Huawei Honor launched the Honor Bee, the company’s latest budget smartphone in the Honor series last month. It directly competes with Micromax Canvas Spark and Infocus M2 smartphones that lie in the same price range. Is this is a good budget smartphone? Let us find out in the complete review.
Display, Hardware and Design
The 4.5-inch display at a resolution of 480×854 pixels and a pixel density of about 217 PPI is just average. This display is bright and the colors are decent, but the sunlight legibility and the touch sensitivity (2-point multi-touch) are not the best compared to other smartphones in the price range. The company doesn’t say if this has a toughened glass for protection. The display is also glossy, hence it is prone to fingerprints.
There is a 2-megapixel camera on the front, which is good for selfies. It has the usual set of proximity and ambient light sensors, but lacks a LED notification light.
It has the usual set of capacitive buttons below the display. These are colored and offer haptic feedback when pressed, but are not backlit.
The power button and the volume rockers are present on the right side of the smartphone and have chrome finish. The smartphone is 10mm thick. Since the back cover that extends to the sides is not smooth, the phone doesn’t slip out of your hands easily.
The micro USB slot and the 3.5mm audio jack are present on the top.
There is a 8-megapixel camera on the back with dual LED flash and an honor branding. The back has matte finish so it doesn’t attract fingerprints. The loudspeaker grill is present on the lower part of the back. Since the phone is compact, it is easy to hold.
Opening the back cover reveals a 1730mAh removable battery. The build quality of the smartphone is good for the price.
There are two micro SIM slots and a microSD card slot below the camera module.
Coming to the camera, the 8-megapixel auto focus camera with f/2.2 is decent for the price. Daylight shots and macro shots are good, but low-light shots without flash obviously have a lot of noise. HDR shots were average. Dual LED flash is useful in poor lighting conditions and is not overpowering. The camera UI is similar to other Honor series smartphones running on Android Kitkat. Check out the camera samples below (Click the image to view the full resolution sample).
It can record videos at 1080p resolution at 30fps. Audio quality is decent, but the video doesn’t offer much details. Check out the 1080p video sample.
The Honor Bee runs on Emotion UI 3.0 Lite based on Android 4.4.2 (KitKat), compared to Android 4.4.4 (Kitkat) on the Honor 4X that we reviewed recently. The company has promised to offer Lollipop update for the smartphone, but it doesn’t say when the roll out is expected. The Lite version doesn’t have any UI changes compared to the full version, but it lacks some features such as limitations to number of quick settings toggles.
It doesn’t have a separate app drawer, and all the apps are present on the home screen. You can create separate folders to arrange the apps. You can use a custom launcher if you don’t like the default one without app drawer.
There are several features including customizable themes, transitions and widgets.
Out of 8GB of internal storage you get 5.25GB of usable storage. Out of 1GB of RAM, you get 958MB of usable RAM. About 780MB of RAM is free on boot, when the default apps are running in the background. You can move compatible apps to the SD card. It doesn’t have USB OTG support.
Apart from the usual set of Google Apps and utility apps, the smartphone comes with WPS Office, Facebook Twitter and TouchPal X keyboard.
Music Player and FM Radio
The music player is simple and plays most formats. You can enable equalizer for Bass boost and 3D effect features when you are listening using earphones. It also has FM Radio. Output through loudspeaker is decent and audio through the headset is good.
Dual SIM and Connectivity
It has SIM manager option that lets you set a default SIM for voice or data. Both the SIMs support 3G, but you can use 3G on only one SIM while the other is in 2G. Connectivity features include, 3G HSPA+, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0 with A2DP and GPS.
Performance and Benchmarks
The smartphone is powered by a quad-core Spreadtrum SC7731 processor with four ARM Cortex A7 cores clocked at 1.2GHz per core and has Mali-400 GPU. The performance is good without any lags. 1GB of RAM is enough for multitasking. Check out some synthetic benchmark scores below.
It managed to score 3126 points in the Quadrant benchmark.
It scored 18710 points in the AnTuTu Benchmark 5.
It clocked 62.3 fps in the NenaMark 2 GPU benchmark, similar to the Micromax Canvas A1. We tested several games on the device, which were decent. Some games did face occasional lags in the gameplay and the graphics was not the best.
The battery life is not impressive, even though it packs a 1730mAh battery. It lasts for less than a day with heavy use with both the SIM cards enabled. With minimal use it will last for a day maximum. In our battery test, the smartphone achieved One Charge Rating of 5 hours and 41 minutes, mainly due less standby in 3G browsing and video playback. It has power saving modes that adjusts CPU and network usage to improve the battery life. Check out the complete set of battery life test results here.
Overall, the Honor Bee is a decent budget smartphone under Rs. 5000. The Micromax Canvas Spark, its competitor has a better display, runs on Android 5.0 and offers slightly better battery life. The Honor Bee now retails for Rs. 4.499, down from the launch price of Rs. 4,999, while the Canvas Spark is still retails Rs. 4,999 and is available only through flash sales. If you are tight on a budget and can compromise on these things, go for it. Otherwise there are several smartphones, including smartphones with 4G support at a slightly higher price. Even the new entrant ZTE Blade Qlux 4G looks promising.
- Competitive pricing
- Good build quality
- Decent camera
- Average display
- Battery life is below average