Not everyone wants a bigger display and not everyone wants to spend more on a Smartphone. There is a bigger pie of a market that requires a smartphone compact in size and priced less than Rs. 5,000 (< than 80$). While in India that segment is largely concentrated by Celkon and Intex and few other local OEMs, now Huawei’s e-brand, Honor sets an eye on the pie with its first sub-5k product, Honor Bee.
It’s been quiet a while I used a 4.5-inch Android Smartphone, personally I prefer 5.5-inch displays as it satiates my media and gaming consumption on a fairly larger screen, since I don’t like shifting between a Smartphone and tablet. Honestly, for a person bestowed with smaller hands, Honor Bee for all ergonomic reasons felt good on hands, soaking nicely into my palms.
The design of Honor Bee is generic but what I liked is how it feels ‘nice’ holding the phone. In fact it reminds me of the how Samsung phones used to look before with their entry-level handsets. In any case, the expectations for designs are never high in this segment. A decent look, good performance for the money spend and supply chain, you get the basics worked out. Back to the Bee design, the rounded corners and soft curves on the rear sides make it very ergonomic and pleasing to handle.
Expected of this budget pricing, there is no Corning Gorilla Glass, the 4.5-inch TFT display is decently sharp and offers a acceptable colors and contrast and am being realistic here. The screen doesn’t sizzle with saturated colors but fairly balanced. Maximum brightness is OK and weaving angles just about acceptable too. Day light viewing is not that great but manageable.
In terms of the ports and buttons layout, the right side has the volume rocker and the power button in a metallic finish, the top hosts both the microUSB port as well as the 3.5mm audio jack. The speaker grille is on the bottom of the rear, while the camera with a LED flash and the honor branding occupies the upper half and are centrally aligned. There are three capacitive buttons and they are not backlit.
The Honor Bee bits on Android KitKat 4.4.2 which might sound a bit old-fashioned with Lolipop now the chosen sweetener but Huawei’s own Emotion UI is the latest. I have grown fond of EMUI 3.0 having played around with it in 6 Plus, 4X, 4C. Though, in the case of the Bee, the UI is optimized for it. The UI is clean and intuitive.
There is no app drawer and all the apps rests on the homescreen and you can make folders and group them in case you want to. The magazine unlock is one of my favourite features of the EMUI and it finds place here too. So each time when you activate the lockscreen, you are treated a fresh lockscreen wallpaper and the choice of wallpapers are pretty good too. Directly from the lockscreen you can also access flashlight, calendar, calculator and alarm via their respective shortcuts. Pinching the homscreen with two fingers takes you to desktop settings and widgets.
The Emotions UI also offers a simple homscreen mode which might be useful for elders for quick access of the important apps. The layout is colorful with bigger icon and is easy to use.
Amongst the many smart assistance features that comes with EMUI 3.0 in other Honor devices, we only have flip to mute in the Bee. By default, the Honor Bee comes with the Android AOSP keyboard but from the settings you can also change to TouchPal X keyboard.
Now coming to the performance, the Honor Bee is equipped with Spreadtrum SC7731 chipset, a name that is relatively unknown in the market where Qualcomm and MediaTek rules. A quad-core processor clocked at 1.2GHz and Mali 400 GPU power the device with a 1GB of RAM to aid. A 8GB of internal storage which can
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The specs may not be a firespitter but it depends on how you put your device to use. For normal usage, it does its job pretty neat. The only area where it obviously struggles is the gaming. Casual games like Subway surfers, candy crush should not be an issue but if you want to burn the tyres on the racing track or go on a zombie killing mission with big guns, Bee might not sting the way you want it to be. Otherwise, the Bee can carry your everyday tasks quiet at ease.
The 1730mAh battery works pretty decently giving a good battery life. There is a basic power saving feature inbuilt which turn of the power hungry features like WiFi, Data, GPS, Sync etc when the battery level dips below 20%, you can choose which one should be set to off in the settings. I don’t have much to dislike the battery life of the Bee.
Now talking about the camera. On the rear we have an 8-megapixel shooter with a dual LED flash and the front sports a 2MP selfie eye. The rear can shoot a 1080p video. There is a HDR, Panaroma modes which are not great to talk about and you better stick to the auto mode. There are filters thrown in and what I really appreciate about the camera app of Honor Smartphones is the watermark feature. It gives some interesting add-ons to your picture to make it cool. The image quality is strictly average. The shutter speed is good and is fairly good at focus too.
To wrap it up, Honor Bee is a pretty good phone at this price point. It has and delivers almost everything an user would expect at this level. A good build quality, a neat user interface, a decent hardware for this bracket and a decent camera and with overall good performance makes it a phone worth a look at this segment. A compact phone at compact price and delivering a satisfying performance that is Honor Bee for you.