Honor 5c In Depth Review
- Good processor
- Full HD Resolution
- Storage with microSD support
- Good battery life thanks to smart power management
- Good cameras
- Good Build
- Value for Money
- Screen smaller than competitors
- No Quick Charge
- Camera no OIS
- No Gorilla Glass
- 2GB RAM
The Honor 5c is replacing the Honor 4c as the budget smartphone in Honor's stables. Priced below MYR1000 the Honor 5c is fitted with some premium hardware. With its new design and premium build quality, the Honor 5c does set itself apart from the rest of the competitors. Although only packing 3,000mAh of battery the device can keep up with a whole day of usage thanks to its smart power management. With the 16nm HiSilicon Kirin 650 as well the device do pack quite a punch and carries plenty of performance with it. It could well be the budget smartphone that you might consider.
The Honor 5c is Honor’s iteration of what an entry-level mid-range smartphone should be like. Wallet friendly with premium build quality is what this is all about. All that without sacrificing too much on the performance of the device with an interesting System on a Chip (SoC) choice. Did they pull it off in this MYR799 package though? Let us find out.
It is hard to find a compelling design for a smartphone these days. Blame it on the screen though; with the emphasis on touch screens and touch buttons these days you hardly get any variation in hardware design. In fact, it is plenty hard to find a device that stands out in the looks department in the segment that the Honor 5c is in these days.
The Honor 5c, though facing tough competition does excel in creating a totally different look for the 5c. Sure, the front of the device looks almost like any other device with a large screen these days. The back design of the device though actually looks pretty interesting. I might dare say that it feels premium.
The non-removable aluminium back that extends to almost 80% (based on my 20/20 sight) of the side of the device features a deep line running all the way around the back of the device highlighting the brushed center of the aluminium housing. It is gives an illusion though that the back is removable to reveal the guts of the device. Crested around the deep line are some soft lines to give it a more complex and differentiated look. That part of the body are also slightly tapered off before reaching the rounded sides of the device. The rounded sides, though an often overlooked aspect of a device, makes it much more comfortable to hold. it even makes the smartphone feel smaller than it is in the hands. The front side of the device, though generic manages to cut down as much bezel as possible to fit the 5.2-inch Full HD screen into a small profile body while also fitting the 8-Megapixel front facing camera and all the sensors on top.
The only complaint I probably would have is the fingerprint sensor that is placed at the back of the device. Do not get me wrong, it does not make the device look bad, in fact the finger print sensor that in engraved into the brushed aluminium right underneath the 13-Megapixel camera looks at home. Issue is that you cannot use the fingerprint sensor while placing your device face-up on the table. Doing that pretty much covers the fingerprint sensor and eliminates any benefit that the fingerprint sensor offers. You can only use it either by picking it up, or by placing your device on the table or any top face down.
Despite that little complaint that I would call nitpicking though, the device can be described as handsome. More so than plenty of devices you can get in that range. It even feels good in your hands; something plenty of manufacturers fail to do with devices on the same price range. We cannot say that this is the best looking device in the market currently though because in our opinion (and we do think plenty of you might agree on this) it is not actually the best looking device we have laid our eyes on. The looks department, though not its strongest suit, does serve it well enough to give it that premium feel and finish. Of course it also only tells a small part of the story.
By far, the Honor 5c has some of the more interesting hardware fitted inside. Of course you cannot expect a budget device to come with top class hardware or promising hyper-inter-galactic performance. It will not do that. The fittings of the devices though gives it a little bit of a punch. From the sounds of it also the device should perform somewhat better than most devices in its price range as well.
|Processor||HiSilicon Kirin 650 (8 Cores)
Quad-core 2.0 GHz + Quad-core 1.7 GHz
Expandable with MicroSD (Max. 256 GB)
|Graphics Processing Unit (GPU)||Mali-T830MP2|
5.2-inch (~424 ppi)
Full HD (1080 x 1920 pixels)
|Operating System||Android 6.0 (Marshmallow) with EMUI 4.1|
|Battery||3,000mAh (Claimed 1.34 days life with heavy use)|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band
Bluetooth 4.1, A2DP, LE
FM Radio (with headphones)
Video recording at 1080p (30fps)
The Honor 5c runs on Android 6.0 Marshmallow overlayed with EMUI 4.1. The overlay launcher is shared across Huawei and Honor products so users of either manufacturers will be familiar with it. At the same time also EMUI feels plenty like the rest of the China manufacturers’ overlay launchers like Xiaomi’s MIUI and OPPO’s Color OS. Across all these platform the app drawer button which has been a differentiating factor of the Android is nowhere to be found. Of course with the wonders of Google Play there are plenty of other options to bring back that app drawer button on-screen.
Having no app drawer launcher in the EMUI also makes it look like it is inspired by the Apple iPhone’s iOS; that is not necessarily a bad thing. The iPhone user interface was meant to make it as simple as possible for users to interact with their iDevices, the EMUI 4.1 does just that with the added benefit that Android has to offer. With the 1080p Full HD 5.2-inch display, the crisp and clear look of EMUI may trick you into thinking that you are actually using a premium device.
As I have just pointed out above, EMUI is simple to use with no app drawer. You simply scroll through your home screens to find your desired app lodged somewhere. in one of the screens. You can even organise your apps into one folder to minimise scrolling time and get to the app you wanted in the first place. If folders are not your thing you can arrange the apps in any way you like too. The bottom part of the home screen is where your favourite apps can be placed for easy and quick access. However, as the Honor 5c does not include any physical ‘recent apps’, ‘home’, and ‘back’ buttons, a small part of the display is taken up to produce those buttons. Personally, that is slightly disturbing and false presses are always a problem. Ironically though I have small hands and quite delicate fingers (as I have been told).
One good thing for EMUI based on the Android is the ability to customise your home screens with widgets. Unlike other manufacturers with similar looking interfaces as well the way to do that is very simple. Either a long press or a pinch on the home screen will give you options to customise your wallpaper, whatever widgets you have, transition animation and more.
The presence of the super-fast fingerprint sensor is also a welcome. You do not actually need to turn the screen on to unlock the phone. It is a simple touch of the fingerprint scanner out the back of the device and you are ready to use your device. Unlike other devices though, the fingerprint sensor only serves as a fingerprint sensor and nothing else.
What I really like about the EMUI is the scroll capture when you screenshot a page. With scroll capture you can get a screen shot of an entire page just with a push of a button. It even scrolls down for you until the page ends or when you tap the screen. It is definitely one of the most practical aspects of the device. I even dare say that this feature is one of the best screen capture solutions out there.
If I am being really picky however, the notification tray also takes a little bit of used to as you need to scroll to the left to pull the quick-settings, and then only silent your phone. An app drawer option would have been nice. But again that is already nitpicking.
EMUI’s focus on simplicity does pay off some dividends with a UI that is smooth and fast all around. Navigating is of course very easy and very much customisable with Android. Moreover the material design of Android actually helped the EMUI 4.1 look and feel polished.
Benchmarking the device was simple. It performed well across the majority of our chosen benchmark app. Of course there are devices that have performed better out there and there was nothing too impressive about the Honor 5c. Benchmark only tells a small part of the story though when judging the performance of the device. Actual performance and experience may differ very much from what the benchmarks tell you. Actual performance also may vary depending on usage conditions, number of apps in the device, number of apps running in background, available storage space in the device, and of course age.
Of course when it comes to raw performance, you cannot expect too much out of a sub MYR1,000 smartphone. The Honor 5c though packs quite an impressive Kirin 650 octa-core processor clocked at 2.0GHz at four cores and 1.7GHz at the other four. That actually sounds like quite a recipe. It’s GPU choice though is not the best and is sort of expected for what you are paying. Even the RAM is only at 2GB. However, the performance of a device cannot be judged based on its hardware. We will take a look at multiple factors for this part. Specifically we are looking at call quality and connectivity, multitasking, gaming, and battery life.
Call Quality and Connectivity
In terms of hardware the Honor 5c is as complete as it gets when it comes to mobile connectivity. As expected with any smartphone you purchase these days it will connect to 4G LTE networks, 3G HSPA+ networks, 2G networks, and even EDGE. The main concern over here though is how well does the device work with the hardware.
When you first start-up your phone with your SIM card, the first thing that you connect your device these days is the WiFi network in your home. Connecting to WiFi network with the device is pretty much a breeze. Procedures for connecting to WiFi networks do not differ much from device to device anyway. There is seldom a dropped WiFi signal unless it is actually too far away or too weak so there is nothing to worry about particularly when you are at work or home. Overall though WiFi connects with the device very easily and is very stable.
When it comes to mobile networks, we tested the device with Celcom’s XPax prepaid network and it was overall a pleasant experience. Signals are usually on 4G LTE quality but with minimal signal loss. There are some cases of dropped signals or slow mobile data speeds due to less-than-full signals. Though that could also be a carrier issue.
The meat of these smartphones, or any phone in particular is calling. It is what it was made for in the first place. The Honor 5c is fitted with two microphones; one is the main mic to pick up your voice and the other is a noise-cancelling mic. You will not actually notice the difference both these mics make unless you are on the other end of the line. The feedback from the other end of the line however is on the positive note. The person on the other end of the line reported that the sound is clear and loud. It may not necessarily be the crispest sound, but it works great even in loud environments. As for the receiver or the user of the device, call quality is good at best. While using the built-in earphones above the screen is great, the speakers on the device makes the call sounds a little on the soft side. If you are using speakers though, you might still want to keep the device close to your mouth as the mics does not pick up voices from arm length very well. Despite that though, calls are crystal clear with slight interference from time to time. Keep in mind though that call quality are also subjected to signal strengths and signal quality from the network providers.
With 2GB of RAM you may not expect to do much with the device. In fact, 2GB is not a lot these days understandably. But again it all comes down to execution.
The multitasking screen on the Honor 5c’s EMUI mimics that of an iOS. Is it better or is it worse? My answer would be ‘none of the above’. The multitasking screen, though different does not differ in function compared to the other Android smartphones. I do prefer the more organic approach of Android’s multitasking screen though.
The Honor 5c does not support dual-window if you are wondering. Multitasking does work well on the device though despite its minute RAM. Even with multiple apps on the interface barely lags and is as snappy as ever. Of course, that is under normal use conditions while hogging on almost the same apps everyday. Because of how light the EMUI 4.1 is though you can have plenty of apps running in the background; including Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Twitter, Camera, and Instagram app and still have ample of RAM space to use, translating to smooth operation all across the board. If you really push it though, you might get some lags on the interface but then again it is easily corrected by closing all the other apps on the multitasking screen.
Here is where plenty of the entry-level mid-range smartphones fail sometimes. The smartphones at this price range are somewhat under-equipped to run high-strung games. Which means that on certain graphic intensive games you would normally encounter slow loading times, dropped frame rate, in-game lags, and such.
We have tested the Honor 5c’s gaming capabilities with Sky Force Reloaded, Need For Speed No Limits, Hearthstone, and Ninjump Deluxe. All of these applications are available on Google Play Store for free. After running all those games however, the only game that gave the Honor 5c a little bit of an issue was Hearthstone. Then again Hearthstone also has trouble running on certain high-end devices as well with its long loading screen. Despite running a little slow on Hearthstone though the gaming performance of the device is very impressive.
Running Sky Force Reloaded was very smooth with unnoticeable frame rate drops if there were any. The introduction animation played out smoothly and beautifully. Even Need For Speed No Limits ran without a hickup with little to no lag or frame rate dropping. Audio on these games are loud and clear, you can even hear it in a crowded environment. Of course we suggest you use headphones in public.
Overall gaming experience on the Honor 5c was impressive and quite surprising to be honest. You do not see many devices at this price range performing as well as this Honor 5c does. You probably might face some minor heating after playing graphic intensive games for an extended period of time, but it is nothing to be alarmed about.
In our test, the battery life of the Honor 5c lasts at least a whole working day with moderate use. This includes some use of messaging apps such as Whatsapp, WeChat and LINE, some phone calls through out the day, a little bit of gaming (Ninjump), some camera use and a little YouTube. Even if you add a few hours of Spotify to the list, you would still get a whole day of battery life.
If you do use the phone sparingly though it might last at least about 2 days and more. Mind you these only includes very occasional Whatsapp usage and nearly no phone calls through out these few days. Of course, you cannot avoid checking the phone on a regular basis. We also left all GPS, WiFi, Bluetooth, and Data on through out the day. The display is also on auto-brightness setting.
As you have seen from the spec sheet, the device comes with a 5.2-inch 1,080 x 1,920 Full HD 1080p display. If you cared that much, it is an IPS LCD type display. IPS LCDs are currently the most widely used sort of display around these days. So though it is nothing to shout about, the display has a pretty neutral colour reproduction which may prove to sit well with most users. The 1080p Full HD though helps plenty when it comes to watching the likes of YouTube or other videos on the device. It may not be the biggest of displays though so you might squint when it comes to scrutinizing details in a video or photo. Then again it is not made for that.
The device does not feature any physical buttons outside the display though. This will require some of the buttons to be on-screen and takes up a fraction of the 1080p resolution. That means you will not get full 1,080 x 1,920 pixels while navigating through the device. If I am nitpicking, I’d prefer to have the menu, home and back buttons outside the display as physical or touch buttons. It may not bother most people though.
The first camera that meets your eye when unboxing the Honor 5c is the front-facing camera placed above the display. The unit meeting you is an 8-Megapixel unit with f/2.0 aperture. Pretty impressive numbers for a front-facing camera. The numbers should translate to better photos and higher details even in low light.
In our opinion the front-facing camera does take reasonably pleasant photos with a good amount of details; yes, even in low light. Of course when there is less light involved you might notice some color degradation and graininess in some photos; pretty standard when it comes to shrunk camera sensors. It is worth to note that this front-facing camera fares better than most competing devices out there though.
As for the main shooter; the 13-Megapixel rear camera is pretty impressive. Photos are detailed and actually look nice especially with HDR mode on. The f/2.0 aperture of course helps very much with low light photography with clear photos even at night.
Complaints? Maybe the colour reproduction needs some tweaking as certain colours come out way too saturated. The photos also come with a very strong blue hue to it unlike some other competitors making the photos look extra bright in some cases. The auto-focus may be a tad slower than the top performers in its class but it is hardly noticeable. Other than those, the camera fitted on the device is pretty decent at best.