- Bold, bright screen
- Dependable camera
- Bland design
- Media kills the battery
We review the Huawei Honor 3C, a cut-back, cheaper version of the Honor 6 that’s still a nifty if imperfect portable pal.
Huawei has broken away from its usual Ascend range of phones with the Honor series, which sports the rather intriguing tagline ‘for the brave’. Thankfully the Honor handsets don’t blow up in your face or administer random shocks as you use them; rather, they’re apparently aimed at savvy consumers in a digital world, as they’re only available online – and Huawei says that it’s taking consumer feedback and using it to shape future releases.
Well, so far it’s working out nicely. The Honor 6 was a great handset, offering a glorious Full HD 5-inch screen, strong performance and a dependable 13-megapixel camera for a refreshingly affordable price. No wonder it’s selling well.
Now we have the Honor 3C, which trims down the features to shave even more cash off the cost. But has Huawei cut a little too deep, or is this another winner?
One of the Honor 6’s main drawbacks was sadly its looks, and yes, we are shallow enough to say that it matters. After all, when you splash out on a new bit of tech that you fondle and carry around every day, you want it to be as shiny and sexy as possible.
The Honor 6 wasn’t ugly, it was just a little bland, and it’s the same case with the Honor 3C. From the front it could be almost any basic or mid-range handset, with an all-gloss surface and physical Android keys beneath the screen. At 9.2mm it’s quite a chunky mother too, more so than the Honor 6, although it’s no thicker than other value handsets such as the Moto G.
You can prise off the back plate to reveal a removable battery, as well as a microSD memory card slot and two (count ‘em) micro SIM card slots. That’s handy if you have a work SIM and you don’t want to carry around two separate devices.
The backing is made of plastic and its dark grey finish gives the Honor 3C a corporate feel, although it also attracts fingerprints like a discarded McFlurry attracts angry wasps. Overall it’s a solid enough construction, with no flex or other issues, but it’s also quite unremarkable.
Screen and media: Strong budget visuals
The Honor 3C keeps the 5-inch screen of the Honor 6, but scales back the Full HD visuals to 720p resolution. As a result, you can make out individual pixels if you stare hard at the screen and visuals aren’t as sharp as rivals such as the Moto G.
However, Huawei knows how to construct a decent budget display and we found the Honor 3C’s screen perfectly fine for everyday use. It’s bright and clear, with wide viewing angles, so you can happily use it in bright glare and share a video with mates. And while high-def movies don’t look as striking as they do on 1080p mobiles, we’d still happily watch a movie on the go with the Honor, especially as the screen is so spacious.
The screen does attract oily smudges however, almost as enthusiastically as the rear picks up grime.
You get 8GB of built-in storage, of which 6GB or so is free for your media. Just as well that there’s a microSD slot for expanding.
User experience: Bright and bold
Our Honor 3C review sample came with Android 4.2 JellyBean pre-installed, the first time we’d seen a pre-KitKat device in some time. And as no updates were available OTA, looks like that’s what you get.
Of course, Huawei has had a fiddle as usual, adding its Emotion UI over the top. The result is a bright and bold interface, which is a little more ‘fun’ than Google’s vanilla Android. It’s not massively different in terms of functionality, although Huawei has annoyingly removed the apps tray, so all of your apps are dumped onto your desktops. You can organise them into folders, but it still looks messy and gives you less space for widgets.
Sadly there’s no Suspend button on the Honor 3C, unlike the Honor 6. This allowed you to multi-task by running apps in windows, which proved handy when trying to email and check something online at the same time, for instance. Possibly a result of the RAM being cut back from 2GB to 1GB.
Performance and battery life: Not all roses
The same quad-core 1.3GHz chipset as the Honor 6 has been stuffed inside the Honor 3C, although this time you only get 1GB of RAM. Still, performance is respectable, with only the occasional little stumble or app crash. We also found we could play some of the latest games without much issue, including Asphalt and Gunner Z.
Battery life is pretty standard for a budget mobile. You should have enough juice to last you the day, even with regular use, and the Honor 3C also holds charge well when the screen is off. You even get direct control over what apps can still run when your phone is hibernating.
However, start to cane the Honor 3C with video streaming or gaming and the battery quickly depletes. We didn’t even get four hours of YouTube streaming over Wi-Fi before the phone died. That’s well below the average of five hours.
Camera: Feature-packed snapper
For a budget snapper, the Honor 3C’s 8-megapixel effort is easily as good as the new Moto G’s. In decent lighting conditions, we found our photos were bright and packed with detail, easily good enough to save and share around and even view back on our home telly.
In more difficult lighting, the results were mixed but still decent. There’s an HDR mode and a built-in flash to help out, although a few of our snaps looked blurry or grainy and had to be deleted. And if your subject’s moving, then forget it. We tried taking about twenty photos of a cat and most of them were write-offs, with the wee scamp either out of focus or little more than a fuzzy blur.
Don’t get too close to your subject either. We found the focus struggled with macro snaps, producing blurred images with unusual ghosting around the edges.
Huawei’s managed to pack a fair few features into the camera, including dependable 1080p video recording, a beauty mode to smooth out your skin (more useful if you’re taking selfies with the 5-megapixel front-facing cam) and the usual filters and other jazz. On the whole, this is definitely one of the better low-cost smartphone cameras that we’ve used.
If you’re more bothered about saving cash than looks and performance, the Huawei Honor 3C is a decent rival to the Motorola Moto G. It’s fine for the everyday tasks and the camera and screen are both strong for the asking price, although the design, interface and battery life are rather uninspiring.
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