We take a look at Huawei’s latest Honor handset, the simple-yet-satisfying Honor Holly, whose price will be determined by the number of pre-orders.
Huawei’s Honor Holly is the third Honor handset we’ve played with since the brand was launched just over 100 days ago, with the tagline ‘for the brave’. These handsets may not be part of Huawei’s ‘Ascend’ range, but they tread a very similar path, offering strong value at an affordable price.
The Honor Holly’s gimmick is that you, the average consumer, will help to set the final price. But look beyond that little conversation piece and the Holly is actually surprisingly similar to the last Honor phone we played with, the Honor 3C.
Design: More of the same
Huawei has gone for a more rounded design for the Holly, with nicely curved corners which we prefer to the square design of the Honor 3C. However, aside from that there isn’t a massive difference between these phones. The glossy front still attracts finger smudges and looks sadly generic, while the plastic backing picks up grime rather easily.
Like the Honor 3C, you get two SIM card slots as well as a microSD slot and the battery is removable. In fact, aside from the rounded corners, the only real difference is that the Holly carries more weight at 156g. It’s not obscenely hefty by any means, but it is noticeably heavier than most rival budget handsets such as the Moto G.
Still, the Honor Holly is at least solidly constructed, with no flex or other troublesome weak spots, so hopefully it’ll survive the odd tumble to the floor.
Screen and media: Yet more of the same
The sense of deja vu heightens as you turn your attention to the Honor Holly’s 5-inch screen. It’s practically the exact same IPS LCD screen as the Honor 3C’s, although that’s really no bad thing.
Colours aren’t quite as deep on the default display settings, but images are just as pleasing to the eye and the panel is bright enough to cut through glare when you’re outside or stuck in a brightly-lit office space. And at 720p, it’s sharp as well as spacious enough to enjoy movies on the go, matching the likes of the Moto G’s HD display.
You get 13GB of usable storage space for your apps and media, but you can also slot in a microSD memory card if you want to carry around extra music, movies and so on.
User experience: Not quite so Emotional
While the Honor 3C made do with the creaky Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, the Honor Holly sports the slightly more up-to-date 4.4 KitKat, complete with a fresher version of Huawei’s ‘Emotion’ UI.
The overall experience isn’t massively different, although Huawei’s super-packed notifications bar has been replaced with Google’s standard effort, which is a little less daunting for Android noobs. Huawei hasn’t crammed it full of bloatware and crap apps that you’ll never need, which is just as well as the apps tray is once again mysteriously absent, so you need to store all of your software on your desktops like in iOS.
You can quickly and easily change the look of the Honor Holly by pushing your finger against a spare bit of desktop space, which brings up a menu for changing the wallpaper, choosing the transition effects between desktops, adding a wide selection of widgets and more besides. You can also swap to the Simple Home desktop, which offers large, clearly marked buttons for users who may have degraded eyesight or impaired motor skills.
Performance and battery life: Solid budget effort
For a budget handset, the Honor Holly performs admirably enough. Sure, there’s the occasional stutter or pause when you try and switch tasks, but on the whole it’s not a frustrating experience and everyday use is basically as smooth here as it is on the Moto G.
We also found we could play most recent games with a respectable frame rate, including fast-paced racers such as Asphalt. Of course, chances are this phone will be chugging in a few months, if you’re still trying to play the very latest titles.
As for battery life, we found we could make it through a full day without issue if we didn’t abuse the handset. There’s the usual battery saver mode to extend your running time if needed and you can even set a time for the phone to turn itself off and on each day, if you want to keep it powered down overnight.
If you try hammering the Honor Holly with non-stop video streaming or gaming, it’ll survive for a little over four hours before giving up the ghost. That’s a little below average for most value phones, so bear that in mind if you want a device to keep you entertained on the daily commute.
As with the Honor 3C, the Holly comes packing an 8-megapixel snapper on the rear, complete with auto-focus and LED flash. It’s a quick little shooter, taking a photo almost as soon as you tap the virtual shutter button. And as long as the environment is well lit and your subject isn’t leaping about the place like a hyper dog, you’ll get some sharp and detail-packed shots. And bizarrely, we found that the Honor Holly was much better at taking macro shots than the Honor 3C, with the lens coping admirably no matter how close-up we ventured.
Even in late afternoon and early evening, with sunlight fast fading away, we found that our snaps were still bright enough to share around. However, you’ll definitely want to make use of the flash to keep things from getting too grainy.
As for camera modes and special features, there’s less on offer here than the bevy of features packed into the Honor 3C, but that’s no bad thing. You can still switch on HDR for tricky lighting situations, for instance, and record Full HD video. The bulk of the stuff that’s missing would never be used by the bulk of consumers, while selfie fans can still get their Beauty Mode on to smooth out those pores and turn themselves into some kind of freaky anime character.
The Huawei Honor Holly does very little that previous Honors couldn’t, especially given it packs almost identical specs to the Honor 3C. However, it’s still a respectable affordable handset, boasting a crisp, clear screen, a solid all-round camera and decent budget performance.