Motorola did it with Moto E, Xiaomi Redmi 1S cracked it up and now Huawei follows suits with Honor Holly. Budget phones that gives amazing value for money spend. We are not just talking about Android One devices but devices that have made paradigm shift on how the budget phones were perceived so far by offering good specs, decent built at affordable prices. Here in our Honor Holly review, we find out why it offers more value for the Rs. 6,999 price it comes at and of course we point out its shortcomings too.
Huawei Honor Holly looks neat. It is also ergonomic and good at hands thanks to the tapered sides of the rear. It has smooth curves on the edges and it has got decent looks and pleasing to look and hold.
Holly’s 5-inch IPS LCD display comes with a 720 x 1280 pixel resolution packing a 294 pixel density (ppi), the screen is highly reflective, so while it tends to give a vibrant display, try reading at outdoors and at low light, you will strain your eyes. There is no Corning Gorilla glass to protect your display, so a good screen guard is an immediate must if you own this device.
A smooth curve on the rear sides and the edges not just makes a good ergonomic sense but also adds to the design value by not looking like a mere rectangular slab.
Flip it around to the rear, the glossy back panel also means more prone to finger prints and smudges but if you can wipe clean the panel, it looks pretty nice on your hand. In the standard practice, we have the usual set up of power button and volume rocker on top of it placed on the right, 3.5mm audio jack on top and the microUSB port on the bottom with a microphone next to it. The rear houses the 8-megapixel primary camera with LED flash on top and speaker grille on right side of the bottom. There is no mention of Huawei anywhere but the Honor sub-branding is prominent on rear. Overall, the construction quality of Huawei Honor Holly is generic that can match some of the best phones at even the 10K price range.
Peel the rear panel and you have a 2000mAh battery which gave a decent run during my usage. Holly supports dual-SIM and it has slots for two micro-SIM and also works on dual stand-by. The SIM management app also has an option to bind particular contacts to one of the SIM. Though I used a single-SIM during the time I spend this phone with, with two email accounts, twitter and games thrown in between calls and messages, the battery did squeeze decently well for a working day. You also find the microSD slot for expanding the memory.
Now the tech muscle power. Underneath the hood, there is a MediaTek MT6582 SOC, a quad core processor clocked at 1.3GHz. 1GB RAM, MALI 400 GPU and a good 16GB of internal storage. Out of the box, the device runs on Android 4.4.2 KitKat with a layer of Huawei’s own Emotion UI 2.3 topping it. Connectivity options include class 12 GPRS and EDGE, Wi-Fi Direct, Wi-Fi hotspot, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0. The included sensors are accelerometer, proximity, light, orientation and magnetometer.
So we talked about Huawei’s Emotion UI and the UI has been evolving during this years, it is pretty nice to work with. Before I get into the UI, let me mention the dedicated trio of capacitive Android buttons beneath its display. There is no back-lit which might be a tad disappointing but then once we start using the device, we tend to get used to the position. My grouse is the positioning of the ‘back’ button on the left with the home on the middle and the multiple tab button on the right. Ideally, I would prefer the back button within reach on the right side for quicker and easier access on one-hand when the phone is held on the right hand. I got a small hand, so accessing the back button which we often might use with the thumb is bit difficult, atleast for me.
Now back to the UI. A short press on the multiple tab button opens the following screen where you can fiddle with the Home Screen like changing the wallpapers, transitions, widgets. What I really liked is the Simple Home option. The UI is colorful and peppy. The responsiveness is lag-free in general use. In all fairness, both from a visual and software point of view, Emotion UI is appealing on visual scale and has a certain ease of use on operations too even for a first timer using Emotion UI. At the same time, it’s rather light with its set of software features without unnecessary bells and whistles and is not intimidating with overwhelming features and free-loaders apps which most of us may not be using like in some of the phones that comes with these days.
Set to the Simple Home, the layout of the Home Screen changes with larger icons. Especially works nice, if you plan to gift a Holly to elders who would like to stick to the basic set of features which is easy on eyes. There are three home screens populated by the large app icons which covers the basics. Of course, there is an option to add the app of your choice to make it prominent. You can also revert to the standard Home Screen easily.
A thing of beauty is joy for ever? not exactly, finally it boils down to performance when we talk about Smartphones. Unlike many of the Chinese mega brands, Huawei likes to keep it simple and not overwhelm with too many features. It evident right in the dialer, the likes of Gionee, Lenovo and Xiaomi loves to bake in features like call recorder which Huawei has given a miss. The messaging keyboard and input by default comes with Huawei Input method which is pretty basic without any predictive inputs. You can go to settings > language and Input and opt for standard Android Keyboard which is better.
In terms of general performance, responsiveness the phone does pretty well its maths and is smooth. We tested on Antutu Benchmarking tool and got a score of around 18000 which is not bad at all at this price.
Talking about gaming performance, the Holly handles well medium intensive games but throw in some graphic intensive games, the frame rate suffers a bit. For a casual gamers, the Holly won’t disappoint but if you are heavy into gaming, you might need to look beyond this price range. And another most asked question these days is does the phone heats up. I didn’t notice the Holly heating up and it is a smooth operator at this price range.
For a quick start. Holly gets a dual-camera set up. We have a 8-megapixel rear camera with auto focus and LED flash which can shoot fullHD videos and there is a 2-megapixel front shooter.
The Huawei Camera app is pretty easy to work upon. The camera app has a neat layout with easy to access features and gives a simplistic experience. If you are using the slide option to unlock the lockscreen, you can directly fire the camera app from the lock screen. Once in the camera app, you find the normal, live screen mode, beauty mode and panorama mode access on the right hand side listed vertically, there is also a HDR mode option which can be switched On/off from the screen. The settings option allows you to change the ISO and exposure setting, color effects, scene modes, white balance. You can take 40 continuous shots, if you are interested. There is an Voice capture option but strangely when I activate it, it asks us to say something in err.. Chinese. There is also smile shot, face detection and a self timer option. You can also make time lapse video.
I didn’t pin much hope on Holly’s camera but it did spring a surprise with its shots especially on day lights. It delivers more than average pictures at this price point with well toned colors. The front 2-megapixel camera also makes for a decent selfies and video calling. Holly can shoot videos at 1080p resolution. We can certainly say that the quality is good.
On a final note, does Holly a good bet? The answer is yes. For Rs. 6,999 Honor Holly offers a great value for money but it faces tough competition in this segment but does have strengths to stand up and give a fight. A good display, build and decent performance at this price range, what else you would be looking at? Huawei Honor Holly is definitely a phone that would not disappoint.