Huawei Honor 3C Lite Review
Huawei recently introduced the Honor 3C Lite, and it packs great hardware despite being the most affordable Honor smartphone available on the market at a sub-Php6k price tag. Is it brave enough to stand against the competition? Find out as we review the Chinese electronics giant’s entry in the budget-friendly, bang-for-the-buck smartphone wars.
Design and Construction
The Honor 3C Lite, also known as Honor Holly in some markets, has an uninspiring, symmetric design going on. Its hardware design is balanced — you can see that the device has been designed to be held greatly in hand. The design also offers thick bezels, clocking the screen-to-body ratio at 67%, which made the smartphone look rather bulky.
To give you a quick guide on where’s which, the microUSB port along with the microphone are located at the bottom, the 3.5mm headphone jack at the top, and the power/lock and volume rocker keys at the right side. Flip the device over, and you’ve got yourself the 8-megapixel camera with the LED flash beside it, and the loudspeaker grills at the bottom.
Aside from the front which has glass, everything pretty much feels plastic — from the chrome-finished volume rocker and power/lock keys down to the glossy white back plate, all are made from polycarbonate. It is to be expected from a device that’s aimed to be affordable, but the back case which is a fingerprint magnet doesn’t aim to please. The lock/power key needs to be pressed harder than the usual, as it doesn’t respond to light presses.
Even if it’s done with polycarbonate material, the device presents itself to be sturdy and feels very good to the touch. The edges at the back are curved to give a better grip on device. The glossy back doesn’t help though, and in some instances may be slippery especially to those who sweat their hands profusely. The device may be a bit substantial to hold at 157 grams especially when you’re coming from a lighter device, but it can be tolerable especially when used for longer periods of time.
As for the device’s display, the 5-inch screen is a stunner. The images are crisp, the colors are vivid and the angles are all well-done, and this is where the Honor 3C Lite stands out. Add the fact that you get an HD screen (1280×720), and you get a reasonable 294ppi, which is aesthetically pleasing to the eye.
I’ve encountered a few display issues with the device. Its sensitive display triggers when my hands get sweaty: It generates random presses and stops responding to further touches or doesn’t do anything until you lock-unlock the device. Be ready to use the hardware capacitive keys at night; they don’t light up. The device isn’t that outdoor-friendly too — it gets a lot of glare, destroying the phone’s legibility under a sunny day.
OS, Apps, and UI
Android 4.4.2 KitKat runs the show, and Huawei left the OS almost untouched except for the launcher and app drawer, which is merged and shown through their Emotion UI 2.0 software.
Huawei’s own Emotion UI is very straightforward, showing all your apps on the home screen, which is reminiscent of Apple’s mobile OS. From a graphic designer’s point of view, the UI’s icons have a youthful vibe, are consistent in design and are pleasing to look at.
The said UI, however, seemed toned down a lot when compared to Emotion UI skins of other Huawei siblings such as the Honor 6 — several key elements have been ditched in favor of stock Android UI elements such as the lockscreen and the notifications panel. All that’s left on the device are the launcher and the icon pack.
The smartphone also has 16GB of onboard storage, leaving you with around 13GB to fill with your favorite apps and media files. Add to that the support for up to 32GB additional storage through a microSD card, and this is where the Honor 3C Lite trumps other devices at this price point since they normally sport only 8GB of internal storage.
You might have to fill it in with a ton of what you need, as the default apps present are simply what you can see from a vanilla Android software — with some Google-made ones on the side. It’s worth noting that the default keyboard is very easy to use because of large keys and gaps in between.
Camera and Multimedia
Audio quality is excellent on this device, especially when listening with a pair of in-ear headphones. The speaker volume is average; it can be faintly heard on a busy place outdoors but can be loud enough to be heard in a bedroom. Multimedia files also play well.
The cameras are quite satisfactory but not on par with other camera modules found on other devices. The 8-megapixel rear shooter focuses fast and shoots fairly well in most circumstances. It tends to blend in a higher or lower white balance, and the exposure levels seem to be a little off on most of them. The front camera works great in well-lit conditions too.
One thing we didn’t like about it is the camera app which looks a tad dated. Other than that though, the both the Honor 3C Lite’s snappers should be enough to handle your basic photography needs.
Here are some sample images (including those from the front camera) for your reference:
The phone can produce videos up to 1080p HD at 30 frames per second, but it still produces .3gp files for captured videos considering most devices use and support the .mp4 format nowadays. Here’s a sample video in 720p: (Take note that video quality may have been lost in conversion, because YouTube doesn’t support direct .3gp uploads)
Performance and Benchmarks
Performance-wise, the Honor 3C Lite feels fast and fluid. It doesn’t feel sluggish, but there were very minimal performance issues on hardware-hungry games we played such as Hungry Shark Evolution and Eternity Warriors 3. Here’s what we got from the benchmarks we’ve ran:
3DMark – 2,867 (Ice Storm Unlimited)
AnTuTu – 19,203
Nenamark – 50.4fps
Quadrant Standard – 7,043
Vellamo – 1,670 (Chrome Browser), 1,216 (Multicore), 835 (Metal)
Call Quality, Connectivity, and Battery Life
Calls were clear and receptive. Wireless connections such as Bluetooth and WiFi work great as well, and we didn’t encounter any issues when using the device. There was also an airsharing feature mentioned at the news we reported a few days back. We can’t find it, but a supposed ‘Cast screen’ function was included and we theorize it’s a Miracast function — if that’s what airsharing means.
As for its battery life, the 2000mAh capacity lasted for half to 3/4 of a day with moderate to heavy use. We ran the smartphone on our standard battery test, which involves looping a video at 50% brightness and 0% volume, and the phone lasted for around 7 hours and 30 minutes on movie playback which is pretty standard for phones bearing this much of a battery capacity and is considered average.
The Huawei Honor 3C Lite is a decent contender for its price considering its competition in the likes of Asus Zenfone 5 Lite or Xiaomi Redmi 1s and other local brand offerings, and this new low-cost offering doesn’t disappoint. You have a great set of features all for the price of Php5,290: It’s got one of the largest internal storage at its selling point, a stunning display, and an almost-stock Android KitKat experience with just a hint of the company’s own proprietary launcher and icons.
The device, however, can accommodate a few improvements to work on such as the uninspiring bulky design, the slippery and fingerprint-magnet back plate, the stripped-down Emotion UI experience Huawei’s devices are known for, and the lack of a backlight for its capacitive buttons. The Lite moniker sure did entail some toning down both on the device’s software and hardware.
Huawei Honor 3C Lite specs:
5-inch IPS HD display, 1280×720 @294ppi
1.3Ghz Quad-core MediaTek MT6582 processor
16GB internal storage
expandable up to 32GB via microSD
Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
8MP autofocus rear camera with LED flash
2MP front camera
Android 4.4.2 KitKat with Huawei Emotion UI 2.0
Dimension: 142.2 x 72.3 x 9.4mm
What we liked about it:
*Huge internal storage size at price point
What we didn’t like:
*slippery back plate, is also a fingerprint magnet
*Capacitive hardware buttons don’t have backlight
*Camera performance is not on par
*stripped down Emotion UI 2.0 experience might disappoint