Huawei’s back in the budget smartphone game with the Y6 Pro 2019. But at PHP 6,990.00, is this phone “budget” as in “cheap,” or is it more like “value?” Here’s our review, stick around to find out so you can decide for yourselves.
Real quick, let’s get a few things out of the way before jumping into the meat and potatoes of this review. Some things we haven’t seen others talk about:
The phone comes with the standards such as earphones, adapter, USB cable (micro, unfortunately; no swanky reversible Type-C here), and SIM tray ejector. But it also comes with a plastic screen protector pre-installed, which is super easy to miss because it’s so seamless. How convenient, and it should help ease the nerves of those whose first order of business after buying a new phone is to buy a screen protector.
Like many budget phones released in Asia, the Huawei Y6 Pro comes with an FM radio app. Unlike many budget phones that come with an FM radio app, the Huawei Y6 Pro lets you use it without earphones attached. Its antennae are built right into the sleek polycarbonate body!
The phone lacks Widevine DRM, so Netflix won’t play in HD (720p) unless Huawei decides to patch it in. Bummer. But, the phone does support Netflix PIP, so you can Netflix while using Facebook, playing games, or even… watching YouTube.
Videos taken with the stock camera app are saved as .3gp files, but they’re encoded in standard h.264 MPEG so if you wanted to you can just rename them to .mp4 for compatibility or consistency reasons.
Alright, let’s review the phone, shall we?
The Y6 Pro 2019 is one of Huawei’s first new releases of the year and we think it’s going to make a big splash. It’s joining the likes of the Redmi 6A and Vivo Y81i in utilizing Mediatek’s Helio A22 processor, while throwing in value adds such as an f1.8 rear camera lens for better low light shots and more natural bokeh; built-in low light face unlock/ID which works even when the only thing illuminating your face is the neon glow of your PC monitor; and an extra GB of RAM, taking its total to 3 gigs for smoother multitasking.
Just to remind everyone, the Helio A22 was manufactured using power-efficient 12nm FinFET technology by TSMC. For the first time, we have a low-budget processor using such an advanced fabrication technology. This means the phone will produce less heat during heavy usage and will consume less battery power. But you probably knew that already, so let’s move on.
Our tour of the phone begins at the front, where Huawei’s Dewdrop notch design sits proudly at the top center of the 6.09” IPS HD+ LCD, which packs 282 pixels per inch in its 1560×720 “wide HD” resolution. If you’re anti-notch, you can hide it by forcing EMUI 9.0 to permanently draw a dark border around it in Settings, Display, More Display Settings, Notch. In either case, this is where you’ll find the 8MP, f2.0 selfie camera.
Above that is the speaker grill which also houses a notification LED. Hidden off to the right of that is an ambient light sensor as well as what Huawei calls “Toning Flash 2.0,” a selfie flash LED assisted by the screen light which is meant to give your selfies a more true, natural lighting.
Moving down past the slim side bezels, we get to the bottom bezel which we’re just going to refer to as “Jay Leno” and leave it at that.
On to the sides: on the left sits the dual SIM tray with microSD card slot, on the right is the volume rocker and power button without integrated fingerprint reader (in fact, there’s no fingerprint reader to be found anywhere on the phone), up top is the thankfully not forgotten 3.5mm headphone jack and ambient mic, and along the bottom is the sadly-not-Type-C micro USB slot and bottom-firing speaker.
Turning it over reveals the rear 13MP, f1.8 camera and LED flash which both sit in a slight camera bump; more Huawei branding across the bottom; and CE certification info along the side. Ours is the Midnight Black model, but the Y6 Pro also comes in Sapphire Blue.
The back plate tapers off into the rounded corners, making for a very holdable phone despite the thin design and slippery polycarb back. Measuring in at 73.5 mm x 156.28 mm x 8.0mm and weighing 150g, it’s not exactly gonna go flying out of your hands, but every bit of extra grip helps.
Now that we know how the phone looks, let’s talk a bit about how it runs. Media consumption is nice and crisp at 720p, as EMUI 9.0 fills in the notch area with black bars to cut its extended width back down to 1280 pixels so there’s no unsightly stretching going on even in fullscreen mode.
In terms of audio though, the Y6 Pro suffers from the same problem as most phones with bottom-firing speakers: unless your ear is conveniently located in the palm of your hand, you tend to block the sound. When that isn’t a problem, the harsh treble is. It’s loud, to be sure, but loud doesn’t necessarily mean good.
Also worth noting is the speaker is mono, and only fires out of the right side grill. The left bottom-firing speaker grill is a facade.
Switching out between apps loaded in RAM is pretty snappy, but for some media-rich apps or websites there’s often stuttering as the contents are loaded into cache. We found the most egregious offender to be Google Maps. However, once the app is fully loaded in, for the most part it’s smooth sailing.
For games, we tested: Vainglory; Mobile Legends; and Ragnarok M. None of them had any issues running at all, and we didn’t notice any dropped frames or stuttering. Smooth as butter, until all hell breaks loose and the game needs to render particles out the wazoo. That’s when we experienced a few hiccups, but turning down graphics settings to low helped out a lot. Your mileage may vary and it also depends on the games themselves; in Mobile Legends, even when the screen got filled up with minions and two heroes dueling it out, there weren’t any problems.
That’s hardly surprising, despite the Y6 Pro’s budget trappings. While the 2.0 GHz quad-core Helio A22 provides decent performance for general usage, it’s paired with the PowerVR GE8320 GPU which is good enough to run most games at a playable FPS. And yes, this includes PUBG Mobile as well. As of right now, there’s no better alternative than Helio A22 in the low-end market, which Mediatek claims outpaces its direct competition—the Snapdragon 425—by up to an outstanding 72%.
Customization options in EMUI 9.0 are decent. You can do the usual swapping of wallpapers, change transitions, toggle the app drawer on and off, and even change the home screen grid size. Between that and Android P’s own customization options, you could go a fair way into making your phone look the way you want it to. It’s all right, but thankfully it plays nice with alternatives such as Nova Launcher for even greater customization.
Connectivity options are a mixed bag. On the cellular side, it’s excellent; every mobile band in the Philippines is covered by the Y6 Pro’s radio. On the other hand, it lacks 5GHz WiFi and doesn’t have NFC. Wireless charging is also a big fat no, and we’ve mentioned the lack of a fingerprint reader as well as the dated micro USB port already. It does have a headphone jack, which is nice.
Battery life seems a bit better than average for a budget phone. Despite its large screen and fairly standard battery capacity of 3,020mAh, in our short testing we can regularly get 14–16 hour days without charging, and that’s with WiFi and cellular signal connected the whole time. Its efficiency is probably due at least in part to the processor’s 12nm FinFET manufacturing process and partly thanks to whatever Huawei’s intelligent battery optimization is doing.
Finally, let’s break down the camera. Typical of China phones it features a beauty mode with variable levels of beautification, a standard/automatic mode, panorama, HDR, video, and Pro. Pro gives you control over setting the shot’s metering, ISO, shutter speed, exposure value, autofocus mode, and white balance. With a tripod or phone mount, long exposure shots can be taken with a maximum shutter speed of 8 seconds.
Video files, as mentioned in the opening of this review, are recorded as h.264 MPEGs wrapped in .3gp containers which can simply be renamed to .mp4 if you prefer that. They’re fairly decent quality with a bitrate of 15-20MB/s. The autofocus seeking is pretty aggressive in video mode, which is a shame considering Pro photo mode already allows for setting single autofocus anyway.
In terms of image quality, of course the more light there is the better the photo. With good technique and ample lighting, photos can really turn up quite good. The relatively wide lens apertures do seem to help in lower light and indoor scenarios, but photos taken in these conditions do turn out objectively grainier or softer. There’s only so much the laws of physics allow.
One thing that could be said about the Pro mode is that it can be really fun to play around and practice The Exposure Triangle (well, not really, as aperture is limited to either f2.0 or f1.8). The best camera really is the one you have with you, so hobbyist shutterbugs may appreciate being able to carry the Y6 Pro around as an inexpensive, inconspicuous, yet functional tool to stretch out their photographic creativity on the go. One thing to note is there seems to be quite a bit of chromatic aberration at the lower ISO levels, but depending on how the inspiration strikes, this may even be desirable.
That just about rounds out our review of the Huawei Y6 Pro 2019. It’s a potent budget phone with plenty of things going for it and a few compromises to work around. At just shy of PHP 7,000.00, we feel like it punches way above its weight class. But that’s just our assessment. What do you think?