Huawei’s Honor brand launched the Honor 5C smartphone in India last month priced at Rs. 10,999. It recently went on open sale in the country. We already brought you the hands-on impressions of the smartphone, here we have the complete review of the phone.
Design, Materials and Build Quality
The Honor 5C is the successor to last year’s Honor 4C smartphone and it brings about a drastic upgrade in terms of design and build quality. The Honor 4C itself was a good smartphone in terms of design and build quality however, Honor isn’t a company to rest on its laurels. The Honor 4C had good build quality but used a lot of plastic in its construction which is fine for a smartphone in its price range. The Honor 5C however makes use of premium grade metal for its construction and it definitely feels a lot more premium than most handsets in its price range.
The Honor 5C comes with a brand new design that is both ergonomically and visually more appealing. The handset feels really good to hold and use. It might be apparent from the basic shape of the smartphone itself thanks to the curved back, rounded corners and sides but it really has to be felt to know how good it is. The back features a horizontal brushed metal finish at the center and towards the edges, we have a plastic border that runs all the way around the phone and also has a concentric pattern. This antenna is done to facilitate better reception for the phone and what we really loved is the accuracy of the colour it has compared to the metal back. The colour hue is almost identical on the plastic and metal portions and that is something that we find to be lacking on most smartphones these days. It really feels like they’ve spent a lot of time in getting the colour right and it goes a long way in giving a premium look and feel.
Up front, you have the 5.2″ display and while the bezels aren’t really slim or minimal, it still doesn’t look awkward or bad like it does on some other devices. The bottom lip features the Honor branding while users get the earpiece, front facing camera as well as the ambient light and proximity sensor above the display. The bezel around the front edges of the smartphone are a bit raised but not enough to protect the display in case it falls face front.
The right side of the device houses the power button and volume rocker.
The left side has a Hybrid Dual SIM Card slot while the top has a 3.5mm audio jack and the secondary microphone.
The bottom is quite busy since it houses the primary microphone, speaker grille, microUSB ports and 2 screws.
At the back, you find the primary camera, LED flash and the fingerprint sensor. The back panel offers a smooth finish but it offers good grip too especially due to the curved back and sides. The 8.3mm thickness feels slimmer, thanks to the same reasons. The back panel is non-removable and neither is the 3000 mAh battery. The 5C comes in 3 colours – Silver, Gray and Gold and we really liked the Gray variant in particular. The Gold colour too is nice but the Gray seems the most unique.
The display on the Honor 5C is a 5.2″ 1080p IPS display that comes to around 424 ppi. It offers good viewing angles and outdoor visibility. The colours are quite natural and we liked the smoothness of the display too. Honor hasn’t mentioned what sort of protective glass has been used and it most likely will be a generic one considering the fact that they haven’t really mentioned it specifically. Regardless, it does a good job at protecting the display from scratches, we aren’t sure how well it’ll hold under drop scenarios though.
Users also have the ability to adjust the colour temperature of the screen according to their own preference and also toggle the notification LED off and on. Overall, we are really pleased with the display and loved the quality. What would’ve been a nice addition is perhaps a 2.5D Curved Glass up front that would’ve improved the user experience. But perhaps that is something that can be used for the Honor 6C. So far, the improvements in terms of sunlight legibility, contrast ratio etc itself have been a big improvement over the 4C. But the biggest plus point of the Honor 5C display is the removal of the black borders around the inner sides of the display that really looked bad on the Honor 4C.
The fingerprint sensor on the 5C is located at the back just below the camera sensor. It has a rectangular shape with rounded corners and the size is just perfect. The positioning is in such a way that your index finger will rest on it when holding the phone and as a result, your index finger on both hands are the ideal fingers to register on the phone.
Users can also register additional fingerprints of their own or loved ones since the phone can store and recognize 5 fingerprints. The fingerprint sensor on the Nexus 6P is still one of the fastest and more accurate in the industry and we are glad to note that some of that heritage has trickled down onto the Honor 5C. It may not be the fastest fingerprint sensor on the market but it definitely is class leading both in terms of speed and accuracy. Even when our fingers were slightly wet or dirty, it did recognize it.
Another important addition is the always active fingerprint sensor which makes it easy for users to bypass the lockscreen and directly unlock the phone even when it is sleeping. Adding fingerprints is fairly easy and you just need 5 taps to register a fingerprint. Once done, the fingerprints can be used to unlock the phone, grant access to certain folders on the file manager and even lock certain apps.
The use of the fingerprint sensor doesn’t stop just there, it acts as a touchpad too when needed and can be used to navigate through and perform several of the phone functions. The different gestures that can be used with the fingerprint sensor are classified into touch and hold as well as slide gestures. Touch and hold gestures allow the user to capture a photo/video in the camera UI, answer a call and stop the alarm. Slide gestures allow users to bring down the notification panel by just swiping down on the pad and even slide it back up by swiping up. Additionally, a double tap on the sensor will clear all notifications. Users can also swipe between various photos and browse without interrupting the photos on screen using the sensor when in full screen mode. The slide gestures in particular are really intuitive and made a big difference to me after I used the phone for a while. Although the screen size isn’t massive as it is 5.2″, it still does help to have an easier way to bring down the notification panel and the sensor does a good job at that.
Calling and Messaging
The call quality on the Honor 5C is pretty good both through the earpiece as well as the mono speaker. The loudness too is sufficient for most situations and your voice gets conveyed to the party at the other end quite well thanks to the secondary mic that helps to cancel out unwanted noise.
Messaging is nice too since there is sufficient screen estate to facilitate fast and efficient typing but like we said earlier, a 2.5D curved glass would’ve made it even more enjoyable. The default keyboard is Swype but users are free to download any other keyboard they want and use it from the Play Store.
Software and UI
The Honor 5C comes pre-loaded with Android 6.0 Marshmallow with EMUI 4.1 on top of it. EMUI offers a lot of customization and enhances the user experience. There is no app drawer which means that all your apps appear on the homescreen itself but you can organize and sort them into folders as you wish.The status bar showcases the various network, battery and notification icons. Users can choose to display the battery percentage (next to or inside the battery icon), the carrier name, network speed information etc. The homescreen can also be set to a Simple UI which will be beneficial to older users or with slightly impaired visibility.
The recent apps screen has a 2D interface that users can swipe between to access the app they need. You can also swipe up each app to end them individually or use the trash icon to kill all apps at once. The phone also comes with a Theme Store where users can get free themes to download and customize the phone to their liking. The colours, icons, wallpaper and more get changed in the process as well.
The notification drawer shows the list of notifications upon first swipe and then a swipe to the left or a tap on the shortcuts button brings you 9 quick toggles for the various features and actions as well as a brightness slider. The lockscreen can be customized to show a particular signature and also wake up the device and screen whenever there is a new notification.
The storage counter showcases the amount of data being used on the phone by various files, apps etc and there is even a storage cleaner that helps to clear out unnecessary or unused data once in a while. The memory function too shows the amount of RAM being used and free over a certain period of time be it 3 hours, 6 hours or a day.
Honor has also included several apps to make the lives of users much easier. One is a phone manager that features a system optimizer, traffic manager, harassment filter (call and message blocker), battery manager and more. You also get useful tools such as compass, mirror etc. You also get a Health app that tracks your activities, steps and motivates you to be more active in order to help you achieve your goal.
Storage, Connectivity and Performance
The Honor 5C comes with 16GB of on-board storage that is further expandable using microSD cards upto 256GB in capacity. It comes with a Hybrid DualSIM card slot that can either take two nanoSIM cards or a nanoSIM and one microSD card. Out of 16GB of internal storage, around 10.35 GB of storage is available to the user out of the box. It has option to make SD card as default storage, but you can’t move apps to the SD card.
The phone supports 4G LTE including support for Band 3 and Band 40 in India. There is a microUSB port at the bottom and users also get WiFi b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.1. We were quite disappointed by the lack of support for dual-band WiFi and some people might also worry about the lack of support for ac standard too.
The Honor 5C is powered by an octa-core HiSilicon Kirin 650 processor that is based on a 16nm FinFET manufacturing process. It is more powerful and more efficient than its predecessors and some of its competitors.
Music Player and Audio Quality
The Audio Quality offered by the Honor 5C through the speaker is pretty good in terms of volume output but we would’ve loved stereo speakers. Quality through the 3.5mm audio jack is really good and the volume output is ear-piercing (literally) so be careful when you turn it up all the way to the max. The music player also has SWS audio enhancement that offers wider sound field. The phone also has FM Radio.
The primary camera on the Honor 5C is a 13-megapixel unit with f/2.0 aperture, Autofocus and LED flash. Judging by the numbers, you would get a performance that is perhaps identical to most of the other smartphones in the price range. There is no fancy sensor size value nor pixel size in terms of microns to suggest otherwise. However, the image quality that this phone can produce is truly amazing. The Honor 5C has a class leading camera that offers great image quality not just under good lighting conditions but also under low or poorly lit conditions. The noise in the images during such situations is barely visible and definitely can compete with several smartphones in the higher ranges as well.
The colour reproduction, white balancing etc are spot on too and the smartphone captures a lot of detail too. If there is one small thing that the camera could’ve been better at, it is the dynamic range. However, that is just being very picky and just in case you need more dynamic range, you can just turn on the HDR mode to improve it. The shutter speed is pretty quick too although it does slow down a bit when using the HDR mode but not by much.
Click on any of the images below for the full-fledged samples.
The photos on the left were taken in HDR mode while the ones on the right are taken in normal mode.
The front facing 8 Megapixel camera with f2.0 aperture also tells a similar story. Great details, bright images with less noise. More than enough for your social media friendly images and a wide enough lens to accommodate your friends into one frame.
The Honor 5C can record 1080p videos at a maximum frame rate of 30 fps which is on par with most of the other offerings in this segment but the quality of videos aren’t that great. Videos are bright and lively in terms of colour but are quite jerky and seems to lose out in terms of details. There is some moire effect going on as well and the edges of objects seem to have some weird artifacts. We hope that this is something Honor can focus and improve on in future firmware updates since this issue is most likely related to processing on the software end.
Check out the video sample below.
Coming with a 3000 mAh non-removable battery on board, we expected the Honor 5C to be an average performer in terms of battery life and thought we’d need to carry around a battery pack everywhere we go. This is mostly due to the advantages of the 16nm FinFET technology used by the Kirin 650 processor and the optimization done by Honor.
The smartphone utilizes a microUSB port for charging and scored a one charge rating of 16 hours and 48 minutes in our battery test. Check out the complete set of battery life test results here.
However, if we were to be a bit picky, we would’ve loved to have fast charging capabilities on the 5C as well which is missing. But I would definitely take a smartphone with a better battery life than one with a poor battery and fast charging.
The Honor 5C is one of those smartphones that come along once in a while. You don’t expect much from it but by the end of the review duration, you are left thoroughly impressed. In most smartphones, specifications may wow you or impress you but then you maybe let down or your expectations are just about met when it comes to the real life performance. However, the Honor 5C specifications only tell a part of its tale. Its got much more substance under that hood which will only reveal itself when you’ve got your hands on the device and start using it as a daily driver. At a price of Rs 10,999 it is one of my favorites in this price range. If you are looking for a compact smartphone with all the bells and whistles and a premium feel, this is the Droid you are looking for.
- Beautiful and Ergonomic Design
- Fast and Accurate Fingerprint Scanner
- Good Display with Good Sunlight Legibility
- Great Camera Quality and UI
- Good Battery Life
- Good Audio Quality Through Earphones
- No Fast Charging
- Video Recording Isn’t Very Impressive
- No Dual-band and AC Standard WiFi