Honor 5C Review

by Vishal Toshiwal 10

This year we have seen a lot of smartphones being marketed for the mid-range category, while most of them failed to impress the large part of handset consumers, some have managed to be in the hands of lots of consumers. The main reason for many mid-range handsets to fail is that companies haven’t focused much on the user-end experience. Rather has blinded jumped on the specification war. That won’t do well to both brands and users because eventually, the experience is all matters.

Honor 5C focuses that most smartphones don’t even care at all, the end-user experience. Sure, the specifications matter, but what’s more important is that whether those specifications are optimized to give good end-user experience or not. If not, then, the handset is bound to fail in more than one ways. We have been testing the Honor 5C for about a month now and the device even if priced little higher side at Rs 10,999 feels value for money. Why is Honor 5C a Value for Money smartphone? We tell you all about in this detailed review below. Read on.

Design

At the first look of the Honor 5C, you’ll find it attractive and particularly think that whether this device is priced premium or not. Fortunately, not all premium looking devices are costly, and the new Honor handset is a proof of that analogy. Sporting a familiar yet improved design, the device is built with aircraft grade aluminum, which ensures the sturdiness of the body. Note that it is a unibody design, which means you won’t be able to access the battery or any internals on the device. The handset feels pretty comfortable for its size; you can easily reach to the other end of the device while using it one-handedly. The curves on the back side make it easy to fit in your hand thereby giving a grip that is required. The rear side is the perfect blend of the smooth and textured surface, which not only feels good but looks good as well. We have the silver variant of the device, and it looks fantastic from the rear as well.

When compared with other handsets in its price range, I must say that this is the most premium looking handset you’ll encounter. On top of the good looks, the size of this handset is ideal for most of the hand sizes. On the front, you can notice a metal finished line going over the edges. There is an Honor branding and no capacitive or physical button on the front bottom part. Instead, you’ll see the on-screen button, once you unlock the device. On front top, you can see the set of sensors along with earpiece and the front facing camera module. On the rear you’ll notice a little bump; it is because of the camera. Though, note that there are some sorts of coatings protecting the camera lens, which we discuss in the camera section. Alongside the camera module, you can see the LED flash and a fingerprint sensor just below the camera sensor. There is not much on the back to explore. You’ll see the second branding of the Honor logo on the rear bottom of the device.

Moving on to ports, the brand has clearly researched a lot on the behavior of the smartphone users, as the ports are placed in an intuitive manner. Or maybe it’s just too obvious sometimes that where the ports and buttons should be placed. The right-hand side houses volume and power buttons while the left edge is empty. The top edge has a 3.5mm audio jack and a microphone, whereas on the bottom edge you’ll see the dual grill one of which is for a loudspeaker and between that is the microUSB port 2.0. We feel the device has a lot to offer in terms of the design language, overall I would say it’s the best-designed handset you can buy in this price range.

Display

The brand is touting its display as sumptuous, all because of the high pixel density of 423 PPI (Pixel Per Inch). Considering many brands have launched handsets with 5.5-inch size, thinking it’s the ideal size, but we still think that 5.2-inch is a sweet spot for display size. I have been using Samsung Galaxy S7 for a long time, and Honor 5C feels similar in size as it is. I would have preferred an AMOLED display, because let’s face it they are pretty great when it comes to true color output, the black looks black and white looks white. Meaning the colors are true to life, nothing low or high saturation. Though, you would have to understand the Honor has done the pretty great job even with LCD panel. There is a 74% screen to body ratio on the device, which is good enough considering the competition. Eventually, giving display more room, although, it’s not that bright.

Honor 5C (13)

It is a low reflective display, but viewing angles aren’t that amazing as one wants to be, considering the full HD display with good pixel density. But do make a note that it has a vivid and crispy color output. All thanks to the fully laminated LTPS GFF screen, this renders images with the overall good color output. If you like to control the colors manually on screen, then there is an option for that as well under the settings. The sunlight legibility is pretty fine as the text is readable when the brightness levels are high. I like that the screen isn’t fingerprint prone, so even after using it all day you don’t see smudges on it. Overall, the display offers great color reproduction but isn’t what I call a fantastic display. It’s a good one, but not the best in class. I’m not saying that you should ignore the device for its display, but I rather have high standards as I’m used to 2K displays, on top of that they should have Super AMOLED panels. Here seems to be quite a different case.

Interface, Apps

The software interface optimization according to the hardware present on the device is quite an important process to manufacture a handset with good end-user experience. As we have talked about above, the end-user experiences are what matters most, more than we think. That’s why it was obvious to work quite hard on the optimization of the software. It looks like that’s what Honor did here with their latest mid-range handset, the 5C. I haven’t always been the fan of custom Android interfaces, but the EMUI, which is a custom name, follows a workaround that makes it more intuitive than the stock UI.

Honor 5C - Android OS

For starters, the Emotion UI doesn’t have an app drawer, since all the apps are available on the home screen itself. It is not surprising to see that the default apps have been replaced with custom apps from Honor. You’ll see new dialer, contacts, messaging, camera, music, video, file manager, gallery, and email apps. Though, what’s more, interesting is that there is a set of apps bundled in a Tools folder, which houses all kinds of utility application such as Health, Torch, Calculator, Backup & Restore, etc. The company promises that the apps pre-installed on the Honor 5C would be quite resourceful to all of its users. Many users who like stock apps would definitely mind these apps, as they would have to get used to the new interface. But we think that wouldn’t be a problem as the default apps of the system are pretty easy to operate. Moreover, are quite intuitive as well.

With no app drawer, consumers with OCD usually panics about no proper arrangement of apps in a manner. But here you don’t have to, as once you tap on the home layout settings, you can either select to auto-align the apps and fill up the voids, or enable the option to shake the device and realign the app icons. You can also select to loop the home screen that way you don’t have to swipe extreme left to go to home screen. Based on the Android 6.0 Marshmallow OS, the EMUI 4.1 is a first of its kind interface as it is the first Honor handset to have a 6.0 based operating system out of the box.

Coming to the talk of the storage space, as you might be concerned with the user available storage after you’ve seen that it comes pre-installed with lots of apps. Well, you shouldn’t have to as the user available storage space is around 8GB out of the box. There is a phone manager app, which would be your companion whenever you feel that device needs a memory cleanup as we install and uninstall apps every day or two. Note that the app also allows you to restore them to the initial states. The phone manager lets you do more than just clean up your device. It lets you optimize the system, battery, notification center, traffic management, dropzone management and lets you protect apps by locking them with separate PINs. The multitasking facility on the interface feels quite familiar to the iOS integration, as once you tap on the recent menu you’ll see cards like interface you can swiftly switch between apps. We feel that the software interface on this handset is pretty optimized as well as you have some controls too to make further customizations according to your needs.

Hardware & Performance

There are not many smartphone brands that manufacture their own chipsets, which is often, stated one of the reasons that many devices doesn’t get along with their hardware and software combination. The Honor brand has an advantage here in that way as they manufacture their own chipset, well, in most of the cases these days. The 5C is one of the good examples why brands should have their in-house processor or at least closely work in optimizing the software and hardware. Because the end output should offer good experience but not just looks.

The Honor 5C is powered by a Kirin 650 chipset, which is an in-house processor, brought to you by HiSilicon. The Octa-core processor is manufactured using the high-performance 16nm process, which is considered to be the flagship grade chipset technology. It is said to offer overall 65% increase in system performance and a 100% improvement in GPU performance. This comparison was made with chipsets manufactured with 28nm, which is still popular among the chipsets makers like Qualcomm and MediaTek. The FinFET plus 16nm offers lightning-fast performance when compared with previous generation 28nm chipsets. All thanks to the big.LITTLE architecture, it delivers best of performance and power efficiency. If you’re wondering what this setup is, well, it is a combination of four high-performance cores (big) and four lower-performance cores (LITTLE) high-efficiency cores. This combination delivers the increase in performance and decrease in power consumption.

Well, enough of the processor talk let me tell you about the gaming experience on this handset. Despite the low 2GB of RAM and 16GB internal storage on the device, it feels pretty fine in terms of performance. The real test was when we played games on this handset. Since, it doesn’t have enough memory; we just installed a couple of games like Dead Trigger 2, Riptide GP2 and Asphalt 8. While we had to revert from the installation of the Modern Combat, as it is a very large game. Well, moving forward we didn’t encounter any issues while playing those three graphic intense games. The system was rather playful, and we enjoyed playing all of the three games. There wasn’t any heating issue that we encounter either. Though, I won’t recommend playing three games side by side, as switching between them isn’t pretty at all.

Now comes the benchmark talks, as the apps like Antutu and Vellamo helps in measuring the potential of the device, although, I have strong opinions against judging the handsets based on their benchmark scores. Because the real life experience matters more than the on paper scores. But top satisfy the needs of our users we did the benchmark tests as well. The Antutu score was at 53352, which amounts for the total calculation of scores for CPU, RAM, 3D, and UX. Whereas talking about the Vellamo app, it breaks down the score evaluation in three parts; Multicore, Metal and Chrome Browser. The respective scores for that came out to be 2092, 1424 and 2986. Well, these scores aren’t quite high, but as we have discussed before the Benchmark scores aren’t everything, the real life experience matters more. We did a real life browsing test to under whether the device is good for browsing, we used Chrome browser, and for the 5.2-inch display, it felt good to browse on the device. The real estate might not be big, but the pinch to Zoom-in and zoom-out works pretty fine.

Honor 5C - Fingerprint Sensor

The fingerprint sensor on the device is the best-in-class that we have used so far. Although the idea of using the rear fingerprint sensor isn’t my ideal thing, I still liked using it. The company claims that they use the Second generation Swedish-design FPC, which detects the fingerprint and unlocks the device within 0.5 seconds. Well, of course, we didn’t measure the time, but pretty much liked what we experience; the quick reaction as soon as we put a finger on the biometric sensor. You can add up to five fingerprints with just six easy touches. As we used the fingerprint sensor every time we unlock the device, the sensor adapted and identified even the wet fingers. You can configure to take selfies and use gestures to take a photo, answer a call, as well as pull down the notification bar using the fingerprint sensor. Moreover, you should know that Replay Protected Memory Block (RPMB) technology encrypts and stores the fingerprint data in a separate storage area. Thus, ensuring it won’t be accessible even if the device is rooted. It prevents hackers to steal your fingerprint data.

Camera

Those who think that megapixel count is enough to judge a smartphone camera setup are so wrong that they don’t even know. For a camera to yield great results, it is not important to have insanely higher pixel resolution but rather good post processing and aperture number to some extent. The Honor 5C comes with a 13-megapixel image sensor on the rear and 5-megapixel image sensor on the front. The rear module lens has an aperture number of the f/2.0, which is quite on par with the current standards of the device. It is a 78 degree wide-angle five elements setup that offer clarity during macro shots. Moreover, there is a promise of the anti-reflective, oleophobic and infrared-absorbing lens coating. It reduces the glare, prevents fingerprints and stops unwanted IR light from entering the sensor.

Honor 5C (14)

The camera department is blessed with an impressive macro shooter. It is hard to find a great shooter these days that doesn’t have a focusing issue. As far as the 13MP cameras are considered in this range, we haven’t encountered a good module until we got our hands on with this handset. When you fire up the camera app and put the camera in front of any object, it will automatically focus on the device. It is spot on when it comes to Autofocus. It just works! While I have seen many brands claims that they have PDAF, hybrid predictive focus and blah blah technologies for faster focusing, but ultimately they fail to deliver the good output. In the case of the Honor 5C, it is not about showing off technologies but rather delivering them is more important.

Talking about the camera outputs, well, they are pretty much great in every condition. As per the standards, you can see even the low light captures amazes when clicked with HDR ON. Here’s a fun fact about the HDR (High Dynamic Range) feature on this device. You can use the flashlight while capturing the photos in HDR mode. Isn’t that just amazing! They are quite helpful when the lighting is too dark, and you don’t want to mess up the details with a flashlight. That’s what HDR is for, to give details in outputs. If you want to learn some more fun facts and get a detailed scoop about the camera, then head over to our detailed camera review of the Honor 5C.

Battery

There is a 3000 mAh capacity battery on the Honor 5C smartphone. You might be thinking it isn’t much to power a day’s charge for a device with high performance and a full HD display. Well, that is where you’re wrong. After using the device for quite a long time, it feels like even the 3000 mAh capacity is quite large as we have been getting good Screen-on-Time (SoT). All thanks to the doze mode and SmartPower 3.0 technology. It is the combination of those feature with the highly efficient Kirin 650 processor makes it possible to produce such a good device. The standby time on this thing is also pretty great, where you don’t have to worry about the battery being wasted during the idle time. Though, I should warn you that recording a time-lapse drains battery quite quickly.

Connectivity

While many brands ignore the fact that connectivity is more important than anything on a device, as it is the primary thing that we use it for. These days, unfortunately, the most important feature is getting a lot less attention than it deserves. We believe Honor will change your mind about the connectivity on the smartphones. With its Dual Antennas, it has implemented what might be the best possible feature of the device. As expected, we didn’t saw any drop in voice calls. This antenna setup makes it for more resulting setup in terms of connectivity. You can find usual connectivity options such as 4G LTE support, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Dual SIM, GPS, and microUSB port.

Verdict

Honor 5C can definitely be called as a premium device priced affordably. You get best in class metal constructed unibody design, which is more comfortable and sleeker than any handset in this range. There is a revolutionary processor involved here that offers flagship performance and power efficiency. It is because of the in-house Kirin 650 processor; Honor 5C is putting a big dent in the mid-range smartphone market. You may think that the RAM and internal storage aren’t up to some standards, but believe me, if a smartphone with 1GB of RAM can take over the world by storm, why can’t an Android smartphone with hardware level optimization can reach up to that level.

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Vishal Toshiwal

Born in West India, raised in the North and currently chasing dreams in the southern part of India- Vishal is an entrepreneurial spirit, a tech enthusiast and a writer by profession, who is busy taking pictures when he is not writing. He would love to talk to you about the latest movies, TV shows and DC/Marvel comics. As a personal rule, he doesn't let a day get by without at least one dessert. Because, why not?

  • chiragkapuriya

    Super detailed post 🙂 Keep it up 🙂

  • Shibin A

    Awsm review.. Looks like its a great device for the price tho the specs arnt that eye catching

  • Well this is what I expected from this device. 🙂
    Thanks for the detailed analysis..

  • Woodnote(hulone_)

    The budget friendly device ticks every aspect. If only it would have 3GB RAM this device would have been an epic success.

  • Eldo Jacob

    Awesome detailed review.This is a great device.Software optimization is what makes it great one.Well done Honor.

  • PRATHEESH PS

    Pretty Detailed Review.I hope they would launch the 32 Gb variant asap

  • Uttarwar Anoop

    value for money

  • Nitish Mishra

    Nice detailed review…….

  • susmith

    Does it have VOLTE support,it was not mentioned anywhere