Huawei Honor Review

5
Introduction and Design
Introduction:

The Huawei Honor is a mid-range Android smartphone that retails for about $370 off contract and has relatively a lot to offer in exchange, namely a 4-inch high-resolution display, a 1.4GHz single-core processor, and an 8-megapixel auto-focus camera. But those are all specs on paper. What we are more interested, as usual, is the way the smartphone performs in real life. That is why we put the Huawei Honor to the test and we are ready to share with you how it fares.

In the box:
  • Wall charger
  • micro USB cable
  • Wired stereo headset
  • Quick start guide


Design:

The Huawei Honor feels cheap and plasticky, but its white, glittery back cover looks quite catchy. (Plenty of other colors are available too.) It is 11 millimeters thick, which is okay for a contemporary mid-range device. However, with a weight of 135 grams, you will surely feel the handset resting in your pocket. It fits nice and solid in the hand, although we had some difficulties reaching the far corners of its screen with a single thumb.



We are quite happy with the four capacitive buttons underneath the display, they are sufficiently responsive and we did not experience any accidental presses. The 2-button volume rocker and the lock key, located on the device's left and top sides respectively, are also well made – well exposed and providing plenty of tactile feedback.



You can compare the Huawei Honor with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool. 

Display:

The 4-inch display on the Huawei Honor left us with mixed feelings. Something that we particularly liked about it is that it is pretty high-res for its size – 480 by 854 pixels (254ppi), which is why graphics on it look very detailed and tiny text is easy to read. The color reproduction is pretty accurate as well. Unfortunately, the screen's biggest flaw is that it is not as sensitive as one would like it to be, and before we got used to pushing our thumb more firmly against it, about one out of ten touches would not register. Another thing that we are not happy about is that its surface is prone to collecting too much finger smudge. Other than that, its viewing angles are okay, and if you put some effort into it, you can read it under broad daylight.

Huawei Honor 360-degrees view:




Interface:

The Huawei Honor has a 1.4GHz single-core processor and 512 megabytes of RAM, which is enough processing power to run its interface fluidly even with a live wallpaper running. The unit that we are reviewing runs Android 2.3.6 Gingerbread, but Ice Cream Sandwich has been already released for Chinese models, meaning that an update will most likely come to all Honor handsets worldwide eventually.

Fortunately, users are free to use either Huawei's custom interface, or simply switch to the Android stock one. Thumbs up to Huawei for allowing users to choose. The Huawei custom interface features a convenient lock screen with shortcuts to the camera, dialer, and texting apps, although it would have been nicer if these shortcuts were customizable.

You get up to five home screens, which you can customize with widgets, folders, and widgets. Speaking of widgets, not too much has been included out of the box, other than the usual Android ones, a widget for the music player, connectivity toggles, and a widget that lists social network feeds. The weather widget, however, is surely among the most beautiful ones we have seen so far – with realistic animations and weather information provided by AccuWeather.


The task manager that the interface has been customized with is a real improvement over what we have seen on other Android handsets so far. Upon holding down the home button you get a side-by-side view of all  recently opened applications along with a screenshot for your convenience and the option to close any one or all of them.

With the Huawei Honor you get a TouchPal virtual on-screen keyboard, which, if it wasn't for the handset's unresponsive display, would have been really easy to use. It is well spaced out in both portrait and landscape modes, and if you want to input a digit or a symbol instead of a letter, you just slide down the corresponding key. Neato!




Software and functionality:

Huawei has been kind enough to complement its smartphone with several very useful features, namely the Huawei Cloud+ drive, All Backup, and Security Guard. The Cloud+ offers 16 gigabytes of online storage, which is pretty good considering that you do not have to pay for it. The All Backup app is used to back up data onto a microSD card. Additionally, your data, including contact information and settings, can also be backed up in the cloud. What is also pretty cool is that you can have your smartphone remotely located, locked, and wiped, in case it gets stolen or lost. The Security Guard application can come in handy if you want to prevent other people from contacting you either via calling or texting.



Other apps that come pre-installed on the Huawei Honor include a file manager with support for files compressed using WinZip, an app that monitors your data traffic and alerts you when you are nearing your monthly limit, clients for Facebook and Twitter, Documents To Go, and a SportsCaster app that provides you with results and information regarding various sports games. 




Internet browser and connectivity:

The stock web browser on the Huawei Honor does get the job done if it is not pushed too much, but it gets slightly choppy when rendering heavy web pages, such as ours. Its performance, however, improves noticeably when the Adobe Flash plug-in is turned off. Other handy features that you get include tap-to-zoom, pinch-to-zoom, and text reflow, all of which work as intended.

The smartphone has any connectivity feature that you would expect from a device of its class: Wi-Fi b/g/n with support for DLNA, 14.4Mbps 3G radio, Bluetooth 2.1, A-GPS, and an FM radio with RDS. When testing its GPS radio, it managed to pin-point our location in about 30 seconds from a cold start, and from then onward it needed about a couple of seconds.




Camera:

Remember how some phones from the past, had a camera glitch, which caused a purplish blob to be present in the middle of your photos? Unfortunately, the 8-megapixel auto-focus camera on the Huawei Honor is plagued by the same flaw too, or at least on the unit that we have here. But even if we try to ignore that, the photos don't look particularly good. They are low on detail and there is plenty of digital noise when shooting under low-light conditions. The HDR setting makes the photos look only marginally better, and when you have the feature turned on, the time between individual shots is unacceptably long.



We are not happy with the camera interface either. The good thing about it is that it is rather simple, but features like face detection or panorama mode are missing, and the buttons are too small to operate comfortably. And in case you are wondering, the 720p video that the smartphone shoots has the same purple spot in the middle, lacks detail, looks far from fluid, and the audio that is captured by the microphone is barely distinguishable.






 

Multimedia:

The stock music player on the Huawei Honor is not bad at all, but could have been much better. What we like about it is that it has a nice audio visualization that pulsates to your tunes and that it comes with its own file browser, which comes in handy in case your audio files are not neatly organized. However, what is somewhat annoying is that flicking through album art on the “Now Playing” screen automatically changes the song instead of letting you browse for the one you are looking for first. Also, the player had troubles rewinding and fast-forwarding files, and support for lossless formats is missing.


The built-in video player is nothing special. It could playback some of our 720p MPEG4 sample files, but only the ones encoded with low bit rate. DivX file formats are not supported.






Performance:

Without a doubt, in-call quality is one of the Huawei Honor's advantages. The earpiece reproduces clear and natural voices that are sufficiently loud and free of distortion at the same time. The microphone, although adding a faint crackle to the sound every once in a while, does a pretty good job as well with the help of that secondary microphone for noise reduction. As far as the loudspeaker's performance goes, it is sufficiently loud for a pleasant hands-free conversation.

The smartphone comes with a 1,900mAh battery, which might seem like much, but delivers the rather average six and a half hours of talk time. Stand-by time is a little less than 16 days, which is not a bad figure.


Conclusion:

Probably the biggest advantage of the Huawei Honor is its great value-for-money ratio. It can be bought for about $370 off contract, and at that price point, no other brand name company would be able to match its specs. However, you get what you pay for, so you will have to get used to its not-so-sensitive display and hope that your camera is free of glitches, not to mention that the device feels cheap and plasticky.

If you insist on having a relatively big display, you can also check out the LG Optimus Black and the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc, and if 3.7-inches of display real estate would be sufficient, we can also recommend the Sony Ericsson Xperia neo, or Xperia pro.


Software version of the reviewed unit:

Model number: U8860
Android version: 2.3.6
Baseband version: 404020
Kernel version: 2.6.35.7-perf
Build number: U8860V100R001C00B859

Huawei Honor Video Review:



Pros

  • Good interface
  • Built-in cloud and back-up features
  • High-resolution display
  • Good value-for-money ratio

Cons

  • Plasticky feel
  • Flawed camera
  • Display is not sensitive enough

PhoneArena Rating:

6.0

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