competitor is the newly introduced Lenovo A7000, which offers Android 5.0 Lollipop out of the box. The A7000 is smooth and feature-rich at Rs. 8,999.
Priced at Rs.10,499, the Honor 4X can be bought online from select e-commerce websites. The large screen on offer, great camera and dual-SIM 4G connectivity are just some of the reasons that make the Honor 4X a worthy device in this category. While we commend what the Honor 4X brings to the table, it would be better if Huawei pushed the Android 5.0 Lollipop update for 4X, while reducing the current price to make it even more competitive with other devices.