Honor promises amazing imaging specs with the Honor 6+ dual camera

The last announcement I attended at the Mobile World Congress this year may easily be the most surprising, if not exciting one. The Honor 6+ is coming to Europe and Honor - a Huawei sub-brand - shows incredible ambition with its dual camera.

I've been looking forward to the Honor 6+ since its predecessor is light and fast, has an impressive battery and simply looks and feels good. Is it one of my favorite smartcams? No, but I can use quite a few other smartphones for that and I want to have them standby for as long as possible (I often use quite a few in flight mode).

Why was I looking forward to the Honor 6+? Simple: a bigger display in a great design, and quite a few other better specs. But I didn't see the imaging specs coming Honor announced last evening. Now this will be open for debate. Some will be impressed, others will say Honor is just trying to sell a lot of marketing mumbo jumbo. 

Let me first share here some of the slides I captured this evening to repeat a few of the claims Honor made. I captured these with my Lumia 1520 (the only smartphone I really don't have to worry about standby time). I wasn't directly in front of the screen so I had to work on the shots a bit.

Most importantly, the Honor 6+ has a dual 8MP lens. Together, these lenses can capture double the amount of light for a 13MP shot (maximum size). Some of you will say that even HTC and LG have left the concept. But if I'm not mistaken they used it for "stereo pictures" - interesting and quite effective in itself, but impossible to share. But there's much more food for thought and discussion.

Notice the following specs in the images below:
Ultra 1.98um pixel size (roughly the same size HTC used for its "UltraPixel" technology)
Wide aperture, ranging from f/0.95 (!!!) to f/16
Exposure time up to 32" (the slide says minutes, they mean seconds)
Super HDR
The front camera has 8MP, 1.4um pixel size and a 22mm wide angle

I had to look up which lens would offer a whopping f/0.95 aperture, and I found... the Leica Noctilux-M 50mm (over $10.000) - it looks like this...

... so I'm quite sure that even two 8MP lenses with large pixels can't be simliar to something as magnificent. It's obvious this is not just the dual camera, it's the software behind it working very hard to create... what? I haven't completely figured that one out myself and I'll probably never in my life be able to compare it with the Leica lens above, but still: I'm looking forward to see how the Honor 6+ actually performs very much. To show you how determined Honor is to convince you of the capacities of the Honor 6+ dual camera, I captured the video they shared last evening as well.

First tests
I was able to shoot a bit with the Honor 6+ after the presentation, but I couldn't bring any of the results unfortunately. Again, look and feel of the Honor 6+ is quite something for a (most likely) very reasonably priced smartphone (Honor didn't want to announce the price just yet, which is a bit strange since anyone can see it costs $379 in China). 

It doesn't have a hardware shutter button unfortunately. The camera software is quite elaborate when it comes to the specific features the device has to offer. And it all appears to be finished - although it will take two more months before the Honor 6+ will come to Europe, I didn't 'hear any excuse about a "buggy prototype". It's impressive to see how much light the dual camera setup is able to capture, and the possibility to "refocus" using its "wide aperture mode" works suprisingly well, too. Other than for instance Refocus on Lumia phones, this works with what the two sensors have captured, not with a fast sequence of shots.

I also worked with the "Super Night Mode" for which you will need a tripod or something: when I tried the lenses were capturing light for 25 seconds (not sure how it decides how much time it will need, maximum is 32 seconds), and you can actually see the Honor 6+ "building" the picture. The result was staggering as far as I could tell from the phone's screen, but I can't believe I have been able to hold the phone completely still for such a long time (and there is no mention of OIS I might add, nor does it have a Xenon flash many of you would love to see in a camera-centric smartphone).

Let me conclude with a few other specs from the device I think are really interesting, like 3GB of RAM, like on the Honor 6, or the 3600 mAh battery. It has 16GB of storage, expandable up to 128GB with micro-SD. If you don't want to use a micro-SD, you can use the slot for an extra nano-simcard. Screen reolution is Full HD (1080 x 1920 pixels), it has a 1.8 GHz octacore processor - it might not be the fastest kid in town, I didn't notice any lag when I had the chance to work with it.

If you can't wait for my review in a few months, you might want to have a look at the review over at GizChina from only a month ago for instance - it hasn't been on the market for very long at all in fact. You'll find some very impressive shots from the review at GizChina here, here and here.

After you've seen the sample shots I linked to above, I think this all really looks very promising - although I'm sure many of you will feel that Honor is overdoing the marketing by mentioning the staggering aperture value. Anyway, it's very interesting to see the dual camera returning to the smartphone - it might be just a one time event, it might be the start of something new. I've asked Honor the honour to test the camera as soon as they have a device available in Europe.