Unlike many other Chinese mobile companies, Huawei doesn’t make much noise. They are quiet movers and suddenly you wake up to the news that they are one amongst the top three Smartphone makers in the world. Their Indian story might belittle their ascendancy, they are still laid back here or atleast they seem to be. While Huawei smartphones went into a quiet zone in India (but not out, they are going to be out of the slumber in a big way, watch out!) , Honor their sub-brand has been making meek murmurs in a market where the likes of Xiaomi and LeEco are boisterous. After the Honor 5X and Holly 2 Plus in January, they present the Honor 5C in India at a price of Rs 10,999. Now this price segment is ruthless for any brand, can 5C brace up and stand against the aggression? Let’s find out in this review.
Design, Build and Display
- Aluminum-alloy body
- Brushed metal back
- Scratch-resistant anodized coating
- 147.1 x 73.8 x 8.3 mm
- 156 grams
Among the affordable Honor phones, I feel the 5C got the better looks. Like 5X, this one too gets an a premium grade aluminum jacket but gets a better treatment at the design areas. There is the similar brushed metal body at the rear but the sides gets an interesting design touch with ridged edges. The pattern on the sides and top and bottom of the rear adds a refreshing finish to the phone’s look and it also conveniently camouflage the plastic border which also serves the antenna. What is commendable is the body paint that seamlessly merges both the materials. I got a golden color device and the shade is also carried to the front face.
The bottom is houseful with speaker grille (it is a single speaker with another one to balance out the design and also includes a primary microphone), microUSB port and two screws.
The 5C is not in a contention for being a slim phone and is in fact slightly healthier at 8.3mm and it weighs 156 grams. The weight distribution is good and surprisingly it does not feel much heftier unless your earlier phone was really feather weight. The right side has the power button and volume rocker with good tactile feedback and the left side has an ejectable SIM tray that can accommodate two nano-SIMs. It’s a hybrid dual-SIM, so you can sacrifice one SIM for microSD card, if you want to boost up the storage.
I really like the brushed metal finish and the ridged edges on the sides and the rear looks pretty good. The camera is not flushed and is slightly raised but a ring around the camera module protects it from scratches when placed down. Below the camera is a finger print sensor and a LED flash flanks the camera. A subtle honor branding at the bottom half completes the good looks.
The color is uniform and the golden shade is carried towards the front too. The front houses the 8MP selfie camera, ear piece grille and sensors on the top and the honor branding below. There are on-screen navigation buttons.
- 5.2 inch IPS LCD display
- 68.7% screen-to-body ratio
- 1080p resolution
- 424 ppi
While the display of the 5C is compact at 5.2-inch, the screen-to-body ratio of 68.7% shaves away the advantage of a slightly smaller display for those seeking a compact phone. In comparison, the Redmi Note 3 with a 5.5-inch screen has a 72.4% screen-to-body ration making it only slightly bigger than the 5C. A black border around the display needs a day or two to get used to. Huawei could do well with chiselling the phone a bit better for a lean look in their future iterations. Nevertheless, the 5C is still very ergonomic and a pleasure to hold and use.
The display offers good viewing angles and outdoor visibility. The colors are not over saturated and is natural. There is no mention of protective glass and if you are buying the device, I would suggest you add a screen guard, to be on a safer side.
The display settings offers the user to adjust the color temperature. The 5C offers LED notification light and also bestows the user the ability to turn it off, if you find it annoying.
Software and EMUI
- Android 6.0
- EMUI 4.1
Fueling the Honor 5C is Android 6.0 Marshmallow with Huawei’s own EMUI 4.1 layered on top of it. The EMUI has come a long way, I used to dread their earlier versions but the latest update is refreshing and ease to use. Like most Chinese UI, there is no app drawer, so everything rests on home screens and you can build folders to group them.
In case you are interested in knowing the full list of features, the 5C offers, take a look at my video below.
There are the usual EMUI favourites like Magazine unlock that offers different lock screen image each time you access, Simple Home screen layout if you want a simplified home screen with big app icons.
The Smart assistance feature offers control over the navigation bar, so you can choose between various combination of the navigation buttons that is convenient for you. The one-hand UI offers mini screen view plus minimizes the keyboard to align with left or right for ease of use on single hand. Indian government has made it mandatory for the OEMs to include a panic trigger in all the mobile devices by 2017 and Honor 5C comes pre-installed with an emergency SOS service that triggers alarm as well as send SOS to pre-assigned contact numbers about your GPS location.
The phone manager app offers system optimizer, harassment filter as well as app lock to secure your apps with finger print. There is also a health app pre-installed that monitors your step and gives various other data.
Over all, the EMUI gives a good user experience and is also quiet agile.
Finger Print Sensor
One of the notable feature about the finger print sensor is it just takes a 6 scans to configure your finger, usually most phones take 9 to 12 scans. Also, the finger print sensor is quiet accurate and fast enough. You can add up to 5 fingers and also use the finger print sensor to app lock. Apart from unlocking and app lock, Huawei has added lot more functionality to the finger print sensor with gesture options. So you can use the finger print sensor to click a camera picture, take incoming calls or stop alarms by touch and hold gestures or you can browse photos in the gallery by swiping left and right the sensor or access the notification shade by swiping down the sensor area.
- HiSilicon Kirin 650
- Octa-core processor
- Quad-core 2.0 GHz Cortex-A53 + quad-core 1.7 GHz Cortex-A53
- Mali T880MP2
- 2GB RAM
- 16nm processor
- 16GB ROM, expandable storage
Now let’s deal with the all important part of the review. How does the 5C perform? Powering the 5C is Huawei’s own HiSilicon Kirin 650 chipset, while the 2GB RAM seems to fade before what the competition is offering with 3GB, Huawei puts a brave face claiming its 16nm processor has the power to take on the battle. Huwei claims the 16nm FinFET manufacturing process is more efficient and powerful operator. Before I talk further, you can take a look at my gaming review video below.
The gaming was a surprise for me, the 5C handles it commendably well. Even the NOVA 3 my usual benchmark to test the gaming prowess played on well. The heating is well contained too. In general, the 5C proves to be a good performer in all usages. Of course, a 3GB RAM could have given it a more space but I never felt it as disadvantage, a good fortnight I used the phone.
Only dampener was the 16GB of RAM. I strongly feel 32GB storage should be the minimum standard for phones in this price segment now. The dual-nano sim tray is a hybrid type, which means you can swap one SIM with a microSD card for expanding the storage, you cannot move apps to the SD card.
The call quality is pretty good, the speaker is loud enough. While the hardware supports VoLTE, for some reasons Huawei has turned the ability to use. I am not sure why or is it due to any licensing issues but the bottom line as of now, the device does not support it. The default keyboard is Swype, which is my favourite and there is enough room to type error-free. The device does not support OTG, which is another slight disappointment. The 5C has a mono speaker and the audio quality is good. The phone supports FM.
The device houses a 3000mAh battery and the battery life is impressive, I was able to get a 5 to 51/2 hours screen on time and in general the battery life won’t let your expectations down. The good battery performance could be attributed to the 16nm processor’s capabilities. Of course there is a let down – lack of fast charging.
- 13MP rear camera
- f/2.0 aperture
- Auto-focus, LED
- 8MP front camera
- f/2.0 aperture
While the above specifications puts it on par with what you expect in this segment, there is no other spec lists like PDAF (Phase detection auto focus), OIS etc. But what it surprises though is with its ability to capture good, clean pictures , something that matters most to the end users.
One of my favourite capture with the 5C is below. I pretty much liked the color reproduction, which was very close to what I saw with my eyes.
If you are a foodie, the good food mode will excite you. The picture on the right is shot with good food mode, it bumps up the saturation level and makes the food pictures eye popping.
For the selfies, the front facing 8MP camera would bring smiles too. It offers good images with nice detailing. On the video part, the Honor 5C can record 108op videos at a maximum frame rate of 30 fps. The video quality is good but lack of OIS is evident since if you don’t have steady hands, the videos might be shaky.
There is no denying the Honor 5C faces stiff competition from the likes of very popular Redmi Note 3 and Le 2 but it does have enough ammunition to stand up to the fight. At the price of Rs 10,999, I will not shy from recommending this phone, if you are looking at a compact phone that performs well in real life scenarios. It’s a doer in almost all fronts.
- Beautiful design and build quality
- Battery life
- Dependable fingerprint sensor
- Good camera and various modes
- Neat display
- Decent gaming performance
- Internal storage could have been beefier
- No fast charging
Amidst the boisterous crowd, the Honor 5C is a shy guy but give him a chance, he will surprise you with what he can deliver.