Huawei’s value driven smartphone range, Honor, has always provided respectable smartphones ever since it was introduced in India. Handsets like the Honor 6, Honor 7 and the Honor 5X have all been well received. Now we have the latest budget offering from the brand, the Honor 5C. The new smartphone comes as an upgrade to the Honor 4C and, like its predecessor, it's a budget handset falling in the under-15K range.
This is probably the most populated and competitive segment as there are already a number of worthy smartphones, especially the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 and the LeEco Le 2 that dominate this range. So does the Honor 5C stand a chance, read on for the full review.
Build and Design: 7/10
The Honor 5C offers a very similar looking design as the Honor 5X but somehow feels a bit more refined. In terms of dimensions, the smartphone has a thickness of 8.3mm and weighs 156 grams. The back has a brushed metal finish and as an addition, has lightly textured streaks along the sides which add a nice touch to the overall design. Again, like the 5X, the camera bulges out slightly and the fingerprint scanner sits below.
At the front you get a glossy plastic finish and the display, which measures in at 5.2-inches, makes the device a bit easier to handle compared to most 5.5-inch smartphones selling in this price range. The company hasn't mentioned if the glass panel covering the display offers any kind of protection but frankly it isn’t of very good quality as it kept attracting smudges and fingerprints. We ended up wiping the display all day.
Around the edges we have the power button and volume rocker buttons on the right, the audio jack on the top, a hybrid SIM tray on the left and the microUSB port and speaker grills at the bottom. The edges are rounded, making the handset fit better in your palm.
Overall, the design is appealing and put together very well even though it is similar to the Honor 5X. The handset fits well in the hand although it can get a bit slippery due to the polished metal finish.
Honor 5C features a 5.2-inch full HD IPS display and is powered by a HiSilicon Kirin 650 SoC, which is Huawei’s in-house octa-core chipset (2GHz quad-core and 1.7GHz quad-core) with a Mali-T880MP2 GPU. You get 2GB of RAM to handle multi-tasking. For storage, there is 16GB of which 10.52GB user accessible, which can be expanded further using a microSD card of up to 256GB. However you get hybrid SIM card slot for that, so you would be restricted to only one SIM card.
The smartphone runs on Android 6.0 Marshmallow with Huawei's Emotion UI 4.1 layer on top. There is a 13MP camera at the back with an f/2 aperture and an LED flash unit. On the front you get an 8MP unit to take selfies. In the connectivity department you get Wi-fi, Bluetooth 4.1, GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS and FM Radio. At the back there is a fingerprint scanner which, apart from unlocking, offers features like scrolling through the gallery, taking pictures and sliding out the notification shade. To juice up the smartphone there is a 3,000 mAh battery, but there is no support for quick charging.
Huawei has used a 5.2-inch full-HD IPS LCD panel on the Honor 5C. It’s a fairly decent looking screen although we weren’t fully impressed with the brightness. Even the ambient sensor had issues as it struggled to automatically adjust the brightness levels when moving between bright and dark environments. Colours are a bit neutral and sharpness was adequate when reading text. Sunlight readability isn't up to the mark, as it's difficult at times to read, even when you pump up the brightness to full.
The touchscreen itself is responsive, but as mentioned before, the whole experience is hampered by the low quality of glass protecting the display. Upon regular usage we noticed quite a few fingerprints and smudges gathering on the panel.
The Honor 5C runs on Android 6.0 Marshmallow with the Emotion UI 4.1 layer running on top. It gives the OS a colourful look. It's also better looking than the previous versions and feels snappy only till you maintain your storage. Once you start filling the handset with apps and multimedia, it starts feeling sluggish.
The lock-screen comes with a feature called magazine lock, which frequently changes the wallpaper giving a new look whenever you activate the display to unlock it. There is a also a quick settings bar that you can slide up in the lock-screen which offers options to control your music, turn on the flashlight and open apps like the calculator, voice recorder or the camera.
The changes between the older version of Emotion UI and this one aren't very obvious, with the interface retaining its signature look and feel, including the same single-layered user interface, notification shade, and quick settings menu. The phone manager app is particularly useful as well, controlling system optimisation functions, data usage, app locking, battery consumption and more.
As with Android 6.0 Marshmallow, you get the Doze feature for better battery optimisation as well as Google Now on Tap. There is also a phone management app that lets you check your data consumption, cleanup storage and RAM, lock apps and also block unwanted calls and SMS.
Powering the smartphone is a Huawei made HiSilicon Kirin 650 chipset which is an octa-core processor. It has four Cortex-A53 cores clocked at 2GHz and the other four at 1.7GHz. You get 2GB of RAM and a Mali-T880MP2 GPU to take care of graphics intensive tasks. This combination provides enough power for daily tasks like writing emails, browsing the web, updating social media, taking the occasional picture and so on. The 2GB of RAM feels less occasionally and you end up closing apps.
Benchmarks proved that it is as capable as the Snapdragon 615 or the 616 with scores comparable to the Moto G4 Plus. It's still less powerful than the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3. High-end games don’t run very smooth and run on lower frame rates while less resource demanding games work flawlessly. The handset doesn’t heat excessively at all, there's just minor warming up when used under the sun or during long periods of gaming.
Call quality on the smartphone is good and even mobile data and Wi-fi connections work without any issues. The fingerprint scanner was a bit of an issue. While it didn’t have any major trouble recognising the fingerprint there were times when the phone wouldn’t wake up when you put your finger on it or even when you pressed the power button. The phone would freeze for a minute before returning to normal state.
There is a 13MP rear camera with an LED flash and an 8MP front camera aperture. Both the cameras have an f/2 aperture. The camera app offers features like HDR, slow-motion video, time-lapse video, panorama, etc. You also get some modes like pro photo, pro video as well as light painting, food mode, object tracking, smile capture, self-timer, and so on.
The camera performs well and can capture good looking pictures in bright conditions, although low light performance is just average with some loss in details. Colours look good and even sharpness is well maintained. The camera software tries its best to reduce noise and it does a decent job, although certain pictures do lose some fine details. In terms of video both the cameras can shoot 1080p videos with the rear offering more modes as mentioned above. All in all, the cameras are not that bad, although it isn’t better than any of the existing smartphones in the same range.
The handset features a 3,000mAh battery inside which lasts all day. It doesn’t offer fast charging though, so it takes its own sweet time to fully charge. The battery trickles down consistently and the doze feature definitely works as we saw a minor drop when the handset was not used overnight.
Verdict and Price in India
The Honor 5C offers a blend of good design, appealing UI and a capable hardware. It is definitely a good update over its predecessor, the Honor 4C, and feels as good as the Honor 5X. There are minor software issues but nothing that a quick update can’t fix.
Having said that, the smartphone doesn’t offer anything unique or a differentiating factor that would set it apart from the competition. It's a plain Jane phone which will struggle to survive in the market. The only reason one might just go for the Honor 5C is for its smaller display, as there are some consumers who don’t want to go beyond the 5.0-5.2 inch screen size.
For a similar price of Rs 10,999, a better option would be the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3.
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